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A possible market opening for Second Life?


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Facebook and Google+ are currently dominating the social networks market having pushed the 'freakish' 3D virtual world of Second Life to the periphery. But in their arrogance and hubris FB and G+ have barreled their way into 1984-ish Big Brother territory with their policy on users account names: zero tolerance to pseudonymous accounts. This is alienating alot of people who rely on the benefits of the anonymity that pseudonynmous accounts confer upon their user.

Both FB & G+ pitch their stance as necessary in order to deliver up targetted advertising which is an integral part of the business model: data-scraping by any other name. Google goes a step further by claiming their 'real-names only' policy is necessary in order for their Google Wallet scheme to work.

Both arguments are bogus.

1] It is perfectly possibly to serve up targetted advertising using cookies and other such web-tracking technology whether one uses ones' 'real name' or calls oneself Bugs Bunny or whatever.

2] Linden Lab does an admirably effective job of linking anonymous / pseudonymous accounts to their users' PayPal and/or bank accounts, credit cards etc., thus showing the bankruptcy of Googles' argument vis-a-vis Google Wallet.

Linden Lab should position itself AND Second Life as the internet environment and service that not only respects their customers privacy but also defends it if and when necessary as well as offering all the services [and much more besides] that can be found in FB and G+. For instance: offering a service similar to Google Wallet but one that respects the users privacy and choice of identity. No doubt there are others.

I didn't suggest a pseudonymous alternative to FB or G+ because I feel that the flatweb experience has almost run its course and that 3D virtual world experiences will become the norm as soon as the technology required becomes ubiquitous. As far as that goes, Second Life is already there and way ahead of the curve. All it needs to do is to hang in there until the world catches up.

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Interesting post.

Last week I watched an award winning documentary called Tallhotblond, which tells the true story of an online Love Triangle started on Facebook which ends in an horrific murder.

None of the people involved in this were at all honest with each other and they all said and did things online which were out of character to their Real Lives. A lot was made of how easily these people were able to deceive each other, alongside a good attempt to show and understand the real emotions which led them down their fateful road. 

It struck me at the time that had these people come to SL and not FB, they could have done so much more to develop and express their online personas, they could have been as deceitful as they like with each other and indulged their fantasies to the fullest and no one would have minded or got too upset because here for most, thats part of the game. They wanted to lead fantasy lives but because their medium was Facebook each assumed the other was being honest and this led to disastrous consequences.

I think this illustrates a fundamental difference between SL and FB though, it seems to me that FB for most is about connecting with other parts of your RL, work collegaues, old school friends, estranged family members etc, Second Life I think is about disconnecting from RL, leaving all those people behind and being someone else.

I would agree that SL has so much more to offer than FB, but I am not sure they will ever really compete because they do somewhat different jobs.  

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Just a note that Google+ is, ever so belatedly and still indecisively, softening their stance on pseudonyms.  Just yesterday, in fact, Bradley Horowitz posted a new proclamation that's a bit more realistic.

God only knows why Google has been so slow on the uptake here. I might guess that it's simply blind Facebook envy.  Still, it's difficult to understand why they'd persist in such a blunder, when Wikipedia (for one) demonstrates the value they're so stupidly throwing away.

Anyway, my point is that being nym-friendly is pretty tenuous as a market differentiator; G+ could yet come around, and shows signs of doing so.  Clumsily, but still.

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@ Qie: I await the outcome of Googles' decision. They disabled a friends' account and were demanding that he change the name of his account to a 'real-world' identity, a decision which he has appealed against. Neither of us are holding our breath on that one but it's certainly a test case to watch. If Mimetix Chronowire reappears on G+ then we'll know they're good on their word.

 

@ Ziggy21: I would have thought that cases like Tallhotblond would have played right into the hands of 'real names and identities only on the internet' crowd. Between such cases and the endless yammerings of the 'think of the chilrunz', 'internet addiction'  and 'the internet is full of pervs, paedos and terrorists' brigades I feel we're doomed to a heavily policed internet where everyone is required to interact with their birth certificates and ID cards on full display at all times. A boon to indentity thieves and surveillance services but a death sentence to anything remotely imaginitive or creative.

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