Sunday, April 8, 2012

Whither indeed?

My friend and fellow blogger webspelunker Ghostraven has an article here where he talks about the possible future of SL.... I'm inclined to question one or two of his conclusions, but it's an interesting read nonetheless.

Tali is fond of quoting the Gartner hype cycle which demonstrates the routine change of attitudes towards emerging technologies; according to her, Second Life is clawing its way out of the "Trough of Disillusionment" - it has failed to set the world on fire, an inevitable reaction has set in, and now people are examining it and developing whatever - as it were - incendiary properties it does have.

Well, I've made it plain what I think SL is good for - creativity and socializing are its two foundations, to me - but it's worth noting that other people have different ideas; the esteemed Guvnah of Caledon, Desmond Shang, contributed an article to New World News recently in which he talked about the possibilities of SL from the viewpoint of "augmented reality".  I'm not sure I agree, entirely, with his arguments... but one thing we all know for sure, the Guv is no kind of fool, and his ideas are worth listening to.  So, there may well be more than one way out of this "Trough" thingy, and that's all to the good.

One thing I am, perhaps, less inclined to be pessimistic about is the apparent contraction of the size of the SL grid, because this is something which might be expected, given the realignments of SL attendant on the development of Marketplace and Direct Delivery and stuff like that.  I've mentioned this before; with the aggressive push towards Marketplace, a lot of commercial land in SL - shopping malls and the like - has become simply an unnecessary expense for merchants, and some of them have lost no time in divesting themselves of it.  I don't think I'm betraying any confidences when I mention that the Guvnah has already talked about shifts of land utilization in Caledon; we might expect similar shifts to take place across the Grid as a whole.  If the Commerce Team at the Lab have done their sums right - and that's a pretty big "if", I grant you - the decline in on-grid regions, though an immediate hit to LL's revenue, will pay for itself in terms of (a) increased Marketplace transactions, of which LL takes its cut, and (b) a saving to the Lab itself, as it no longer has to rent servers to hold all those empty shopping malls.  And the smaller Grid will be more widely used for whatever it is SL is actually good for - beauty builds and clubs, according to me, augmented-reality-integrable settings according to the Guv, and who knows what else - ideas, anyone?

To be sure, LL's ceasing to issue reports on inworld economic activity is not a good sign... on the other hand, they may simply be wanting to avoid panic, since some of their traditional activity indicators are going to look poorly as the transition takes place, and we all know that rumours of poor performance spark all kinds of knee-jerk reactions and are often self-fulfilling prophecies.  Still, these shifts in SL are cause for concern.  As I said, it should all turn out OK if the Lab has got its sums right.  Time to cross our fingers and hope, I think.


  1. Great reply! This is exactly the type of dialog I'd like to see more of in and around SL! I do hope you're right. I'm also arguing that we, the residents, need to do more.

    1. Oh, I agree - well, except for me, of course, there's not all that much more I can do, I have to go out into RL sometime, after all!

      However - yes, it'd be a big help if there were more people getting into SL and being enthusiastic about it. I think what you're doing, exploring the place and writing about it, helps! - and I hope what I'm doing will do some good as well.

    2. If I may offer my humble observation, it seems users of SL exist in two factions, those which use it as an extension of First Life, and those who seek a Second one entirely. These two dichotomous groups appear antagonistic and don't share well with the other- the FLers seem to want a method for sharing their art, attending conferences, and dating / meeting real people in a form of 3d Facebook/Skype. They see SLers as gamers, at best frivolous and at worst deceptive. SLers seem to seek interaction both artistic and literary, thru discussion and the 3D roleplay and storying possible in SL. They do not see it as lying to portray themselves as a different age/sex/ethnic as their Real life, let alone a cat-person, robot, or clockwork person (smile). Is this world big enough for both types, and will they decide to co-exist, when one thinks the other belongs playing WoW, and the other thinks the first belongs on Spacebook twit?

    3. This is certainly true - I think we've all met people of both persuasions! (I think it's clear which side of the fence I'm on, given that nobody knows me as anything but "Glorf", and what I do with a certain cat-person is... no, still Not That Sort of Blog.)

      Perhaps we should think about what these groups need in common in SL? Both of them need, I think, spaces to interact in - the Myspacebookers, possibly, even more so than us fantastical types. (And they are likely to get more out of "augmented reality" than we are... if anything comes of that in SL terms.) And both groups, I think, need the creative tools that SL provides, albeit they may do very different things with those tools! - Seriously, you could use SL building tools to create, say, a virtual mockup of a building to be overlaid on a RL image; that'd be your augmented reality in action, and every bit as "valid" in SL terms as my gigantic fantasy tower.... Perhaps the two groups just have differences in approach, but the same basic requirements!

  2. I agree with Glorf. The approaches may be different but the requirements are the same. The question is how to leverage both groups for the mutual benefit of the community?

  3. I am very afraid that the Lab has NOT done their sums right. The fees from Marketplace sales are far less than what they collect in tier. And they are only collected when an item sells, whereas tier is collected every month regardless. Marketplace was a good idea, when LL was dreaming of getting a 30% cut of each sale, a la iTunes. It's not such a good idea under the current setup.