Monday, 6 July 2009

Where is everyone?



The picture above is pretty representative of the current state of Second Life. It art is in place, but where are the people?

Early this year I was happy to see that Second Life was drawing considerably more people than a year earlier, at the end of the the boom when the SL death watch began. SL refused to die, but as Web 2.0 sites go it actually has stopped living. It has firstly stopped being cool in an industry and culture were hype drives everything from traffic to investment. Second Life had its moment in the sun 2 years ago and failed to "twitter" with it. Unlike Twitter, Facebook or Last.FM the site was unable to get the kind of explosive exponential growth in usage, and revenues, which is normal for Web 2.0 sites.

SL's growth in users may actually represent real decreases when you factor in the explosive growth of broadband and social networking. Certainly when you factor in the number of potential users growth over the last 2 years SL must be shrinking.

Think of it in the following terms. The SL potential population is defined as the following:

1. Must have access to broadband Internet,
2. Bust have access to high speed CPU with over 1 GB RAM and good graphics card,
3. Must be familiar with Internet technology,
4. Should be familiar with social networking.

Clearly this population is growing by leaps and bounds. Also when you see how SL's land mass is itself growing, with more and more Islands meaning that there are more places to go, more businesses using SL and less lag. So the failure rate to connection to regions must be going down.

SL has failed to achieve that all critical commodity in Web 2.0: universal access. Today I can give anyone my email account and I am generally surprise if someone does not have email. I can now Twitter most people, I can confidentially ask people to connect on FaceBook. I know enough people will have these that I can put my FB, Twitter and email contact on a CV and its almost as good as a phone number. In fact my FB is better than any number I have for getting hold of me for work.

I want to put my SL contact down, but nobody seem to have SL membership in the RL. Its not universal like a phone number.

So what is the first step? Linden Labs needs to make registration and initial exploration possible in a web browser, with a few clicks, and no download. Get more and more people in to Second Life. This may involve rebranding, releasing a new generation of space and not just browser client. And advertise.

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life
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