Second Life runs out of steam?

Highlighting the Second Life, the BBC noted recently that,

It was once the most talked-about web development on the planet, but it has gone very quiet of late. After the gold rush of companies seeking to establish virtual premises in the 3D world, many have now pulled out or left their digital empires to mothball.

Echoes what Time magazine said of Second Life over a year ago. Augmented reality on mobile devices, which seem to hold far more potential in my mind than virtual reality on PCs, even if Second Life was (unofficially) ported to run on some mobile phones last year.

And as I’ve noted earlier,

… I have my doubts about using SL (and this is the vital point) to achieve some of these goals which may well be done better, cheaper, for a wider audience, in a more accessible and sustained manner, in more languages and with more interactivity and responsiveness. I guess it’s revealing that most of the social and political activists who propound the use of SL as a viable platform to galvanise action, even in the real world, come from the US. And perhaps I am wrong to judge them by my own reality and access to technology. My concern however is that some of these initiative tend to get more than a little carried away by their own hype and forget completely just how atypical it is to have a PC and Internet connection able to run SL.

Time magazine on Second Life

Second Life

Time Magazine recently ran a piece on five of the worst websites that mentioned Second Life as one of them. Not entirely sure why – since Second Life isn’t a website, but the article begins:

We’re sure that somebody out there is enjoying Second Life, but why?

and ends,

The corporate world’s embrace of the place as a venue for staff meetings and training sessions does seem to lend Second Life a layer of legitimacy. But maybe it’s a case of some CEOs trying too hard to be hip. 


But perhaps it’s time we recognised Second Life for what it is – (yet another) software platform that fails to leverage virtual reality for serious purposes and also that it has only hitherto been propped up by a multimedia marketing campaign that now shows signs of failing.

And yet there are still some of us who will continue to think that Second Life actually provides scope for more meaningful interactions to take place, say in the world of public diplomacy, peacebuilding or political activism. I’m not entirely convinced, but I would like to believe that perhaps Second Life is ahead of its time. What’s cool today is augmented reality on mobile devices, which seem to hold far more potential in my mind than virtual reality on PCs.

Journalism in Second Life – CNN enters the fray

First it was media such as The Metaverse Messenger. Then Reuters. Now CNN enters the world of journalism within Second Life by opening an iReport centre in Second Life:

Just as CNN asks its real-life audience to submit I-Reports — user-generated content submitted from cell phones, computers, cameras and other equipment for broadcast and online reports — the network is encouraging residents of Second Life to share their own “SL I-Reports” about events occurring within the virtual world.”The thing we most hope to gain by having a CNN presence in Second Life is to learn about virtual worlds and understand what news is most interesting and valuable to their residents,” said Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services.

Also check out CNN’s blog on SL iReports here. In a previous post on journalism in Second Life, I ask:

There are a number of interesting questions that crop up for reflection. Do real world standards of journalism apply in publications such as The Metaverse Messenger? Are consumers of The Metaverse Messenger rising even as subscribers to newspapers decline? In the future, can we envision communities who may be more interested in news of online / virtual events more than real world issues? How do media such as The Metaverse Messenger fit into the social / new / community media paradigm? If the year-on-year exponential growth in MMORPG’s continues, the millions of those who inhabit the worlds of these games may create media that is only understood by fellow inhabitants – using new media (podcasts, blogs, mobile content etc) to communicate issues that may only exist online?

But most importantly, how is the media industry going to address the challenges of audience fragmentation between real and virtual worlds?Reading through The Metaverse Messenger is an eye-opener. This is not some school magazine trying to look and sound like a mainstream newspaper, this is actually news of worlds, lives, issues, events and business that exists in virtual domains today.If the future of media is to be explored, publications such as The Metaverse Messenger and indeed, the plethora of new media on MMORPG’s and the lives of those who treat them as seriously as real life need to be examined in far greater detail.

Second Life journalism – hype or a harbinger of things to come?