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Reader Comments (11)

Posted: Aug 26th 2008 1:58PM (Unverified) said

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It's hard enough to get a response from Linden Lab directly as an individual. It's most likely that I have given up trying to go to the source to press for information. I just wait until someone else asks the questions and read on while adjusting my strategy.

Posted: Aug 27th 2008 2:02PM (Unverified) said

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We did this to ourselves - what 11 or 12 year old could see a world full of ego-touting corporate "offices" as anything worth thinking twice about?

Instead of making Second Life fun and innovative (which is why it was cool to begin with), everyone's been chasing each other in circles looking for the money.

This applies as well to LL as to the rest of the industry - this is the corner we painted ourselves into, folks.

Posted: Aug 26th 2008 3:21PM (Unverified) said

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Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Posted: Aug 26th 2008 3:11PM (Unverified) said

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The interesting thing about virtual worlds is that they are currently developed predominantly with a demographic in mind. Second Life is the exception to this rule - we can't pin it down because it seems all things to all people (even though it may not be successful in all endeavors.)

Asking the demographic of Barbie World makes sense - folk who like Barbie, probably 6-12 years old and female. Asking the target demographic of Second Life is not such a simple matter. A general purpose virtual world is like other general purpose systems, defined by it's users.

It would make little sense to ask the demographic of the web (though in the early ninties this was exactly what we did.) The web is too general purpose, so much so that we no longer think of it as a thing but an environment. Originally it was NCSA Mosaic, and some servers, and some documents with special code. Now it's crept into your phone, reflects the world in real time, and some would argue should replace your office. You can buy a web enabled fridge if you so desire. The demographic is whoever finds a use for it.

Choosing a direction, use case or demographic to sell general purpose virtual worlds to may well restrict their development. SL isn't Kaneva with social networking as the dominant paradigm, nor is it any of the other worlds optimized for other specific uses.

This means, like the web, general purpose virtual worlds will grow slowly as the vocabulary of uses takes shape. More focused virtual worlds will outpace general purpose ones for the forseeable future - but will also be more volatile. As we saw on the web, brilliantly focused products such as LiveJournal can be outrun in the market simply by appealing more to a single demographic, then being overrun and owned by it diminishing their perceived general utility.

Perhaps LL's strategy of not pinning SL down to a particular demographic or use case is a forward thinking one. SL became famous for virtual sex early on, and the market obligingly created rival virtual worlds with a sex focus, somewhat freeing SL from needing to cater specifically for this market or being tarnished by association with it. The same is happening with game targeted worlds, or "I have a room and can move the furniture" worlds.

If worlds like SL emerge as the place where folk do anything that isn't catered for in a more focused way by a purpose built specific product, they are setting themselves up to be the "web" of virtual worlds, rather than the facebook, myspace or google docs. If you fight on the level of narrow market competitors you can only win the fights where you narrow the focus. If you fight on the platform level, the winner becomes the environment. There is effectively no competition for a base platform once established.... mountains need to be moved to topple giants.

Just my two cents .

Posted: Aug 26th 2008 3:28PM (Unverified) said

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Nice post, and I'm not trying to promote myself here but I've been whining about this for some time, in particular the need for a clear value proposition and strategy. In particular I use Pip's comments as a litmus test as to whether they can articulate who their target audience is, why they should come to Second Life, and why they'll want to stay based on future technologies and trends:

"And this is the issue. Philip is asked “what about all those easily accessible 3D rooms embedded in browsers and Facebook and whatever” and his response is “we’re developing standards, and the technology will get easier to install.”

But PLEASE Philip: WHY SHOULD ANYONE CARE??????

Why are immersive properties key not technologically but to the USER? What fricking DIFFERENCE does it make?

Seriously, if Linden Lab can’t express clearly and concisely why Second Life and virtual worlds REQUIRE a client in the first place, who CARES whether you can teleport between Second Life and Open Sim?"

(I was clearly on a rant that day!)

http://dusanwriter.com/?p=758

Let's hope they articulate strategy a little more clearly at next weeks SLCC - I wrote M's speech, I wonder if he'll use it.

http://dusanwriter.com/?p=844

Posted: Aug 26th 2008 3:30PM (Unverified) said

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I suspect that M's speech won't be nearly as exciting as your rendition, once PR have eliminated anything remotely interesting from it :)
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Posted: Aug 26th 2008 4:04PM (Unverified) said

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Pavig is right on the money. I'd only add that Linden see THE GRID (not just SL) as a age/gender/location/class-agnostic platform and Second Life as a self-contained world within it.

"And where the platform itself is going?"

Isn't that the wrong question, shouldn't it be - "We've climbed onto this platform, where are WE gonna take it?" Anyone who wants that kind of 'direction' is probably already a sheep in World of Warcraft!

Plus, why do we crave corporate benediction so much? Is SL's success or failure really to be judged by how many brand-names start 'monetizing the space'? Isn't this a bit pathetic? We're feeling sorry for ourselves because no-one's selling us Coke like they used to and cos no-one's telling us what to do?

What are we, Generation-Y or something? :-)

Posted: Aug 26th 2008 4:24PM (Unverified) said

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Virtual Worlds are nascent. Fancy word for new. Not all of them. True. But the Linden Lab vision is. The reason Linden don't know where it is going is because it is up to the users themselves. They are the customer. Linden responds (well, in theory at least). A world imagined and created by its residents. Each interest group within SL imagines the future of the platform in their own way based on the meaning Second Life has for them. Based on how it helps them to meet their goals. The future of Second Life then is contingent upon those who create it and the ways in which they imagine its future will unfold. That's what makes it. Well, that's my two cents anyway...

Posted: Aug 27th 2008 5:10PM (Unverified) said

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Most of the comments express the traditional "platformist" view: Linden Lab just provides the platform, and the residents decide what to do with it. Tateru seems to be the only to have mentioned the "governance" issue dear to the "interventionists," who hold that LL needs to provide in-world government. But Tateru's link reveals that she was just thinking mostly of how LL handles griefing.

What sets Second Life apart is that it is the only Virtual World that truly models reality, with vast capabilities for building and scripting, and a complex in-world economy. I agree with those who compare SL to the web itself, since SL has the form of a universal platform, more than of a particular application (game, social chat or so on). But the overall evolution of the platform is out of the hands of the residents themselves, since it is in every way controled by the LL "game gods."

The residents of this veritable "world" have every interest in constituting some sort of representative democracy, at least in order to influence LL governance. But as an entreprise, LL has different interests than the residents, namely to increase their own income. Thus the concern about markets and demographics, and the question of why younger people are less interested in SL. Someone suggested to me that young people are too busy constructing their "first life," which strikes me as totally pertinent. But if most residents are of an age where they have enough assurance in their "first life" to start building a "second life," that just defines the target audience. Where you take that in terms of marketing strategy is another whole question.

Posted: Sep 26th 2008 2:39PM (Unverified) said

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i agree with you on this Danton it more what does the player want to do with world not what the world want to do with the player.

that means as a exsample i could buy lets say a huge island put down a future looking city of course the city will be governed by a dictatorship.

in which the player helps or hurts the DS of course the point is i can go right into second life and build that right now weather it be good or not is another question.
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Posted: Sep 3rd 2008 6:37AM (Unverified) said

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Regardless of whether they have a plan for the future, I would hope they are at least working on the major problems with the service, like inventory loss and the occasional need to restrict logins. (Of course, the other things (not a complete list), like poor group management tools, almost primitive collabortive functions -- can't even search a notecard -- those would be good to work on as well.)

I wish they would try and come up with a plan before someone else comes along and totally defeats them in this.

I like Second Life, but you see the neglect. Urban decay, old infohubs like Periwinkle lay outdated and unused, the building design at the Luna shops is from 2003... and instead of going back and updating in familiar places, and bringing a sense of community between newer residents and old, LL decides to build new.

I think a lot of wise residents have been trying to hand Linden Lab answers for a while... not sure if its helping tho.

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