Addicted to novelty since 2001

My Project Du Jour:

Hey you, get a first life, eh?

First off, I am not a Second Life hater. Let me say that again: I am not a Second Life hater. I’m on record as saying that there’s something important going on inside the game.

That said, I’ve been bemused by the amount of hype and attention the game…er…virtual world thingee has received over the past three months. The media has been on SL like white on rice. I’ve only written about SL a couple of times on this site, but I’ve probably received five enquiries from sundry Canadian news outlets asking if I played, or knew anybody who played, or knew anybody who was making a six figure income from playing, and so forth.

Clay Shirky has done some excellent (though much-debated) work evaluating the media’s reportage on Second Life, and trying to apply some normalcy to the hype.

Second Life, Same Brand

More pointedly, I’ve been dismayed by the number of companies opening offices in Second Life. It’s my impression that a lot of them aren’t wanted, and I can’t imagine how what they’re doing is actually cost effective. Okay, American Apparel made a big splash because they were first, or seemed to be first, but every company isn’t going to enjoy that media spotlight. Let me quote Tim Bray, who had a SL event as part of a big Sun announcement:

The Second Life thing, well, I don’t know. It was a lot of work to get going and it costs us real money, and then our pavilion can only hold 63 avatars, so the ROI seems questionable.

I think there’s a lot of corporate hubris at work here, with company’s companies wanting to appear hip or cutting edge.

Speaking of companies, I think the worst perpetrators are PR agencies and marketing companies (and, hey, I run one of those). If I’m building a Brave New World, I don’t want PR flaks in my utopia.

Here’s an idea: if you’re corporate, wait until somebody invites you into SL. Wait until somebody says (and this is hard to imagine), “hey, wouldn’t it be great if we had a few PR agencies around, just in case there was a crisis that needed managing?”

Culling the Crowd with Lag

And, let’s be honest, the game isn’t good enough yet. It’s too hard to play. I watched a veteran computer user and occasional console gamer try to attend an event in SL. It took her five minutes just to figure out how to sit down on a bench. And that was with my pathetic help. And then there’s the lag I’ve experienced when playing–it’s so severe that it actually works as a population control technique, redistributing avatars because a certain zone gets too dense.

After all that, I do think something important’s happening in the game. I forget who I’m quoting here, but whoever makes Second Life 2.0–where, say, the gameplay is as intuitive as World of Warcraft–is going to have a license to print money.

And, in the future, if it’s the right thing for a client (or if I can’t convince them against it), I’d consider running an event in SL. I just wish we could cool off on the hype machine a bit. Happily, Gartner thinks Second Life is on the edge of the trough of disillusionment.

Light-Hearted Fun

Hence the light-hearted fun that is I think I first heard the phrase yelled by someone inside World of Warcraft, and it stuck with me. It’s in the vein of iCryptex, except this time there are t-shirts.

Thanks very much to Heather, Rob, James and Todd for their excellent work as consulting humourists, and to Kris Krug for the pirate children. I struggled with what should be the correct photo until I remembered this one, and it seemed like the perfect fit.

You can Digg this, if you’re so inclined, and here’s a gooofy Technorati tag: .

UPDATE: Prominent Second Lifer Wagner James Au points me to a couple of posts on Clay Shirky and the hype. An interesting axiom: “The more someone pronounces Second Life over-hyped, the less first-hand experience they tend to have in the world.” On that topic, I’ve tried the game at least twice–possibly three times–but I’ve probably only put in 5 to 7 hours. It just didn’t stick for me.

UPDATE #2: In case anyone is wondering, “de hecho, fornica usando tus genitales” is apparently an accurate translation of “fornicate using your actual genitals”. I know because the site was linked to by a Diggesque site from Spain.

UPDATE #3: Got dugg, but the site didn’t fall over. That’s credit to Laughing Squid, my new hosting company, and the fact that it got dugg in the middle of the night.

UPDATE #4: Speaking of foreign language Diggs, check out the German Mein lieben.

UPDATE #5: I just got what I can only describe as a proceed and permitted letter from Linden Labs in the comments.

UPDATE #6: A few people, on Digg and elsewhere, have wondered why a) it’s only one page and b) why the only clickable links go to stuff that me me money. This was my response on Digg:

It’s true that I could have made a couple more pages. But having done a few of these sites, you’re better to get in and get out quickly–always leave them wanting more, as the saying goes. It’s a one-trick humour pony, and I’m not sure that if I had five pages, that there’d be five pages worth of funny.

As for the links to purchasing stuff, that’s absolutely true. I made last year, and it got a good chunk of traffic, but all I got for that was a bandwidth bill. So, this time around I wanted to make a little money without having a ridiculously monetized (and therefore compromised) site.

UPDATE #7: I’ve never had this many updates on a post.

UPDATE #8: Thanks to everybody for all the linkage and nice things you’re saying. The best bit is getting mentioned on the BBC’s web site (screenshot for posterity). That rocks. Thanks to Adiana for letting me know about that.

UPDATE #9: Tom from GiveMeaning sends along this article about Second Life and Ponzi schemes.

UPDATE #10: Comments are closed on this post because spammers are bastards.

215 Responses to “My Project Du Jour:”

  1. darren

    Chris: Thanks for that. As you’re being prescriptive, what criteria should we use to evaluate my first life?

  2. Chris

    *laugh* You’re on your own, there–I have my hands full dealing with my own, such as it is. Part of the reason I have an alternate one, really–then again, I’m also quite aware of what I’m doing and *why*, which some people I encounter online seem to have lost.


    Getting a First Life…

    Another piece of web humor caught my eye this week. Get a First Life is a spot-on parody of the unstoppable buzz machine known as Second Life. It simultaneously tweaks Second Lifers who don’t spend enough energy on their regular…

  4. Barbara Rozgonyi

    Cool post and slants on what is life – first/second/? – versus what works in PR. Thanks for starting the conversation, Darren and congrats on all the well-deserved attention.

  5. Virtually Blind » Blog Archive » “Get a First Life” - Response from Linden Lab

    […] In what has to encourage the right-shoulder side of the “Linden: good or evil?” debate, Linden executive Ginsu Yoon (his title is now “Vice President, International” but he’s also serving as General Counsel while they search for a full time GC) posted a comment for the guy who did “Get a First Life.” We do not believe that reasonable people would argue as to whether the website located at constitutes parody – it clearly is. Linden Lab is well known among its customers and in the general business community as a company with enlightened and well-informed views regarding intellectual property rights, including the fair use doctrine, open source licensing, and other principles that support creativity and self-expression. We know parody when we see it. […]

  6. Ana Paula

    Hey, the ALT of the image of your project site says “Join Second Life for FREE”. It was a mistake, right?

  7. Darren

    Ana: It’s just an artifact from the actual site–I’ll change that to something else.

  8. Colin Brayton

    Life 2.0: Who could not have foreseen the branding fiasco to come? Congrats to you on being wicked, wicked, wicked — and winning.

  9. OgMog: beta » Freedom Fridays: Your Week in Free Culture News

    […] 3. The Right Way to Respond to Parody – Over at EFF’s Deep Links, a wonderful tale of Second Life humor shows a equally humorous response in terms of the use of copyrighted works in parody. Over at Get A Life First, Darren Barefoot has created a brilliant Second Life spoof urging users to go outside where fresh air and lack of server raid can result in a wonderful feeling of ‘first life’. Rather then sending Barefoot a ‘cease and desist letter’, Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, instead sent a ‘proceed and permit’ letter to the creator. How absolutely refreshing in the age of lawsuits involving 70-year old grandparents and musical theft. […]


    “Fornicate with your own genitals”!!!
    FINALLY I’ve escaped web puberty!!!

  11. Laurent :)

    LMAO !!! This is the most amusing stuff I ever seen since The Daily WTF and Dilbert :-D !!! Thank you very much !

  12. Population Statistic


    In response to the phenomenon that is Second Life, Darren Barefoot (an avatar-sounding name if there ever was one) implores you to Get A First Life, um, first. Something to do with pint-sized pirates, apparently.
    This lighthearted parody comes with s…

  13. Ian Ketcheson

    Darren, this is brilliant. I linked to it a few days ago and had no idea you were behind it.

    Standing ovation.

    Couldn’t agree more.

  14. shouting loudly » ‘Second Life’ parodist gets ‘Don’t cease and decist’ letter

    […] The attorney for Linden Lab, Ginsu Yoon, writes, inter alia (lawyer speak for “among other things”): We do not believe that reasonable people would argue as to whether the website located at constitutes parody – it clearly is. Linden Lab is well known among its customers and in the general business community as a company with enlightened and well-informed views regarding intellectual property rights, including the fair use doctrine, open source licensing, and other principles that support creativity and self-expression. We know parody when we see it. […]

  15. Tony Sintes

    This is really cool. But…
    “Linden Lab hereby grants you a nonexclusive, nontransferable, nonsublicenseable, revocable, limited license to use the modified eye-in-hand logo (as displayed on as of January 21, 2007) to identify only your goods and/or services that are sold at This license may be modified, addended, or revoked at any time by Linden Lab in its sole discretion.”

    You have been granted a revocable, nontransferable license. So, please, don’t piss them off. This proceed and continue letter is “revocable.” Lawyers just can’t resist being lawyers. I am not a lawyer so my read of REVOCABLE might not be a proper reading of REVOCABLE. Thanks for playing…

  16. » Forget The Cease-and-Desist; Learn To Use The Proceed-and-Permit kizo interesting info

    […] There have been way too many stories over the years of humorless lawyers sending cease-and-desist letters to websites that create parodies involving their brands. Parody, of course, is protected by fair use. That’s why it’s at least a little refreshing to find out that there’s at least one company out there that recognizes that you should respond to parody with parody. The EFF points to the way that Linden Lab, makers of Second Life, responded to a parody site called Get A First Life, by sending a “proceed-and-permit” letter (as described by the guy who created the parody site, Darren Barefoot). The text of the letter is classic, as they mockingly (in the language of a typical cease-and-desist) take offense at the idea that Barefoot would even bother to think that Second Life would dare to send him a cease-and-desist. “Moreover, Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody. Indeed, any competent attorney is well aware that the outcome of sending a cease-and-desist letter regarding a parody is only to draw more attention to such parody, and to invite public scorn and ridicule of the humor-impaired legal counsel. Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception.” […]

  17. Jora » Blog Archive » Permit-and-proceed

    […] Lahe näide positiivse poole pealt on aga Linden Labs’i kiri ([L] siin koos aruteluga) viimase aja haipmängu Second Life ja selle paroodiasaidi [L] asjus. Juristid nimelt keelduvad ühele kaebusele reageerimast ja cease-and-desist -kirja saatmast põhjendusel, et nende firma rangete personalivalikukriteeriumide hulka kuulub ka huumorimeele olemasolu. Seetõttu saadetakse hoopis permit-and-proceed letter. […]

  18. :: links for 2007-01-31

    […] My Project Du Jour: | I had no idea Darren Barefoot was behind this. It is brilliant parody, and I couldn’t agree more with his observations. (tags: secondlife parody satire darrenbarefoot) […]

  19. Martijn

    Since I’m making good money in second life from people paying more on clothing textures than on actual real life clothing, I’m saying; Second life is soooooo much fun, you should really try spending some money in it ;)

    As somebody who spends a lot of time in SL, I’m not one of those people that forms an opinion based on 10 hours of play tops. And STILL I agree with this post.

    I DO think that real-life companies can have a succesful presence in SL, as long as they actually provide services people want. I.e. a RL database provider providing in-game access to online databases, a RL consulting firm offering SL scripters-for-hire. Offer services, similar to those you provide in real life, that actually have in-game benefits.

    Reuters bringing in-game news? I can get the same news a lot quicker from a website.

    Weather reports/predictions in-game? SL doesn’t really have a weather system apart from random wind.

    Car manufacturers selling in-game cars? To drive where? Teleporting is much faster.

    Some software company providing middleware to do better communication between in-game objects? Now THAT would be useful!

  20. Steve Rapaport

    Darren, you’ve been invited (sort-of) to open your “First life” T-shirts store on Second Life, where it’s pretty obvious they will sell quite well.

    If I were someone with the L33T Skillz to make decent looking SL t-shirts, I’d offer to help. But I’m not, so I suggest you go find someone who has them, and put your virtual wares up for sale in SL. It’s likely a better market than even the internet.

  21. k0balt

    Now if only these companies that setup shop in SL would follow Lindens Law policies ^^

  22. Brandon » Blog Archive » The Right Way to Deal with Parody

    […] Linden Labs, the people behind Second Life, recently sent a letter specifically permitting parody of the burgeoning online service. [link] The parody, called “Get a First Life”, exhorts users to  “Go Outside. Membership is Free!” amongst other hilarious send-ups of the service. This has resulted in positive coverage throughout the blogosphere, even recently rising to coverage on Slashdot and Digg. […]

  23. Steve Tylock

    Thank you Darren – best laugh of the morning. Thank you for one of the best responses to a parody that I have seen in a long time;-)

  24. Lee Ludd

    Anyone who thinks first life is lag free hasn’t ever (1) driven on a Los Angeles freeway, (2) had a layover in Denver in the middle of winter, (3) been pregnant.

    Nevertheless, this is all pretty funny.

  25. skopi

    Please consider adding a mug to the cafepress store.

    How about:
    On one side, the hand logo with “Get a First Life” underneath.

    On the other side “Work. Reproduce. Perish” in big letters…. with “” written in small letters underneath.

    Personally, I’d prefer a black one :-) …

  26. Lee Gaz

    Very entertaining…very funny! After my RL day my second life used to be chatting with a few of my far away friends on Yahoo IM. We could spend a couple of hours talking about RL goods and bads and just enjoy each other’s company. In RL we are too far apart to meet and visit. After we found SL we are not only enjoying our conversations but also running in all directions, climbing mountains, dancing…playing and laughing and meeting others doing the same thing…Way more fun than Yahoo IM …But I have to say your one page parody is just as fun…Woo Hoo lets all keep communicating…Ahhh even here on this blog I see a number of people just hanging out saying what they think sitting at their computers typing and staring at a monitor…(ahh don’t for get to get up and kiss the kids once in a while..OK)…I love it we are all using a computer to communicate and this life in the REAL WORLD will only be more interesting and become virtually smaller because of Computers!!!! TYPE ON, I say…TYPE ON!!!!

  27. John

    “Get a first life” What a ironic statement from people who don’t have their OWN lives, but instead spend their time flaming other people over their lives!

    Somebody needs to make this site for all of you…

  28. Told To Uncease and

    […] But a software promoter named Darren Barefoot recently got a little press of his own by putting up a First Life parody site at It’s nicely done, copying the look and feel of the second life site. It even parodies the little eyeball and hand logo of second life. In small print at the bottom of the page Darren invited comments or cease and desist letters over at his blog. Well that’s not exactly what he got. You can read the whole thing on, but below I’ve stolen, er, I mean presented as fair use, the official comment from Second Life’s lawyer “Ginsu Yoon”– # Ginsu Yoon Says: January 21st, 2007 at 2:57 pm […]

  29. ifocos - institute for the connected society We Media 2006 Miami: » Get a First Life

    […] What’s especially notable, other than the dead-on humor, is that Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, responded with a direct anti-”seize-and-desist” letter. It’s nice to see a company that allows, even encourages, parody and derivative creativity — though given Second Life’s ethos, I’d have been surprised by any other response. Share This:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  30. kenspeckle » think twice before asking what I dreamt about.

    […] But I guess the hilarity of Get a First Life and even further hilarity of Linden Lab’s resulting refusal to serve its creator with a cease-and-desist letter has really stayed with me. What else—save an unhealthy sci-fi obsession in my tween years and having watched a certain X-Files episode a few too many times—could possibly have led to my dystopian Sunday night dream in which people had uploaded their consciousness into Second Life? […]

  31. Robeto Arias

    Totally fun site and unfortunatley very true… I should turn off my laptop right now and go the park, nah there should be spiders there (I live in Australia), maybe my laptop-based world is more secure.

  32. Overlawyered and Secondlife parodies « AB’s reflections

    […] and Secondlife parodies February 5, 2007 Posted by Aditya in Interesting sites. trackback I was going through my Google Reader subscriptions when I came across this post on the Americanlegal system, and through it the site Overlawyered. The site makes for quite a lot of interesting reading. It also had a reference to Secondlife, rather a reference to the Secondlife parodying site “Get A First Life“, which seems to have got into trouble with Linden labs. […]

  33. Why Do You Blog? « //engtech

    […] Why Do You Blog? My first attempt at running a contest is coming along nicely with 9 submissions so far. One of the topics I asked people to write about is “why did you start your blog?” As fate would have it, I ran across another blogging contest that asks bloggers to fill out a 10 minute survey at for a chance to win a prize. It’s run by Darren Barefoot and it is on the up-and-up. He’s the same guy who did the humorous “Get a First Life” Second Life send up that was making the rounds this week. […]

  34. Naked Imagination » Blog Archive » Un-Cease and desist

    […] A nice little article over at FoxNews on the official response from the Linden Labs lawyer to the blogger Darren Barefoot. Darren put up the Second Life parody website Get a First Life and received an official Un-Cease and desist reply from Linden. Good to see Linden labs leading the way in legal policy regarding humour […]

  35. 3D WEB log » Твій світ. Вибач, але що поробиш

    […] PS Знизу сторінки Ñ” лінк спеціально для представників Linden Lab — адреса для листів з вимогою припинити це неподобство (cease-and-desist). Офіційна відповідь Лінденів — “афтар жжот, пеши єсчо“! […]

  36. Joe Ruder

    Thank you for a great laugh!

    I remember when we actually had to

    **!! Pretend **!! that our stuffed animals could talk (not to mention actually raise hell if we tried to turn them off or leave our blokes house where they had “conected” with another stuffed animal!

    Keep those creative juices flowing!

  37. La Connexion #152 at

    […] Autour du net Flea market Montgomery: Just like a mini-mall Vidmeter: tracking popular (but not always good) online videos Australia Day 2007 Roll your own 3D photography on the cheap Create printable business cards at Businesscardland Make quick music playlists with YouTube Turn an old floppy into the starship Enterprise Zelda ‘Take This’ Personalizer Donkey Kong Movie on the Way My Project Du Jour: This just takes the cake! Every ad in Times Square On Space Art in Sebastopol… Ninja kitten band win Coke battle First iPhone Commercial Spoof, Courtesy Conan O’Brien Reality Bedding Viral Video The Hottest Booth At CES 2007 Was… iBoy: iPod + GameBoy Windows Vista Ultimate Signature Edition THE ORIGINAL NINTENDO MIDI MUSIC PAGE Welcome to MIDIsite – MIDI Search. Kool Cigarette commercial Leaked: Screenshots of OS X Leopard Terminal, Parental Controls, More […]

  38. lazer epilasyon

    Im Mary
    As luck would have it, Mort, Mort’s Mom and myself all use Tomsastrblog for our blogs. This was handy because it meant I could use the exact same code for all of them – the only downside is that they perhaps aren’t as representative of all blogs everywhere as they could be, though the techniques I used would work for any blogging system, and I imagine the results would be much the same. But I suppose you’re all screaming to hear just what these cunning things I did are. You are, right? Yes, I thought you were.
    Thank s

  39. SLQ Explorer

    Get a first Life!…

    I think I want a Get a First Life t-shirt in-world! I had to laugh at this: But don’t hate the guy for poking fun at all the hype. He get’s what it’s all about and I think he’s on target with some of his blog…

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