There are more people downloading one single torrent of a second rate US sitcom than online at one time in second life. It will never dwarf the web.
Within ten years, virtual worlds will be bigger than the Web itself. So says Philip Rosedale, the man who invented Second Life. Speaking at the Stanford Summit, an annual tech industry conference, the Linden Lab CEO predicted that a completely-open virtual world architecture – much like the one he’s touting for Second Life - …
"Within ten years, virtual worlds will be bigger than the Web itself. So says Philip Rosedale, the man who invented Second Life."
If it's as slow, with graphics as absolutely crappy as Second Life, Rosedale and a few sad wankers who can't afford the $15/month to play World of Warcraft will be the only people accessing his virtual worlds.
My "games" PC is adequate to run World of Warcraft at the top of all settings with frame rates better than 22 even in the "laggiest" zones, and usually somewhere in the 40 to 60 fps range. Running Second Life, I was feeling lucky when I got 7 fps in an area where there was, literally, nothing but me. Most places I pulled 3 or 4 fps.
If the software is that bad, why would anyone want it? Even if it's free, no one wants to spend their time on crapware.
Of course the CEO of Second Life (SL) is going to talk up his toy and his "bread and butter" gravy train. No doubt some players are making real money out of SL, but all this talk of "it dwarfing the whole of the web" is garbage. Firstly SL is part of the web so by that very fact it can't dwarf itself, secondly no matter how interesting they make SL, at the end of the day it is still an artificial simulated environment. It can't feed people, you can't grow real food in SL, or manufacture any of the things needed in real life. Having an abundance of machines running churning away serving no real purpose wasting energy runs contrary to our concerns about the environment. SL is a fantasy world just like "Harry Potter" (HP) is a fantasy in literature. SL will no more save the day for IBM & SUN than HP will save the day for Wizards and Warlocks. Only the creators get richer at the expense of all the mugs who buy into these. But neither serves any real purpose in real life.
Ok, the three of you can put your hands down.
Does anyone else remember the wild and carefree days of 1996, when in just 5 years, every web page would be VRML, and we would all 'navigate through cyberspace' (ooooohhhh! aaaaaahhh! buzzwords!) to get to 'virtual information spaces'? Just like in Lawnmower Man, Johnny Nmemonic and The Matrix?
Actually, I hope Second Life does dwarf the web; then all the spammers, pr0n sites, and AOL users will go there; having all the crap in one well-contained app would be nice.
Second Lifes website claims a total membership of just over 8.5 million people. However int her last 60 days only 1.6 million have bothered to log in, with just under 40,000 logged in at this moment in time. That is a pretty poor return rate.
From what I have seen they will have to be some major changes made before it is anything like ready enough to overtake the Web.
And of course they would make those claims. One bloke is the CEO of the company running second life so if it fails he will be out in the street on his ass, and both IBM and Sun would support him so that they can keep supplying him with nicve new shiny boxen filled with shiny tech goodies.
“In 25 years, robotics will be so good, we’ll have no more manufacturing jobs". Ah, Utopia! How long have i lived without your caress? How long has your dead breath staled mine ear?
Another one to file with the "paperless office", "the world of leisure", and "return to your constituencies and prepare for government".
i don't know Lanier's sense of humour, but i wish i'd been there to see if he really (thought) he believed it. Are you sure this wasn't uttered by his mendacious 'avatar' in a fictitious 'world'?
BTW, how long would it take to do something actually useful with "hundreds of millions" of computers? Like, say, finding a cure for cancer. Just a thought.
Arrrrrhh VRML! I remember making a 3d box with only 1300 lines of code that only took 3 minutes for Netscape Navigator to render! Those were the days all right.
All you doubters and naysayers sound exactly like those who laughed at the rickety, clump of computers and modems that was once called "internet"... without the capital "I".
You are the same haters who condemned television. The same mouths who rallied against the evils of radio and back we travel into the furthest recesses of innovation where your carrion voices decry every single extension of communication technology which now ubiquitously binds this planet together.
The thing you doubters do not understand is that Second Life, for all its clunkiness and lag is not just another application of the technologies of the Internet; it is not just another 3d massively online game; it is not a VR conferencing tool. It actually defies all of these descriptions. Why? Because, just like television was to radio, and just like the Internet was to television it defies definition within the paradigm of existing technologies.
Second Life is the beginning of a totally new context of human communication and collaboration, and just like those innovations before it which have extended the reach and breadth of the human spirit, it will grow to become a part of everyone's lives; and what is more, if it enables our creativity, charges our voices and challenges our minds as much as it promises to, it will unstoppably rise to become the dominant technology of this new century.
As much as I would like to have the "boldest prediction" of any panel I may sit on, I did not state "... within “two or three years,” an alternative online universe like Second Life would provide real-time 3D graphics rivaling the digital effects in today’s Hollywood blockbusters. “You’ll see the kinda stuff that Transformers is doing today,” ..."
I believe that the gentleman sitting next to me, Craig Sherman, did. Sorry!
Like Lexx and Adrian, I recall the VRML "good-ol-days" - as two SysAdmin's my friend and I coded a VRML2 version of our Data Centre (including every modem and keyboard) in the hopes of VRML3 arriving and allowing us to integrate management functions (the VRML roadmap was very clear - but the timeline wasn't). However, I'm not so idolising or idealising as to forget the tremendous browser crashing episodes that would come with using the technology.
These were also the days where the Doom source code had been used to create a proof-of-concept that made the host OS Process IDs (PIDs) monsters that could be "shot" to be "killed". We were so close ..
Of course the problem, since, has been the death of Netscape. Netscape was driving VRML adoption via the browser (through its common plugins) which resulted in the ever "innovative" Microsoft to copy them to keep up .. and well .. we've seen what's happened since (the US Department of Justice has a file detailling the history if you're not up to speed). No more VRML on the web.
Though in the mean time the OpenGL (Sillicon Graphics') standard has done what was needed and what it was designed to do; despite DirectX, there's been massive OpenGL integration out of Software and directly into the video Hardware; so times have definitely changed.
I can easily see how selling massive processing power for 3D worlds will fuel Sun, IBM, Fujitsu, Cisco, Intel, AMD, etc ad nausea - take a look at the changes in the media industry as a recent example, the web as an older one, or VoIP as a communications parallel. Every player will get fatter .. and the US government will be ready for the taxation as the US intelligence will be ready for the bugging as the US millitary will be ready for the pacifying.
Microsoft, amongst many others, have constantly kept 3D-world type projects on their research lists .. they know it will be an area that they'll need to productise very quickly - one day - when the game starts; like surface computing, integrated media platforms, cross-platform binary software, web browsing, WYSIWYG word processing, GUIs or Operating Systems (to name a few).
However, it will take one big player (Google, for example) - or a "culty" upstart with a keen eye and sweet business model (like models from the mind of Trent Reznor) to throw the big switch and get the 3D game started. It aint Linden. Linden has an image problem, in that Linden can't stop admiring Linden in the mirror. At the technology level - his world is closed and clunky.
The winner will be the player who makes entry and adoption free - and who provides the tools to allow every business, kid and other goth freak able to add their distinctiveness to his own -- just like the web. You don't win without the ecosystem, and you don't get the ecosystem with a strict protocol (at any level - even at the enterprise integration level - you won't get Sovreign trust until portions can be hosted independently on multiple continents, and the US won't even do that with DNS).
They'll be turbulent times before the winner emerges, and after that there will be a great time of peace followed by a massive time of tribulation - see CyberPunk, Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, etc ad nausea (if you think Hacking has impact now - when sites go down and pages get defaced - you wait until you interact with Hacked rooms, Hacked people and then the future beyond - ala Richard Clarke - when your mind is on the wire .. lol .. our kids are in for one hell of a ride ..)
Philip neglected to mention a couple of prerequisites for his statement, firstly that his estimate of ten years had a precision of +/- 10,000 years and secondly it was based on the premise that humans would migrate to using masturbation as a form of currency within this timeframe.
Not to throw a wrench into his dream, but how exactly does he plan to power his "hundreds of millions" of servers? In the past forty-plus years (maybe even longer?), sources of energy have remained consistent. So unless he plans on finding the secret to free energy (what, did he just finish watching "Chain Reaction"?), he won't have the power required to run his "hundreds of millions" of servers.
does anyone remember microsoft vchat 3d? Not that I'm accusing, but Second Life is EXACTLY THE SAME so why would the technology take off this time? lol I like the use of the word "invented" in the article too, I'm sure this guy must have seen the microsoft version.
the size of the bowl of white they snorted before coming on stage. Second Life is nothing but a sexual playground - and people have been screwing around with each other since the dawn of humanity (otherwise we wouldn't be here).
Now I know that computers and virtual worlds are the most important thing bar none in some people's sad lives, but for the vast majority of the world, screwing around for real will always be better than punching the snake in front of a bunch of pixels.
I think that we will all be going to work in the same cloths, with diffrent patterns and cuts to keep up with fashon, driving the same cars, with a better fuel econamy etc.
This is the sam BS we have always had. The idea from the 70's that we would now be taking holidays on the moon and whereing silver Lycra Jump suits. No we wont.
I feel that it will be a good thing If I eurn a little more, have a better Motorbike and get to go on holiday a little more often. Not mess about with with SL crap. It will be nothing like the internet. To get an internet conection I saved up £80.00 to get my first dile up modem (I was 16 at the time) and it gave me acces to a world of posibilitys. I have dowlodade SL, played it (As its a GAME) twice, and it gives me nothing.
Because of course the internet won't expand at the same or a greater rate than SL will it?
Also I'm sure people will prefer to get information and meet friends through an inefficient world-metaphor than over the web.
I could perhaps worry that he actually believes this. But I really don't care enough.
I have to admit, I loved Second Life... all through the installation process. When it came to actually using it, I realised what a bag of shite it actually is.
The concept of 3D online worlds seems great, in just the same way that the concept of web pages seemed great ten years ago. I remember everyone and his dog creating their own web pages, just because they could. SL seems to be in the same state - people use it just because they can.
However, we've come to learn that websites are only useful if they have a purpose. SL has no purpose. Selling 'virtual goods' is not a purpose - you might as well set up a US$-to-Monopoly-Money exchange and hope to profit from it. Something like WoW has a purpose, gaming, which is why it does well.
I had hoped that SL would be a controlled, limited environment, which allows people to interact in a simple manner (like Facebook), but it's too random and uncontrolled (like MySpace), allows people to do too much, meaning they don't do anything useful or productive. The sheer complexity of the creativity means it's impossible to get involved, unless you're willing to spend every second of your spare time learning how to use their stupid system.
"Software will be so good, there will be no more consulting jobs"
What? How does that make any sense whatsoever? Who writes and tests the software? Who designs it? That's just a stupid thing to say.
Reminds me of a famous tester (can't remember the name now) who, when given a piece of software to test, would ask "How many bugs do you want me to find?".
As with all software it's about buy-in and the general population is not going to buy in, first off you need the population to all start using computers then get them onto the Internet.
Then you need to re-market 2nd life (maybe 2.1 life, one revision higher than the web at least) so it doesn't appear to be purely populated by social rejects. You also need to squash the darker habits that 2nd life has attracted, before it turns into a complete cesspit of human depravity.
And maybe thirdly we could all stop being so desperate for money that people are willing to hype a revenue out of something that is essentially virtual hot air. Did we not learn anything from the dot bust era.
And the reason we know it's over hype is the figures tell the story, you may have 8mil registered, but that's not 8mil active.
is that the 3d web interface would come in the form of some flashy animation embedded into a webpage as we can already see on a few pages. In most cases a real 3d interface is not needed since most infomation we have are in 2d form. (texts, pictures, videos) To construct a true 3d environment, one needs true 3d data and except a few special cases our civilization didn't use 3d information for storing knowledge. Adding 3d images/scenes to the vast amount of 2d info is possible but as I mentioned it is better done in the form of a small 3d rendered surface within a 2d page.
But adding a true 3d interface for handling all these 2d pieces of virtual paper could really come handy. As long as it looks like something well known like a 3d desktop with 2d papers laying around (all movable by grabbing them), some virtual paper (nowdays called 'window'-s) could even be folded out to 3d so we could see the 3d content they are carrying. But it's still not vr...
I do remember VChat. It was clunky and buggy and limited but nonetheless inspiring. I think it failed because the Internet got in it's way. It became a huge priority for Microsoft to just get its basic Internet infrastructure in place. Internet Explorer, IIS and Email were still on the drawing board for Microsoft back then. And they came up with MSN... sadly lacking... not a mover and a shaker, just a frantic attempt to keep up with the pack... So if you want a prediction, since Second Life is built on .NET and C# they are pretty much flying the MS flag anyway. Microsoft will buy Second Life; hell they may even buy the whole of Linden Lab: It would be pocket money for them anyway; thus enabling the gigantic investment in infrastructure needed to cope with the explosive growth of this new medium.
I think the thrust of the argument is that we will not browse websites with Firefox, IE, and so forth; instead, we will log on to Second Life, and walk to the Amazon.com shopping zone and buy things from inside a virtual shop by handing over virtual money to a virtual shopkeeper. Although in practice we will probably sit down in our virtual Second Life house at our virtual Second Life home computer and browse the virtual Second life internet with a virtual Second Life browser.
Presumably the hundreds of millions of servers will use less power - this being the future - or they will be virtual servers.
About the only remaining glimpse of this technology on the internet is the "weapons and technology" section of Fas.org, which has crude VRML models of F-16 fighter jets and so forth. The odd thing is that these models are no less advanced than the crude, poorly-textured models inside Second Life, and they move a lot faster.
In the end, all Lanier could do was cling to the notion that the world’s population – that’s the real world - could support itself by selling computer graphics. “In 25 years, robotics will be so good, we’ll have no more manufacturing jobs. Software will be so good, there will be no more consulting jobs. But we will all get rich buying and selling virtual goods.”
I suppose we'll all be wearing silver lycra suits, living on the moon or mars and driving flying cars too? Wow either I'm having a flashback or El Reg has managed to teleport me back to the 70s of my childhood! Since robotics and software haven't got that good in the last 30 years why would they in the next 25?
Mr Lanier I want my flying car! NOW, god dammit!
Linden Labs recently bought Windward Mark Interactive, who had developed some impressive technology for creating realistic landscapes, with lots of pretty lighting and weather effects, so they are planning on upgrading the visuals. I'm sceptical that they can pull this off, however, if the current engine is anything to go by.
They also managed to kill off Windward's first game in the process, the impressive Alliance: The Silent War. So, thanks for that, LL.
Visiting Second Life is going into a time warp where you fall out in a 1990s VRML experiment gone awry. There is no organization to the place, no information to see when you get there, and precious little reason visiting at all unless you are an exhibitionist or voyeur. The web has a million times as much information and you are not forced to wade through some freakish shanty town of dross to find it. Second Life is never going to supplant the web. In fact in its current state I would not be surprised if a leaner, better SL clone appears to supplant it.
I'm assuming since LL have said it's "inevitable" that the SL server will go open source, the hundred of millions of machines in ten years time are supposed to be people's PCs/Macs running personal SL servers as background processes hanging off their multi-gigabit internet connections.
Every sad little one of us can run as many/big a sim as we have hardware for, and invite as many others as our bandwidth allows.
Presumably in this model LL (or more likely Google), sit in the middle aggregating search and delivering ads. In the Lanier version we probably all have high-red 3D printers (presently over £20k or so) and a "build" button too.
I'm still not clear on exactly what this will be good for, mind. I'm sure that will become clear in the next ten years though. I want immersive motion-tracked hardware to make a come back, then I'll be happy. I *liked* 1994.
Aside from the fact that second life is pretty rubbish and not as good as real life (IMHO), I'd be surprised if in three years they'll be capable of being at an equivalent graphics level to Transformers, while in 10 years, they'll require hundreds of millions of machine to do it - are we presuming that Moore's law won't be valid then?
I confess to loving SL, and despite the negative press at the moment, I see numbers online continues to grow at a fairly steady rate, so other people obviously find it compelling too. So what's the issue?
Looking around at recent negative stories, and comments, most seem to fall into 'it's got crap graphics', 'there's nothing to do' (that is as a game it doesn't cut it), 'it's not organised' and the like, which I think is missing the point by concentrating on the technology. None of the many people I know who stay in SL are there because of the technology, SL hooks because it's a shared social space.
I would submit that what most people who stay with SL are 'playing' is relationships of one form or another. This ranges from the out and out roleplaying of the various dedicated RP communities to the more mundane such as as anonymously casually flirting. And of course people RP various sex roles too - but that should hardly come as a suprise as it does tend to be one of life's driving forces.
Myself I spend about 50% SL time building and scripting (the scripting language is sufficiently complex that I'd challenge any coder not to find something of interest in it), but the other 50% is just interacting with people on a similar level to RL - going to gigs (the live music scene in SL is quite good if you like singer/songwriter type acts), clubs, parties, but fundamentally chating and gossiping about stuff, often along the lines of 'who's being doing what with whom'. Similar to chatrooms and the like, but SL being 3D with user control of the environment provides a set of easily understood RL analogous metaphores that are not available elsewhere - be that IRC, IM or Facebook.
The sex ratio is interesting too, of course in SL people swap sexes for their avatars all the time - i've seen estimates of 20% or higher - but among the people I know, who have been around a while, and can be sure of actual gender there's a slight majority of women, and usually of a somewhat older age group than the average. Think the sort of group who would rather play the Sims than Halo
So I'd submit that the issue is that the very things SL hooks with are precisely those things that your archtypical gamer, techie or geek tends to rate less highly and places less emphasis on in real life. Ironically really, because i guess geeks feel that because they were the first group of people to be familiar with the concepts of the metaverse and virtuality that they should be most at home there, when the truth turns out to be often the reverse.
*Disclaimer - above is generalized almost to parody, but nevertheless despite numberous exceptions and counterexamples, does I believe ring true.
"...instead, we will log on to Second Life, and walk to the Amazon.com shopping zone and buy things from inside a virtual shop by handing over virtual money to a virtual shopkeeper."
This scenario mentioned by an earlier poster is exactly what won't happen. Why spend nigh on 15 to 20 mins navigating around a virtual shop to then navigate over to the counter and exchange money when with a BOFH style <clickty> <clack> you can make a purchase on amazon via the normal web in a couple of minutes with your real money and not the stuff you have to get converted first, it's all about buy in (sorry for repeating myself, but thought it made a good example).
It seems Lindan Labs can't see the wood for the dollar signs they think are obscuring their vision. This seems a-typical of software projects now-a-days and is exactly what the UK Gov suffers from all the time with it's IT projects, it doesn't bother with research, consulting stake holders, etc, before implementing.
All SL appears to be is an onilne sex fantasy game and big businesses want conduct meetings in it with clients!!!!! WTF!!!!
" Why? Because, just like television was to radio, and just like the Internet was to television it defies definition within the paradigm of existing technologies.
Second Life is the beginning of a totally new context of human communication and collaboration, and just like those innovations before it which have extended the reach and breadth of the human spirit, it will grow to become a part of everyone's lives; and what is more, if it enables our creativity, charges our voices and challenges our minds as much as it promises to, it will unstoppably rise to become the dominant technology of this new century."
The point that I suspect others are making (and I agree with) is that this is not the first technology that was supposed to revolutionise the way we use the Internet (I mean the underlying protocols and structure, not just the web). It's not even the first 3d venture. I still remember using a site that collected together various online banks and shops and presented them as a 3d virtual shopping centre.
There have also been various IM systems with 3d graphics. Not to mention VRML which was supposed to revolutionise web access. Even Shockwave 3d hasn't made much of an impact outside games, although there is no reason you cannot create a functional 3d environment with it.
The problem with SL (and all the systems that went before it) is not the graphics, or the sound, but the control. Regardless of where your avatar is, and what your avatar is doing, you are controlling the avatar via a keyboard, mouse, headset or joystick. That takes away the feeling you are there.
The other problem is that while there are a lot of technologies that have changed our lives massively (Radio, TV, The Internet and the World Wide Web being four), very few have. In the Fifties and Sixties, the people were told that within 30 years, we would all have houshold robot servants. The nearest we appear to have got (50 years after the original prediction) is a combination of Aibo, automatic hoovers and automatic lawnmowers (none of which have taken off), then we had the video phone which was going to revolutionise telecoms.. It didn't..
Wind forward about 5 years, and we come to DVD. This *did* revolutionise the way we watch movies (the first discs were demonstrated in around 1993), but we also come to the web. This, clearly, did revolutionise a lot of people's lives, but, TBH, I can't think of any thing that has been as revolutionary since
This post is getting rather long, so I'll wrap up now, but basically, technology has promised a lot of revolutions, but delivered few. I think Second Life promises a lot, but will ulitmately fail to deliver.
Would that The Register or it's readers/contributors are as successful as Second Life. Plain jealousy anyone?
First of all whatever anyone says SL is a success. Second if you can't be bothered to look for anything other than sex there don't complain that's all that exists there.
There are plenty of people in there with great ideas not just for making money but also for the benefit of others.
Those that can; do. Those that can't write about it.
See you in 10 years!
I love the idea of Virtual Reality. I've been eyeing it for 20 years -- and much earlier in SciFi and cyberpunk.
But to attract mainstream audiences to a new medium it has to meet mainstream standards. That means it has to be easy to use (SL is unnecessariy difficult -- learning navigation is ridicuilous, considering the meager payoff), priced right (please remember that almost none of those 8.5 Million folks who have tried SL once are actually paying members -- that number isi closer to 50,000, less than 1% -- not much of a business modell which is why LL has resoted to selling real estate to Sony and IBM.
Mainstream Big New Ideas also have to be compelling. We all use the Internet because it offers us something we want -- indeed, we don't know how to live without it any more. FaceBook probably isn't quite that compelling but its incremental cost is very low (free plus some time) and its navigation and ease of use are trivial -- new users are at ease within moments.
I am sure we will have successful 3D experiences eventually. Some will be specialized and relatively lexpensie -- some people wil pay a lot to have what feels like a real sexual experience with Cleopatra of Henry VIII. Others will be the social environments some posters have described as the most successful element of SL but with much easier navigation and many more guideposts to potential new friends and things to do plus more natural ways of communicating. All it takes is time and technology. I doubt that the world I'd like to visit will be SL, but I am certain someone will build something interesting in less than ten years.
"Looking around at recent negative stories, and comments, most seem to fall into 'it's got crap graphics', 'there's nothing to do' (that is as a game it doesn't cut it), 'it's not organised' and the like, which I think is missing the point by concentrating on the technology. None of the many people I know who stay in SL are there because of the technology, SL hooks because it's a shared social space."
You poor, sad, bastard. If that's your idea of "social," you ought to seriously consider suicide. Darwinists would surely approve.
Ah.... I have a feeling I know where Rosedale is really coming from. He is just a cyborg minion created by the infamous Reading University Cybernetics department.
Here's how it goes. When Sadville has become so "successful" that it needs a hundred million servers to operate, those servers will draw so much power, the atmosphere is going to heat up until our First Life becomes unbearable.... and then Linden, with the help of Captain Cyborg, fits all "subscribers" with cybernetic implants to turn them into huge "human batteries" to further power the growing serverfarm... until our only reality is the simulated one.
First of all, what's Second Life?
Second of all, I bought $300 worth of text books from Amazon in under 3 minutes. And I didn't have to pay (how much, really) $15 to do it. And I didn't need to upgrade my laptop to some huge machine (same reason I'm not going to Vista).
SL will lose its charm once all those 15 year old boys get tired of twirling their tits around.
I have stock certificates from a number of companies who proclaimed, in 1999, that e-tailing (argh, Reg, is this on your banned list?) would be the way of the future and they were leading it. Most of them are in the bathroom in case we run out of toilet paper.
Like I've said in the past, I'm waiting for Web 2.1.
If Irn-Bru put out a claim that in ten years time 10 billion people would be drinking 10 cans of the wonderful Scottish fizzy drink a day, would you report it? No - because it would be a blatent lie made in an attempt to gain media coverage. Just 'cause this SL claim has a computer flavour doesn't mean it's 'news'.
Can't you find something better to report on? How about a story discussing how attempting to please the insatiable cravings of 24/7 news junkies is diluting the news reporting industry and making it harder for normal folk to actually get to the stories that make a difference to their lives!
I downloaded Second Life a while back. I wandered around a bit and interacted with a couple things. I didn't really know what I was supposed to do. I guess I just don't get it. I haven't loaded it up for almost a year, and will most likely delete it if I think to to get disk space back. (I forget it's there for long periods at a time) And I'm a geek. Sony made a big deal about their virtual universe part of the PS3. I can't figure out why to care. Why would I want to sit around watching a 3d rendered guy watching TV or riding a bike or whatever instead of just watching TV myself, or riding my bike myself, etc. for real? Why would I talk to 3d rendered pretty girl avatar when I could be talking to a real life pretty girl in person? The entire idea seems like a gimmick to me.
The first still photograph was transmitted over wires in 1862 by Abbe Giovanna Caselli. One hundred years later we had The Lucy Show and Coronation Street in black and white. Even now, 145 years later, public television still has crappy resolution and disputed merits. But there is no doubt in anyone's mind that television is one of the most successful technologies ever invented. Why? Because TV is much much more than just radio with pictures. The ability to watch and hear human beings and events from a distance immerses us, captivates us and seduces us in ways that radio or print or moving pictures alone were ever able to do. The combination of audio and moving pictures conveyed to our senses in real-time has an effect on us that is far greater than the sum of its parts; and ever closer to satisfying our visceral need for contact and communication.
But television is a one-way street. Enter the Internet, which has enabled us to shift boldly from the role as passive spectator to one where we interact, commune, collaborate, feed back, argue. Is it not liberating to be able to post to a blog? Is it not satisfying to email or IM to someone, to build relationships with people you have never met in person? Even if there is little chance of someone reading your opinion, to let it be known. The answer is of course, yes! Or people would not be doing it.
Enter Second Life. Not a game. Not a blog. Not a web site. Not an Instant Messaging tool or Groupware or any of those things, singularly; but all of them, and more. In the same way Television was a brand-new sensory experience for human beings and not just radio with pictures, Second Life brings us closer to fulfilling the insatiable gregariousness that defines us as human beings. The adoption of this new sensory medium suggests that it satisfies a deep human need for immersion, creativity, collaboration and affiliation on a plateau greater than most if not all of the aforementioned technologies have been able to achieve in the past.
Is Second Life clunky? Low resolution? Expensive? Yes Indeed! But doubters heed the lessons of history: A medium need not be perfect to be successful, nor does it need to be cheap or readily available. Like television, like the Web, success is inevitable when a new combination of technologies extends our reach, captures our minds and affords us new possibilities for creativity and communion that were not possible in the past.
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