Monday, December 8, 2008

What if Second Life had been named Expanded Life

CeNedra Rivera and I had a conversation the other night about integration and disconnection between aspects of our virtual and physical identities. It suddenly occurred to me that the name "Second Life" in itself suggests a radical separation. I wonder if a name such as "Second World" or "Expanded Life" would have made a difference in how the world's culture and our psychological approach to it unfolded.


Zak Claxton said...

You have to think that "Expanded Life" doesn't quite have the marketing ring to it as "Second Life" does. Obviously it worked, or the 800 billion people who registered in late 2006 wouldn't have been as compelled to do so. But in practical use, I agree: I didn't need an actual second life; I needed to augment my first one. But "Augmented Life" sounds like some religious cult. It's obviously all semantics, but I think "Second Life" was probably the quickest and easiest to understand trade name Linden could have chosen.

Vidal Tripsa said...

I agree with Zak, and in the case of "Second World" and "Expanded Life"... I can see where the logic sits, but while "Expanded" sounds much better than "Augmented" (therefore suggesting an add-on rather than a distinct life), it would also suggest that far more inflation fetishists would pop up here. "Second World" too has connotations of "First World/Third World". I did always wonder where the second world was supposed to reside, though...

Anyway - that's possibly why "Second Life" just works. Certainly I do agree that deviation from that probably would alter our landscape dramatically, as while the Grid has no backstory whatsoever, folks do (hopefully) come in to this world knowing that it can be a separate lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how, but the comments on NWN for the link to my latest post have turned into this very conversation. While I don't reallllly see the connection to the subject matter, the conversation in very interesting. I do agree that the name does conjure an implicit suggestion that your first life isn't enough.

Anonymous said...

It absolutely would have. Early SL was marketed as a creative space, a year round "Burning Man", and a whole different world.

Those initial conditions attracted a certain type of person, and those people built a certain type of world.

If SL had been marketed primarily as an extension of FL or purely a means of communication, you would have had a different set of people demanding different things from the system, and things would have evolved differently.

If you need any more proof, just look at how subtle changes in marketing coupled with the influx of a very different population is gradually changing the face of SL.

I won't comment on my "inner story" regarding that face here - my views on it are pretty well known already :P

Melissa Yeuxdoux said...

To use the well-known division, I think "Expanded Life" would appeal much more to augmentationists, and I doubt that you'd see the explosion of creativity that SL displays.

"Expanded Life" sounds like you get a bigger car or something. "Second Life" suggests something completely different, and limitless possibilities, without being constrained by your current life.