중앙데일리

All avatars are created equal in 3-D Net world

June 01,2007
Three-dimensional cyberspace is more than a place for chatting. It’s an evolved Internet that allows new experiences, said Ginsu Yoon, vice president of Linden Lab. In a private interview yesterday in Seoul, Yoon said that Second Life, a virtual platform the firm developed, can improve lives because it acts as an equalizer.
“The fragmented Internet experience we have today is different from Second Life, which connects people. We think this can improve people’s lives through the experience of being able to operate in an environment free of restrictions,” Yoon said.
Yoon said that Second Life is especially beneficial for people with disabilities. “People who are handicapped or have autism or depression are able to experience the world again. But I’m also talking about people who say, ‘I was just kind of a loser, I was not happy with myself and wasn’t comfortable going out and talking to people.’ Those people go into Second Life and start to learn to interact with people,” Yoon said.
He said Second Life lets users experience other cultures. “The Internet is all connected, but if you live in Korea you [can’t experience] other language Web sites because the Web is very language-dependent and text based. But Second Life is like traveling. I don’t care that I can’t speak French. I want to go to France. You can do that in a 3-D environment,” Yoon said.
He emphasized that Second Life is not a game. “You see stories of people playing games all night and dying, but Second Life is not addictive. It’s not like you have to sit there and reap gold and shoot elves,” he said.
Yoon said that 3-D platforms like Second Life are an extension of a trend that has been gathering power on the Internet for the last 15 years. “Businesses can view it as a service platform very similar to the Internet, spread with Web sites. People talk of Second Life as a 3-D Web site.”
Real-world laws apply online, and users can’t sell military weapons, for example, but people should distinguish between real and virtual, Yoon said. “Blowing up a building in real life is illegal. It’s not illegal to have a virtual bomb.”
Yoon said that Second Life will differentiate itself from other 3-D platforms by inter-operating with other similar services and keeping everything open source, meaning the backstage code for the site is available for anyone to read.
“We want to have content inter-connected, like Web sites. Most other competitors will tell you that they are going to own and control the Web environment to make it safe and perfect. Well, that’s one perspective, but we believe that the Internet is an open place.”
The reason there aren’t many Koreans in Second Life now is because of language, Yoon said.
“Korea is a great market for understanding the virtual world experience, because Koreans are leaders in living a digital lifestyle. They aren’t going to use an English-language product, however, until the user interface is localized,” he said. The complete Korean-language interface will be launched in a few weeks.
But Linden Lab won’t play matchmaker. “The growth of Second Life has been organic. Communities form themselves.”

By Wohn Dong-hee Staff Writer [wohn@joongang.co.kr]



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