A scientist in the U.S. has been given £128,000 to develop a secondlifealike set in and around the world of shakespear. The creator sees the world as part educational programme part social experiment. Read the full article here 

It sounds to me like an interesting project but the real issue raised is the potential of social media as a research tool. Social networks are difficult to track but controlled worlds such as second life offer a kind of window on social activity that has, until now, been completely impossible to create.