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Learning English - Words in the News
05 September, 2007 - Published 13:23 GMT
Second Life
Lilly avatar, Second Life

Ever thought that you'd like another life? Is real life - well - sometimes too real? Perhaps you'd be better off with a second life. Well one of the biggest phenomena sweeping the internet is something called exactly that - Second Life. This report from Madeleine Morris:

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Virtual worlds are still a little known part of the internet. In them, real humans are shown as digital versions of themselves known as avatars. They build homes and businesses, buy and sell land and have relationships - all through the medium of the computer.

Second Life is the biggest and best-known virtual world but for all the hype, generally no more than one-million people log on in any given month. But in an interview with the BBC, Second Life founder Philip Rosedale has predicted that as technology improves, that will change:

PHILIP ROSEDALE: Our challenge is to scale this from nine-million people registered and a couple of hundred thousand people a day using it to hundreds of millions of people routinely using it, which I think it can and will reach.

Speaking by his avatar, Philip Rosedale compared the current state of virtual worlds to the stage the internet was at in the early nineties. Real world businesses are currently expanding into virtual worlds not only as marketing tools but as recruiting sites. Multi-national companies, such as IBM and PA Consulting, now regularly hold client meetings there.

But the technology behind virtual worlds is still a long way off being ready for mass use. Currently no more than fifty avatars can gather in one place without freezing the computer programme, and performing basic functions, such as changing your appearance, requires technical expertise well beyond the ability of most everyday PC users.

Madeleine Morris, BBC

Listen to the words

not real, fantasy

computer representations of people which you can move around the screen using the mouse or keyboard

but for all the hype
despite there being a lot of advertising or discussions in newspapers, on television, etc. to try to attract everyone's interest

to scale
to increase

it can and will reach
it's possible and it will happen

recruiting sites
websites which offer job opportunities

a long way off being ready
before it can be used, a lot of things have to be done to it

mass use
the majority of people can use something (here, virtual technology)

freezing the computer programme
the computer application (here, Second Life) stops working

technical expertise
knowing a lot about machines (here, computers)

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