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I’m very, very excited about being able to announce this. This is by far the most exciting thing I’ve ever done with Second Life. Here it is:

At practically any moment, there are tens of thousands of people logged in to Second Life. And yet…ever have trouble finding someone to do something with? Ever wish you could somehow search for resis who share interests with you, or who live near you in First Life, or for your ideal dance partner? Ever wish you had a little HUD you could use to find someone who was around *right then* to go fishing or shopping or dancing or to hang out and talk with?

Meetaverse will let you do those things.

With the help of some talented friends, I’ve been working harder than I’ve ever worked before in my life throughout this past summer to create a system to let people find each other in Second Life, whether they’re looking for activity partners, shopping buddies, business partners, people to talk to, dancing partners, mentors, game opponents, or even lovers. Now Meetaverse is nearly ready to launch, and I’m looking for volunteers to use the system, for free, as a test before I release it to the world.

Meetaverse exists partly on a Web site and partly within Second Life. The Web site is a little like a dating site, except that it’s just as good at finding people to do things with as it is at finding Second Life dates – in fact, you can turn all of the romantic parts of the site off with one setting if you’re only looking for friends. Here’s a picture of one of the screens (look at the menu on top of the picture for an idea of what else the site can do).

Meetaverse is designed from the ground up with the understanding that you have both a First Life and a Second Life, and you answer questions separately for each life – but only the questions you choose. You don’t have to give *any* information about your First Life at all unless you want to – not even your name or e-mail address. Meetaverse verifies your identity with your avatar in-world. You can have separate accounts for alts if you like, too.

Your Second Life Meetaverse profile lets you say if you have different avatars, different genders, or different types of creatures as your Second Life self; whether you only want to meet people who are the same gender in First and Second Life; how often you’re online; and a lot of other things that you can’t put in a normal Second Life profile or MySpace page or any other kind of profile I’ve ever seen. You can upload pictures for your Second Life, your First Life, or both. By the time the testing period is over, all new profiles will be checked before posting so that there will be no spam.

The most important part in-world is the Meetaverse Notifier, an attachment that sits in a corner of your screen and lets you know whenever someone contacts you through Meetaverse, lets you say when you’re available to do things, and gives you links to the most important features on the Web site, which pop right up when you click Notifier buttons.

One of the most important things about the Notifier is that it lets you just click a button to turn on or off your availability…that is, to let everyone else know if you’re looking to meet someone or go do something. Once you click the lightbulb, anyone searching on the site or from within Second Life can find that you’re available and send you a message inviting you to do something. You stay completely anonymous – not even your Second Life name is revealed! – unless and until you want to reveal yourself.

After everything is released, Meetaverse will be available to all Second Life residents at no cost, and everyone will be able to have a full profile, upload pictures, respond to messages from other members, and so on. Anyone who decides to have a full membership, which costs L$700 a month, will be able to contact other members without being contacted first (which at the moment is the only important thing standard members can’t do).

Meetaverse will preview with a testing phase for volunteers, who are given full memberships for the rest of the year at no cost, within two weeks, possibly as early as this weekend.

If you’d like to help test Meetaverse out (using real information and looking for real friends), please contact me one of these ways with either your e-mail address or your Second Life name:

* Respond to this post in comments
* E-mail me at meetaverse at gmail dot com
* IM me (Kate Amdahl) in Second Life

If you’d like to put this information on a notecard (or for me to send you a notecard like that) and pass it on to friends in Second Life, that would be great. Once we have enough volunteers, I’ll close the offer down. It’ll mostly be first come, first served.

What do you think? Questions? Flames? Awe and amazement? Scorn? Surprise?

^^^\ Kate /^^^