Virtual Online Communities
Virtual online communities are exploding across the internet. Just by going online you can now interact with others from across the globe in real time. But that is not all – internet communities can also give users a place to network, socialize, and conduct business. Online communities even allow users to attend classes from the privacy of their own home. There are different types of online communities like blogs, virtual worlds, IM, MMORPG, P2P, Wikis and many others. Find a listing here
The Biggest and the Best
The virtual world of Second Life is the largest and most popular of the online communities on the internet today. The site, created by Linden Lab, claims to have over 1 million active users with approximately 25,000 users online at any one time.
These figures make it easy to understand why the Second Life virtual world is so wide reaching. Second Lifers can do almost anything in their “second life” that they could in their real life and much more, this virtual world is a mix of virtual reality and virtual fantasy.
Distance learning is very popular using online community formats. For example, in Second Life it is possible to take both high school and college level classes on their virtual site. Even Harvard University has a site that delivers instruction in Second Life.
There are also other ways to learn with online communities. Users can form study groups and meet to review lesson and study for tests. Projects can easily be prepared and research is quick and easy. The distance learning experience in a virtual world is fully realistic; you go to a virtual classroom with your classmates and teachers.
The Virtual Economy
Several of the more popular online communities allow users to network with others who share their passions and job interests. Second Life takes it a step further and has created an actual economy based on the Linden dollar. The Linden dollar is exchangeable for real world money. You can buy practically anything for your virtual world with the linden dollar virtual currency.
With the Second Life virtual online community users can hold a job, have fun, run a corporation, or open a store. Once again, if you can do it in real life you can probably do it in your “second life”.
IBM has been the leader in the corporate world’s acceptance of virtual online communities. This company has utilized numerous different platforms in Second Life to make doing business easier. Users can buy IBM products in Second Life stores and IBM employees can network with each other. The company has built a virtual theater in Second Life for presentations and meetings. IBM is working together with Linden Lab in different technologies to enhance the virtual world experience.
Second Life leads way as virtual online communities are finding their niche in the world today. They are considered the next wave of the internet and using them will soon become as commonplace as checking your email.
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