Today marks a momentous occasion: Second Life the Virtual World and Second Life the technology platform are no longer synonymous; they have split and begun inexorably to diverge. What this means is that, as Sphere Gasser would say, “We’re going up to 20 million. See you there!” That is, the whole enterprise is moving toward serious mass adoption as an online platform by people and organizations.This is my favorite part of the ride: hitting critical mass – after having gone from hundreds of thousands to “Millions of Us,” from open source code to (shortly) open source servers, we’ll soon see an explosion of creative growth that will likely dwarf what has come before.
Hype, for sure, but have you taken a look at the new Grid site and pages? The presentation is buttoned-down Web 2.0 (ok, 2.5). The feeling is no longer that of some cartoon-world full of misfits but of a reliable business tool. Let’s hope the system crashes can be better managed from here on out. All eyes are on Linden Labs now to prove they are a serious player and not a phreak playground.
This of course would also be a ripe moment for a “senior technology partner” to emerge. Google would be the obvious choice – especially after the MIT Review cover story imagining a Second Earth mashup. In fact Unype.com is already offering an early prototype; and it was obvious from that March 2006 Google Talks video that both sides harbor an urge to merge. But Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, even Yahoo are also big brother possibilities.
And have you seen SLboutique lately? It’s now called OnRez, and also looking very Web 2.0. No doubt about it – Second Life is “cleaning up real good” for the corporate world. And while it might bother the hardcore in the extreme, it suits me, Your Average Consumer, just fine. Because I’ve bought into the 3D Web hook, line and sinker: it’s the next platform for online commerce and communication – and the most exciting, compelling, immersive experience online.