Things are changing in Second Life. The period of glee abandon in which companies joined Second Life, built giant edifices to their offline brands which no one visited, then ran away has passed. We are now seeing those who survived and new players in Linden Lab’s online world build something new, something perhaps more sustainable and in tune to user needs.
On the surface it appears that Second Life is repeating the internet development cycle, but at an accelerated rate. The scandals and useless attempts at bringing offline brands to Second Life parallel the first web boom. After the crash of 2000, many fled the web, whilst a core few remained and over time, along with new players, started to build interfaces that were useful. Second Life today is like 2001-2002, the dawn on a new age; Second Life 2.0.
A rather late comer to Second Life is Nick Wilson. Wilson was best known as a SEO blogger writing for several years at Threadwatch. After selling the site he cast his direction towards Second Life, launching the Metaversed Blog, a chronicle of the ups and downs of doing business in Second Life. Wilson has officially announced the Metanomics Conference in conjunction with Cornell University, a series of events that will explore business and policy in the “metaverse” of virtual worlds over several months.
I asked Wilson whether we were indeed witnessing a change:
The corporations in SecondLife are just ignoring the backlash, and are getting on with it. We lost a few in the initial rush, but those still standing, are standing strong, and leading the way for others. Breaking the trail if you will. Less about showy press splashes, and more about finding really useful ways to use virtual environments to collaborate with colleagues long distance, engage customers and experiment with the platform.
Interestingly Wilson sees those remaining in and now joining Second Life as looking towards longer term goals:
None of these companies really expects to be pulling profit out of virtual ventures right now. but they all see the potential, and firms like Sun, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Amazon are in it for the long haul.
Wilson says that Metanomics is about bridging the gap between those comfortable in Second Life, and those wary of it:
One of the things that I want to do, is use video, podcasts, web to bring this stuff to people in formats they’re more comfortable with. To bridge the gap between those who’re comfortable in SL and those not yet there. Hence partnerships with SLCN.tv for all of these shows and the team up with Cornell.
The conference preview video is below. The first session is September 17, unfortunately smack bang in the middle of TechCrunch 40, but for those not joining us in San Francisco and interested in the potential of Second Life and other online worlds, it would be worth a look.