Second Life to host a two-week gala expo with real-world speakers

Linden Lab will celebrate five years of Second Life with a two-week festival in the virtual world, starting on June 23rd and ending July 7.

Residents of the virtual social environment will log in and have their avatar explore the virtual fair, with each session taking place in a different conference room.

Kicking things off on June 23rd will be outgoing Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale and new CEO Mark Kingdon, who will participate by giving virtual "keynote" opening addresses using their avatars in the virtual world. Linden Lab board member Mitch Kapor, who is founder of Lotus Development, will close out the event by speaking on July 7.

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The event has been organized for Second Life Residents to learn more about how the environment in which they are involved may help companies and universities conduct business and research. The use of virtual worlds has expanded into the corporate environment, where executives communicate with one another through a technology like Second Life instead of through a conference telephone call.

Sun Microsystems, AMD, BMW, and IBM are among the major companies that have an online presence in Second Life, using the service to communicate amongst themselves when in-person meetings cannot take place.

Although there is no real-world incentive for the casual resident to attend, those who do visit the fair during the two week period will be greeted with roundtable discussions and exhibits of resident-made features implemented into Second Life. Other topics of discussion will include virtual worlds and their impact on online advertising and business, the culture of Second Life, and where Second Life is headed in the future.

More speakers from Philips, Principal Financial Group, North Carolina State University, Indiana University, Wells Fargo, and other universities and institutions are expected to participate.

After Second Life exited beta and publicly launched in June 2003, the online virtual world was met with excitement from gamers, with more than 5,000,000 million registered Second Life registered Residents playing online. Each resident can contribute to the environment by creating stores, homes, nightclubs, and similar items that can be found in the real world.

Residents also have the ability to turn real US dollars into an online currency -- "Linden dollars" -- enabling them to shop for items in the Second Life Marketplace.

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