Are you spending more time in Second Life than your so-called "first"? Linden Lab recently delivered its 2008 usage results, which peg user hours up 61% over 2007 for a grand total of nearly 400 million hours total.
That's a lot of hours, equivalent to roughly 45,631 years.
Linden Lab lists its total residents at 16,785,351 as of this posting. Roughly half a million of those were logged-in during the last seven days alone.
What's more, peak concurrent users -- the number of people playing at the same time -- increased 31% over 2007.
Land "owned" by residents saw the greatest percentile growth, soaring 82% over 2007 and totaling some 1.76 billion square meters of virtual turf. By comparison, the surface area of the earth (land and water) is around 510 million square kilometers.
The wildest figure: User-to-user transactions increased 54% over 2007 and were valued at some $361 million USD. Virtual currency exchanged on the LindeX, Linden Lab's virtual brokerage, totaled $108 million for the year.
Intriguingly, 4Q 2008 virtual currency exchanged fell slightly (from $28M to $27M) for the first time since the initial index ($2M) in Q1 2006. Linden Lab attributes this to "uncertainty in the land market created by the pricing and configuration changes or simply that the economy overheated slightly in September when we saw significant growth in volume."
Curiously, LL fails to speculate about a correlation with our "first world" economic downturn. Given the Linden's (the name of SL's virtual currency) close ties to the US dollar, I don't see why that couldn't be a logical alternative explanation.
Speaking of economic harbingers, did you hear about today's Second Life tux-and-gown Inauguration Ball?