Second Life

Second Life

SEX In the nine months I have been writing this column, I have managed to skip over the most important topic of technology for today’s digital geek: sex. If you’re not getting enough, here’s a place where techno-geeks are getting plenty: Second Life. This is a virtual community where a whole lot more is going on besides copious amounts of copulation, but SL sex is, at this moment, all the excitement online.

More than 10,700 of the 200,000 “residents” are running around naked and just about every flavor of fornication you can think of in our life is happening there, and a few more. One is born into this MMORLG (massively multiplayer online real-life game) clothed, and if you want your avatar (i.e. your SL description) to sport a birthday suit, you need to design and code one or buy what Leo Laporte of TWiT (the weekly must-listen podcast This Week in Tech) calls “naked clothes.” A “sign-up bonus” plus a weekly stipend of Linden dollars (the game’s currency), an amount determined by your monthly membership fee, will enable you to buy just about anything you can purchase in real life, such as clothes, beer, cars, airplanes, drugs, weapons and so on; but once you run out of cash, you’ll need to figure out a way to get more.

You can exchange money from the human world (U.S. $1=250 Linden) or you can figure out ways to earn more, including selling your body for sex. Many players use programs such as Photoshop and write code similar to HTML to make everything from dominatrix suits to designer genitalia, complete with sound effects. Get lucky at

WAR The new format war has begun (VHS conquered Betamax in the last big one) with the release of the first high-definition DVD players: Toshiba’s HD-A1 ($500) and the HD-XA1 ($800). HD movies, once finally released, will contain more than double the lines of resolution of today’s DVDs and will cost twice as much. They could have more extras and better interactive menus due to the 15GB of single-layer storage, compared to 4.7GB in today’s DVDs.

The DVD’s rival, Blu-ray (an optical disc that can store substantially more date than a DVD because of the shorter wavelength of the read laser), is due out later this year with promises of even more storage—25GB single layer—and a supposed triple-layer capability of 75GB. Those needing to back up large files, such as video editors, are eagerly waiting at their keyboards. Bring on the burners.

BIRTH And speaking of video, belated happy 50th birthday, videotape (released April 14, 1956).