Second Life and Wii: Are we ready for the Goldrush, Backlash or both

That last post on the Wii and SecondLife was supposed to be a quick puff-piece, but as I mulled it over it grew and grew until I split it into two with this opinion post as the second part.
Personally, I think something good is brewing with Second Life, but first we’re headed for (already in?) a goldrush that will be followed by backlash, similar to the era when companies rushed to establish a presence on dial-in line networks likethe Source, and CompuServe, and Prodigy, and America Online, (and others- anyone remember GEnie or Minitel or ) . It was relatively cheap and tremendously popular to build-out forums and email lists and knowledge bases there, but it all got eclipsed by the internet + the web.
Second Life also just feels too “siloed” for my tastes, with no good way to interact across worlds (yes, I am aware of various SL mash-ups). The virtual worlds and games reek of the multiple ID’s problem of the early 90′s. I remember when you were really cool if your business card has like 6 email addresses on it. I also agree with folks suspicious of the hype and over-the-top “me-too” crowd it is attracting now, again like the AOL-era landgrabs. Here’s some good quotes and interesting data I found on a quick web news search:

More often than not, you’ll hear that “Second Life” boasts millions of users. But the truth of the matter is that no one knows how many people are using the service other than Linden Lab, the company that hosts “Second Life.”

According to Clay Shirky, a faculty member in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University who’s made a four-month study of Second Life’s audience, the number of regular users is well under 200,000.

Virtual worlds may indeed play a big role in the future of the Internet. But for the moment, the talk far exceeds the actual worth of these services– at least in business terms.

If fewer than 200,000 people are regularly using “Second Life,” it’s not the best marketing tool. And though virtual worlds are certainly a means of long-distance communication, it’s yet to be seen whether this makes sense — in the long term — for anything other than fun and games.

So many companies are entering “Second Life” because it’s the thing to do, because the press gives virtual worlds so much attention.

Source: Is Corporate Mania for ‘Second Life’ Just a Lot of Hype?
As for the Wii, pretty cool, but then so was the Magnavox Odyssey that Dad brought home in ’73 to spoil all 5 of us kids.

Does anyone else miss video games that included real dice, poker chips and plastic overlays you had to tape to the screen? We eventually got an Atari 2600, but never bothered with Colecovision, Mattel Intelvision, Sega and the lot that followe– including the very first PlayStation released about 21 years later.

Dang I’m old.

About Tom King

Tom King has a master's degree in Instructional Design and 15 years experience developing and managing elearning materials. Tom has been active with many elearning technology specification groups, including ADL SCORM, AICC, IEEE LTSC, and others. He served as AICC Communications Chairman and workgroup leader for the PENS specification. Tom was instrumental in early implementations of LMS specifications for LAN and web-based systems as an early AICC advocate and founder of Solis, maker of Pathware (acquired by Macromedia and later transferred to IBM as LearningSpace 4). Tom continues to collaborate with colleagues from a variety of companies offering enterprise-class elearning solutions.
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