In his debut for the all-new Valleywag, Clay Shirkey calls in a few home truths about SecondLife.
Clay articulates a number of issues I’ve been mulling over for a while – the biggest being Liden Labs less-than-forthcoming approach to their real usage figures.
Everyone knows that SecondLife doesn’t really have 1.5 million users. As Clay puts it:
“Someone who tries a social service once and bails isn’t really a user any more than someone who gets a sample spoon of ice cream and walks out is a customer.”
Of couse, I totally agree with Clay – and the thing that frustrates me is that Linden isn’t playing a level game here…
From their own server metrics, they know exactly how many people are ‘regular users’ – but they are choosing not to release that information. “They’re a private company, why should they?”, you might ask – well because they want the rest of us to invest in their system…
- Linden have just completed a world tour of digital agencies – trying to get agencies to factor in SecondLife propositions for their clients by demonstrating the ‘opportunities’ within their MetaVerse.
- Linden encourages those of us who can ‘build things’ to get into SecondLife and start building. Great, but how can I can my virtual items out if I choose to leave SecondLife. And even if I could, what value are they to anyone outside of Linden’s virtual ecosystem?
- The great SecondLife Land Grab – which has supposedly made the infamous Anshe Chung a virtual millionaire. Clay picks up the legitimacy of such a claim in his post, but the point for me on this one is that serious money is demanded in order to start owning land in SL – which is becoming a bit of a necessity in order to do anything in the system
- Attention is something we’re all paying when we use SecondLife, and even attention in SecondLife has a value.
So it’s with the above points in mind, I urge Linden to be up front about the true numbers of people using SecondLife. If Linden want SecondLife to become a location of commerce and business then they need to get with the program and give us some detailed statistics – just like any other trading platform would need to do in order to garner customers.
One has to wonder why they haven’t already, and whether they really are as low as the 10,000 daily average Clay offers.
I continue to use and enjoy SecondLife. I feel there is a lot of insight to into some of the future usage patterns and opportunities of such an online community might afford us, not to mention some UI and technical skills gained from building and scripting 3D objects.
But I’m still concerned that SecondLife could become the sacrificial lamb that trailblazed the technology and usage patterns, but was ultimately overtaken by more agile players who watched from the sidelines and learned from their mistakes.
If you leave SecondLife, you can’t gain access to SecondLife just because it contains some of your copyrighted works – that was in the recent changes to the terms of service (http://www.knowprose.com/node/16730 ) in Section 3.3. And no, you can’t get what you *build* out of SecondLife, though I believe work has been done toward exporting build information from SecondLife. If it hasn’t, it would be cool.
The point about value outside of the SL ecosystem is 100% right, at least so far. 🙂
Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I think Linden have a number of issues to work out here, and they’re growing by the day.
I would like to see a lot more community liaison than just the ‘town hall meetings’ that happen once a month. An ongoing consultation with users about rules and regulations would be an interesting project. I’ve already taken part in two such surveys for academic establishments who are studying SL – I’ll see if I can find out if they have published their findings yet…
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