Friday, November 20, 2009

From the BBC about Second Life: "Shame, Really"

Low Lag Horizon

Location: Watching the Horizon

It's not wonderful to have your own misgivings seconded by a major news source.

"What happened to Second Life?" considers how the coverage of the virtual world has waned since the hype-days of 2007, when I came in world.

Amid the consternation, even fury, caused by several Linden Lab decisions, such as the ending of the mentors program and the new fees for users of the Linden's online market,, there's a broader story.

We in SL spend too much time in our little universe to see that the world beyond has just moved on. This may be why almost none of my students or colleagues even know what SL is.

Points in the BBC story:
  • Return on investment was about zero for most businesses that came into SL during the hype era. My reading: they had bad business plans, but they also came away with a desire "never to do THAT again." And they spread the word.
  • SL does not work well on low-end systems and not at all on hand-held devices. Small and portable computing, not Alienware desktops, are the devices of choice of the future.
  • The experience for newcomers has been awful and they don't return. As one commenter put it, about her experience of wandering aimlessly, then quitting after a few days: "It was a great idea but just didn't work in practice. Shame, really."
That is perfect English understatement about a looming disaster.

I'm pleased by one thing: I'm active in other virtual worlds. I don't feel confident for the future of Linden Lab.


educational resources & SL stuff said...

well said. i believe the future is bright for immersive education.

Gwyneth Llewelyn said...

What did the "world beyond" move to...?

Iggy O said...

Gwyneth, you caught me in a "suitcase moment," when the need for concise blogging outweighed "unpacking a suitcase term."

I was thinking how after the "hype" era, SL dropped off the radar of mainstream media. LL's failure to market its product did not help. SL is drowned out by other technologies, including gaming, social-networking, and the like.

All of my students knew about YoVille and Farmville at Facebook.
Only two of them this term had ever heard of SL, and the publicity was all negative.

We SL bloggers and Residents exist in a microclimate. That can be both fun and dangerous, if the climate changes.