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Monday, March 19, 2007


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Hiro Pendragon

Since when have crowds been a predictor of trends in virtual worlds? If we listened to the crowd, then Second Life would have died over and over again with each new feature that marked "OMGzor the end of Second Life due to land fees/music/advertising/end of dwell payments/end of free stipends/free accounts" and so on and so forth. Crowds are time and time again proven wrong when it comes to predicting trends in SL.

Furthermore, I think your interpretation of the data on your poll is subjective. If we think 45% of residents of SL are using voice, that's ... MILLIONS of residents. That's not trivial, and that's certainly not "Losing Voice".

Furthermore, put this in the context of other MMOGs. If you play CounterStrike or World of Warcraft, *maybe* 1/2 of the people have voice. In these two games, there is heavy pressure put on people to get a microphone, due to it being a boon for communication.

Consider also the technology factor. People in Second Life have computers that cost at least $1000 or more. What's $15 for a microphone? There really isn't a monetary barrier to voice.

Another poll I might suggest as a follow-up might be, "Would *you* use voice in the next year?" It removes the aspect of asking poll-takers to be futurists, and simply asks them for their opinions. I think the results will be much more accurate.

Jesper W.

I concur with Hamlet's view, voice will probably, at least for a log while, be used for special events - although I also agree the broad (or bored?) public is not necessarily a good jugde :)

One of the beauties of SL is that all are more or less equal, in the sense we all get the same tools to work with. I believe that voice, or "the other feature request", uploadable meshes, will divide the users in A and B team, the haves and the have-nots, or the cans and cannots (sounds funny).
Imagine all the people (like myself) who don't have english as their first language - when typing you can check yourself, maybe use some help, but if you have to speak, many would rather not I am sure...at least, the gap between users at large will be broadened.

Just sayin'.



I agree with Hiro. This is not the "wisdom of crowds" as much as a stab in the dark.

I think his rephrasing of the question deserves consideration.

Sean FitzGerald (aka Sean McDunnough)

This poll is skewed because it's only been answered by current residents, who obviously favour text chat. What about all the new residents that will be drawn into SL because of the integration of voice, such as those in the education, non-profit and business sectors?

Farley Scarborough

I agree with rik, the current population is self-selecting. Those who don't like text chat, don't stay. Voice will draw people who wouldn't otherwise stick around, and will repell some currently active in SL.

With all the fanfare we're already seeing about voice in SL, many new residents will come in expecting to use voice.

Given the rate of growth, it will be only months before the majority of people in SL will have entered at a time when voice was available.

This could bring significant changes in who uses SL and how. Hang onto your hat.

Zoe Connolly

There are numerous lag problems on the grid without voice. I see this as a major cause of lag in the future.


"People in Second Life have computers that cost at least $1000 or more." -Hiro Pendragon

My computer cost roughly $400 (a ~$300 eMachine T3882 with a ~$100 RAM upgrade, which means I have 1 gig of RAM, a 2.8 GHz processor, and a cummy onboard graphics card) and runs Second Life just fine. I don't see some of the flashy effects, but everything seems to work, with no crashes.


Of course, I meant "crummy onboard graphics card." Why don't I ever catch these in the preview?

Zoe Connolly

"cummy onboard graphics card"

sounds very expensive and high-end to me.



*golf clap for Hiro*

Hiro's right. Were there any similar polls when the telehubs were being removed? I'm sure a great chunk of SL's citizens were predicting pretty negatively then, too. Or polls about Copybot... BEFORE everyone realized it wasn't a big deal.

Kami Harbinger

The big use for voice will be cybersex. Only women will be able to make that shift, but they'll rule the escort market. With voice, they can sell the comfort of knowing that your hooker is really a woman, and phone sex without typing one-handed. Within a year, you're going to have a very hard time finding a text-only escort.

DJing will also become much easier, so I expect to hear a lot more live-DJ events.

For casual chat, only the newbie areas are likely to use it. Text is massively superior for holding multiple, complex conversations, and doesn't exclude women from the conversation like voice does. Women generally won't assert themselves in a circle of arguing men.

Hamlet Au

Very excellent points, Kami.

I think it's worth holding a survey of personal adoption, *after* the technology has been implemented into the official build, and the non-early adopters have had a chance to try it out. The thing to remember is, aside from special use (I like Kami's live DJ and female sex worker examples), voice communication only really works if most of the people in the world are also using it. So personal adoption very much depends on a perception of general adoption. Hence this poll.

Pavig Lok

If many agree (as I do) that voice is not going to become the primary means of communication in sl any time soon, one thing that people seem to be missing is that it will become a very strong secondary. The way the lindens want to implement it the only reliable way of remaining vocal is via a voice as instant message channel. (Open speaking can be turned on and off on a per parcel basis.) This can already be done using skype or teamspeak, but when it becomes a ubiquitous aspect of sl technology it will become widespread.

Voice (due to it's fluidity) meshes well between friends and acquaintances in private, whilst not distracting overly from navigation and typing in public. This is how we see it used in other MMOGs and it will certainly be adopted in that way within SL. It is certainly easier to multitask a vocal conversation with in world text chat than to constantly tab between IM's. Online gamers seem to be able to even run and shoot while doing it.

Whilst the world may remain predominantly text for some time, I think voice will become a preferred method for whispering between friends who are in proximity.

Ace Albion

"voice communication only really works if most of the people in the world are also using it."

Actually, voice communication only really works if only one person is using it. :)

At any given time :D

Mia Mauvaise

"The big use for voice will be cybersex. Only women will be able to make that shift, but they'll rule the escort market. With voice, they can sell the comfort of knowing that your hooker is really a woman, and phone sex without typing one-handed."

It's already happened. There are a lot of escorts who advertise a skype service and there's a big demand for it.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

I think that most polls are showing what shouldn't become a surprise to most: about half of the existing user base will be using voice (at least "often"), while the rest will not. This is to be expected, as the current residents came in to a voiceless SL (well, in the sense that it isn't built-in in the client, of course).

Lots of sceptics have congregated on my blog, strangely enough, claiming that voice is such an inferior medium that it would never be adopted as widely as I claim on one of my posts. Well, I remain a sceptic's sceptic :) On voice — like on many other things — people will never react rationally and arguing with logic. They'll go totally emotional about it — and use it like crazy. So, yes, a couple of million voice-impaired people will be left out of the "new SL".

But... is that worrying? Of course not! Remember, the 10 million users that will join until the year's end will already come to a voice-enabled SL; all of them, independently of what their personal, emotional (or even rational!) feelings are about voice, will come to a virtual world that already has voice built-in. It's an undeniable fact that if people take something for granted from day one, they will find "historical" issues distant and alien — they simply will not have the experience.

So, possibly, many will still argue after June 2007 that text is better than voice in most cases (except, arguably, for in-world classes/presentations/seminars and cybersex). But they will be the eccentric lunatics in their closed, voiceless sims. Mainstream SL will be totally voice-enabled. I still fail to understand how rational argumentation against the widespread use of voice will win any battle on that front. People will not be thinking with their brains, but with their glands — and we all know what that means at the end of the day.

Voice will reign supreme in SL one day. Oh, perhaps not on June 2 — but "sooner or later". Take a look at Hiro's arguments. We've been used to cranky interfaces for ages, and that has not be a deterring factor to stay around in SL. Yes, getting your audio setup to work with your computer is not easy, but people will go through the hassle just because "everyone is doing it".

"Wisdom of the crowds"? — aye, right :)

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