Thanks to Hey Jude: Learning in an Online World for the tip.
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.
Be sure to set up your Tivo/DVR to record the PBS premier of digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier this Tuesday, 2/2 at 9PM EST.Â Besides knowing some of the people in the show, I’ve been watching the submissions and postings on their website for a good while and I think it’s going to be interesting.Â I couldn’t get the nerve to submit a video myself, but I look forward to seeing other Second Life residents in the mix!
It was a startling moment the first time someone uploaded a picture of me on Facebook and tagged it with my name.Â It wasn’t a very flattering photo, first of all, I never would have posted that picture anywhere publicly.Â ;)Â And it struck me quite suddenly that the web really is a two-way street – it’s not just what I say about me, it’s also what they say about me.Â You know, them, those other people out there.
Twitter lists are another example of this two-way street.Â The image above shows a word cloud of tags and phrases taken from twitter lists that other people have created and put me, @fleep, in.Â Â I should note that this is a doctored word cloud, if I’d left it at the true frequency, you wouldn’t be able to read anything but secondlife, edtech, education, virtualworlds, and cincinnati because those tags are by far the most common.
But I wanted to bring out the other words as well because they paint a broader picture of who and what folks on twitter think I am.Â It also better demonstrates how much CAN be known about a person when a bunch of disparate voices start chiming in and contributing what they know about someone.Â Some of the folks who know me on Second Life might not know I live in Cincinnati, just like some of the local people might not have known I was involved in Second Life.Â Put all their contributions together, however, and you (and they) can learn a lot more about me.
This is the basis for the reputation economy that’s coming – in the days ahead, your resume and your profiles and your website, all the things that you say about you, will matter a lot less than all the things that they say about you.Â You know, them, those other people out there.Â They will likely be much more verbose about you than you are about yourself, and they will come from all of the different spheres of your life – personal and professional, your private life and your work life, your social clubs and your work buddies, and yes, even people who don’t like you or what you believe in, your enemies and detractors.Â Â You will have much less control over what the world knows about you, because you have no way to control what everyone else says about you.
If you google for “reputation economy” you’ll see that it’s often applied in the context of companies needing to protect their reputations, but the same applies to individuals, too.Â Do you know what the web says about you?Â Beyond vanity-googling yourself, do you have google alerts set up to let you know when someone mentions your name?Â Trackbacks enabled on your blog?Â A saved twitter search of your @username?Â Are you checking out the twitter lists people are putting you on, and are they the kinds of lists you want to be on?
And if not, what should you, or can you, do about it?
While I don’t always think Gartner gets it right, I finally took a moment to compare this year’s hype cycle for emerging tech with last year’s – interesting to see where public virtual worlds are relative to the 2008 chart.Â You can see both Gartner’s analysis and my own thoughts from 2008 in the next graphic.
This year I think not much has changed, in terms of the _hype_ and level of adoption, with the exception that virtual worlds for education seems to be closer to the peak of inflated expectations.Â By 2010, I’d think Course Management Systems shouldn’t be on the list as an emerging technology as most institutions have adopted a platform by now.
Web 2.0 for education, or anything 2.0, still has not caught on except among technophiles, though the explosion of Twitter in the news is helping to move things along the hype cycle curve.
Do you work in higher education?Â What do you think?
This post is for Prof. Jenning’s Communication & Technology class. If you want to comment, please comment back on the class blog so Prof Jennings sees it! – Fleep
If you haven’t yet seen these videos or haven’t made the time, do it.
Kevin Kelly: Predicting the next 5,000 days of the web
Another excellent TED Talk, I continue to be a huge fan.
An anthropological introduction to YouTube
From Mike Wesch, author of another internet-famous video, The Machine is Us/ing Us. I mentioned this presentation a month or so ago and the video was finally posted last week. It was presented to the Library of Congress back at the end of June.