Go Get a (Virtual) Life

Ira Flatow's avatar i i

hide captionIra Flatow's avatar, "Ira Flatley," hangs out in Linden Lab's Second Life virtual world.

Couresty of Linden Lab
Ira Flatow's avatar

Ira Flatow's avatar, "Ira Flatley," hangs out in Linden Lab's Second Life virtual world.

Couresty of Linden Lab

Tired of this life? With a few clicks of the mouse, you can create an online, virtual "you." Guests and callers discuss why we find virtual lives so addictive, and scientists explain their efforts to use online communities to learn more about real-life human behavior. Also, a game developer from Second Life talks about what it's like to build a virtual world.

Dmitri Williams, Annenberg School, Annenberg Program in Online Communities, University of Southern California

Cory Ondrejka, co-founder and chief technology officer, Linden Lab, San Francisco, Ca.

Sherry Turkle, director, MIT Initiative on Technology and Self Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alter Egos in a Virtual World

Choi Seang Rak his 'Lineage II' character, Uroo Ahs. i i

hide captionChoi Seang Rak (left), an economics and public policy professor at Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea, and his Lineage II avatar, Uroo Ahs. "Because I'm very polite, people think I really am a little girl," he says.

Copyright Robbie Cooper/Chris Boot
Choi Seang Rak his 'Lineage II' character, Uroo Ahs.

Choi Seang Rak (left), an economics and public policy professor at Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea, and his Lineage II avatar, Uroo Ahs. "Because I'm very polite, people think I really am a little girl," he says.

Copyright Robbie Cooper/Chris Boot

Time was that the word "avatar" meant the earthly manifestation of a god. You might have also used it to describe an archetype. But in the earliest days of the Internet — back in the 1980s, when no one was looking — an avatar became one's digital self.

If this is news to you, consider yourself extravagantly late to the costume party that is online role-playing.

Let's get you up to speed. Introducing 27-year-old wife and mother Becky Glasure, who complains of never being taken seriously.

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