Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Take on Linden Lab's "New Direction" for Second Life

In a tweet this morning I wrote that "the immersive 3D world paradigm is antithetical to the dominant trend in ubiquitous computing." As I was writing a post to flesh out the idea, I saw today's press release from Linden Lab announcing two long term goals that articulated a new direction for Second Life:
First, the company aims to create a browser-based virtual world experience, eliminating the need to download software. Secondly, Linden Lab will look to extend the Second Life experience into popular social networks. Ultimately, we want to make Second Life more accessible and relevant to a wider population. 
Wow! They really jumped on my insight.

Okay, I probably had nothing to do with it. But as much as I detest the idea of Second Life being transformed and homogenized to cater to the Farmville-playing masses, it's probably the only business decision they could make with half a chance to break out of the niche market ceiling they've been rubbing up against.

Over the years, many of us in the Second Life community have felt like we've been pioneering the future of networked culture. But I've been growing increasingly convinced that the direction the future has actually taken over the past few years is in a direction that is not compatible with the walled-garden, hyper-immersive virtual world paradigm of Second Life as we know and love/hate it.

The socially-networked, continuously multi-tasking, pervasively connected, attention-deficit inducing, mobile-device focused world that is emerging doesn't have much room for a virtual world that requires downloaded software with a huge learning curve that only runs well on a high end computing system. And it seems pretty far fetched to ask teens who average a text message every fifteen waking minutes to pay attention long enough to be immersed in a virtual world like Second Life.

I plan to post more on this topic in the near future. Until then, the best explanation I've seen of the emerging network culture trend is in The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to Your Brain, by Nicholas Carr.

4 comments:

Zola Zsun said...

Human brains tend so so toward the
Proverbial black or white
Yes or no
Me or you
1 or 0
But billions of 1s and 0s give us choices
Did anyone really think that second life
Would not change?
That it would always be walled in garden
Of virtuality where elitism lives
And the lag is annoying
The web started out kind of like that
Few were there
Had to have special equipment
Academics and military the highest demographic
And talk about lag
The pain of dial up is fresh in my memory
This hubbub doesn’t really worry me
There is always hubbub and
Restructurings
In the world of high tech
Things are changing so fast
And this "new direction"
That the LL press release speak a different
Idea to me
It is a step in the merging of technologies
VE will be everywhere
But there will still be neighborhoods like SL
That has been built by human decisions
And will continue to be fueled by same
If I remember correctly
The telephone was supposed to destroy
Human existence as we know it
Well it did
But I like having a phone

Botgirl Questi said...

Thanks Zola! Change is definitely the only certainty.

iliveisl said...

nicely written and, indeed, time will tell

the walled garden, licensing model is not ideal for many (at least for us)

being able to save my own builds, entire sims, and inventory certainly make me feel less walled with (yet totally dependent upon) OpenSim

virtual worlds still have a way to go to become mainstream, including the stigma associated with them

Salvatore Otoro said...

I really enjoyed your post and it speaks true to progress. All walls have to come down some time in order to grow and move ahead. The browser based idea should be interesting to say the least. It should be noted, though, that browser based gaming has taken off and been very profitable as of late. Companies like Zynga are leading the forefront in that respect and it was only a matter of time before others would decide to jump in and get their share of the revenues.