Earth here and I’m … disappointed…
Recently, and about time too, Congress was introduced to the Virtual World of Second Life. Yes the name Second Life is thrown around a lot these days. Too often with connotations formed by a steady diet of opinions generated with a lack of understanding or vision.
Hey it is ok to get your story wrong, it happens.. but I can’t resist pointing out a few things. I’ll use Wired’s story for this example.
Here’s the blog I’ll talk about:
Congress Freaks Out Over Second Life Terrorism
Now the blogger “Sharon Weinberger” begins with a jab at congress. Hey, what comedy would be complete without political jabs? I like to laugh, but the rest of the article makes me want to cry.
“The problem is that Congress clearly doesn’t know quite what it’s worrying about; its sounds like some members are getting freaked out by something they don’t understand. As this Wired Magazine makes clear, a lot of the hoopla is just that”
the article she is referring to is here How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life
Now Congress doesn’t understand virtual worlds, that’s why they called a hearing!!!! That is what this was about, questions and answers. They wanted to know what they were dealing with and in all honesty the video presentation showed the best of what second life has to offer apart from just entertainment. There are people out there who’s lives have been saved by the social and creative opportunities virtual worlds offer. With any communications and economic tool, there is the danger of abuse and misuse.. just look at certain real life examples I’m sure we can all bring to mind…..
I am angered to NO END by stories and comments that marginalize the benefits of virtual worlds to society, particularly individuals whose “real” lives are forced to be lived in isolation of a physical, mental type, or emotional type. Virtual worlds open the door to the world 100 times wider than a 2D message board or website or even chat could ever.
Now lets get to the meat of this..and where my frustration comes from..
I’m going to quote the same piece she did from the older article and do a bit of explaining in between…
“Then there’s the question of what people do when they get there. Once you put in several hours flailing around learning how to function in Second Life, there isn’t much to do. That may explain why more than 85 percent of the avatars created have been abandoned.”
The primary reason for this is lack of compelling experience, infrequent updates if at all, and no direct engagement of the community of second life. There are plenty of places were there are a lot of people in Second Life. Plenty compelling experiences and plenty sims where they actually update the content over time. Some corporations have realized benefits from their second life experiences.. Cisco is a big one. Still, if you put something boring in world, people are going to find it boring… thousands of games and websites have died unfortunate deaths from this same problem.
When you get on the world wide web .. how do you decide what to do ? There is so much to do that it can overwhelm you! Do you sit at your web browser knowing you have access to more information than mankind has every had access to and say bah the web is porn and a waste of time? Maybe when the web was young, but now you take it serious, you do business on it, you send email to people who a few years ago may have not even been able to use a computer. You map out your trips, see satellite images of your house, watch videos, and countless other things that would not have been if the internet had remained a niche geek realm forever branded a porn distribution network. Second Life just extends the potential of the web and of people’s ability to reach out to others and collaborate with them.
ok I better move to the next quote.. I could go on
“Linden’s in-world traffic tally, which factors in both the number of visitors and time spent, shows that the big draws for those who do return are free money and kinky sex. On a random day in June, the most popular location was Money Island (where Linden dollars, the official currency, are given away gratis), with a score of 136,000. Sexy Beach, one of several regions that offer virtual sex shops, dancing, and no-strings hookups, came in at 133,000. The Sears store on IBM’s Innovation Island had a traffic score of 281; Coke’s Virtual Thirst pavilion, a mere 27. And even when corporate destinations actually draw people, the PR can be less than ideal.”
Ok some of you know this but I’ll say it again.. YOU CAN ARTIFICIALLY PUMP UP YOUR POPULARITY BY PAYING PEOPLE TO SIT ON YOUR LAND WHILE THEY ARE AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IBM could have the same popularity as “Sexy Beach” if they had some paying camping chairs. A camping chair for those that don’t know, is a chair you can sit your avatar in and the owner of the land your on slowly pays you lindens for doing nothing but pumping their traffic numbers.
I can’t fault anyone for wanting to raise their traffic numbers.. its just like paying Google or yahoo to have your listing first in search. The problem is you end up with inaccurate results of what is most popular in second life. There is a lively place in second life for just about any interest. From Star Trek to the L Word to poetry to 3D building to live music, there is something for everyone if you just take the time to search.
If your a corporation wanting to reach out to the early adopters of the dawning revolution of the 3D internet, then take time to learn about it. Move around in it and get a feel for what people are interested in. Make sure your not reinventing the same old wheel, but add something new that the community may not have.. simple business right? And number one, be present to represent your company! Use this platform to put a face along with your employee’s now very common place live 2d chats. Finally, even if your traffic is zero, you can still be benefiting from your presence in Second Life.
“Last winter, CNET’s in-world correspondent was conducting a live interview with Anshe Chung, an avatar said to have earned more than $1 million on virtual real estate deals, when Chung was assaulted by flying penises in a griefer attack. “
Well, it would be more costly perhaps, but any real life interview could also be interrupted with flying penises…although they would probably hurt in real life when they hit you.
One last thing… when I started working in Second Life in 2006 there was a max of 12k people online at a given time. Now only 2 years later those numbers are breaching 60k people online at a given time. So lets say you lived in a city that’s population was 12,000 people and only 2 years later there are 60k people living there… that’s pretty good growth. Most cities would probably fall apart with that kind of expansion.
Maybe a more balanced spin like this one from Mercury News would at least let me know people were paying attention.
Thanks for listening and have a great day out there!