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A Second Life heresy

January 6th, 2011 by Marianne McCann


Okay, let me start with a heresy: Second Life needs to be more like Facebook.

Now, before your get that tar up to boiling, and before you collect a sufficient amount of feathers, let me explain. I don’t think Second Life should be any less involved or complex as it is now. I certainly don’t think it needs to be a Zynga game. It does not necessarily need to be a web-based thing (though Project Skylight does look good). I don’t need to send data from Second Life to Facebook. I don’t need Mark Zuckerberg & Co. to data scrape my avatar. None of that.

But there are features that I would dearly love, and those features are the sort of things I see on Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, and elsewhere. I think these features would revolutionize the way we connect in Second Life, would be useful for both wide-eyed noob and jaded oldbie, and would make Second life be far more (dare I say it?) fast, easy, and fun.

Let me give you a couple scenarios from my own SL experiences, so that maybe you can see what I see. In the Summer, I do a weekly fireworks series every Saturday night. At current, I have the following ways to tell my friends about this event. I can start a conference chat a couple minutes before to let everyone know, I can send a group notice, and I can send each of my friends an IM or notecard about the event.

But people don’t always appreciate conference IMs. Many don’t want the intrusion or me and my other friends suddenly plopping into their space. Likewise, even a 40 group limit is not going to allow people to really join groups to find out about events, and group notices are also, shall we say, spammy. Finally, sending the 750 people on my friend’s list individual IMs about such things is a monumental amount of work. None of these are good solutions.

Rather, if there was some way that my friends could see a status message from me — at their convenience — it take all that pain away. They could see at a glance that I was going to have a fireworks show (or whatever), click the SLURL I put with it, and be on their way.

Second example. I might want to connect with my friends beyond just knowing what event their hosting. I might want to know what they’re up to, how they’re feeling, or just a bit about them. I want to connect with them. Again, I could IM them, and often do – but with the size of my list, again, it is a chore, and people do fall through the cracks.

It would be that much easier if I could pull up a status feed and see, right there, that Mary Resident is at a cool concert (Maybe I should check that out?), and Bob Resident just finished building a tree fort (Maybe I need to check their store!), and Alice Resident is Flying her biplane (which means that IMs with her are likely going to be hit and miss). Heck, it would also help me to know if Ralph Resident is off on vacation, or what have you — all in a glance.

Imagine this as the response to the perpetual noob question of boredom, and see this as a way for each of us to be a bit closer. Think of it in terms of the “like” button as a way for us to show our friends a place we thought was a “must see.” And imagine being able to do this without leaving the Second Life interface to go off to some other place on the web.

That is the way I’d like to see Second Life be more like Facebook. I want those tools to serve my digital self, within Second Life, the same way they serve my flesh-based form in my first life.

13 Responses to “A Second Life heresy”

  1. Ossian Belwraith Says:

    That sounds pretty good, as long as it’s a passive thing. And too bad that LL already had that, in Avatars United! It was pretty clunky though, maybe not so well tied in.

    But your idea is definitely HANDY. If we could update this status or wall or whatever from outside SL, we could tell people if we weren’t able to get inworld right now… or if we’d be back next Tuesday…

  2. Marianne McCann Says:

    Right definitely. It should not be a “pushed” technology. I should not get status updates cluttering up the screen as they are, but something I can look at at my leisure.

    I did use Avatars United, perhaps more than most while it existed. But ya, I’d like to see that functionality inworld, rather than having to go outside for it.

  3. Valla-chan Says:

    I can’t help but wonder why they couldn’t incorporate those kinds of features into profiles. Just a quick little status blurb after your name in the friends list, and an longer message in your profile, if you have a slurl or something to share…

  4. Marianne McCann Says:

    Hmm. That seems to make some sense, but would that clutter an otherwise already clutteriffic friend’s list? Dunno. Still, seems about right, location wise. Definitely longer message (or even a full timeline pane) in the profile, though.

  5. Sidney Smalls Says:

    Mari, it’s a bit of a mystery to me what you mean by wanting to see that information “in world.” It’s textual information. Two-dimensional. The only way it’s going to be “in world” is if it’s in html on the side of a prim, or something similar. Otherwise, it can be displayed by the SL viewer, but it’s hard to see how that makes any real difference as compared to a well-integrated web site.

    From time to time I’ve considered doing various integration projects and I’ve heard similar remarks before, and it’s always mystified me what people meant. Maybe you could clarify.

  6. Nat Merit Says:

    Sidney: Well Loki Eliot already has a mock up of what something like this might look like, you can even vote for it on JIRA: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-20663

  7. Marianne McCann Says:

    @Nat See? As always, Loki is on top of things!

  8. Marianne McCann Says:

    @Sidney Hmn. I would say “see Loki’s mock up on the JIRA Nat posted for an example. I think that might be a bit of a clutter (especially given the uncommonly long friends list I have), but along those lines.

    When I say inworld, i guess what I mean is “without having to leave SL to view it, and integrated into the UI.” I don’t mind if it is HTML based to get us there (and, frankly, that is likely the best option) but I want to be able to click a (for example) “feeds” widget and get this information, without having to open Safari/chrome/firefox/etc.

  9. Curious Hazelnut Says:

    Facebook and Twitter? Seriously? Those two services are so beyond messed up and ugly I still don’t understand how they didn’t crumble and die already. I’m sure you don’t mean to make the abysmal tools for social networking in SL worse.

    ‘kay now that I’ve had my rant. I agree with the theory of what you say, if not the specific examples. It would be nice to be able to let my real friends in SL know what my avatar is doing and more easily provide information to people who might want to know what’s going on in Old Willowdale but don’t want to be on our group.

  10. Opensource Obscure Says:

    Very nice thoughts Mari (and I’m not even a Facebook user) – it makes much sense to me.

  11. Marianne McCann Says:

    @Curi – Ya, I am not a Facebook user, though I do like Twitter and Plurk. I’d like to think this would be one step towards making the tools better/more flexible, cuz ya, what we have now pretty much stinks.

    @OObscure Thanks!

  12. Feted Inner Child » Blog Archive » Legacy Says:

    […] The obvious example: group chat has always broken down, and conferences are just as unreliable. There remains no good way to communicate to your friends what you are doing in SL on a large scale without resorting to other social media sites like Twitter and Plurk. It was only […]

  13. Legacy | Marianne's Blog Says:

    […] The obvious example: group chat has always broken down, and conferences are just as unreliable. There remains no good way to communicate to your friends what you are doing in SL on a large scale without resorting to other social media sites like Twitter and Plurk. It was only […]

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