Beau Hindman of massively.com has been exploring Second Life for eight years now, he observes in his post “Free for All: Second Life, the little 75 million-dollar engine that could” that the virtual world was a ‘social medium before social media’
If I look back eight years ago, when I first joined Second Life, it’s neat to think just how ahead of its time it was. While the insiders of Second Life were participating in a smaller, self-contained social medium, the way they shared and collaborated was much the same as how we participate in worldwide social media now. (Beau Hindman)
Beau makes the observation that Second Life pioneered various tools to assist communication amongst its users; his favorite is the SLurl (a hyperlink that allows you to land at a precise location in the virtual world. SLurls to this blog’s images at end of post below).
While I enjoy clicking on a friend’s Twitter link and checking out a picture of her favorite dog, I can click on an SLurl and instead find artwork inspired by her furry best friend or a virtual dog that I can interact with. Before Google made easy collaboration in documents, Linden Lab created the ability to create almost anything with your friends, chat via voice while doing so, and even possibly sell the creation for real life cash. (Beau Hindman)
Beau Hindman says of the SLurl “It’s one of the very few instances I can think of that allow someone to follow a link to visit a literal, three-dimensional idea — a thought in the form of an explorable piece of content.” That is pretty exciting to strongly visual types with a science fiction bent like myself. It opens up whole new realms of travel for the mind. Ah, but then entrepreneurs like Anders Gronstedt have also found that the men in dark gray suits (who pride themselves on being very solid and sensible) also find three dimensional meeting spaces useful for training and business purposes. (See: Immersive 3-D Worlds: Avatars at Work.)
Second Life is a moldable, social experiment that can do things Twitter or Facebook cannot. Granted, its saddled with the performance issues that come with a world of streaming, three-dimensional material, but Linden Lab has already experimented with embedded players that shine light on a possible browser-based future. As PCs become cheaper and the magical tubes that carry our internet become fatter and more affordable, Second Life will benefit by becoming much more accessible. (Beau Hindman)
This particular social experiment is currently celebrating its ninth birthday. Now, for some (dark gray suit reason) Linden Labs decided not to celebrate the event as it has in past years. Previously the Labs provided land and resources for Second Life users and encouraged them to fire up their imaginations to celebrate with fabulous 3D creations. This year the Labs suggested that the various communities within Second Life should take the theme of community and simply celebrate amongst themselves. (Perhaps the Labs should consult Anders Gronstedt regarding the cut of their suits?) Recognizing that this would mean losing the sense of the greater community, a small group of Second Lifers set about organizing the giant birthday bash known as SL9B without Labs support.
Within five weeks they found sponsors; trained volunteers; handed donated land over to builders; enrolled the help of code scripters; set up exhibit spaces for shop keepers, community groups and artists; they then promoted the whole shebang with the help of Second Life bloggers. The result is visible this week across 20 sims displaying 300 diverse exhibits and includes stages for musicians performing live music. Many different communities use the virtual world and with the help of hundreds of volunteers plus in-world social networking tools (as well as external social media) this amazing feat has been pulled off. Intriguing to consider that the virtual world is the perfect place to render the concept of community in three dimensions. The event ends on June 27th, 2012. Take a walk around the idea soon!
SLurls to locations featured in this post:
2SPS Gallery by Soul Yheng and Sandralee Palianta http://slurl.com/secondlife/FruitIslands%20SL9B%20Fun/29/189/21/
Future Communities by noke yuitza
Tree of Faces by Cherry Manga
Birthday Cake Stage by Mikati Slade