I have been thinking for some time of writing a post in response to some of the chatter about the problems at Second Life.
You can read here and here about the extent to which Second Life is really an economy – it’s not, the extent to which it is all sex and gambling – it is, and for the academically minded the future of the LindenDollar as a currency – not dissimilar to the US$ actually, with significant deflation on the cards.
Then on the other hand you have companies like IBM saying SL is the future of the internet.
For me the interesting question here is not so much whether SL will get so big that Linden Labs will rival Google as a successful VC investment, but whether what we see happening in SL and places like Habbo Hotel is the start of a massive change in the way we interact online.
I think that is the case, I blow hot and cold about how quickly it will all happen, but I’m convinced that something big is starting here.
For me the fact that a lot of people go to SL for (virtual) sex doesn’t disturb me too much – as we all know the porn industry is a perennial early adopter. And to me the Linden dollar is an enabler rather than an end in itself. The amounts of money people play with in SL in real world terms is tiny – I think the importance of the Linden dollar and the ability to convert to real dollars is that without it people wouldn’t enjoy their SL games.
I might take a very different view if I was a shareholder, of course, but as an industry observer (and hopefully one day investor….) the thing that excites me are the levels of activity and the passion of the people who play there.
I’m guessing that is what IBM see too. I would like to see more business applications evolving – virtual meetings as an alternative to teleconferences + limited training isn’t that exciting, but my strong belief is that these things will come.