Comes a report backed up by data (from Linden Lab, of course, but no indication it is anything but correct) that gives a glowing picture of health for Second Life. In some circles, the drop-off in press coverage was equated with the pending demise, but it seems that SL continues to develop just fine. What I would read into some of the figures: yes, plenty of people try SL, get discouraged by the learning curve, and drop out within days. Enough persist, however, to continue solid growth, and that remnant may be enough to fuel the growth of the general metaverse (including canonical SL along with the various Open Simulators that are, basically, open source versions AND other virtual worlds).
A couple of highlights:
“Land in Second Life has grown roughly 18 percent from Q1 of 2009 and approximately 75 percent since Q1 of 2008.” The 75 percent figure is particularly interesting. There is always some bit of SL land that is not owned by residents, but it’s a very small percentage, so that sort of huge increase indicates a vast increase in actual user involvement.
“The inworld economy, says Linden Lab reps, grew 94 percent year-over-year from Q2 2008 to Q2 2009. Now at nearly USD$50 million each month in user-to-user transactions, the Second Life economy is on an annual run rate of more than a half billion US dollars.” At a time when the rest of the world is struggling just to get even again, that’s pretty healthy no matter how you look at it. And, again, it indicates some genuine involvement, even if it is only a small percentage of the people who go in to give SL a try.
That also means that if Linden Lab manages to increase the retention rate by just a few percentage points, the growth of SL could double or triple.
The first hours in Second Life are notoriously hard. Longtime SL observer Tateru Nino suggests the solution will not be simple, but is possible, and does a great job of examining why SL is simply going to be harder when it comes to orienting new users. If you feel confused, at least take comfort in the fact that a) you’re not alone in that, and b) it’s not because Linden Lab doesn’t care enough about you to give you an easy tutorial.
As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t been in Second Life much in the last year, and in the last month I’ve been relearning some stuff, and catching up on changes regarding other stuff. Several changes in how Linden Lab runs the underlying software of SL have rendered some old methods for reducing lag completely unnecessary. I’m not the only one behind, it seems, since Gwyneth Llewelyn saw the need to post an article dispelling lag myths. I’m almost embarrassed that this article dates from Feb. 2008! However, I’ve recently been to a meeting where they were still trying to enforce some of the old rules.
- Scripted attachments haven’t really contributed to lag since 2006.
- Particles don’t contribute to server lag. If you experience lag from particles, it’s a matter of adjusting the settings on your own graphics card and in your own SL viewer preferences.
- Primmed hair doesn’t really contribute to lag on the server or the client side.
- Most of your lag issues can be addressed via custom settings in the preferences of your viewer.
- Even if you are experiencing lag, Alt-zooming in on just what you want to see is likely to cut down on it.
Some of the other stuff is out of the viewer’s hands. If you’re a scripter, one bit of advice is to recompile your scripts to use Mono. I’ve found that to make things run tremendously faster. I still run into lag on certain sims, but it’s not nearly as often nor as problematic as it used to be. I think LL’s changes indicated above must have a lot to do with that.
She followed up with an interesting guest post historical-to-modern perspective about how LL’s changes have affected lag in an article called “Anatomy of Lag.”
Elizabeth Bernstein shares observations with implications for modern communication in a Wall Street Journal article entitled “How Facebook Can Ruin Your Friendships.” Do you see implications for your own use of online social media?