Over the summer secondlife changed - a lot. There are a lot more people with accounts and a lot more people logged on simultaneously. Still not as many as World of Warcraft - but it's growing.
A lot of real world brands are moving into the game. A PR firm, Toyota Scion, tennis shoes, a hotel chain - and that's just what I remember. The projects are giving inworld designers a lot of visibility which is cool.
Another thing that happened this summer is that some big names from other parts of the internet established a presence in the game. Robert Scoble. Adam Curry. and Joe Jaffe.
The last thing I noticed over the summer is all the conferences and meetings that were held simultaneously in world. It was very strange to see my avatar sit (they sway ever so slightly in their seats) and watch a live video stream on an inworld screen in a room full of other swaying avatars. We could chat and have side conversations while we watched without disturbing others. The people on the screen could ask and answer questions from the inworld crowd too.
There was more media coverage of the game too - including a podcast from Business Week.
How will that affect our experience inthe game? I'm not sure yet. There is more to do . There are more brand names that students will recognize. The new developments may make the game seem more legitimate. It might also seem less wild and wooly and so students will be less willing to play around. I will be interested in watching their reactions.