Thursday, September 10, 2009

« "Lights on_": Abstract Illumination and Virtual Sculpture Woven Into Great Machinima (Update: SLurls To Locations Added Below) | Main | Other World Notes: Join New World Notes in Metaplace at Noon SLT Today For US Premiere of *Another Perfect World* »

Philip Linden Says Second Life Must Evolve Beyond Burning Man Era

Burning Life

When Philip Linden resigned as CEO last year, I asserted that "The Burning Man era of Second Life is over." But it is one thing for me to say that, and quite another for Philip himself to compare Second Life to Burning Man, and not just in the positive sense of a place that fosters freeform creation in an egalitarian community, as he always has -- but tellingly, also in its most limiting connotation:

Presently, Second Life still isn't very accessible - most people still don't have the time to get over the steep learning curve and get to the amazing stuff inside. Similarly, the total number of people willing to drive 3 hours from Reno into the middle of a barren desert carrying a week's worth of drinking water and food is limited.

At the moment, as Philip notes (having just returned from another Black Rock jaunt himself), Burning Man has reached a plateau of about 50,000 attendees. (As it happens, that's roughly the number of Second Life users in-world at any given time.) This, he says, must change:

Try not to cling too tightly to what we have now. The design, the UI, the orientation experience, the tools - all these need to change, a LOT, for Second Life to become accessible to hundreds of millions. Those changes are sometimes going to be disruptive and painful... But a bigger part of my heart wants to see it reach everyone, and so we must evolve.

Read the rest here. Image from Robbie Dingo's tribute to Burning Life 2008.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bf74053ef0120a55fd1fb970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Philip Linden Says Second Life Must Evolve Beyond Burning Man Era:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jovin

Talk about blinkered views...the people clinging tightest to founding principles are Linden Lab themselves! They're still stuck in the 'No Spectator' Burning Man mindset that assumes everyone that logs into SL wants to build it. They don't.

Most people will come to spectate and they need to be accommodated and encouraged in a way they are not right now. The "change-a-coming" warning is patronising and naïve coming from the person that probably needs to change the most.

Crap Mariner

I get the feeling that in seeking millions, he's just going to end up shedding the 50K addicts he's stuck on now.

-ls/cm

Dale Innis

Just to take the opposite tack for a moment... :)

I wouldn't be at all unhappy if SL were to remain the Burning Man of virtual worlds (open to everyone, but only if they're willing to invest a bit in it), and leave those millions of people who supposedly only want to be passive spectators to the likes of vSide and Sony Home and other uninteresting "marketing stuff to sheep" platforms.

I wonder if Philip thinks Burning Man would be improved by being moved closer to some large city, with free shuttle buses? I suspect not...

Sioban McMahon

I would bet that one difference between SL and Burning Man is that Burning Man doesn't have car loads of griefers driving through wrecking things.

Jovin

But the problem is that the "50K addicts" need (and deserve) the interest and business that those "millions of passive spectators" would bring. Whether you just like people to enjoy and admire your creativity or you actually want to earn money from it, most of us would appreciate an audience. SL right now is incredibly audience-unfriendly and it seems to have reached its 'addict' plateau - the underlying reason for both is LL's nerdy and dogmatic 'no spectator' culture. It needs to change and now.

Galatea Gynoid

@Jovin: Try not to make assertions that fly directly in the face of the facts. It's pretty clear that the 50K in world now don't *need* the millions. They're here, many have been for years, and are still here, making it obvious there is no actual *need*, regardless of desirability. As for "deserve", I can't comment. I lack the necessary sense of entitlement to engage in discussions of what I deserve, or the raw chutzpah to make claims about what others deserve.

Adric Antfarm

This is dumb...

I have a wife. I love that wife (no, I don't - but it's a long story). She is with me. We are happy.

I choose to go after a supermodel! I toss my wife out of the house and redo it for a supermodel.

Like those millions she never comes and I am stuck alone.

Also, come on. That picture... Am I the only one who sees it? Look at it.

Persig Phaeton

Haha, methinks Sioban McMahon has never been to Burning Man. They're called "frat boys" and yes they go to Burning Man just to check out boobs for free and drink everyone else's booze. No griefers at Burning Man- hah!...I almost did a spit take on my monitor.
Also, I agree with Phillip that SL needs to evolve past the Burning Man era. It needs to become an internet standard for metaverses, just as Apache/IIS and Firefox/IE are the backbone of the current web aspect of the Internet. That won't happen until the UI and many other barriers to entry are drastically changed. I know everyone wants to be all "punk rock" and keep the SL scene small and out of the mainstream but that, in the end, is a recipe for failure and obsolescence. Just my opinion.

Persig

Fogwoman Gray

If LL is interested in shedding the 50K and having millions, then a complete rethink of both form and certainly structure is in order. With 70K showing online on a 5 year old machine it is impossible for me to function. Are spectators willing to invest in a high end gaming machine just to come and look at the pretty? And will they choose to look at a pretty SL or will those spectators willing to spend the money prefer to look at a prettier place, with better graphics, like say Blue Mars?
Perhaps SL 2.0 will be that place?
@Adric - you mean the giant Yoni? Yeah - I see it too :)
Fogwoman

Sioban McMahon

You got me there, Persig. Never have been to Burning Man, and honestly I don't see the attraction in being out in the desert for a week with tens of thousands of people, limited sanitation, sand storms, etc. More power to those who do chose to go.

I didn't realize that the Burning Man event gets griefed. All you hear from it is about temporary art installations, lots of drug use, and a big old party in the desert. Sorry about the griefers. They shouldn't be a part of SL or Burning Man.

Ananda Sandgrain

It's alright to say that, but the question is *how*? When I look at SL it seems to me that this notion of going out into a vacuum, letting loose an outpouring of creativity, and then having it be swallowed up again by the nothing; is the *essential nature* of the world. It's fundamental to the structure of any virtual world, or any website for that matter, that doesn't directly connect back to actions taken in real life.

The number of people willing to pour their hearts out into an electronic nothingness will always be limited, I think. That's the real "learning curve" - creativity for its own sake. The tools are not that hard to use by comparison.

So I would speculate that the only way for SL to evolve beyond this phase is for it to shatter. Break into its myriad constituent parts, scatter its functionality across the web into various sites that serve different real-world purposes. The platform's usefulness to lots more people might grow, but I don't think the essential nature of SL as a world will survive this.

Jovin

@ Galatea - You just have commented on all the things you claim to be unable to comment on - and you highlight the other side of the problem - us.

To be fair SL's problems appealing to a mainstream audience are not all LL's fault, it's us too. Right now we've distilled ourselves down to a 50K bunch of semi-obsessives (no offence meant, I'm one of them) who might know SL inside out and thrive on it's pseudo-dramas but make no allowance, or show much interest in, a wider user-base. We're quite off-putting viewed from the outside, ask your RL friends who don't 'get' SL. Second Life runs on closed-circuit these days and that can't last either.

coco

Funny how quick everyone now says 50k vs. the millions of users SL and you pundits hyped just a year ago.

Was
never more than 50k.

Dale Innis

@Coco: what?

@Adric: can't imagine *what* you're talking about! hahaha.

Iggy O

I love finding the unexpected, something a bigger population brings, but you can have a sustainable society with far smaller numbers.

50K? 50 million? Same thing. I can't keep up with 50 people.

I visited the RL "Eco Village" of Earth Haven in Western North Carolina last year. People own their own homes, but they also share work on community projects. They are aiming to grow to at least 150 families, a point at which they will have a sustainable economy and enough hands to get everything done without having to rely on the larger economy beyond their village.

150 won't support LL's business, and maybe 50K won't. But the trick will be to grow to the right size while not becoming "Blue Mars": no end UGC and a place for tourists.

That's rather like the old arty neighborhoods that get Starbucked into gentrified shells full of shiny, happy consumers (and a few sub-moron frat-boys, cockroaches, and other vermin).

The cool kids are usually the first to leave such places.

Post a comment

This weblog only allows comments from registered users. To comment, please Sign In.