Second Life is a 3-D rendered, animated, virtual world on the Internet entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has been growing rapidly and today is inhabited by some 18 million people from around the globe.

Portraits of Some Second Life Residents
avatar portrait avatar portrait avatar portrait
avatar portrait avatar portrait avatar portrait
avatar portrait avatar portrait avatar portrait
Stoneflower Photography studio in Second Life

SL, as it is called by residents, has become a pretty exciting new place for distance learning, educational collaboration, new media studies, marketing and training. In fact, it is a platform used by hundreds of colleges and universities for virtual classrooms and meeting rooms, research into new concepts, real-time communicating among multiple participants, and even promoting and selling content to a broad online audience.

Politics and society

The virtual world was a hotbed of political activity during the 2008 presidential election year. Candidates from across the political spectrum raised headquarters and legions of fans in Second Life. There were speeches, rallies and appearances, and an ocean of free buttons, badges, posters and flags used by residents to proclaim their allegiance to one candidate or another.

The company that creates Second Life on the Internet is Linden Research Inc., operating as Linden Lab, at San Francisco.

The membership account, avatar and viewer software all are free to anyone. Residents are avatars, which are on-screen agents of real-world human beings.

On the grid

Residents refer to their world as the grid. Second Life is for people age 18 and older. There is a Teen Second Life for people aged 13 to 17.

Residents explore their world, socialize, learn, pursue hobbies, participate in group activities, and do business by creating and trading virtual property, goods and services with one another.

For those who may have heard nothing about Second Life, let me say SL has just celebrated its seventh anniversary. With millions of residents, it’s not a fad. 🙂


Glossary of Second Life Terms

Second Life resident in a wheelchair
Second Life resident in a wheelchair

AIFF – .aif is a Macintosh equivalent of the WAV audio format.

alpha – transparency, a characteristic of a still-image file, a layer in the image, an element of the file.

avatar, av, avie – a character in Second Life, usually referred to as a person or a resident. A new resident is a newbie.

AVI – .avi is Audio Video Interleaved, a Windows video format not as well supported on other platforms.

bye bye – the parties are separating or leaving.

capped – when a recipient’s IM mailbox becomes full it is capped and no more messages will be stored until some are deleted from the mailbox.

chat – or local chat. Words spoken (typed, keyboarded) in chat are visible to all people within 20 meters of the speaker. Optionally, the speaker may shout and the words will be heard all the way across the sim in which the speaker is located. Or the person may whisper to limit conversation to 10 meters.

cool – very nice.

feed – transmission of audio or video to an object or land parcel in Second Life.

.gif – CompuServe GIF. Pronounced: jiff. A format best used to store screen images that do not contain many colors. GIF files are typically very small and do not offer the range of colors necessary to reproduce photographic images. On the other hand, .gif supports transparency (alpha), as does .tga. Other still-image file formats usable in Second Life are .jpg, .png and .tga.

grid – the basic structure underneath all of the Second Life world. The grid is subdivided into tens of thousands of regions simulating physical surface geography. Linden Lab provides the grid and residents build the superstructure and surface infrastructure. The grid without anything built on it looks like plain undecorated land and ocean.

griefer – an avatar acting as a vandal or attacker. A griefer can push, cage or otherwise impede movement of an avatar or shower a user’s screen with images and sounds. Griefing is most common in new user (newbie) and heavily populated areas. Griefer attacks can be negated by having the victim avatar sit down or by teleporting to another location. For that reason, it’s a good idea to set a Home location as soon as possible after entering Second Life. This gives an escape route via the shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+H. Remember, there is no real danger in SL, just inconvenience caused by the griefer. No avatar ever truly dies in SL. Griefing attacks should be reported to Linden Lab as they violate Terms of Service (TOS). Click any person or object to see a menu that will allow you to file an Abuse Report.

haha, hehe, hihi, jiji, yiyi, hhh, nnn, mdr, 555, asg, rs, mkm – laughing.

home – your place to return to if you become disoriented while traveling in SL. The shortcut to Home from anywhere is CTRL+SHIFT+H.

IM – instant message.

instant message – a private message sent to a specific person who need not be at your current location. Not the same as chat. IM messages are stored when people are offline, but the recipient’s IM mailbox can become full and thus capped, which means that later messages may force earlier ones from the list of stored messages. Each person has an option in Preferences to have incoming IM messages forwarded to her or his RL email.

.jpg – JPEG. The popular JPEG format is primarily used to store photographs. It is a lossy image file format in which some image quality is sacrificed in order to produce smaller files. Images of higher quality could be stored in TIFF format. Non-photographic images such as graphs and charts will be smaller if stored in .gif format. Image file formats usable in SL are .jpg, .png and .tga.

k, kk – ok, okay, okie.

lag – slowness, a measure of how busy a region/simulation is. A place in SL is said to be laggy when many avatars, prims, scripts, textures or attachments are in use or there are network problems.

landmark, LM – carries the required coordinates of a location in SL. An LM can be obtained and used by clicking an object that gives LMs. Clicking an LM causes an avatar to teleport to the LM location.

Linden Lab, LL – the company that produces, publishes, hosts and controls Second Life on the Internet. The entire LL staff adopts the name Linden as a last name for their avatars. The proper name of the company is Linden Research Inc.

Linden Research Inc. – Linden Lab

Lindens, Linden dollars, L$ – SL money that has a fluctuating exchange rate like any other currency. The virtual currency can be traded for US$ or US$ can be used to buy L$. Typically, L$1000 = US$4.

LindeX – the Linden Dollar Exchange, a currency exchange trading dollars for lindens and lindens for dollars. It can be accessed from the Web or from inside the Second Life world.

lmao – laughing my ass off.

lol – laughing out loud, lots of laughs.

LSL – Linden Scripting Language used to program objects in SL.

mdr – French version of lmao, from the initials of “mort de rire” which translates to “dying of laughter.”

mentors – volunteer helpers.

MPEG – .mpg is the oldest and most widely supported format for video movies. There are a wide range of video viewers available for all kinds of computers. MPEG stands for Moving Picture Experts Group.

MPEG-3 – .mp3 or MP3 audio format eliminates sounds which are not as strongly perceived by the human ear and brain. That creates files of reasonable quality that are as much as 10 times smaller than the raw audio data. MP3 files are good for storing long passages of sound content where high quality is not required.

MPEG-4 – .mp4 or MP4 audio and video compression format is used for Internet streaming media, CDs, conversation via videophones and broadcast television.

newbie – new resident of second life.

np – no problem, no worries.

parcel – a plot of land on the Second Life grid that can be owned.

.pdf – PDF stands for Portable Document Format. PDF files can be opened and read on any personal computer. Adobe Systems developed Adobe Acrobat, the software for creating and manipulating PDF files. The latest Acrobat Reader can be downloaded here.

.png – PNG is a still-image file format developed to replace GIF. Low-color images stored in PNG format are quite small. Unlike GIF, PNG can be used to store high-color images, which makes it suitable for storing photographs.

PPt – .ppt is Microsoft PowerPoint presentation software. It’s not the same as Keynote, which is Apple’s presentation software.

preferences – a set of configurable usage parameters for the SL viewer. They are used to control how the viewer looks, sounds and feels to the user.

prims, primitives – the raw objects from which everything in SL is constructed. Linden lab provides these for free so anyone can build. Every object, clothes, eyes, hair, houses, furniture, cars, plants, etc. are created from prims by the people who use SL. All things are created from these basic building blocks. They come in several shapes. Each land area can support only a certain number of prims. That quantity usually is quoted for all items. For example, a basic 512 square meter plot of land will hold 117 prims. This means a small lot will allow for a small house with limited furnishings. One full region/simulation is 65,536 square meters and can handle 15,000 prims. That is equivalent to 128 of the basic 512 parcels.

QuickTime – .mov or .qt is the QuickTime video and audio format originally for Macintosh, but now also for Windows PCs. It is the video file format used to show video movies in SL.

real life – RL, the natural world where we live when not visiting Second Life.

RL – real life.

region – a sim, a virtual simulation of a geographic area of the Second Life world that emulates a physical environment. The SL grid is subdivided into tens of thousands of regions.

resident – an avatar or character in Second Life. The in-world agent for an RL person. A new resident is a newbie.

rofl – rolling on the floor laughing. More intense than lol or lmao.

Second Life, SL – the 3-D virtual world produced, published and maintained on the Internet by Linden Research Inc. (a.k.a. Linden Lab) of San Francisco. It is built entirely by its residents.

Second Life Time, SLT – the same as Pacific Time in California because Linden Lab is there. SLT is the same as PST or PDT depending on the time of year in RL.

shout – words typed in chat that are visible to all people across an entire sim. Other speaking choices in local chat are say and whisper.

sim – simulation, a virtual region of the Second Life world that simulates a physical environment. The SL grid is subdivided into tens of thousands of sims.

SL – Second Life

SLURL – short for Second Life URL, a web address for a place on the virtual world Second Life. URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, the address of a page on the Internet.

sqm – square meters, a 2-D measure of land quantity. A basic plot of land that can be purchased is 512 sqm. Larger plots are available. A full region/simulation is 65,536 sqm.

teleport, TP – a main method of moving long distances around SL. It is an instantaneous transport from one set of coordinates to another. Teleporting is not the same as flying. Other main methods of moving are walking and flying.

texture – textures are a fundamental part of building in Second Life. They are applied to the surface of prims to create the color and beauty of all things in SL.

TIFF – .tif format does not sacrifice image quality in order to reduce file sizes. TIFF images are excellent for storing detailed, high quality images. TIFF files are much larger than JPEG or GIF images. They can’t be imported into SL.

transparency, a characteristic of a still-image file, a layer in the image, an element of the file.

ty – thank you.

.wav – WAV is the format for sound files on Windows and other computers.

whisper – words typed in local chat that are visible to all people within 10 meters. Other speaking choices are say and whisper.

yw, yvw – you’re welcome, you’re very welcome.

🙂 – one example of dozens of different emoticons in use to depict emotions of the speaker. The symbol 🙂 is happy and 😦 is sad.


Links to SL how-to pages

Stone Semyorka portrait
Stone Semyorka

Stay tuned to learn more!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s