The Next Ten in Second Life

Another Opinion

Gwyneth Llewelyn just posted: Second Life’s Tenth Birthday. In that article she provides several contrasts to the thinking of people like Gianna and Karl at Metareality and some other negative SL bloggers.

Gwyneth makes comparisons between Google Adsense™, WordPress™, and Second Life™. It makes for some interesting thinking and perspective.

One interesting thing she touches on is Bots. How many are there in SL? I ask is there any reason that number may have changed? The Lab has changed how they handle bots at least once since I’ve been in SL. But, what else?

Geoffrey M. Voelker, University of California, San Diego, USA, and Matteo Varvello, Alcatel-Lucent, Holmdel, USA, wrote a paper titled: Second Life: a Social Network of Humans and Bots in June 2010. Their study estimates bots make up 4 to 7% of the population. They never did a definitive analysis of the actual number of bots.

Gwyneth disagrees with many of us that the Oculus Rift will have a significant impact on SL. I’ll come back to this point.


Gwyneth also points to Mona Eberhardt’s explanation of why businesses didn’t adopt SL and stay away now. Mona explains why she thinks SL never became what Philip thought it would be: web 3.0. Her points are valid. But she leaves out cost factors; the web is cheap and SL is expensive in many ways. The most impactful cost point is the cost per set of eyes on product. SL simply can’t compete. We see the same factor with OpenSim verses SL.

Mona gets into the privacy issues with SL and corporate desire to gather marketing data. The Internet provides a level of person tracking and market research at a price so low it would have inconceivable 30 years ago. Get Ghostery and check out how you are tracked and propositioned as you browse the web.

Television is very much like SL: mostly anonymous eyes. But there are eyes and getting promotions in front of them is something corporate America has always been willing to pay to accomplish. As of 2012 65% of all advertising dollars were spent on television (see: Television Advertising Is Alive and Well). There are other factors the article brings up too.

The problem in SL is not the privacy, but too few eyes for the cost. But, if that were to change… if there were a million concurrent users, things would likely change in spite of privacy.

So What is Next?

Nobody knows. Everyone is speculating. But, there are some things we expect to make a change.


On Daniel Voyager’s blog is a link to the recent interview with Philip Rosedale, founder of SL. This interview is interesting in several respects, but, I’ll limit myself.

At the first of the interview Philip is talking about it taking him and hour to get his viewer working right with voice. Now that says something about how difficult it can be to use SL. …or may be it just says something about Philip… Naw, we know from personal experience learning and keeping SL running can be a challenge.

At 07:00 minutes into the video he gets into what the Oculus Rift may do for the user interface. Our mouse and keyboard gives us 2 degrees of freedom, we can add a 3rd degree with the Oculus Rift. With the mouse it takes lots of training to learn to manipulate a 2D world when you are stuck on a 2D screen. It does not parallel our RL experience of being able to manipulate things. The Oculus Rift may start to change that, probably will. That could greatly reduce the learning curve for significant numbers of people.

Unfortunately the Oculus Rift is only for the eyes and head motion. We move things with our hands. I find it much more fun to use a touch screen than any other control device. But, I am still stuck leaning to manipulate a 3D world on a 2D surface. It is however a nice step forward.

Putting on an Oculus will mean I can’t see my hands.

It is for that reason that Leap Motion and the Oculus seem like such an ideal pairing. You can see Leap Motion is catching on. Watch the new ASUS G750 promo video.

This next video I wrote about here: Mixamo Promo.

This takes it to an extreme. The next one is a bit more realistic. It is one of Drax’s videos I wrote about here: New World Makers Episode 3: Eshi Otawara. I’ve jumped to the 4:10 minute mark.

Eshi could almost have what see wants with Leap Motion. It obviously does not have the feedback of touch, but that is down the road.

Imagine Leap Motion and Oculus Rift. The Leap Motion Controller should become available July 22 for US$80. The Rift some time in 2014.

If the Lab can create a user interface for the Rift-Leap, this could be amazing. Steve Jobs could have done an awesome interface. We’ll have to wait to see how the Lab does. Since Rod is personally interested in the Rift, I have hope.

If an intuitive interface can be designed, we could see SL gain mass acceptance.

If you are interested in going this direction, as I am, you will need to be running Windows 7 or 8. Leap Motion is not spec’d for XP or Vista.


6 thoughts on “The Next Ten in Second Life

  1. One flip-side tangent to all of this is that computers are getting dumber! Not the desktops and gaming laptops that most in SL use, but the tablets that are all the rage today. Part of this is the RL economy, the computer companies are marketing what the masses can afford, but this is creating expectations that inexpensive tablets are the new norm.
    I have no idea how LL will adjust to this reality, but they will have to somehow.

    • Good article, interesting! In addition to Shugs comment about computers, I wonder if all the new features and updated viewers also affect the number of active users are in Second Life.

      I am very positive to all the new possibilities with the latest technical updates and would love to see the effect, but unfortunatelly my computer is way to old or has been too old since the first mesh viewers started to be released.

      In order to keep up with all the new features, I would need to invest in a totally new. Even if I may afford it, personally don’t feel it is motivated by this reason alone, the cost of a new “SL compatible computer” in order to be able to enjoy the new features of SL. I wonder if this is not the case too for many others.

      Especially since the U.S. population is a big part of Second Life users and when the economy is the way it is, I doubt many will prioritize a new computer in favor for other neccessary things. It would be interesting to see a comparison of amount of users vs technical updates from the start as you also mention, but I guess that is something they never will release officially 🙂

  2. “Without solid numbers… choose to be optimistic”, You are so right, it would be indeed good to get the numbers back we once had on our fingertip.

    Honestly, i tend not to be real optimistic for Rift.

    But believe that Leap could be integrated and adopted by maybe ~2% of the SL-population somehow. And that would be a real good number on my upper estimations for the first three years after it is integrated in the SL-viewer.

    Reason for my believe is that on one side the price might be somehow high (just look what old PeeCees are coming to SL) and not clearly seeing the way how the interface could merge up for Rift (thinking about how easily type with Rift).

    Btw, the sentence “From that view point SL is doing pretty badly, 2% verses 241%.” is lets say, ‘misleading’ comparing yearly grows with the total grows over 5 years of the other source. The direction is right indicated but the numbers both on annual base should by given numbers say 2.62% (grows per year of SL population) and
    35.2% (grows per year of playing US citizen)

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