Considering I’ve been working there pretty much full time the last few years, I didn’t know it was dead.Â 😉
OK that’s not fair, the hype cycle of 2007-08 came and went and it’s had a palpable effect to be sure, but those kinds of posts always make me vaguely defensive even though I have my own criticisms of the platform and the company running it.
I started to write a response in his comments, but I lost my text twice (I think it’s Chrome’s fault) so finally I said heck with it, I’ll put it here instead:
Whatever the failings of the platform or LL’s specific implementation of it, they were hugely successful at introducing the concept of a non-game-based virtual world to millions of people, and most importantly IMO, a world created by the users rather than the company.Â User generated content and crowd-sourcing is practically passe now, but back in the day, those were still very untried, untested concepts.Â The idea that an immersive 3D space could be populated with content using the same community/random user model as Wikipedia was definitely not a given.Â That it succeeded at all in Second Life still seems miraculous to me, especially given the technical skill required and the dreadful interface.
As it stands now, Linden Lab’s biggest advantages are 1) that enough of us who saw the potential in those early years have managed to stick it out and continued to populate the world with experiments, interesting use cases, and compelling content, and 2) they got a very lucky reprieve, just when things started to not just plateau but decrease, the economic crisis dried up a lot of funding for potential competitors.Â Anyone professionally interested in the future of the metaverse has little choice at the moment BUT Second Life (or its cousin OpenSim).
Hopefully it will give them enough time to fix what’s broken, especially with the interface and new user experience, but just as importantly with the scalability issues and lack of APIs that have hindered integration with other platforms and enterprise data systems – it’s the latter holding back increased institutional adoption more than the former.
Either way, whether Second Life as a platform (or Linden Lab as a company) endures through the ages is less interesting to me than seeing where the concept of the metaverse goes from here.Â I still think robust competition from some wholly different conception of a virtual world will be the best medicine for Linden Lab, but I worry that they’ve got such a corner on the still relatively small market that currently exists that it’s actually stifling innovation in other directions. It wouldn’t be so troubling if I saw more evidence that they could continue to innovate, but the Second Life we use today is not _markedly_ different than the Second Life I logged into in 2003.
Perhaps whatever they’re going to announce will prove that statement wrong, but if my long experience in Second Life has taught me anything, it’s not to get my hopes up too high.
Having said all that, I still give them all due credit for what they’ve accomplished, and for what they’ve made possible for people who have had the patience and foresight to understand that this is still very, very early days for the metaverse indeed.
Scoble promises an announcement tomorrow at Building43, I plan to tune in and see what’s got him so excited.