The other day I searched the Second Life map for Lothlorien. This is what it looks like:
There are two different ways to search for places within Second Life. One is the default “search” function, which acts like a normal search engine (a crappy one), and lets you choose whether to search people, places, classified ads, etc. The second way is to open up the map and use its search function. This works differently.
Second Life is divided into a grid. If the owner of the sim changes his/her mind about what to do with it after choosing the name, or wants to squat a name he/she thinks will bring in traffic, or rents the whole thing out to someone with slightly different ideas, the name might not have a lot to do with the actual contents. The Harry Potter-themed Wizard’s Alley is in a sim called “Sunset Harbor.” I don’t think there’s any harbor.
I decided to see what other inappropriately-Tolkien-named areas I could fine. The first thing I tried was “Middle Earth”:
People, I am not interested in appropriately-Tolkien-named sims. I searched for “Mordor.” I was not disappointed.
Shop on the boardwalk at lovely Mordor!
I decided at this point to search for name squatters. It seemed like America would be the best place to look.
Yep! America turns out to be an empty outlet mall.
The land information said, “We are currently developing a network of high quality sims in SL which represent various niches, and are receiving high quality targeted traffic.”
(“Targeted”? What do they think people searching for “America” are looking to buy, exactly?)
All the shops were for rent, but obviously, no one was renting. I was the only one in the sim. Perhaps it was the wrong time of day for all America’s high-quality traffic.
I tried “United States.” It was almost exactly the same, except with a single shop rented.
Most of the paintings in there were just public domain images that the owner had uploaded – he/she was charging something like L$40 for them, a 400% markup on the L$10 upload fee. That’s only a venial Second Life commerce sin – I’ve seen people behaving far worse – but then I saw what the owner was selling on the inner left wall:
I think those are all by Michael Whelan. Somehow I don’t think this person’s got a licensing agreement going on.
Looking at the map, I made a discovery:
(You will need to click the link and zoom in to see that.)
“America” was only one sim away from “United States”! “USA” was between them. It was an entire squatting archipelago, with all the sims having such inspirational names as “Sexy,” “Poker,” “Porn,” “Iraq,” and “Florida.” “Dance” appeared to sustain a large bot ecosystem – I can’t think of anything else that perfectly straight line of green dots could mean, anyway.
I went to Finland. I think it was just south of Florida.
Evidently Finland was getting even less high-quality targeted traffic than America. It was for rent for $260 USD per month.
(Which appears to be about a 300% markup…)
It is a little-known fact that the trees in Finland have no roots, and are not bound by the laws of gravity.
Finland, it is perhaps worth noting, is an OpenSpace sim, a sort of special sim that can’t hold as many objects as normal ones. Perhaps this was done out of respect for Snufkin’s preferences.