Second Life Shrinks: Reinventing the Virtual City competition launches

Shrinking reached the virtual world several months ago. The growth boom of the virtual world Second Life, launched in 2003 and enormously hyped last year in particular, is over. The press reported in recent weeks: Hula-hula no longer helps: the virtual world of Second Life is depopulating. (FAZ, August 9, 2007). In June, the number of active users in Second Life shrank by 2.5 percent. And its virtual companies are closing shops. Abandoned company islands and empty program plaques and displays characterized the view, as the Los Angeles Times reports. Computer manufacturer Dell gave up its island, as did the hotel chain Starwood. (Berliner Morgenpost, July 30, 2007)

One of the largest banks in this supposed Internet paradise, Ginko Financial, is meanwhile insolvent: closed counters and avatars that until recently waited in vain in front of the virtual ATMs. (Berliner Zeitung, August 21, 2007) The horror scenario has become reality in the virtual play world, of all places.

On this occasion and supplementing the competition Reinventing the City Die Stadt Neu Denken (2004), the Shrinking Cities project in collaboration with the architecture magazine archplus has launched the competition Reinventing the Virtual City Die Virtuelle Stadt Neu Denken.

The goal of the competition is to find new approaches to shape and qualify the shrinking of Second Life: can data garbage be recycled? Can abandoned plots of land in Second Life be erased? Or can they experience a third life with digital agriculture? Should the virtual world be reformatted? Or the remaining avatars be cloned? What happens when Linden Lab files for bankruptcy? Where will the former users of Second Life migrate?

Suggestions for projects can address spatial, cultural, media-related, communications-related, social, or economic issues of transformation. The project should be conceived as a real intervention in Second Life.

Proposals should be submitted by November 16, 2007. Explanatory text must not exceed a maximum of 1800 characters in either German or English. A PDF consisting of a maximum of four A4-format pages, weighing a maximum of 3MB must be sent to

The selected proposals will receive book awards and be published in the newspaper section of the next issue of archplus, on the website of Shrinking cities, and possibly elsewhere.

Shrinking Cities is a project of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) in cooperation with the Project Office Philipp Oswalt, the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the magazine archplus.

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