Second Life turns 15 this year! To kick off our year-long birthday celebration, we’ve rounded up 15 exciting improvements and features that make Second Life better than ever in 2018 and beyond...
7. The return of Last Names - You’ve asked for it (a lot!), so we will provide a way to customize your last name in Second Life! More details will be available later this year.
As it happens, last names for SL avatars were removed 7 years ago, replaced by a confusing and highly impersonal avatar account naming system. (At least veteran users from before that time were able to keep their own last names -- see above.) The end of last names was so unpopular, users began passing around a workaround feature for getting a last name. (This post explaining how to do that was among the most popular on New World Notes in 2011.)
I'm curious how Linden Lab re-introduces last names. The original idea was to give new users a pre-created list of surnames to choose from, then replace those surnames after a certain time. (In my Linden Lab days, I sat next to former community manager Daniel Huebner, and enjoyed watching him wracking his brain to come up with new last names, for a time going through various desserts of the world -- which is why many oldie SLers are named, say, "Tiramisu".) With shared last names, groups of users would have an extended "family" of other users with similar life experiences, so to speak, since they joined the virtual world at roughly the same period of real life time.
And if that idea sounds familiar, yes, it was partly inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's Slapstick :
Even when Vonnegut dared to propose a utopian scheme, it was a happily dysfunctional one. In Slapstick, Wilbur Swain wins the presidency with a scheme to eliminate loneliness by issuing people complicated middle names (he becomes Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain) which make them part of new extended families. He advises people to tell new relatives they hate, or members of other families asking for help: "Why don't you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don't you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?" Of course, this fails to prevent plagues, the breakdown of his government, and civil wars later in the story.
It's true giving people shared names won't necessarily stop civil wars, but I can say there was just a little more social cohesion and community support in Second Life before last names went away.