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Keep reporting on 'Second Life' fair
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 5/21/200 12:05 AM

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Regarding "Kirk: Limit access to social networking sites" (May 5), I play "Second Life" and there are some things about "Second Life" that you failed to make clear in your article.

Firstly. "Second Life" is made of islands. To go anywhere, you have to either wander randomly or teleport.

To teleport, you must have actively searched for what it is you are looking for.

Your chances of accidentally wandering into a "Rape Room" are equivalent to stepping off a plane and walking mapless to a house you've never been to several miles away, without knowing its address or if it is even on the same island as you are.

Second, these places tend to not want to be shut down. Many if not all have had age verification scripts in place that keep you from getting beyond the front steps as it were, without the avatar going through the cumbersome age verification procedure .

Third, all Sims are clearly labeled mature or PG.

Fourthly, if someone really is that determined, yes, they could get into one of those places but they could also go to the schoolyard and find a real person and real pregnancy, real diseases, and very real danger.

But the thing is, Second Life is tabula rasa. Everything there is built by people, with all our geeky hobbies and interests. You can learn languages, explore foreign cities, build foreign cities, start a business, shop, buy a piece of land and grow virtual corn or hang out in a bar where everyone does know your name.

A group of teachers and librarians have built an entire island of Renaissance Italy, with the Globe Theatre, recreations of period English houses and gardens and they give educational tours.

One of humanity's first settlements, Catalhoyok, is being recreated by a team of archeologists. I've visited the Louvre, Pompeii, museums, art galleries, colleges. I've sailed a skiff through gorgeous archipelagos and watched a basketball game.

I've seen lectures on indigenous peoples of China, and advanced astrophysics. On the anniversary of the moon landing, I walked on a recreation of the moon on a tour guided by a NASA lecturer. I've seen the recreation of Mars built by NASA in Second Life.

I've met novelists and poets in Second Life.

I have more ball gowns than I could ever wear there and have learned how businesses work by starting one of my own.

Just try to be fair when you write about it, please.

Phaedra Whitlock