Sunday, December 17, 2006

1L emotional reactions to 2L.

I‘ve been reading with interest the recent flood of postings on Second Life. They started with Clay Shirky shrugging off the reported Second Life numbers (Second Life: What are the real numbers?), and lamenting that the number of people who stick when first exposed to SL is quite small:

Someone who tries a social service once and bails isn't really a user any more than someone who gets a sample spoon of ice cream and walks out is a customer.
So here's my question? How many return users are there? We know from the startup screen that the advertised churn of Second Life is over 60% (as I write this, it's 690,800 recent users to 1,901,173 signups, or 63%.) That's not stellar but it's not terrible either. However, their definition of "recently logged in" includes everyone in the last 60 days, even though the industry standard for reporting unique users is 30 days, so we don't actually know what the apples to apples churn rate is.

This resulted in the expected piling-on. Danah Boyd was the most visible following up with On being virtual:

Clay's post on Second Life reminded me of how irritated i am by this. I have to admit that i get really annoyed when techno-futurists fetishize Stephenson-esque visions of virtuality. Why is it that every 5 years or so we re-instate this fantasy as the utopian end-all be-all of technology? (Remember VRML? That was fun.)

This was followed by a hearty discussion on the Second Life Educators listserv (SLED) (where I did comment a bit).

Others have posted some very thoughtful follow-ups:

Beth Kanter‘s: The One-Look Virus and Immersive Environments for Teaching and Learning
Mark Bell‘s: Differentiating the future of SNS and MUVE's
Kosso‘s Braingarden: Dana Gardner Has Second Thoughts
Stan Trevena: Second Life Doubters Club

Which brings me to the “Holy crap!” part of my post. Second Life is going to be way bigger than I could possibly imagine. As Scott Adams says,

The reason that a product "everyone likes" will fail is because no one "loves" it. The only thing that predicts success is passion, even if only 10% of the consumers have it.

And as Kathy Sierra recently said, "This is NOT about being remarkable-- it's about being loveable. And that almost always means being hated as well."

Bingo, hold on to your hats…

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