How did we misread the future so badly? Mind you, this Second Life hype didn’t involve distant, sci-fi predictions about the future. (“Someday we’ll all commute to the moon using unisex RocketCrocs!”) This was just five years ago. We were just months away from the iPhone.
After enduring a lifetime of mega-fads that flame out—the Apple Newton and PointCast and the Segway—why are we so quick to extrapolate a few data points into a Dramatic New Future? Well, here’s the frustrating part: Sometimes the Dramatic New Future arrives, exactly as promised. The mega-hyped Internet? Yep, worked out OK. Ditto Google and Facebook and iPods and iPhones.
This predictive crapshoot is rough on business leaders—your employees are going to bug you, every time, to greenlight the corporate blog. Or the storefront in Second Life. Or the special on Foursquare. Which efforts are worth it? How can you know, for sure, in advance?
» via Slate
Okay, I feel like I need to wade into this one. A bit of history: I joined SL in 2005 and was a fairly regular user until the earlier part of this year. While I agree that Second Life has not lived up to the utopian dream it’s founder envisioned (but seriously how many startups fall under that category?) to say it failed is rather ridiculous in my mind. Secondly, it is fairly disingenuous to use the fact that major corporations had poor luck attracting making money off of the notoriously tech-saavy, counter-cultural demographic which makes up the bulk of SL’s hardcore userbase. These companies jumped on a fad before understanding the platform or the audience and failed for the same reason that many companies fell flat on their face when social networking first showed up. To blame the platform, SL in this case, is rather poor reasoning in my opinion.
Now, to the true genuine problems which are in fact eating SL alive:
In short, there’s a myriad of reasons why SL is struggling and may shutter itself. However it is worth pointing out that SL might in fact be an Edisonian lightbulb, simply a way to learn how not to build a massive user-driven free-form virtual world.
I can rant on about this for some time, but I think I’ll leave it at this.