Second Life: Just say yes

Mention Second Life to some people and you open a door to skepticism and dismissive opinions. It reminds me of similar reactions about blogging just a couple of years ago.

While I strongly believe that Second Life has enormous potential as a business environment – and, thus, is something people in business ought to be paying close attention to – I’m certainly not on a mission about it to persuade all and sundry to see it my way.

Either you will or you won’t. It’s entirely your choice.

But you owe it to yourself (at least) to consider as many angles as possible before you land on one side or other of the argument.

If you Google or Technorati for Second Life, you’ll turn up a mixture of intelligent commentary and lots of hype. It’s largely the latter that plays a key role in helping some people be skeptical and dismiss the whole thing as an overrated game.

It seems to me that too much of the negative commentary focuses on here-and-now matters that are largely to do with the frustrations of today’s technology.

I’m referring to things like slow networks, unable to connect to the Second Life grid, graphics issues with the program on your PC, having to upgrade it from time to time, and so forth. And some people seem to be hung up about how many avatars are online at any one time, kind of wondering why all the 2 million registered users aren’t hanging out in world.

Clearly such issues play a significant role in your Second Life experience, but they are not the important issues!

What’s far more important is to look beyond this myopic view and focus on what people are actually doing in Second Life (almost in spite of the technology).

In a pretty thoughtful piece in Second Life Insider last weekend, Tateru Nino wrote about the virtual world nay-sayers, and why they are saying no. The post included this credible view:

[...] Not all of our naysayers are strictly on the outside, either. Some of the most vociferous are residents who can’t let go. They may not log in anymore. They may have even cancelled their accounts. You’ll still see them, however, posting on blogs and forums — presumably to try to ruin it for others, though their motives in this wise would seem to be obscure. Many people just consider that to be griefing.

Writing in GigaGamez yesterday, Wagner James Au wrote a compelling post on Second Life around the concept of “it’s too hyped– and it’s not hyped enough.” Some excellent history and detailed commentary on many of the tech-related issues I mentioned above.

But maybe the best view of all came in this comment to Tateru Nino’s post:

[...] Does all this naysaying really matter? No. At the end of the day those who are into it will be into it, those who aren’t will resist it and the public will vote with their feet – they will either grab it with both hands and it will inevitably lead to (not be) the future of the Internet, or it won’t. And if it is, a whole lot of the naysayers will be left behind.

Amen to that.

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