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.