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THE STORY OF SECOND LIFE will be strikingly familiar to Americans.
I. Colonization Small settlements of alpha testers arrive in March 2002. Cultural rifts appear during beta, when militaristic immigrants arrive from the strategy game World War II Online.
II. Tax Revolt Linden Lab’s policy of taxing residents for objects they create meets vehement resistance. In July 2003, rebellious residents [see images at left] dress in colonial garb and cover the land with giant tea crates and defiant signs that read born free: taxed to death!
III. Declaration of Independence On the advice of Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig – the Thomas Jefferson of SL – Linden Lab abolishes the tax in November ’03 and establishes a new policy stating that residents should retain intellectual property rights over their creations.
IV. Manifest Destiny A great land rush begins in December 2003. Settlers fan out and stake claims to property on the best servers. A class of land barons who sublet real estate to other residents emerges.
V. The Gilded Age Reports in old-world journals (BBC, Fox, BusinessWeek, Wired) describe wonders and wealth beyond measure, spurring a gold rush of entrepreneurs and carpetbaggers. US corporations, including Coca-Cola, MTV, and Microsoft, establish beachheads in SL.
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