I am a huge fan of Second Life. It is a world that is built by the community and defined by the community. Don’t like something in the world? Change it. Bored? Come up with something entertaining and it is likely that hordes of people will join you. Want to buy land and become a real estate mogul? Sure, go ahead. Want to shoot an entire movie within the world? Entirely possible. This Business Week article was one of the earlier ones to cover the phenom.
Amazing stuff. But, what is not so amazing is how hard it is for the non-early adopter, non-technically savvy to get on and engage. That’s fine for when the company is starting, but it is time that Second Life addressed this issue. I see two issues
- First bucket is the technical specs/hardware requirements to get on Second Life are too much. They have to bring that down – not everybody owns a gaming-level computer.
- The second is that from a UI perspective, they have to make it easier and more intuitive for people to engage. Maybe set up a Welcome Sandbox where you can learn how to interact and get advice etc. Staffing that with a few customer service folks would be well worth their time.
That is when truly explosive growth will occur. Right now, they are like the early versions of del.icio.us, where even people who spent their lives online couldn’t figure out how to use the service.
Once they fix the ability of a newbie to just jump on and engage, they need to fix the ability for a non-techie to add to the world. I think this is critical. If only someone with coding skills can build a casino, that will severely limit the world. Give everyone skills to change the world and then, you have a world-changing environment.