Saturday, November 11, 2006

What is it about Second Life that people *need*?

Please note that I am not yet answering the title question in this post, but I am setting the stage for a dialogue.

I was right in the middle of my typical introduction to Second Life session yesterday, fielding what has become the normal Q&A session.
Q: "Do people pay *actual* dollars for *fake* goods?"
A: "Yes and no. People pay virtual currency, derived from actual US currency, for digital goods and services - most of which are tailored for the virtual world."

Q: "Do people actually *make* money playing this game?"
A: "Yes and no. Yes, a few thousand people run profitable businesses but unlike WoW, Second Life is not a game."

Q: "Are crimes committed. Can someone kill you?"
A:" Yes and no. There are rules outlined in the Community Standards and Terms of Service ....."
You get the idea. This usually goes on for twenty to thirty minutes, and most of the questions clarify or reinforce points I have made in the initial presentation about the economy, how many people are in Second Life, what people do, how they communicate, etc.

This day, as we were moving along the ultimate phase shift from scoff, to skepticism and disbelief, to interested but not impressed, and some to "a ha", I heard this question.
Q: "What is it about Second Life that people *need*?"
A: "Um ..."
Of course I started with my visionary statements about the new Renaissance and rise of the creative class (more on this some other time) and "this is the future of the Internet/web 3D, go read Avi's 7 part series on the topic" followed by a more familiar reference: "it's analogous to MySpace on steroids", but even they knew I had failed to answer the question. And so began my restless night.

By now you've probably guessed that I had hoped to craft this entire post in the "second person" meaning, Grace writes the whole thing and I - in the first person - merely observe. After all, Grace is embedded within Second Life, but on this issue her perspective is somewhat limited. She can head off this morning and start asking a few people in world that question, and in the mean time I am going to hit the books because I have a feeling that Grace and I will have to work on this one together.

If you already have this figured out, please leave me a comment or drop me an email.
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