When the online virtual world Second Life first got hot a couple of years ago, Dell was among the companies that joined the craze. Linden Labs, its creator, was surprisingly sanguine about companies fleeing. Their focus has been to build technology that enables users and then stand back and watch what people do, instead of supporting a particular use of Second Life, says Glenn Fisher, Linden's director of business programs. New marketers often try to imitate another medium, says Ginsu Yoon, Linden's VP of business affairs. Second Life isn't television or radio or even the Internet, all of which push information out one way. Rather, it's a place to build awareness and get people talking about a product. Linden Labs has taken notice and is working on its software to make it more appealing for companies. It recently released development tools that let companies build private areas in Second Life for internal use.