Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Faithless

I haven't been into Second Life for a while now... I'm not exactly sure why but I guess you could say that I've fallen out of love with it for various reasons.  If nothing else, I have little work-related reason to spend time in-world and that means it is difficult to find time for it.

I don't actively dislike it but I don't like it enough to keep going back right now.  That situation may change... on the other hand, it may not.

In Linden Lab needs to read Snow Crash again Fuzzysoul argues that Linden Lab aren't working hard enough to transform SL into the premier platform for education and business conferences (their stated goal). I think I agree and I also agree with the analysis of the inherent problems caused by the teleport anywhere and economy based on land value approaches that LL have adopted.  I'm less convinced by the argument for better facial features - but maybe that's just because my imagination isn't very good.  My favorite avatar remains my original, default-skin one :-(

For me, and I say this with a certain amount of hindsight, the most valuable and fun experiences in Second Life were those associated with meetings and events (particularly hybrid RL/SL events). Yet, as a platform for collaboration and communication, SL sucks in many respects. This is partly a personal view, but I know from having stood up in meetings and said this that others agree with me, voice destroys the immersive aspects of SL yet chat is hopeless for most kinds of serious conversation. 

Until this is resolved SL with struggle to be a compelling place for collaboration. Our avatars are either an extension of our real selves or they are pseudonymous alter-egos. If the former, then voice will work fine (it seems to me) but I don't think SL is currently set up to support that kind of mentality (why give avatars non-RL names for example). If the latter, let's accept that chat will remain the predominant communication channel and recognise the collaborative limitations that result.

I want to believe in virtual worlds like Second Life but right now I'm struggling to hang on to my faith in them.  Somebody please pray to the gods of the metaverse for me!?

3 comments:

Alja Sulčič said...

Wow, your post describes exactly how I feel about Second Life right now! Glad to hear I'm not alone :)

We've got gaming virtual worlds figured out, but imho we still have a long way to go before we get a really useful collaboration/communication virtual world platform for education/business use. And I'm not sure LL can turn SL into that platform.

Peter Miller said...

I think you have to give LL the credit for saying what they planned to do and then doing it. They aimed to improve stability and the sims I visit are stable with 80K+ inworld and that wasn't the case a year or so ago. They also said they would improve the first hour experience. I can't comment on that but we do have a lot of alternative community gateways now and some very good orientations too. There is some interesting creative stuff imminent (shadows and projected textures) and increasingly people are reaching out to alternative worlds/grids (as per the Rocking the Metaverse tour arriving in Metaplace tonight). There are some great sims (da Vinci Gardens, for example) and some neat tools for educators (Eduserv's Theatron stuff sounds cool). You can't have everything simultaneously -- I'd like a better web experience but I appreciate that it's for various reasons non-trivial even though Sirikata sems to have done it. The rejuvenation of the open source effort via Philip's involvement may be the best route to that ultimately.

Peter Miller said...

Incidentally, this blog is getting a fair bit of spam in case you hadn't noticed.