Second Life In Another World

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In an increasingly globalized world, where technology is increasingly making communication faster and more efficient, it becomes even more pressing for citizens to be competent in other languages. Yet the United States remains the only industrialized country that allows students to graduate from high school without credits in a foreign language. By the time most students begin a second language in middle school at the age of 14, it is often too late for them to become truly proficient in another language. On top of that, only 10 states require some type of second language credits to graduate from high school whereas in many European countries children begin to learn a second language from 6-9 years old, or in some cases 3 years old. This stark difference in the age of when a language is taught may account for the fact that in the United States about 9% of the population is multilingual, whereas in Europe 52.7% of the population is multilingual (World Languages and Cultures). I believe there needs to be an incorporation of a stronger foreign language program in the United States education system because learning a second language is and will continue to become increasingly important in our connected world. In total, the United States would benefit from emphasizing learning foreign language through economic and job possibilities, creating cosmopolitan citizens, and providing cognitive and personal benefits to the individual.

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In our globalized world, it has become even more essential in the job market to know another language. Companies and businesses have a natural desire to expand their existing networks. Having fluency in another language gives an edge on any resume by showing employers potential to converse with an entirely different group of people. Employers would be more apt to send a prospective employee abroad if he or she shows proficiency in another language. An experience abroad has the ability to enhance careers, often leading to promotions and valuable skills dealing with foreign customers. Traveling to another country for a job not only allows for tremendous opportunities for oneself, but also allows a company to broaden its network. Yet businesses are not the only types of employment where learning another language would be beneficial. Educators will often have students from many different language backgrounds, scientists will need to converse with others in their field from different countries, and those in the entertainment industry can open un their career aspects tenfold if they can effectively learn a second language. Specifically, in jobs dealing with marketing, sales, or technical support, knowing a second language can add between 10% and 15% to your wage (Hazlehurst, 2010).

Moreover, learning a second language allows students to explore and better understand another culture. The overwhelming access to networks of communities all over the world is cut short without a background in the language of the culture itself. Learning a foreign language allows us to better understand a culture by providing a way to interact with locals and break the initial language barrier that holds two people back from fully engaging with each other. The benefits of having more culturally aware students are numerous, and the effects are immeasurable. Learning a second language allows cross-cultural communication, and opens the door to an entire network of people that a person might not have had contact with before. It allows for an exchange for cultural norms and practices, furthering one’s education in respect to life different than their own. It is important to have cosmopolitan citizens, especially in the United States, in order to create a true melting pot society. When traveling to foreign countries, knowing or attempting to learn the local language shows a respect towards another culture.

In addition to the benefits economically and culturally, there is an apt amount of research showing the exponential cognitive and personal benefits of learning another language. Within the standardized test culture, it was found that Elementary students who studied a foreign language scored higher on tests in reading, math, and language arts. This fact alone should motivate proponents of No Child Left Behind, and similar test enthusiasts, to further fund secondary languages in earlier years of education. Furthermore, people who have learned a foreign language show greater cognitive development in mental flexibility, creativity, problem-solving, conceptualizing, and reasoning (Cognitive Benefits of Learning a Second Language). Requiring students to learn a second language at an earlier age will allow many of these skills, skills that are often neglected, to be emphasized in our education system. In my experience, learning a second language requires an entirely different way of learning that fosters creativity in the classroom. For example, learning a second language involves activities such as writing short stories, talking with classmates, watching movies from another culture, and interacting in games. Learning a second language can be done through many different avenues as opposed to math, which must be done in procedures, working out a problem. This freedom to learn in a variety of ways creates an environment in a classroom that teaches multiple ways of learning and skills. Once a language is acquired, many personal benefits become clear. In comparison to monolinguals, foreign language learners have been shown to have sharper memories and better listening skills (The Benefits of Second Language Study 2007). Overall, learning an additional language can significantly improve cognitive abilities and bring added personal benefits.

Second Life Screenshots Cleverly Converted Into Manga Comic Images At the risk of stepping on Cajsa's Flickr toes, I'm totally in love with these images by Cadwyn Daffyd which turn SL screenshots into frames from a manga comic. Another Life (TV Series 2019– ) cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more.

All of the research and data points to the continued benefits of learning a second language, which I have seen personally reinforced in my experience with other languages. During my junior year, I spent time abroad teaching English to students in Spain at an English Immersion camp called Pueblo Ingles. During my time there, I saw the numerous examples of the advantages of knowing a second language. A couple of the students at the camp knew multiple languages, and it was much easier for them to pick up English. Their pervious knowledge of a variety of languages showed in their abilities to understand new grammar concepts and vocabulary as they were much more used to these cognitive processes. For students learning English as their second language, the process was much more difficult as the concepts of a new language weren’t as easily understood and they struggled with the new structure. Reflecting on these differences, it was evident that knowing another language provided advantages in further learning.

Additionally, I help tutor English language learners at Penn State University to help with their conversational fluency, along with their grammar concepts. One of the many things I have found while working with these international students, is that many of them find it easier to immerse themselves and learn more about the culture in the United States with a better understanding of English. One of the graduate students I work with has found that learning and improving her English has made her more confident in speaking to students here. It has allowed her to branch out and become immersed in the culture. Learning a second language provides unique opportunities to understand and immerse oneself another culture, that couldn’t be done otherwise.

It becomes even more clear to me the benefits of a second language when considering the influence learning a second language has had on me. I began learning Spanish during middle school, which was noticeably a disadvantage seeing how much easier it would have been to acquire the language at a younger age. Regardless, Spanish has come to offer me a whole new array of possibilities for the future. When working for a local restaurant, I was noticeably better at my job then other waiters because I could communicate with my Spanish-speaking co-workers. My effectiveness as waitress and co-worker was increased, and eventually led to my pay raise. Additionally, internships abroad are now options for me, that wouldn’t be possible without my background in Spanish. I am currently able to travel to Costa Rica to teach English, in part because of my fluency in another language.

In such an interconnected world, it can only be a disadvantage not to learn a second language. In the aspect of employment, a second language allows for new opportunities, experiences, and an edge when applying for jobs. Additionally, a second language allows for citizens to become more culturally aware, reaping benefits in terms of more cosmopolitan citizenship. Moreover, learning a second language can benefit a person in various cognitive aspects and improve ones life. I’ve personally seen and experienced the many benefits of learning a second language, and continue to find the employment, citizenship, and cognitive benefits to be numerous. In total, I believe that learning a second language should be more emphasized in the United States education system.

Bibliography

“Cognitive Benefits of Learning a Second Language.” American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Duke University, 2007. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

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Hazlehurst, Jeremy. “Learning a foreign language: Now you’re talking.” The Guardian. N.p., 27 Aug. 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/aug/28/learning-foreign-language-boost-career>.

“Second Language Benefits.” Your Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://reference.yourdictionary.com/other-languages/Second-language-benefits.html>.

“The Benefits of Second Language Study .” Connecticut State Department of Education. NEA Research, Dec. 2007. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.

<http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/Curriculum/Curriculum_Root_Web_Folder/BenefitsofSecondLanguage.pdf>.

“Why Learn Languages? .” World Languages and Cultures. Vistawide, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2013. <http://www.vistawide.com/languages/why_languages.htm>.

The virtual world Second Life has its own economy and a virtual token referred to as Linden Dollars (L$). In the SL economy, users (called 'residents') buy from and sell to one another directly, using the Linden, which is a closed-loop virtual token for use only within the Second Life platform. Linden Dollars have no monetary value and are not redeemable for monetary value from Linden Lab. A resident with a surplus of Linden Dollars earned via a Second Life business or experiential play can offer to exchange with other users via the LindeX exchange provided by Linden Lab. This economy is independent of the price of the game, which users pay to Linden Lab, not to each other. Linden Lab reports that the Second Life economy generated US$3,596,674 in economic activity during the month of September 2005,[1] and as of September 2006 Second Life was reported to have a GDP of US$64,000,000.[2]

In 2009, the total size of the Second Life economy grew 65% to US$567 million, about 25% of the entire U.S. virtual goods market. Gross Resident Earnings are $55 million US Dollars in 2009 – 11% growth over 2008.[3]

Basis[edit]

The basis of this economy is that residents (that is, users, as opposed to Linden Lab) can buy and sell services and virtual goods to one another in a free market. Services include camping, working in stores, custom content creation, and other services. Virtual goods include buildings, vehicles, devices of all kinds, animations, clothing, skin, hair, jewelry, flora and fauna, works of art, and breedable in-game animals and pets such as: foxes, turtles, horses, cats, dogs, fish, dragons, and original in-game pets called Meeroos. To earn Linden Dollars in Second Life, one must find customers who are willing to pay for the services or products that one can supply, just like in real life.

World

Because of the existence of virtual land, there is an active virtual real estate market. Originally all land comes from Linden Lab (which is part of the pricing and a revenue stream for them), but after that it is bought and sold much like real-life real estate. Mainstream media has reported on SL residents who earn large incomes from the SL real estate market.[4]

In addition to the main economy, some residents receive a small weekly stipend, depending on the kind of account they have, and when they joined Second Life.[5] There are also the virtual equivalent of minimum wage jobs and charitable organizations that try to introduce new residents to the consumer economy.

LindeX currency exchange[edit]

Residents may purchase L$ directly through the Second Life viewer, or by logging into the website and using the Lindex Exchange.

The ratio of USD to L$ is a floating exchange rate depending on supply and demand; As of June 2017, exchange rates average approximately L$252/US$1. Linden Dollars can be purchased and sold on the Lindex at the current market rate, or residents can set their own limit to get a better exchange rate. However, limit orders may take longer to be fulfilled than market rates.

Between June 2008 and June 2017, the rate has remained stable with a high of L$270/US$1 and a low of L$240/US$1.

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Economic issues[edit]

Government[edit]

Second Life residents mostly do not have a government. In part this is enabled by the fact that there is also no physical damage, and in principle no possible theft of property (excluding virtual content), nor is there war on a large scale, other than between military groups or other role players restricted to 'damage-enabled' sims like Eridanus and other similar areas. Thus, many of the functions of government are not required.

On the other hand, there is always a need for dispute resolution.

At the lowest level, property rights reign supreme. A building's owner makes the rules, and can simply eject or ban any resident they wish to, with or without cause. An owner of 512 square meters is lord of that manor, just as the so-called Land Barons are the lords of their much larger ones.

Some groups of people in Second Life have created small-scale political structures. For example, they might band together, purchase property in the group's name, and agree to follow in-group rules and regulations, elect officers, support a monarchy, etc.

At the highest level, Linden Lab is the true owner of Second Life, and within the Second Life Terms of Service (TOS), they are the ultimate authority.

Monetary policy[edit]

For a historical perspective on Linden Lab monetary policy, two articles posted in 2007 and 2008 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute demonstrate how the Linden Dollar concept captured the imagination of economists and philosophers. While not an actual currency, the Linden Dollar's function within the Second Life virtual world allowed many thinkers to draw interesting parallels between the Linden Dollar token/the Second Life economy and real world currencies/economies.

Any up-to-date information about Second Life's monetary policy can be found within Second Life's Terms of Service.

Acts of Linden[edit]

Linden Lab, as the actual owner of all the software and server-side hardware that makes up Second Life, has the ultimate authority to change all aspects of the world, from the economy to the physics to the terms-of-service.

Changes made or proposed by Linden Lab are thus far-reaching and can lead to unexpected results. Some changes have had the effect of creating new markets, but also have on occasion destroyed or removed the value of existing ones, or inadvertently given a market leader at a particular time unique advantages that entrench them as a market leader in the future. Some say that unless this power is very tightly controlled and transparent, the Linden economy is unlikely to attract very large investment.[citation needed]

One example is InfoNet, an in-world newspaper and information delivery service run on a for-profit basis, and formerly of limited effectiveness due to a limited range of access points (true of many such systems in SL). When the old concept of 'telehubs' was removed from the game, Linden Lab replaced them with 'InfoHubs', each of which included an InfoNet access point which was hosted for free on system-owned land; it also placed InfoNet access points in the Welcome Areas where new users arrive, where no user is normally permitted to leave business-related objects. This had the effect of giving InfoNet an instant and substantial advantage.[6]

Recent Linden Acts of greater economic import include the banning of wagering on games of random chance or on real-life sporting events with L$. As soon as the rule change was announced, gaming regions were given a few days to close[citation needed]. Gaming region owners and game scripters either found other avenues of business or ceased operations. The fallout of this was the largest Linden Dollar bank in SL, Ginko Financial, which had its Linden Dollar ATMs in most major gaming regions, saw its reserves drained completely within hours, and was never able to catch up with Linden Dollar withdrawal requests, which eventually amounted to L$55 million out of deposits of L$180 million. Ginko's assets were primarily invested in either things of poor to no liquidity, or virtual securities that were then trading at significantly under their purchase price.

In the second quarter of 2008, Linden Lab increased the amount of land it supplied daily, which had the effect of lowering prices 'from a bottom of 8.5 lindens to 7.5 lindens a meter overnight.'[7]

Shortly after these events, Linden Lab began collecting the Value Added Tax (VAT) from customers who live in the European Union (aside from those customers who have a VAT ID which exempts them from the tax). This is applied to membership, land purchase, and land maintenance fees paid in real world currency (e.g., the euro) by European members to Linden Lab. Previously, Linden Lab had absorbed the cost of the VAT.[8] Linden Lab did attempt to collect any VAT which might theoretically be applicable to Linden $ transactions between individual Second Life residents. When VAT charging on fees began, there was discussion among Europeans about leaving SL, or else transferring their lands to American partners, or getting into lines of work that do not involve fees paid to Linden Lab in euros. American Land Barons were in a position to offer tax shelters to Europeans (although in theory the European users could still owe VAT on cash transfers to or from their US partners.)

Linden Economy Factors[edit]

Because some business models rely on a revenue model existing outside Second Life, some businesses may affect the traditional approach to Second Life business and the general Second Life economy. For example, the SLIPPcat advertising system encourages companies to provide content in Second Life which can not only be obtained for free but which generates income for its owner by displaying advertisements to other users when clicked [1].

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SL businesses are especially vulnerable to business disruption due to the zero[9]marginal cost of production. In 2007, Anshe Chung was criticised[who?] for marketing a line of furniture in which every item was sold for 10 Linden dollars (approximately 4 cents.) [10] Selling such items was viable for Anshe because the majority of her income came from the sale and maintenance of land, used to host houses within which the furniture was placed; but posed a threat to furniture makers as such low prices would make it impossible for stores not supported by an auxiliary business to compete.

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In November 2009, Linden Lab announced that it was considering charging a L$99/month per-item fee for listing 'freebies' (free items) on XStreetSL, its e-commerce website, which previously could be exchanged for free on the site. It also announced XStreetSL would charge higher commissions for non-freebies, along with an L$10/month per-item fee for such items. This was seen by the user community as a ploy to minimize the number of free and low-priced items on the site.[11]

The low cost of business in SL allows unprofitable business models to be sustained at a lower real world cost than would be possible for the same business in real life.[12]

References[edit]

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  1. ^Reiss, Spencer (December 2005 – January 2006). 'Virtual Economics'. Retrieved 2006-11-24.
  2. ^Newitz, Annalee (September 2006). 'Your Second Life Is Ready'. Popular Science. Archived from the original on 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2006-11-24.
  3. ^Second Life economy totals $567 million US dollars in 2009 — 65 % growth over 2008
  4. ^Paul Sloan (2005-12-01). 'The Virtual Rockefeller: Anshe Chung is raking in real money in an unreal online world'. Business 2.0. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
  5. ^'Premium membership - Weekly Linden dollar rewards (stipend)'. Second Life English Knowledge Base. Retrieved 2014-09-03.
  6. ^Neva, Prokofy (December 8, 2005). 'InfoFunnel'. Archived from the original on November 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
  7. ^'Linden to increase land supply, drop prices'. Reuters/Second Life. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
  8. ^http://secondlife.com/corporate/vat.php
  9. ^'Second Life: Facts for the Visitor'. Wired News. October 2006. Second Life is an entrepreneur's dream: no taxes, minimal regulation, no marginal cost of production, subsidies to encourage innovation.
  10. ^http://www.slnn.com/article/anshe-ten-linden/
  11. ^https://blogs.secondlife.com/community/commerce/blog/2009/11/18/roadmap--managing-freebies-on-xstreet-sl
  12. ^Korolov, M. (2011-05-22). 'No happy endings for virtual investors'. In 2007, around 3,000 people were making over US$100 a month from Second Life.

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External links[edit]

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