|Typical Marketing Message at 2011 Consumer Electronics Show|
Second Life is not a virtual goods platform, and it’s doesn’t have a business model based on user-generated goods: it is, instead, a fully contained prototype of a version of the future in which technology has continued to take us in the direction of limitless choice in how the world we live in is constructed, how we decide to interact with each other and the content that we choose to consume. From Dusan Writer's recent tour de force Second Life Next: 2011The universal message from the 2500 vendors at the Consumer Electronics Show was that happiness is obtained through the acquisition of new technology . . . that for every extra inch of screen size, higher density of pixel resolution, incremental speed improvement of processor, added bell and whistle, etc. there is an intrinsic improvement in happiness.
The insidious hypnotic mantra of consumer marketing subverts satisfaction with our current situation. It moves us to continuously scan the horizon for new possibilites instead of focusing on making the best use of what we already possess. It creates an addictive dynamic moving us to crave novelty to such an extent that even a week after purchasing some object of our desire, we are looking to see when the next version will be released.
It seems to me that the virtual goods aspect of Second Life extends and intensifies the dysfunctional consumer-addicted paradigm of meatspace to the virtual world. Since the relative cost of virtual goods is a fraction of their atomic counterparts, people are freed to pursue their Imelda Marcos shoe dreams and accumulate thousands of virtual items that provide momentary satisfaction before being lost in inventory.
So as much as I resonate with Dusan's idealistic vision, I think that Sony's creepy marketing slogan is a better metaphor for the impact of ever-accelerating technologically on our pervasively augmented lives.