Is this an overgrown video game or an alternative universe? Follow enthusiast Jason Pettus at In the Grid around SL (his first life is in Chicago):

“I’ve decided to start doing more tours of large areas of the grid, and filing multimedia reports about what I found. … For today’s trip, then, I decided to make a boat ride down the entire length of the main “winter river” in SL; that is, the river that runs through the section of the grid that’s perpetually covered in snow and ice…. I’ve noticed a strange kind of unified quiet in the winter section of the grid as well, that you don’t normally see from other sections of the mainland; whether on purpose or on accident, the area just seems to have a lot more tasteful residences and a lot less glaring big-box stores than one randomly finds elsewhere. And of course I just find the winter section of SL to be aesthetically pleasing to begin with; and how can you turn down the prospect of full-speed boating in winter without ever getting chilly or catching cold?”

Pettus thinks of SL as “a highly powerful social network with a 3D interface, kinda like MySpace on steroids,” allowing people “to easily express their personality online, at which point other people can find and interact with them based on shared interests.” 

Or you can tag along with the rather more critical Valleywag (hat tip to Project Sanguine), who couldn’t find much of anyone to interact with and didn’t handle it so well when s/he did: 

“First, I spent the requisite time learning to move around and interact. I also wasted a good 15 minutes tweaking my ‘Boy Next Door’ avatar beyond the default 85% gay anime life-study. Most of those minutes went to rectifying a mysterious bald spot that kept appearing whenever I adjusted my hairstyle. At the end of this process, my avatar was less gay, though somehow I felt that I, myself, had become more gay…. Things do not go as planned. First, my avatar decides to mount the motorcycle backwards, sitting on the handlebars. Then, perhaps because of my unorthodox riding style, the bike takes off at top speed and will neither turn nor stop. I zip past the still-indifferent chatting guys, through the headquarters building, out the other side, off the Edwards property, over a hill, and into what looks like a Japanese teahouse where my forward motion finally halts.”