Earlier, in The Geography of Travel we suggested the complicated relationships that form between users and maps shaped by function. Second Life reminds us of this as it reaches to provide webpage links to places in it's virtual world...
Second Life recently introduced a web application layer that links map annotations on a webpage, say, to locations within their virtual world. Thus a web-page click of a link on a map of a place in Second Life can transport you to that location (Second Life client software required). Beyond simple analogies to Google Maps, SLurl is interesting for the questions it suggests on how we may relate with places on the inside from maps on the outside.
While some worlds offer web-based views into their worlds, the distinction here is that SLurl relates the user to the location in the virtual world by transporting them (via their avatar) to the site. This is different from an abstract depiction of a user's state within a virtual world ("you are here, here is what you have").
One reason why many virtual worlds limit (or don't provide) web-views into their worlds to users is to minimize server loads: the mayhem of too many non-participating participants idly clicking web browser refresh buttons can be a distraction and expense to the infrastructure of the world. The semantics of SLurl side-steps this by forcing the user into the world: click the link the client software is executed, and there you are. Nothing idle about that.
SLurls raise questions on the nature and relationship of an external viewer and a virtual world (ed/). What are the pitfalls with maps that are too eager to transition from being about someplace to becoming the place? To know about a place does that mean you have to always go there?
Demonstration of SLurl (requires SL install on desktop).
Clickable Culture discussion.