What is it that you seek when visiting Second Life? or for any of the virtual worlds for that matter? I first found SL through an article in the Guardian newspaper that hailed it as the most exciting internet concept ever. Indeed, that is how I saw it for over a year until the events of late 2008 that drove so many, including myself, out for good.
I was somewhat shocked by a tweet today that purported to have the formula to ‘save’ Second Life from what seems to be an inevitable further demise from the recent decline in popularity. This blog made me so angry! If the only way to save Second Life is to improve the marketplace then the platform is already dead. It’s past saving.
Second Life’s demise has been a series of underhand actions by a money greedy corporation that have lost touch with the true potential of what they control. Linden Labs forgot that it was the vibrant, energetic and innovative people in its community that lead it to success in the first place. By excluding them in the way they have recently – by not supporting them and alienating them – they were driving away the catalyst for further growth. Second Life is unique in that it allows anyone to create. That’s a potent recipe.
Education and the Arts bring in crowds and we all know the formula for internet success – traffic, traffic, traffic. People who, in turn, would be the consumers that Linden Lab are so determined to target. A good property developer will watch the artist communities to see where they relocate. Generally, run down, cheap to live in areas, such as the East End of London 10 years ago. They follow the artists in and in a short time they can completely regenerate an area with new properties to create new prime locations. But in the process it too often makes that area unaffordable to the artist and educators community that created it in the first place. Savvy developers work with artists and schools to include them in their regeneration programme therefore looking for a more sustainable and long term solution to a never ending problem.
Linden Labs have not been savvy. They are driving out the very core of the community that visitors to Second Life are seeking. What will be left? Virtual shopping malls, virtual prostitutes and virtual boredom. Sounds too much like real life for me.
Second Life has no end of possibilities. The creative growth of it was not the work of Linden Labs. All they did was provide a platform. No, the creative instincts come from many different disciplines all brought together in a space that so inconceivable that all most can do is create another world so similar to the real life world that many confused the two. However, the work of the artists and educators was to invite the users of Second Life to think beyond a parallel life to ‘Another Life’. But how can they do that when faced with such corporate opposition? There has to be a better way to save this failing model than improving the marketplace tools.