Second Life – some thoughts about business

Here’s a post I rattled off to slashdot a few min. ago…

From my experience, a virtual economy can support itself without any intervention or participation from outside companies. For example, there are lots of people who sell skins, clothing, accessories, you-name-it to the residents of Second Life, and *I* make money by providing business tools to them (for visitor counting/automated greetings/report services/surveys, etc.).

I think Second Life paved the way for bigger and better things, but by no means should it be considered the model for the way a virtual environment should work. The utter lack of an interactive forms API and zero support for interaction with real-world documents (such as PDF, .DOC, Excel, PowerPoint) are big flaws that are already frustrating businesses that try to conduct meetings in SL. And don’t get me started about their “land” approach to paying for CPU cycles.

From the outset, SL hasn’t been about business. Linden Lab created a barren virtual landscape and has let the residents create just about 100% of the content using a very limited (dare i say “primitive”?) set of tools. It has been a big hippie-furry-fetishfest that has concentrated on bugfixes rather than connecting to the outside world. Considering how long it’s been around, Second Life shouldn’t still be regarded as a place where cyberweirdos go to get their kink on…and yet it still is very much regarded that way by even hardcore geeks.

Now that Linden Lab is starting to realize that their talk of SL as a place for serious business isn’t just the hot air even *they* thought it was, they’re trying to turn the ship around with some meager business-related integration. Fortunately for them, most other tech companies have watched them struggle and have stayed out of the game.

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