McCracken on Second Life

Grant McCracken comments on the three-way discussion between Clay Shirky, Henry Jenkins and Beth Coleman on the impact of Second Life. But his suggestions about how SL will be impactful aren’t as interesting as his observations about why SL won’t:

Second Life is frequently a stage without actors. What is missing is the small murmur of activity, the gentle dynamism that other people bring to our lives. This may be what we mean by “perfect strangers.” These are the people who create movement, visual stimulation, a steady current of minor commotion without actually ever impinging on our lives in any irritating way. Second Life has no perfect strangers.

The absence of this dynamism means, among other things, that SL cannot create a new tourism. The existing world of Second Life fails to capture us for the same reason that Celebration, Florida (the instant town build by Disney) originally disappointed. The place was well appointed but it lacked perfect strangers. There was a stillness to both places that made them unfit, or at least uninteresting, for human habitation. I am told that Celebration addressed this problem. We shall see if SL can do the same.

I also like his point about “sorting”. SL currently doesn’t help you find people you would actually like to hang out with:

If anything it should allow me to reach out to more people in the world and increase the chances that I will like the people I meet. But this never seems to happen. I would like to hear about this one from the SL supporters. How many interesting people have you met in-world?

Which is true in my (admittedly limited) experience. The people I know best on SL are from real world contacts.

Read McCracken’s whole post at This Blog Sits at the: Second Life: the new Disney or vaporville? (Yes, it’s over a month old. I need to visit his blog more often.)


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