Fifty Thousand Actual Dollars for an Imaginary Island?

I am truly a creature of the last century. And I didn’t even really fit into that century because so many of my literary and historical friends came from centuries before that. I loved to learn about my grandparents’ generation and about the Middle Ages and the Ancient World.

I guess I’m kind of a backward-looking guy. But I’m always ready to greet the future. Hell, I’m glad to be around to do so.

When my brother Shady showed me YouTube, all I could do was gape — and enjoy the Bob Wills videos like “Ida Red” and “Sitting on Top of the World” and “Three Miles South of Cash in Arkansas.” Tell me Bob Wills doesn’t rock. Tell me Carolina Cotton doesn’t rock.

I discovered Bjork (turns out it rhymes with jerk) and Catherine Tate, and even saw Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz singing “Silent Night.”

So you can see I’m easily amused.

Tonight I got a tour of, a virtual world that doesn’t exist. It’s a world created in cyberspace by more than seven million creative people all over the world. Last week more than 485,000 people logged onto for more than an hour.

In a way it’s like Dungeons and Dragons but way way cooler because you create your own identity, shades and all. Then you can walk, fly or levitate around and visit all the amazing places that people have created. I saw just a few, enough to see why people are focusing their creative energies here. It’s like Oz only more so.

You can also buy land there and create your own environment, but it will cost you. An island can cost you $2,000, but then you have to develop it, and there are maintenance costs. They have their own currency of Linden Dollars which people swap, but they also have transactions in US dollars. And we’re talking serious dollars.

One popular island in this cyberworld recently sold for $50,000 real life cash on the barrelhead, son. This is the real deal, a vision of the future. Video gaming meets Economics 101.

My guide, Alexander, explained that soon the interactive characters will be able to talk with one another, either through voice simulation or an actual audio link.

“With people from all over the world,” I said, “who will translate?”

“Oh people will develop their own translators.”

Oh, right. This is the future. People develop translators just like that.

Who knows? Maybe we will see real-life applications from the situations we encounter in cyberspace as people from all over the world interact and visit one another’s idealized universes.

But don’t ask me. I’m just a slack-jawed spectator from the last century. I’m still getting used to using the word universes in the plural. And wait a minute, did he say fifty thousand actual bucks for an imaginary island?