Friday, 17 May 2013

The real world is becoming more like Second Life, which is killing Second Life

There is no question Second Life is beautiful and creative, but I can't help but conclude that the lack of people active on spaces has reached a critical point.

[video] "Jazz on Bones" @ Topophonia: Four Realizations in Sound
By Eupalinos Ugajin
Spoiler: The conclusion of this article is that mobile technology has transformed cities of the real world in to the largest virtual worlds around, and that now real space, bound with the internet, is providing people the largest of virtual worlds.

These social maps of Jakarta, London and Rio show that mobile technology has create a Virtual World out of the real world.  You can look in on the real world now via the internet, see where crowds are likely formed, read reviews of places, see images, look at tweets, join meetups.  The virtual world technology that drives Second Life is now merged with the real world.

Looking now at a map of central Second Life shows a plague or participation has happened. Bebo and MySpace prove social networks follow a line of time, entropy governs social networks on the Internet.

Second Life passed a tipping point. Social relations already established can work but new social relations can't be formed, like a galaxy there is simply not enough stuff to form new relationships between stuff, the chances of bumping in to new people randomly is too small.

That is not to say nothing is going on in Second Life. Second Life is kind of like a dying galaxy. In a dying galaxy stars can go on for billions of years, there still are a few clusters of established community and relationships that can go on in Second Life.

These is just not enough critical mass of people to form new clusters of people.   I used to meet a new person every day in SL.  Look at the map above and you see few places where people will be grouping to meet, where you can start up a chat and develop a new friendship.  Think of is a large area of space, if there is not enough matter in space new stars can't form from accidental collisions.  There is a minimal density of people in a space required to make an area an exciting destination for social like.  Second Life does not look like a city you would go to on vacation, it has become a suburb people go to in order to carry out private interests.

Compare the Second Life map of all avatars to a map of Lagos, showing only the people who happen to tweet using Geo-location turned on (a tiny minority), clearly a living city like Lagos is offering social opportunity than Second Life, even online.

These two maps of Second Life showing green dots for every person shows a disturbing pattern, spaces are mostly empty, there is simply no hub to meet people.  A few spots have large clusters but there are not enough of them to make new introductions.  So Second Life is stuck in an entropy problem.  Established users with established contacts can use it to carry on personal social interactions, and many still do.  But over time these will be reduced, people get bored or die or fall out with each other.  There is no engine in place to form new relationships.

The problem with a social space like Second Life is that all the social formation has to happen inside of it.  In this way its more like Twitter than Facebook.  Most of my contacts on Twitter are people I meet via twitter, which Facebook depends on established social networks.

But twitter is linked to the real world, I meet people on Twitter via shared real world interests and politics and sometimes I even meet them in the real world.  This link to the real world does not exist in Second Life, SL is a fantasy space that requires it produce its own fantasies, and right now there are simply not enough people playing Princesses and Princes for the ball to go on.

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