The new Second Life Marketplace beta opened up yesterday, and I had to take a few moments to stop by and see where my hard-earned Lindens would be disappearing in the near future.

My initial impression is favorable. There are a number of handy features that make this a win for me, the shopper.

I like the new look and can certainly find items more quickly with fewer clicks to get to categories I use frequently.  Left hand navigation menus take advantage of the training other sites have given me for years, and place the most frequently used search criteria in easy reach.  The usability folks have done their work well.

And odd thing that appeals to me from a liberal arts education standpoint is the ability to easily change the main language of the site.  While many of the descriptions, provided by the vendors no doubt, are still in English, I appreciate the recognition that SL is a global virtual world with a large population from countries other than the US.  It appeals to me from a socio-political standpoint but also as a person trying to expand my command of German.  I can practice using my second language in context of Second Life!!

There are a few things that were disappointing,  however.  As an educator, I spend WAY too much time searching through the marketplace seeking tools for my virtual classroom.  Many things are to be found in the business section — or the educators listserv — but would it be too much to ask for that category so that I’m not slogging through the devices needed to run a business just to find a media projector or a podium?  The educator’s list-serv is pretty full of people, so I have to think this would be a way to appeal to a pretty large population both in the Teen and main grids.

And a small point … having science-fiction lumped in with fantasy is also frustrating.  With the Star Wars and Trekkie types running dozens of sims, I think we rate as high as the Gor bunch for volume of sales.  I know I’ve sunk thousands of Lindens into furnishing my islands at times.  Just might be nice to make it easier for me to find the right thing before I get tired of searching or run out of time.

But, I recommend that you head over and check out the Beta version.  It does look promising.