Ciaran Laval (once again!) lead me to an article on The Register concerning “Ten technology … FAILS” by one Tony Smith. Some of the entries will doubtless raise a smile or two or have some pundits nodding sagely and muttering, “Yep, said it would never work at the time…”
However, on page four of the item comes … Second Life, which is given a dismissive paragraph concluding, “And then, of course, they all realised that living one, real life was busy enough. And social networking was born…”.
Thus, Mr. Smith joins a growing clique of journalists all eager to proclaim that SL has not only failed, it is in fact like the proverbial parrot famed of Monty Python, “No more”. Not only is his view demonstrably wrong (to sum up what follows, “We’re still here, aren’t we?”), in pointing to Second Life, he again, like many who cite its “failure”, reveal a complete lack of awareness of the platform.
Ciaran asks why attitudes such as this prevail in journalistic circles. He points to an article on The Ancient Game Noob, which also attempts to address the question. Both raise fair points. However, there is really only one answer that matters where views such as those expressed in The Register are concerned, and it can be summed up in two words.
Birth of the Myth
For a time, SL was undoubtedly the darling of the media – whether it be bold predictions of a new kind of “virtual entrepreneur” being the wave of the future. The hype, as I’ve covered elsewhere, began in late 2005, in an article which appeared on CNNMoney and which essentially catapulted Anshe Chung onto the cover of Business Week.
This saw the birth of a story which ran and ran, across more than a year through 2006 and 2007, when the media couldn’t get enough of SL – and nor, for a time, could big business – for reasons neither could fully understand (and nor, in fairness, could LL). All that was apparent, was that the bandwagon was passing by, and it was time to jump on or risk missing out – even though “jumping on” and “missing out” were never actually quantified.
And when it comes to media we’re not just talking the “traditional” forms of media, real or digital print; leave us not forget that CBS jumped aboard in 2007, working with Electronic Sheep to bring us a CSI immersive environment, and the appearance of Second Life (albeit rather badly) on a two-parter of CSI:NY. Other shows also jumped in as well, and even pop stars around the world got in on the act, with Duran Duran (2006) perhaps being the most notable (and still very present), while Italian singer Irene Grandi released her 2007 hit Bruci la città (“Burn the City”) with a video produced in part in Second Life, featuring an avatar based upon her.