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Giulio Prisco of the IEET Declares Second Life Dead


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It would be good if users of Second Life could respond to his article here:

http://telexlr8.net/2012/12/23/snow-crashed-in-second-life-end-2012/

 

"These days I have the impression that Second Life (SL) is a dead alien world populated by the ghosts of a few former inhabitants who refuse to go."

Snow Crash (ed) in Second Life

Giulio Prisco, December 24, 2012, IEET

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/prisco

I fell totally in love with Second Life one minute after joining in 2005. A few weeks later I left a very boring but very well paid senior management post in the public sector to became a technology entrepreneur.

**Only uploaded images may be used in postings**://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaverse" target="_blank">Metaverse would soon become a reality, and I wanted to be part of it.

As we all know, Snow Crash crashed in only a few years. In August 2007, as CEO of a Second Life development company in Spain with some high profile clients, I was interviewed by the national TV to comment on why companies were wasting millions on desert corporate VR spaces without visitors. The “desert Second Life” meme, started by an article on Wired, propagated very fast, and Second Life started to fade out.

These days I have the impression that Second Life (SL) is a dead alien world populated by the ghosts of a few former inhabitants who refuse to go. A couple of weeks ago I helped to organize a very good SL conference with many good speakers and interesting talks… and less than 10 people came.

Looking back, I see several reasons for the demise of SL:

1. The interface is far, far too difficult for today’s casual users who think that the Internet is that little box with lights that flicker when you are on Facebook. Many users, including many who use the Internet daily for work, do not know how to copy and paste, or the difference between left and right click. Add to this a terminal attention deficit, and you see how the Second Life interface is too difficult for mass adoption. Today, you need to design one-click user interfaces, because two clicks is too many.

2. Related to 1, SL is too heavy for most user computers. Those with powerful gaming systems and modern graphic cards never realize it, but Second Life is just not usable on low-performance computers, including new computers of users who don’t know how to switch off resource-hungry antivirus software, firewalls, background tasks and all the useless crap installed by manufacturers.

3. A 3D interface that imitates reality can be a great and intuitive user interface (if you see a door, you should go through, if you see a chair, you should sit down, etc.), but 3D on a flat 2D screen is not really 3D, and may make things difficult for the user, especially when combined with 1 and 2.

4. Many early users of SL were very jealous and protective of the early SL culture, strongly centered on pseudonymity and non-disclosure of real life information, and vocally resisted all technical innovations that could facilitate the intrusion of reality into their “magic circle” (see for example the very heated debates that followed the introduction of voice in SL in 2007). Most of them were “immersionists,” mainly interested in SL as “another world” where they could live “another life” entirely separated from their “first life” (FL) and strongly resisted the “invasion” of “augmentationists” interested in SL as a communication tool for telepresence applications related to FL. I think the tension between these two communities played a significant role in the demise of SL. Henrik Bennetsen’s essay on the subject is not available anymore at its original URL but a backup is still on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

5. In my (and many others’) opinion Linden Lab, the company behind SL, made one disastrous decision after another, alienating existing users without attracting new users. For example, first they alienated immersionists by promoting SL as a platform for business and education, then they changed their mind, then they changed their mind again, then they changed their mind some more times until everyone stopped caring.

I wonder whether SL and other immersive virtual worlds still have a future, and whether Stephenson’s Metaverse can still become a reality.

I am interested in online communication tools, and I have no interest in an building an alternative life in another world. My ideal avatar is a simple geometrical primitive with realtime webcam video streaming on a face (like the default avatars in OpenQwaq). This is easy to do in SL since version 2 of the viewer, and it is easy to set up videoconferencing in SL with free video streaming services, but these things don’t seem too interesting for the remaining SL users. Perhaps they will catch on in the future in SL or (more likely) in next generation platforms.

There are, in fact, interesting next generation Metaverse platforms that run natively in modern browsers without requiring a dedicated viewer or plugin. See for example Cloud Party, or the awesome Virtual World Framework demos. These systems seem much lighter and easier to use than SL, and (hopefully) able to address points 1 and 2 above. Concerning point 3, consumer VR glasses like Vuzix Wrap, Oculus Rift and future version of Google Glasses will permit real 3D interfaces to 3D scenes, and may wake up the sleeping Metaverse. In summary, I am cautiously hopeful in a Metaverse renaissance.


Giulio Prisco is a physicist and computer scientist, and former senior manager in the European space administration. Giulio works as a consultant and contributes to several science and technology magazines. In 2002-2008 he served on the Board of Directors of Humanity Plus, of which he was Executive Director, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Italian Transhumanist Association. He is often in Hungary, Italy and Spain. You can find more about Giulio at his blog and home page.


 

 

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There have been critis since 2006 saying it would not even make 2010, in the end it's the community in SL that keeps it going. Critics said the same about WoW when other realms started to rise up from the ground and yet EA and others have not yet done any damage to WoW. 

I do however think Lindenlab need to make the viewer easier to understand for new residents. I'm sure they have something in the pipeline altho when they will do it and how many bad updates later i have no clue, Lets just hope that LL keeps investing in new technology maybe a 3d viewer. 

Make something good enough for people to come and play the game, and take the complex viewer for granted. 

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I dunno I can agree with a few points especially 4 and 5. People in SL are really protective of the real life identity and resistant to change. Good or bad I won't say for sure for fear of being attacked here but I will say it is just true. That said weither sl is dead or not I think time will tell but from what i hear it's not looking so bright and sunny right now.

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Giulio thinks he understands what is going on. He fails to note that the Lab is earning about US$75 million per year during a recession. I think that suggests he is just promoting his opinion rather than attempting to present an objective analysis. If that is accurate, then there is nothing to indicate his mind is open to contrary opinion or an interest in balanced dicussion.

Since there have been no comments to the article, I assume there are few if any users of SL that read IEET. A few comments from readers of the SL Forum are not going to convince anyone that SL is vibrant and thriving.

So... What would the point be for commenting on the IEET site

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This quote is interesting: "I am interested in online communication tools, and I have no interest in an building an alternative life in another world. My ideal avatar is a simple geometrical primitive with realtime webcam video streaming on a face (like the default avatars in OpenQwaq)". Well, sure, you could do that in SL, I guess. You could go to Disneyland because you wanted to get an ice cream cone, too.

I understand his disappointment that SL didn't turn out to be the great corporate VR location it was once touted to become, and I think he's probably correct in his assessment on that score.

We're not dead, though. We just left the meeting to go sailing or ride our motorcycles or tend our meeroos or build a second story on the house or try on new outfits or go to a concert or.....stuff. Take notes for us.

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Another "Expert" declares SL dead.   SL isn't perfect, and much of what's wrong is the fault of LL, and all their tinkering with new toys rather than getting the basics right first.   But to all the experts a naysayer's, my response is, Don't let the door hit you on the way out, and good riddance.

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These days I have the impression that Second Life (SL) is a dead alien world populated by the ghosts of a few former inhabitants who refuse to go. A couple of weeks ago I helped to organize a very good SL conference with many good speakers and interesting talks… and less than 10 people came.


Oh, well, if he went to all that work and only 10 people bothered to turn up, that proves it, then, doesn't it?

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There have been a couple of different 3D viewers for SL. KirstenLee provided a viewer that had nVidia 3D and anaglyph 3D. See: KirstenLee Lee Viewer S21(8) RC 1 Release Review.

 New World Notes was discussing 3D back in 2009. See: http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2009/12/second-life-in-3d.html

One can see SL in 3D now with a 120hz monitor and a set of nVidia 3D glasses. I haven't got to try that yet. But, I hear it works well. The glasses are often on eBay for a good price.

The anaglyph 3D is fun and runs on most hardware. But, one has to have a viewer with the feature and the color really sucks. Mircea Lobo asked about 3D in Oct 2012 in: Anaglyph / 3D stereo on normal monitors without red-cyan glasses? Unfortunately there is no new information there.

In general 3D display is still new tech. Several ways have been to 'fake' 3D on a 2D display. Tech Crunch explains the different technologies in use now. The article gets into the dangers of 3D tech we have now and mentioned the warning that Samsung publicised about its 3D displays. Epileptics and others and experience seizures, nausea, and fatigue and it is not uncommon from shutter glasses. 

Since vision is a learned process the brain quickly adapts to visual perception changes. An experiement was run to see how quickly humans can adapt. Glasswere put on that inverted images, which also changes right and left. Our eyes actually invert the image placed on our retinas. Our bran makes sense of it and we see the world right side up. So, an inverting lense was added to see what would happen. Those participating found that is a short time, hours, until they reporting seeing the world right side up again. Wen the galsses were taken off, for a time, the world was upside down again for a time.

No one has any information on what this brain adapation can do over time. The brain detects the change and confusion and tries to sort it out. Tech Crunch gets into the details of how confusing 3D images are to the brain and eye muscles. This is leading to reports of lost depeth perception after watching 3D movies. You can image the problems that may lead to while driving home from the theater.

As I wrote the tech is new and its effects on the human visual system even less well understood. So, I'm not expecting to see the Lab invest much time in creating a 3D display for their viewer.

 

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Knutz Scorpio wrote:

To me it just sounds like someone being pissy because only ten people came to their "very good SL conference with many good speakers and interesting talks".  I do think SL could be doing better without a lot of the blunders LL has made, but it's far from dead.

I agree with this assessment as most likely the reason for the article and I certainly disagree that there are only a few ghosts of old residents left, but I do agree with many of the author's other points. 

I was chuckling over the voice issue since this has been brought up recently in some threads for one reason or another - that was the first major SL brewhaha I encountered after joining SL in May 2007.

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Jonathan Sivocci wrote:

There have been critis since 2006 saying it would not even make 2010, in the end it's the community in SL that keeps it going. Critics said the same about WoW when other realms started to rise up from the ground and yet EA and others have not yet done any damage to WoW. 


Even farther back, Everquest is still around and it was introduced in 1999.  It has lost player numbers which Sony dealt with by merging servers so the game doesn't have an empty  look, but for a thirteen year old game with a TON of similar competitors, that's not too bad. ;)

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An interesting article, a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.

I'm not going to take the time to critique the whole thing or I'd be writing a book.

I don't  think Second Life is dead nor dieing.  But it certainly has not grown the way many of us envisioned.  Like when I go to log in and I see that there are only 50,000 to 60,000 people logged in, that is a small number compared to just the population of the U.S. 

I think he is right that SL faces challenges because of technical limitations and teh fact that people want "Instant gratification."  When I see the number of new people who post in here asking, "How do I change my clothes," it makes me wonder how many quit without even bothering to ask.

I'll also agree that Linden Lab blunders have done more to hurt SL's growth than help it.  There are a large number of people who feel LL does not understand their own product and its pretty hard to manage, build, develop and sell something you don't understand.

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Ok, he had a conference and only 10 people showed up.  Maybe it wasn't that great, maybe the subject wasn't of interest to many people, maybe no one knew about it because of poor planning and publicity. I suspect poor attendance had nothing to do with SL being dead and more to do with how he planned and handled it or the subject matter.

Strange that I can go to a live music performance and the sim crashes because it is so packed with people. Strange that the economy is still larger than many third world countries, even with the RL economy down the tubes.  Strange that concurrency is about the same as ever.

Granted some of his points are valid as we all know that LL hasn't made the best decisions but to declare it is dead and we are all ghosts who just refuse to leave is absurd.  Sounds more like sour grapes to me.

 

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Giulio Prisco wrote:

I am interested in online communication tools, and I have no interest in an building an alternative life in another world. My ideal avatar is a simple geometrical primitive with realtime webcam video streaming on a face (like the default avatars in OpenQwaq). This is easy to do in SL since version 2 of the viewer, and it is easy to set up videoconferencing in SL with free video streaming services, but these things don’t seem too interesting for the remaining SL users. Perhaps they will catch on in the future in SL or (more likely) in next generation platforms.

 

is called Skype Giulio

+

Giulio Prisco wrote:

There are, in fact, interesting next generation Metaverse platforms that run natively in modern browsers without requiring a dedicated viewer or plugin. See for example Cloud Party,

even more interesting would be a full browser on a prim in SL. can then make a avatar account on Cloud Party for your SL avatar then login in Cloud Party from your SL bedroom/basement and have sexxors on Cloud Party with your friends and random newbies

that be way more interesting than login as your RL self. is sooo meatlife that

jejejjejeeje (:

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Ah yes this is the 'transhumanist' person still miffed that corporates just don't want that old OpenQwaq stuff =^^= Very interesting to follow the link at the bottom to the Hypergrid Biz article (which in turn links to, of all places, the Alphaville Herald!).

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He didnt state the obvious which is that Lindens charges way too much for use of its world, does nothing to recompense customers who have been totally inconvenienced by bungles it admitted were its fault but used its weasley worded tos to dodge any responsibility for....in fact has no grasp of quality customer service at all or even who its main customers are.

 

As for sl being dead  - well look how much of the map is yellow and tot up how many people you see during an evening random exploring.

 

No point pointing it out though anyone should know that the people at Lindens dont take any notice of its customer base and the guy in charge is intent on using sl to satisfy his own agenda...

 

As usual though someone says sl dead and the equally pigheaded 'no it isnt -such and such said it was dead in 2006 - blah blah blah' brigade... who cant even conceive that things need to be changed to give sl a much need shot in the arm (and win back former members who cancelled membership payments after several years of avidly supporting sl ) start crawling out of the woodwork......

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