Second life rant.

Posted on July 1, 2006. Filed under: Opinion |

Well after reading Robert Scoble’s posted about being banned from Linden Lab’s Second Life, I thought I would post my thoughts on Second Life itself. I just don’t get second life, well maybe its because I don’t want to spend any money on it, or I have yet to meet anyone on there. It is a pretty interesting concept, an adult virtual world where people can network, fall in love or do business. I will continue to try and get it, if any of you out there have any suggestions, let them be known.

I guess I will say something about Mr. Scoble’s troubles since I am using a trackback to his post. I was actually watching his podcast, on the Gnomedex 6.0 video feed after Senator John Edwards’ speech, Robert’s son seemed to be having a good time building for his father. As far as Robert’s account being banned, I think Linden Lab’s did the correct thing. In his post Robert said he and his son had been warned before about this activity, so they knew it was coming. I can’t believe Robert suggested his son access his account at Gnomedex, while it was being projected on the big screen. I have one word to say about that: STUPID. Sorry Robert, but you were, oh well its water under the bridge now, maybe you won’t make the same mistake twice.

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One Response to “Second life rant.”

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Imagine that in 1993 you would be banned for viewing unappropriate web pages on the (emerging) Web. “Banned”, in this case, would just mean that your boss would remove you access to the Internet, just saying: “we caught you watching pornography on the net, you know the rules, you don’t get any more access”.

So what? Why would you care? There was no Amazon, no eBay, no MySpace, no blogs. Just some randomly scattered ramblings, a lot of sex, a few interesting pages. You would just shrug it off, and turn back to the mailing lists and USENET, which was where *real* people were discussing important things, as well as working and doing business. The Web, well, was a cute idea that had some marginal interest (it was easier to download pornography through Mosaic than through the USENET, although not necessarily faster!), but well, it was one of those things: here this day, gone tomorrow. After all, in 1993, the mailing list for Star Trek had been around for some twenty years or so.

And then in 1995 you would crawl on your knees to beg your boss to give you your Web access back.

People “don’t get” Second Life right now — because it’s too new. Sure, it’s a social environment — but one that has not even a million users. How many does MySpace have? Or Friendster, or Orkut? Clearly, getting “banned from Second Life” is unimportant at this stage — there are so many more social environments on the net. Surely SL will be history in a year or two.

Well — and perhaps not. Second Life is, for a huge (and increasing) number of people, something completely different in terms of online presence. It’s a graphical front-end for back-end application servers for running social networks and business. Wait. That’s what the Web is!

Indeed — that’s what Second Life *can* be. It doesn’t mean, right now in 2006, that it is the *major* use for Second Life — like, for instance, e-Business is still NOT the major use of the Web (after well over a decade), although I would admit it’s in the top 10.

It’s also an interactive social environment, where you talk and interact with *people* — not on text pages. Some have argued that “a page in MySpace is an avatar”. Philosophically, it might very well be — but visually, definitely not. It’s going deep into abstraction levels when one assumes that by clicking links on Friendster you’re actually touching or cuddling other human beings. No rational mind would admit to that — they would simply redefine “interaction” to encompass “clicking on links and radio buttons” 🙂

But on Second Life (or any other 3D virtual world really), interaction is *different*. Avatars can touch each other, they can watch each other’s expression and body language (no matter how limited it might be), they can do things together, visually, and their common work is much easier to “navigate” than an assortment of stuck-together web pages. People give the example of the Wikipedia and its over a million articles as the ultimate collaborative environment. Second Life has over thirty million objects (probably more) in the same collaborative environment — and, although naturally some take little time to create, and others take months, isn’t it the same with the Wikipedia? (Wikipedia stubs, after all, take 5 minutes to write, but also count to the over-a-million-article total as well)

“Getting” Second Life is truly not easy. It’s so hard, in fact, that the academics at Terra Nova, one of the leading sites on virtual worlds, are seriously discussing if Second Life is a virtual world or not — or simply Web 3.0.

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