Is Second Life about to enter its "second life?"

You probably have forgotten about Second Life (the virtual world from Linden Lab), right?

Remember, that’s that virtual world that got a TON of hype back in 2005/6. It was on the cover of magazines. On CNN and other TV shows. It looked like it was going to be THE new thing of the decade.

What happened?

Well, a few things.

1. Corporations figured out that they’d need to spend a lot of money to build an island in Second Life (Microsoft spent somewhere around $100,000 if I remember right back then) but soon they figured out that each island could only hold 100 people. Not a good ROI.

2. It had game dynamics. Games are fun for a while, but eventually people get bored of playing games. That’s what happened. People who were very excited and evangelistic about Second Life eventually moved on.

3. It lost its “new and shiny” patina. That’s most of why the press forgot about it. We only pay attention to new and cool stuff. Heck, just look at Techcrunch. Do you read about older technologies there? No.

Anyway, one thing happened that I find very interesting: it continued to grow in users, time spent on the site, and dollars spent in it.

On Friday I sat down with Mark to find out why.

First, the users remained very evangelistic. Second, corporations like IBM found other uses for its islands and kept investing (they now use these islands for training and replacements of expensive conferences). Third, the technology has been steadily improving. Fourth, the company has found new ways to bring new users in and make the experience easier to get into.

But he admitted that they had been pretty quiet and avoided doing more PR work until just recently.

Why is that changing this week? You’ll see why tomorrow morning at about 11 a.m. on building43.

But to tease a bit, I find that their new direction, the first part of which you’ll see tomorrow in the video I did with Mark, is interesting and represents a new life for Second Life and its host Linden Labs.

To wrap this up, have you used Second Life lately? Even if you haven’t, see you on building43 tomorrow morning for more.

Comments

  1. I have been using secondlife for 5 years Robert, and if you think something is going to some how pull the asshat outa secondlife, good god it must be the rebirth of Jesus. Stalkers, age play and those creepy child avatars, not to forget to mention the Sex slave trade,oh and yes wearing a box on your head I hope will all get fixed by the end of the world 2012. So make sure you send your friend requests to “CJAY PRICE”, and I will show you how to Twitter a tweet from the virtual world.

    1. I’m confused, Cjay. You list a bunch of reasons indicating what’s wrong with Second Life, yet you begin with “I have been using secondlife for 5 years”. I can only conclude you’re either overstating your involvement or you enjoy all the things you list.

      1. I’m sure I forgot to mention the nifty 3d graphic forte that keeps me coming back to engage asshats like you.

    2. Wow – I have been in Second Life for 3.5 years now, and the communities I participate in have none of those things – maybe you should get out of Zindra?
      Oh, and the whole “box on the head” – not for the last couple of years, they go on the right hand now.
      Which leads me to believe that you are either not an active user or a troll.
      To those who actually are interested in Second Life, I would direct you to the very active communities who are supporting education, libraries, art, music, technology, or even playing!
      And we also have wonderful community created and supported Gateways for new users to orient them to the world and help folks get off to a good start.
      Fogwoman Gray

  2. Ahh, yes, there are all those problems still. Well, now that they are going in a new direction it'll be interesting to see if they can contain that kind of stuff and make the world welcoming to newbies.

  3. Ahh, yes, there are all those problems still. Well, now that they are going in a new direction it'll be interesting to see if they can contain that kind of stuff and make the world welcoming to newbies.

  4. A while back i signed up over there, just didn't get it at that time. Just hopped over there now and still don't get it.. Maybe i'm missing something but my first couple of reactions were $$, which i wasn't willing to dish out.

    Don't get me wrong i'll pay for what i like on the web, maybe you can enlighten us on the building43 with a video?

  5. A while back i signed up over there, just didn't get it at that time. Just hopped over there now and still don't get it.. Maybe i'm missing something but my first couple of reactions were $$, which i wasn't willing to dish out.

    Don't get me wrong i'll pay for what i like on the web, maybe you can enlighten us on the building43 with a video?

  6. I think the video will help explain a little about what is cool about virtual worlds. I gotta get some sleep, but will try to explain more in a post on Tuesday morning too.

  7. I gave up on it last autumn – there were a number of problems, lag being one of them. Since then I lost the streaming service deal I'd had so can no longer DJ cost-effectively in Second Life without being beholden to sim owners. The manager of my favourite hangout had to give up Second Life too, and a number of my friends left, so I felt it was no longer worthwhile. I'm actually having way more fun playing World of Warcraft with a bunch of my real life friends.

  8. Ahad, actually you don't need to spend a dime in order to enjoy Second Life:
    - the client is open source and free to download
    - basic membership is 100% free
    - unless you need to own land you can find tools, clothing, furnitures, vehicles and most kind of scripted objects for free

    I use Second Life with satisfaction since 2006, and I never put in a cent. However, interestingly enough, I work 1hour/week inside Second Life – for the same hourly pay I earn with my 'physical' work. That allows me to own a quarter of an island, where I host an interactive installation:
    video > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdjwFHCITbE
    visit it inside Second Life > http://slurl.com/secondlife/LOL/12/34/56

  9. The place is just too creepy. And Linden Lab themselves are probably the creepiest factor. It's like logging into some kind of police state with all their surveillance they've got going on. All user activity is recorded. User alternative accounts are linked together. Residents may have privacy from each other, but nobody has privacy from Linden Lab.

    Their system is watching you. All in the name of security.

    A brave new world indeed.

  10. Thanks for the links. I see working over there as a cool way to purchase credits for an island. I suppose the point is to have some property there, but for now i'd be happy to just check it out.

  11. I read a followup article about Second Life just a few weeks ago. Linden Labs segregated the sex-related activities over onto an island, with the result that all of the user activity moved there and left the rest of the virtual environment empty. At this point it will be awfully difficult for Linden to reposition the service as something else.

    1. You’re mis-informed, me-thinks, DGentry – yes, adult-oriented content was relocated. It has *not* resulted in the rest of SL being empty – not by a long shot. Anyone who thinks that adult content is the only thing going for Second Life isn’t paying attention to the expanding use by enterprise, nonprofits and education, and the growing collection of use cases and best practices. Take a gander at industry reports by ThinkBalm for a different perspective – http://www.thinkbalm.com

  12. I never once in 1.5 yrs saw or was bothered by any sex industry in SL. I think it’s way overrated, yet a good media splash, eh. I hear more new music in SL than I ever did in RL. I am a member of several groups where I have found real friends scattered all over the globe. I enjoy building and scripting at free sandboxes and don’t pay a dime for anything I don’t want to. I think the people who don’t find something in SL might not in RL either unless someone else led them to it. Get involved. I actually go to the Ballet Pixelle at IBM island.

  13. Let me guess – they figured out a way to make 105 users per sim, they've shuffeled up the pie chart again + took out some major building aides … and yes – sim cost is going 3x up and avatars will not render from knees up to their clavicles if naked.

  14. Oddly, the academic community is still obsessed with what Second Life represents. I work at a University and we still have a strong contingent of professors who do studies on Second Life, have their classes sign up, and still talk about it as if it represents the “Snow Crash” future of the metaverse.

    There are many academics who specialize in new media or virtual worlds and they've been saying Second Life is the future since it launched.

  15. Just tried to install the SL client on a computer that has been running 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium for 36 hours. “Second Life is unable to run because your video card drivers did not install properly…”

    I am sure I can probably fix the problem if I work at it but this is not a way to endear yourself to someone who wasn't logged in for over a year.

  16. I have almost forgotten about Second Life! It's quite boring to me as I move around the virtual place. I stopped after installing it on the first day. I didn't know it actually turned out to be like this… Always thought it is still going strong because of some evangelistic users.

  17. I remember now how much advertising was around the game and how much money can you gain and the entire game industry will be revolutionized … for me it was boring … But I wish them success

  18. I wonder why Big Companies should spend Big money in SL when they can have it muuuch cheaper in e.g. the Opensimulator ? They can host it on their internal Network .. Thats soo easy !?

  19. I have been a Second Life resident since 2006 and have always believed in its ability for business. I actually worked for a marketing and development firm within the Virtual World for about a year and a half – 2 years. I do not get the chance to go into Second Life as much as I would like these day, however I am working on a TweetUp that will be taking place IN Second Life on the 28th of this month.

  20. It definitely lost the lustre of attention – that elusive fuel of online business. There was a point in Oct 2007 when Twitter zagged Second Life according to Google Trends mentions. – http://j.mp/8YfxzG

    Since then it´s flatlined. – http://j.mp/1dADej

    What evidence is there of any major online destination ever having made a comeback?

  21. I'm fast approaching my 4th year as a SL resident and I am already excited to see where it goes now that they are offering “starter” homes with their premium accounts. They are not only giving people more of a sense of personal space in the world, but also breeding communities by placing residents in themed sims. I think this will be a huge improvement on retention of new residents.

    1. Where do you live in RL where the government is recording your every word and movement?

      Perhaps you should consider wearing a tinfoil hat to keep the signals in.

  22. Second Life has become a destination for many artists who see it as a new frontier in art. Where a painting in first life sits on your wall there for you to passively observe, artists are now using second life to create immersive paintings you can enter and explore. Here is an example of a narrative I created which was sponsored by IBM. This machinima link below shows a story which I fully created using SL building tools, in world you are able to walk through and explore from all angles.

    http://blip.tv/file/3106327

    I am a professional oil painter in my first life, yet I find the potential for creating art in second life to be much more fascinating. I can create environments for the viewer which incorporate a whole new range of techniques such as sound, video, scripting and many other variables. Its really quite an exciting time in art for many of us who work here.

  23. Second Life is amazingly bad at connecting new user to a meaningful experience. Its pretty routine to see a comment like yours, and very understandable too.

    When I first tried it in 06, as part of the hype for an art program I'd just purchased, it made no sense to me. After going to the little hype party, I logged out and shrugged it away.

    Out of boredom and googling in the middle of last year, I stumbled onto some guides written for it, gave it another try, and managed to find myself a niche in there.

    But that was sheer luck on my part. Its very common for me to see people landing in SL content completely not what they are seeking – new users looking for music landing in some crazy sex shop, or vice versa. Business people wondering why they're standing in the middle of a primitive 1st person shooter game, or drop in on a business meeting only to have a new person log in, and pop by looking for the combat game they'd been told about.

    A combination of an “inworld” search tool stuck in the 90s – gameable with keyword spam, and simple tricks to push your results up, and a near complete lack of a good orientation for new people means the result can be completely counter to what your seeking unless you really know what you're doing… and if you're just looking to see if its interesting without a plan laid out ahead of time… its going to be sheer hit or miss.

  24. I'm sorry but this is a big LOL “First, the users remained very evangelistic.”

    I'm a second life resident since end of 2006 and had spend a few US dollars, but won much more than spent, but just because I wanted, not because I needed. Like brynoh says “Second Life has become a destination for many artists” much more than “company has found new ways to bring new users in and make the experience easier to get into” (I still don't get it, what u mean, can u be more specific??), as far as I know nothing on Second Life became easier that justify your affirmation.

    Let's say that Linden Lab's has changed itself to be “THE 3D platform” and not like before “another 3d platform”

  25. I'm sorry but this is a big LOL “First, the users remained very evangelistic.”

    I'm a second life resident since end of 2006 and had spend a few US dollars, but won much more than spent, but just because I wanted, not because I needed. Like brynoh says “Second Life has become a destination for many artists” much more than “company has found new ways to bring new users in and make the experience easier to get into” (I still don't get it, what u mean, can u be more specific??), as far as I know nothing on Second Life became easier that justify your affirmation.

    Let's say that Linden Lab's has changed itself to be “THE 3D platform” and not like before “another 3d platform”

  26. @opensource Don't bother. Scoble operates on a much bigger media circle, one that is too busy to do field reporting. Sure, Scoble will interview a CEO, but does Scoble even bother to look at the work big companies like IBM, or the vast number of universities using Second Life and OpenSim variants are doing? As he says in #3, it's not new and shiny, so the answer is: No. So, if those are off Scoble's radar, why would we expect Scoble to dig past the 2006-2007 (not 2005, wasn't really hyped yet, then) on Linden Lab and Second Life. For that matter, Scoble neglects to even copy-edit the name of the company he's writing about.

    This does, of course, reinforce Linden Lab's need to do a new marketing initiative. I mean, as this article's title illustrates, the name “Second Life” itself is a big obstacle for people to understand the platform past the game-like element. Scoble is right about #2 and #3 why Second Life lost popularity. Mark has helped to focus Linden Lab's efforts in Second Life becoming more than a game platform, and it sounds like that with this interview, Scoble inadvertently just published that Viewer 2.0 will be announced tomorrow. :)

    Scoble: As for #1 – you're close. It should read, “Companies came to a false-realization that they need to spend … etc”. The fact is that the 2006-2007 hype amplified very web 1.0 solutions: Build a space and people will come. Meanwhile, successful projects took a more community-outreach solution, using viral marketing, cross-media interaction with the web and other platforms, and asynchronous activities that allow tens of thousands of users to enjoy the content. It's the media “zomg 100 people” reaction that blinded many companies and steered them wrong.

    But if your mind has been swayed by Linden Lab's CEO, Mark, then I'll take it as a good sign of the direction Linden Lab is steering their marketing.

  27. Actually, as a gamer, I was initially drawn to Second Life because of the potential for a truly sandbox gaming experience. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered there was actually very little content (in terms of things to do) in SL that didn't require huge investments of time, scripting/modeling know-how and of course, money.

    It also didn't help that SL has one of the most complicated UIs for players that I've seen in a widely-used app. I mean, if SL was only targeted at die-hard programmers, modelers, scientists, etc. I wouldn't see an issue with this. But SL wanted desperately to be the “next internet” for EVERYONE and in the process it totally flew over the heads of most would-be users in complexity.

    As for the content (and having shady people use the service), the only way to avoid this for the most part would be to actually require every user to completely identify/verify themselves with a driver's license #, soc. sec. #, etc. — something that would link this “fantasy” world with the real one and discourage (or remove the potential) illegal/frowned-upon behavior.

    Long story short, SL has a lot of issues. It would be better for them to start over from scratch and do things right this time (and not use Adobe's long-dead Dimensions engine/code for visuals).

  28. There is probably less sexual and sketchy content in Second Life, by percentage, than there is on the WWW by percentage. If you don't go where it is, it probably won't bother you, just like porn on the web. It may be tittilating for the press to report on sex in SL, but then, look at Tiger Woods. No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public, I hear.

    If you're interested in finding out what good content — you know, that good news that doesn't garner eyeballs and so doesn't gather reporters? — ask me. I've been working in Second Life for over 4 years on nonprofit and arts projects, and I can't keep up with all the good stuff going on.

    Really, you folks who think SL is creepy — you just need to find a better crowd to hang out with. If you go to a strange city and hang out in bars to get to know people, you will find creepy people there, too. There's a very adequate event search in SL — try looking under Education or Live Music or one of the categories of events less likely to put you in contact with smarmy people.

    It's not hard. But it's a bit like Twitter — the quality of your experience depends on the quality of your network.

  29. I am nearly at my 3-year rez date in Second Life and find it still to be fun and challenging. What seems to be missing above, however, is any serious commentary about the struggles Linden Lab creates in Second Life that skews their numbers (assuming they are reporting accurately) or plays havoc with the in-world economy which in the end probably will doom it to continued mediocrity. Let me toss out two brief examples.

    Starting in February, Second Life’s adult industries started revving up their creators for an impending forced exodus to a new continent called Zindra or to private islands. As a content creator I had more work than I could manage throughout the summer and logged a record number of hours. Will that bounty of work come again in 2010 now that the adult industry is hidden away? Doubtful. Will the adult industry continue to flourish as a key economic driver in Second Life until it is outright banned? Probably. Is adult content really banned from the rest of Second Life? No, only ADVERTISED adult content is, so streaking and screaming obscene instructions to your lover(s) is still allowed anywhere in Second Life. Will CEO Mark Kingdon admit to any of this? Dream on…

    For those with adult content blinders on, let me toss out a second example of Linden Lab botching the system and consequently slitting their own wrists. A previous commentator mentioned the new free home program for new residents. If I was new it would sound great and a good way to learn more about the grid. But what is not said is how it will probably be the death of Second Life’s former super-economic driver land sales and rentals (it became the number one industry after Linden Lab banned virtual gambling). Between flooding the real-estate market with land (making supply greatly outpace demand) and now offering free homes to any premium account (paying) resident, the realtor-based industry is about to crash and burn for the last time. What will fill the void? Perhaps large Real Life companies coming back, but it looks like their interests and the occasional streaker will still keep them away. How about a huge inflow of new residents? Probably not since Second Life does not do any Real Life advertising or acknowledges it has competitors now. That only leaves a few niche industries alive in Second Life, and if you still have your blinders on the biggest will be hidden in plain sight.

    The point I am trying to make here is that Linden Labs would love to have a resurgence in popularity but they are missing the most simple of business dos and don’ts. They not only have problems acknowledging their Real World challenges and competitors but they also have little or no concern for their own virtual economy. Until they break their cycle of ignoring simple business common sense I will have to stick with my view that Second Life will only grow marginally if at all in 2010 no matter what Linden Labs likes to paint in their pixel-perfect world.

    Virtually yours, Nuhai Ling

  30. I understand why academics/scientists/futurists would be excited by the concept of SL – in a way, it IS like the world described in Snow Crash (BTW – listen to the audiobook version of it — GREAT narrator/production). Unfortunately, SL is a niche thing at this point in time because REAL WORLD users often can't attach any value to it (yet SL wants monthly fees for anything worth doing). The problem Linden Labs has is that there's no way for the AVERAGE person to make money in it and the learning curve is too high. eBay's a good example of a great hit with the masses because it offered an actual return on investment for users.

    Even so, 10+ years after it came out, people like my parents still struggle with certain “concepts” essential to eBay like last-minute-bidding or associating seller feedback with service quality expectations. Second Life is wayyyyyyyy more demanding and expecting than eBay…and I just don't think this generation of web user is ready for this new means of interaction yet. There needs to be an open-source Second-Life-like world that is more of a PLATFORM than a single company's product. THEN, people would start using it.

    I'd invest in making a 3D marketplace, home, job, etc. if I could keep 100% of whatever money I made from it and the technology/service was 100% free.

    1. Scott,

      Yes, you can participate in Second Life for free. Yes, you bootstrap your own business from nothing, oh… hard work would be required. Yes, you can keep all the money you make, unless you’re the kind of businessperson who would consider investing back into his/her business, to help it grow. I’ve done all those things. :)

  31. I first heard about Second Life through a “business marketing meeting”. Took a few months before I tried it, now I am hooked. My husband and I both “play”. We rent a home in SL, and I have a clothing store there. I am learning to design my own clothes for sale (using programs like Photoshop). I have a background in graphic design – so where the program is familiar to me, I am learning an entirely new application. We have found a dance club of like-minded individuals (in our case, Christians) and have made friends that reach into the real world.
    Second Life is what you make of it, but can be a lot less expensive then dinner and a night out in real life, and we still get to spend time together, doing something new. I have gone boating, skiiing and scuba diving all on Second Life. Stuff I couldn't or wouldn't do in real life.

  32. I joined in oct last year, Since dec when I started a business I have made $1492.00 usd so far with the last few weeks markedly up on income to where I am now making almost 100 usd a day. I am still learning too. I look forward to making over $10,ooo this year if I keep it up, and this on spare time. If I devoted full time maybe I can double it.

  33. Nobody is watching, there aren't enough employees to do that. Even when they need to investigate something it takes weeks to do because of the overwhelming amount of data to sift through.

  34. They're working to make things easier and better, if you keep up with the announcements there's some interesting stuff in the pipeline. I think PCs have caught up a little with the rendering, but the default client (there are choices) does still like a gamer-spec PC to work well.

  35. The problem isn't the weirdos or Box Head Syndrome – it's misapplication of a new medium. The same thing happened with Web 1.0

    Does anyone remember Disney's first web site? It must be in the WayBack machine, go check it out. All images. No interaction, no community – in short, no reason to be there. Some of you may remember hearing the exact same things about that early web as we now hear about Second Life and other VW platforms. If you recall, the web was (allegedly) a “one hit wonder” and a “flop” as well.

    Until people figured-out that it is a new medium, and needs to be treated differently. It's not just about implementation: You need to /design/ differently. Just as Disney eventually realized a web site is not a paper brochure, the industry needs to realize that virtual worlds are not web sites. And neither are they real-world storefronts or replications of your real-world headquarters.

    For example, what many initiatives do now is equivalent to demanding that viewers tune to a specific channel /just/ to see your commercial. So I'm supposed to go out of my way, and come to /you/ – just to hear your message? When does it become about fun? When does it become about me?

    Like the web, these platforms are utterly new. You need new ideas, that take advantage of its unique strengths – rather than trying to force existing real-world paradigms of marketing and engagement onto it.

    C'mon folks, should know this by now – go review your Seth Godin. ;)

  36. Here are some other current use-cases of Second Life:

    The Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) is a group of astronomers and astrophysicists from around the world who use SL for academic seminars and public talks about astronomy & astrophysics. Link: http://www.mica-vw.org/wiki/index.php/Meta_Inst

    National Public Radio (NPR) has a long-standing weekly science-themed radio show called Science Friday. A couple of years ago, they started broadcasting the show live into SL. People come listen together and comment in text chat, meeting fellow science enthusiasts and sharing their thoughts. Science Friday usually has someone there monitoring the chat and they often relay the questions asked in SL to the host (Ira Flatow), to ask his guests live on the air. That is, Science Friday uses SL as another way to foster community and as a source of questions from the audience. Link: http://www.sciencefriday.com/

    The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, “The Tech” has programs where people can use Second Life to design and prototype science exhibits for The Tech's bricks-and-mortar museum (and now for other museums around the world). Link: http://thetechvirtual.org/

    I'd say that Second Life is a bit like Microsoft Word in that doesn't get much hype any more, but it's still being used for a variety of purposes. (And yes, you can use Microsoft Word to write romantic fiction.)

  37. I joined SL in Feb. '08. It took me a month or so to get into it, but I eventually made my way in with the portion of the community who turns SL into a First-Person-Shooter. Since then, I've actually learned a lot more for my degree of Game Design in terms of scripting (and a little bit of 3D modeling). I will admit it takes some time commitment, though.

    While people like myself have managed to make a small profit from it without putting any money into it, money and funds are still a major drawback to the whole experience. Non-Profit groups who are only there for their own enjoyment have a hard time keeping up with the rent on their sim sometimes. The funny thing is, while the connectivity, traffic, etc pale in comparison to the main grid, there are open-source grids with sims that can hold more people and objects for much less. For example: A Homestead sim on the main grid will run you about $100-112 USD a month, depending on your situation. A sim of the same standard on an OpenSim grid though, is close to 10 Euros per month. On an OpenSim grid, one can even get a sim that holds 45k objects for less than the top-of-the-line sim on the main grid which only holds 15k objects. Granted both grid types are set up differently, but it's a bit of an eye-opener.

    If LL wants to have more success, they need to cater a little more towards the non-profit groups. There had been rumors of a 'Desert-class' sim that was supposed to be for groups like the ones I fell in with. These would supposedly be cheaper and more capable than a full sim, but would require an application process in order to obtain one. There's a ton of creative people out there who would make a lot of use out of something like that, and at the same time add to the vast array of objects and various other things that have made their economy boom in size.

    Another rumor I've heard is an overhaul of their servers for the Fall. They've been reworking all of their asset servers this year, and are supposedly going to replace/update the graphics and physics engines to increase stability and frame-rates. This project has been nicknamed in other locations as 'Second Life 2' or 'Second Life '09'.

  38. Excellent point about the UI. This is also why mainstream educators ever flocked to it. I'm good with UIs, but the investment in time was, frankly, too heavy for me. If I had to do it again…I'd have waited and played more as a casual user, not as an educator.

    The SL experience is like a MOO with avatars, unless one is a builder. Then it can change…because building simulations not possible in other online environments, or in real life, can be stunning.

    Three years into SL, I've done work with my students that they enjoy. But *what* a cost in time, as compared to other technologies.

  39. Well, I've been in Second Life all this time as you know, and you're forgetting to mention why you aren't — you wanted to bring your son on with you at a trade show, a Linden net nanny told you teens could not be on the adult grid, and then you got banned or something. Annoying, to be sure!

    I don't know where you get some of your information, however. $100,000? That's insane. That's not required to build out an island, even if you hired the most fancy “gold solution providers”, consultants, etc. etc. The island island would only cost $1000 to access than $295 a month to lease, and you can hire builders for reasonable fees as you would any IT job and have a compelling presence for budgets that are more like $10,000 or $20,000 at the most.

    Or not. You can also make a compelling presence with only US $25 a month and no skills, as some of my non-profit and business tenants do. It's like anything, you can spend $500 or $50,000 building a web page.

    People talk about the opensim grid, but that is not ready for prime time, rough going if you are not a tekkie, and doesn't have things like groups — oh, and IP rights and an economy and currency! hello! Linden Lab has actually created something pretty compelling on their 30,000 contiguous servers that really do make up a diverse world now.

    You talked about tiring of games. But SL isn't a game, it's open-ended platform with all kinds of things on it, games including but most people aren't gamers there.

    I wonder what your big announcement is with Mark tomorrow (if this is Mark Kingdon the CEO you mean). The new SL 2.0 viewer? Some FB mash-up?

    The Lab's entrancement with social media, a phase you yourself got over the worst contagious phase of about 2 years ago, is just beginning, we're bracing ourselves.

    SL now works better more because the typical consumer level computer you buy off the shelf has a graphics card that can actually run it without feeling like you're in the dark under a mound of molasses of lag. It runs great for me now and I run a business there, discussion groups, all kinds of things, very compelling.

    All these devices, social media accounts, etc. we have — they produce a lot of noise, take a lot of bandwidth, need a lot of maintenance. And the avatar is the repository and the organizer and the convener of these things and a way to manage it — and in virtual worlds very intriguingly, immersively, efficiently even.

    My main critique with Linden Lab is the same as it was five year ago, only more so: they continue to follow the Silicon Valley culture of creating elite groups of special friends who become the A-listers who get the special perks, and heads-up on the features and get to influence the features set. They have a myriad set of institutionalized privileges now for scripters, coders, designers, merchants and they constantly either elevate these people above the rest of us — i.e. giving them free advertising or free heads up of sales, etc. — or they pit the groups against each other — third-party viewer hacker script kiddies who copybot against merchants trying to protect IP — or they compete with all their own customers with content and land rentals event now. This is all vexing, and I now understand the underlying venality of it all from reading Julia Angwin's book about MySpace and the tendency both to create classes of API engineers to get the special hook-ups or just the opposite, not to create a climate for them at all and hold the platform close, but either way, it's anti-commerce and anti-freedom, not what the Internet is supposed to be about.

  40. Second Life is a stunning media platform and a great place for entertainment, series, branded content, education, simulations, musuems and much much more. What someone puts into it, well that is what they get out of it it is very true. Much like everything.
    Vizworld has some great articles on Second Life -
    http://www.vizworld.com/2010/02/life-work/
    http://www.vizworld.com/2010/01/learning-life-v
    http://www.vizworld.com/2010/02/scientific-rese
    http://www.vizworld.com/2010/01/life-video-prod

  41. The stuff doesn't need containing Robert, good grief, you've been there, you know damn well that it's far easier to find hardcore porn via Google, this issue is utterly overblown with regards to Second Life and this myth should not continue to be perpetuated.

  42. Just for kicks, go find all the Twitter Hype articles and the Twitter un-hype articles “Why Twitter will Fail” and do a Find/Replace for “Twitter” & “Second Life”.

    It's like everyone used the same template.

  43. I was on the team that funded our island and it was pretty damn expensive. Hiring people to watch the island, not to mention build it, is expensive for corporations. I've heard of some spending a lot more than that in Second Life.

  44. I was on the team that funded our island and it was pretty damn expensive. Hiring people to watch the island, not to mention build it, is expensive for corporations. I've heard of some spending a lot more than that in Second Life.

  45. What do you mean by that? In my view, the divide is more like, “Social media people” and “those who don't understand that social media is integrated/integrating into everything”.

  46. What do you mean by that? In my view, the divide is more like, “Social media people” and “those who don't understand that social media is integrated/integrating into everything”.

  47. When I visited IBM's research labs they showed me the work they were doing in Second Life. Nice to know you think I don't actually see a lot of this stuff going on.

  48. When I visited IBM's research labs they showed me the work they were doing in Second Life. Nice to know you think I don't actually see a lot of this stuff going on.

  49. “There needs to be an open-source Second-Life-like world that is more of a PLATFORM than a single company's product”

    The opensource product that makes up this platform that you ask for is called OpenSimulator (OpenSim) and it can be found at http://opensimulator.org/

  50. Well, sorry, but I only have what you publish to go on what you know. I re-checked and see no mentions of IBM and Second Life on Scobleizer.com since early 2008. – For that matter, I ran a general Google search on “Scoble 'Second Life' IBM” and again, didn't find anything in the same time frame.
    Meanwhile 2008 and 2009 has been a big year for IBM using Second Life and their own technologies. Examples:
    1. http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2009/02/ibm-sa
    2. IBM helping test the SL Enterprise package – the behind-firewall solution so decried as a barrier to entry by “serious business” back in 2007.

    So, I have to go by what you publish. If I've missed something, I'm sincerely sorry – point me at the URL and I'll read and link and so on. But if you've visited what IBM does with Second Life in the last 2 years, why didn't you write about it?

    You said it yourself:
    “It lost its “new and shiny” patina. That’s most of why the press forgot about it. We only pay attention to new and cool stuff. “

    Read this from my perspective – this to me says, “I have not payed attention to Second Life since 2007.” Am I completely an idiot for drawing that conclusion?

  51. Really? It has turned into more of a spam house, noisy interface…my opinion. Used to find extreme quality in the articles but now it is hard to separate the noise from the value. My original comment wasn't meant to disparage them but more based on the shear volume of 'stuff' on a daily basis. Much of which is low quality..again my opinion. I'd rather read one of your posts vs. 20 of theirs.

  52. I don't blog about everything I do. I've been keeping in touch with the company over the years I just didn't find the company very interesting, even though it continued to grow almost all that time. Now that they are doing some new stuff it's time to talk about them again. Personally I found what IBM was doing in research labs to be more interesting than what they were doing in Second Life, so I decided to focus on that. I have to chose where I spend my time, can't do it all.

  53. I've tried to post this twice but my text keeps getting eaten. I think it's a Chrome prob. Grr.

    Whatever the failings of the platform or LL's specific implementation of it, they were hugely successful at introducing the concept of a non-game-based virtual world to millions of people, and most importantly IMO, a world created by the users rather than the company. User generated content and crowd-sourcing is practically passe now, but back in the day, those were still very untried, untested concepts. The idea that an immersive 3D space could be populated with content using the same community/random user model as Wikipedia was definitely not a given. That it succeeded at all in Second Life still seems miraculous to me, especially given the technical skill required and the dreadful interface.

    As it stands now, Linden Lab's biggest advantages are 1) that enough of us who saw the potential in those early years have managed to stick it out through thick and thin and continued to populate the world with experiments, interesting use cases, and compelling content, and 2) they got a very lucky reprieve, just when things started to not just plateau but decrease, the economic crisis dried up a lot of funding for potential competitors. Anyone professionally interested in the future of the metaverse has little choice at the moment BUT Second Life (or its cousin OpenSim).

    Hopefully it will give them enough time to fix what's broken, especially with the interface and new user experience, but just as importantly with the scalability issues and lack of APIs that have hindered integration with other platforms and enterprise data systems.

    Either way, whether Second Life as a platform (or Linden Lab as a company) endures through the ages is less interesting to me than seeing where the concept of the metaverse goes from here. I still think robust competition from some wholly different conception of a virtual world will be the best medicine for Linden Lab, but I worry that they've got such a corner on what little market exists that it's actually stifling innovation in other directions. It wouldn't be so troubling if I saw more evidence that they could continue to innovate, but the Second Life we use today is not _markedly_ different than the Second Life I logged into in 2003.

    Perhaps whatever they're going to announce will prove that statement wrong, but if my long experience in Second Life has taught me anything, it's not to get my hopes up too high.

    Having said all that, I still give them all due credit for what they've accomplished, and for what they've made possible for people who have had the patience and foresight to understand that this is still very, very early days for the metaverse indeed.

  54. Alright, fair enough. Realize it has been a very chilly couple of years, media-wise, for those of us who use Second Life and other virtual worlds for business and non-profit uses.

    Appreciate you taking the time to respond to my critique and trying to see things from my perspective. That's all I can ask!

  55. You deserve the compliment. You've got great stuff..even when it doesn't jive with my opinion..actually I like some of those the best. Completely agree on techmeme and thanks for being a proponent of the twitter lists. You've listed me in a couple of yours and I appreciate it!

  56. I just reached my second rez date in SL earlier this month. I'm gonna say that SL does have it's problems, but all in all, it's definitely a fun world for anyone who makes it so. I started SL and within a couple of days, I had free land (owned by someone else which I didn't even have to get a premium membership). Even now, I live on free land with my business partner/husband and other business partner. I have a group of friends that are to die for. There is always something to do. I do alot of free work for SL, helping people not be so noobish. The game is free. I haven't put money into the game…. since I met my husband (and now RL boyfriend) on there… 2 years ago.

    I am a builder and I try to script. I try everything in SL. I've been in several RP sims. I've been in combat sims. I live on a homestead SIM (which I don't pay for — lovely friends~). I have owned a club. And presently, I'm going to school on there… for a degree. Texas State Techincal College is pioneering the way into SL (UT – Austin is following very soon from what I read recently). I'm in their digital media program and the delivery method for our classes is perfect for me. I already have a degree in music, but this tops going to class with people who're rude and can't be quiet. We went to Dell Island one class to sit inside the computer there and learn the parts. We went to the IBM Server area to check out how backup servers work. That in itself is a unique experience. There were videos to watch, notecards to be gotten. We went on a story quest for another class so we could learn critical thinking.

    And in SL these days, I've sold more stuff (I only have 50 items total) and I fund my way through service or sales.

    SL is sometimes about the delivery method of RL things. My husband is a psychic in RL and does readings in both RL and SL. He teaches witchcraft lessons to those who want it, mostly close friends since he doesn't advertise, which is fine. He has made many friends who still talk to him after 2 years (which I don't… alot of drama from psychos <.<). Some friends we've met in RL. And they'll remain our friends forever. SL brought those friends to us and we continue to build our relationships in the virtual world.

    SL is something that is popular because of word of mouth. If you don't want to spend the time to learn how to use the UI or to find good looking free stuff, then this isn't the virtual world for you. But if you want an experience that you can make your own, SL is the place. You can look like anything, do anything, go anywhere there.

    I live in Texas and I've visited Galvestion in SL… an almost perfect replica of the downtown city and sea wall. It's pretty epic! :)

  57. The box on your head thing disappeared like 2 years ago. Boxes now one-click open into inventory.

    Customer service has gotten better at policing the stalkers. Ageplay is really very much banned now. Creepy child avatars remain a chronic problem because of the lib Lindens lib notion that they aren't a marker for ageplay, which of course they are, time & again. They need to get over that, as the rest of the world comes in. But you can arrange your experience now to avoid all this handily as there are now filters and bans for PG, M, Adult — and it really has gotten cleaned up on the mainland.

    1. I do so on purpose sometimes, Fleep. The students never stop laughing.

      Say what one will about SL, but having an intact sense of humor is the best item to have in one’s inventory.

  58. If you would starting up a website, you'd spend as much or more than an SL island.
    You would not expect to spend $10,000, put up a website, then leave it unattended, never refreshed with content ever again, never managed. So, too, an SL island.

    It's like your video shows, or a magazine, you know what it's like — work. Show up, keep baking the donuts and putting them out. You can't not do that or you have no presence.

    Even if MSFT had done something useful like put up a 3-D display about how to get rid of typical Windows annoyances and tips for efficiency it might have had more customers.

  59. If you would starting up a website, you'd spend as much or more than an SL island.
    You would not expect to spend $10,000, put up a website, then leave it unattended, never refreshed with content ever again, never managed. So, too, an SL island.

    It's like your video shows, or a magazine, you know what it's like — work. Show up, keep baking the donuts and putting them out. You can't not do that or you have no presence.

    Even if MSFT had done something useful like put up a 3-D display about how to get rid of typical Windows annoyances and tips for efficiency it might have had more customers.

  60. If you would starting up a website, you'd spend as much or more than an SL island.
    You would not expect to spend $10,000, put up a website, then leave it unattended, never refreshed with content ever again, never managed. So, too, an SL island.

    It's like your video shows, or a magazine, you know what it's like — work. Show up, keep baking the donuts and putting them out. You can't not do that or you have no presence.

    Even if MSFT had done something useful like put up a 3-D display about how to get rid of typical Windows annoyances and tips for efficiency it might have had more customers.

  61. Basically SL is like any other community. You get out just as much as you put into it.
    Show up and announce “entertain me” and you are gonna be disappointed. Show up with an open mind and an active imagination and you are in for a treat….assuming the lag isn't too awful that day!

  62. You must have forgotten a zero.

    Sexual content in SL is much more than 50% (which doesn't necessarily mean *sexually explicit* content).

    You are confusing SL with other virtual worlds (There.com etc.) where sex is not allowed.

  63. Yes, we have been using Second Life for past four years and now are doing monthly training events for CPAs on our CPA Island. It is also a great tool for remote workgroups and colleges and universities.

  64. Of course Linden Lab employees aren't watching everybody. That's not the point.

    How would you feel if the real world government started recording your activity regardless of whether an official actually viewed that recording?.

    You may say that Second Life is just a video game and nobody really cares. Well that is exactly my point. It is just a video game. Nobody is going to be murdered in Second Life. And yet Linden Lab feels justified in recording their customers activity.

    What happens in another 20 years when we're all logging into virtual worlds 24/7? Will we dismiss the surveillance with “Oh who cares? It's just a game!”

    Well for me personally I'd rather risk having my L$200 stolen or being blown up by a terrorist than have to put up with being recorded 24/7, thank you.

    * Logs out *

  65. Won't help that people like me with Windows 7 have been excluded from SL with the latest update for the viewer. SL help (support) people claim Windows 7 is not supported despite the fact I was using it up until a week ago!

  66. Scobleizer, I hate to say you are sooo far off base on this one. You've got no clue what is going on inworld in Second Life and it shows by the way you're talking about it. Many a “social media guru” before you have written this same exact thesis… the good ol blogpost “Second Life's second life”
    … and the problem with each and every blog post like this, is it's coming from an outsider's perspective. They have absolutely no facts other than a few interviews or a few blog posts from other people outside the world of Second Life.

    You, and anyone that is not IN Second Life, and is not USING Second Life will never understand that Second Life is and always has been flourishing with business, education, fashion, live music, art, and community. You'll never know until you are living Second Life

    http://djdoubledown.blogspot.com

  67. Scobleizer, I hate to say you are sooo far off base on this one. You've got no clue what is going on inworld in Second Life and it shows by the way you're talking about it. Many a “social media guru” before you have written this same exact thesis… the good ol blogpost “Second Life's second life”
    … and the problem with each and every blog post like this, is it's coming from an outsider's perspective. They have absolutely no facts other than a few interviews or a few blog posts from other people outside the world of Second Life.

    You, and anyone that is not IN Second Life, and is not USING Second Life will never understand that Second Life is and always has been flourishing with business, education, fashion, live music, art, and community. You'll never know until you are living Second Life

    http://djdoubledown.blogspot.com

  68. Also, Scobles…. you'll notice you've received tons of comments from Second Life users on this post…. most of these people I know, know well, know their work in Second Life, and consider my friends. These are people that probably rarely ever read your blog…. but when you start talking about Second Life as if you're an expert on the topic, you're going to have us Second Life users fly in and put you in your place.

  69. Also, Scobles…. you'll notice you've received tons of comments from Second Life users on this post…. most of these people I know, know well, know their work in Second Life, and consider my friends. These are people that probably rarely ever read your blog…. but when you start talking about Second Life as if you're an expert on the topic, you're going to have us Second Life users fly in and put you in your place.

  70. Then you got the wrong people (grin). Well, Prok pretty much covered it: You can pay $500 or $50k for a website, but the price doesn't always reflect what you're getting.

  71. Hello, I am Ginthian Source in SL. I have been on SL for just over 1200 days. Look me up, I love to meet new people.

  72. hey Scob… have you hibernate for the past couple of years? could only be… due to your post… second life is alive… and people is doing awesome things in there… maybe you should log in and check it!!
    and about the new viewer, there is an interesting post about the “21 Reasons the New Second Life Viewer 2.0 is a Huge Improvement”, from Ron Blechner: http://www.secondtense.com/2010/02/21-reasons-n

  73. You are aware that pretty much every single site on the entire internet records every word and movement you make… right?

    Once it's on the internet, it's forever…? Ring any bells…?

    I don't think Linden Labs is any more iron-fisted than anywhere else. People get up to some pretty crazy stuff in Second Life, and no one seems to care. They only care if you're doing serious trolling, harassment, or running a child porn ring (which is why they kicked up their surveillance in the first place).

    That's pretty standard. Pretty much everywhere online has those same basic rules.

    So if you think Second Life is “so oppressive,” what exactly have you been getting up to?

    “Where do you live in RL where the government is recording your every word and movement?”

    They're getting pretty close in the UK, I must say. About a year ago a middle school was discovered to be putting cameras INSIDE the girls' bathroom stalls. In London, you're on camera an average of 200 times a day. They even have cameras hidden in the fountain at Piccadilly Circus that TALK TO YOU if you sit in certain places on it. (I lived there for a while).

  74. Cat, there's a big difference between having a private conversation with a close friend in a virtual world and leaving a review on amazon.com. On amazon.com I want my words to be recorded.

    But sure, let's not worry about privacy. After all there can be security in transparency. So come on Linden Lab, open up your employee's activity logs and account details to all your customers. Trust us, Linden Lab, we won't peek!. Or rather we'll only peek if we suspect you've been naughty. Promise!

    Transparency my bum..

  75. and yes, you're right about things talking to you if you stay in a spot long enough. I knew somebody that worked for fedex and he ended up stranded on a desert island and his football started talking to him.

    We're not safe anywhere.

  76. I am coming up on my third year in second life. When I first entered, it was a mystery and frustrating because I could not find anybody. But I was amazed by all the different artistic creations and avatars that people created and the ability to fly.

    Then I found people and now I spend entirely too much time in sl!!! The new viewer is amazing. You can operate and utilize websites on a prim!!! Straight to you.tube or any other website easily and quickly.

    The truth is you do not have to spend a dime in second life. There are great freebie places that have clothes for men and women for zero. Like mine :-). What you do need is an imagination, a thirst for new things and new ideas and some creativity thrown in. You will have a blast!

  77. I've never gotten into SL nor do I know too much about it. I do remember hearing a lot about it, though, when it was the “next big thing” but I could never really understand the appeal of this particular type of game. Don't get me wrong, I love video games, it's just that the kind of experience SL brings to the table just isn't for me.

  78. There is lots to see, create, experience in SL. I have met some of the most amazing people in SL, and some serious idiots. Just as in daily life, you have good and bad.

  79. genius – have sent the link home to look at in it's entirety tonight – but excellent work!

    I find it pointless engaging in debate with people who dislike Second Life… I hate hip-hop but rarely engage in debate with hip-hoppers (?) to tell them their 'music' is sh1te – why would I? Who am I to critisize their meas of entertainment/expression? I am not so arrogant…

    Have fun in whatever you do people – if you don't enjoy it leave it alone ;o)

    Cat – 3 plus years in SL, content creator and good time person.

  80. genius – have sent the link home to look at in it's entirety tonight – but excellent work!

    I find it pointless engaging in debate with people who dislike Second Life… I hate hip-hop but rarely engage in debate with hip-hoppers (?) to tell them their 'music' is sh1te – why would I? Who am I to critisize their meas of entertainment/expression? I am not so arrogant…

    Have fun in whatever you do people – if you don't enjoy it leave it alone ;o)

    Cat – 3 plus years in SL, content creator and good time person.