05 April 2007

What's in a Name?

This is a seriously bad move:

Online fantasy world "Second Life" will soon introduce the virtual equivalent of vanity plates, allowing residents to customize their characters' first and last names.

"Second Life" spokesman Alex Yenni said the feature, likely to cost $100 up front and $50 a year, would debut by the end of the year.

Domain squatting is bad enough: at least there it's something abstract like a Web site. But if someone steals your real name in a virtual world and, shall we say, besmirches it, there's no way you can prove in-world it's not "really" you, no way to reverse the damage to your reputation both in-world and beyond. And as we know, in the Web 2.0 world, reputation is everything.

If Linden Lab is stupid enough to bring this in, it can mean only one thing: that it is really hard-up for dosh. For the first time, I have my doubts about its long-term survival.

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