"First They Got Sick, Then They Moved Into a Virtual Utopia" is a really powerful and beautifully written new article by Kristen French for WIRED's Backchannel featuring Fran Seranade, the woman I wrote about in 2013 who uses Second Life to partly recover from her Parkinson's, and other members of SL's large and burgeoning "virtual ability" community:
Today, Second Life is mostly forgotten by the broader public. An estimated 800,000 users are active on a monthly basis, according to Second Life parent company Linden Lab. That’s tiny compared to the 1.86 billion users who are active on Facebook each month. Yet some communities have quietly continued to thrive in the virtual world. One of these is the disability community, a sundry group whose members include people who are blind or deaf, people with emotional handicaps such as autism and PTSD, and people with conditions that limit their mobility, such as Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. There are no official tallies of their numbers, but Wagner James Au, who has written extensively about Second Life, estimates they may account for roughly 20 percent of users. Some active members estimate the number higher — at as much as 50 percent.
Fran was 85 when I first wrote about her, so it's also wonderful to read this story and find out she's celebrating her 90th birthday.