The importance of a quality social experience in SL

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the interest in Vig’s Unified Theory of Second Life ™.  (Hat tip to Hamlet Au, who I’ve never met but appears to be a reader of this humble blog as he put the spotlight on my theory.)  Thanks to all those who have offered comments.

I’ve been mulling this theory over for a while, and the words chosen were very deliberate.  For all of its technological wizardry, Second Life is a social space.  It is a place for people to access and meet other people, enjoy shared experiences and interact with each other – in a host of formats and venues.  If you pull the people out of Second Life, you have Photoshop in 3-D.  (Conversely, if you pull the virtual world element out of Second Life, you have a live chat service.)  

Problem is, the Second Life culture celebrates the exact experience which places the greatest strain on the Second Life system – the shared user experience, of which I will offer examples after the fold.  

Despite the lag and other inconveniences, we hardcore users struggle on despite the hassle – recognizing that lag and other technical glitches are the price of admission to hang out with our friends, create and be inspired by others’ creativity.  But what of the new users?  Will they drop into the metaverse and find themselves in a quagmire…and want to stay?  Is Second Life THAT compelling?  

My feeling is that it is not.  I also have a feeling that a lot of other people agree with me, which is why Second Life’s recurring user count has leveled off.  And I’ll stick to my guns in stating that that number won’t go up until Linden Lab makes Second Life as stable as, say, your run-of-the-mill XBox game or World of Warcraft.   This is all the more profound when considering that virtual worlds (including Second Life) are on the downside of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies:

Think about this when considering these examples…

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