Pudding, anyone?

People are social animals. Above and beyond all of the hype of whatever new technology toy comes along, above and beyond our differences, our demand to be entertained, or for privacy, or whatever else is the meme du jour, we are drawn by the need to meet and commune with others. This point is driven home with both the recent announcement of the closing of Metaplace and the Lab’s announcement of their new Linden Home program.

I must admit, though I did set up a Metaplace account some time ago, I never really got in to that place. So, I can’t really speak to that bit, as I do not have the emotional attachment that, I am sure, many newly displaced avies, do. Still, when a virtual world shuts down, it sends a bit of a chill through all. And I, for one, find myself pondering, what makes it work? What makes it fail? And importantly, at least to me, how long will the virtual worlds that I have invested both time and money in, last?

To these points, I would proffer that success and longevity are dependent upon a number of things. And these run the gamut from the "cool factor" to ease of use, to being able to create, to importantly, a sense of community. This latter bit by the way, is why I hold that Second Life has managed to not only stay afloat, but continues to remain a leader where virtual worlds are concerned. And yes, that means even with all of the lag, and content theft, and griefing, and ad farms, and gaming the system with bots, and well, basically, things that result in people being outraged, such as increased homestead pricing, creation of Zindra, and their various and sundry roadmaps.

Why is that, you may ask?

Whether or not people like it, or even agree for that matter, from where I sit, Second Life remains the standard by which virtualities will gauge their success, or failure. And, where virtual worlds are concerned, community is where it is at. That is the life blood. That is the challenge.

The community that has grown and even flourished on the Second Life grid is what keeps it alive. And, of all of the things they do wrong, and some would argue, they do plenty of that, they get things right, too. Not only that, when they do get things right, it is at such a scale that it is akin to infusing the grid with much needed life blood.

Just such an example is their new Linden Home program which Jack Linden announced early this month. The program has been met with a mix of responses, though, unlike past announcements, these responses have been largely favorable. Now, I will admit, I didn’t really pay much attention to Jack’s first two posts. What compelled me to take a look-see however was a series of photos that Prokofy Neva was posting regarding faries in Elderglen. That was the draw. That’s what got me there. But what kept me? Well, okay, having the opportunity to pick up a free hobbit cottage helped. That, and the fact that the Linden Home registration process is streamlined.

By the way and as an aside, Elderglen is an infohub in one of four linden home themes that the lab is offering. The themes are fantasy (Fern), Cali (Batry Park), Alpine (Buckeye), and Japanese (Kagero). There are obviously far more sims on the Nascera continent. However, if you are wanting to take your own look-see, these "starting point" sims will get you rolling.

There is another thing, too.

And that is a glimpse of what can be. A community of rich and diverse people who can come together to experience the wonder of the virtuality. A place where people can really "hang their Avatar’s hat," and at the same time, not only meet new people, but invite them over for some virtual tea. Still, even the "can be" will be dependent upon what part the lab (or others, for that matter) play in these communities. After all, as with everything, the proof will be the retention once the novelty wears off. And this will largely depend upon whether people coming together in these places really do, "come together."

Contrary to popular opinion, community doesn’t just happen. It takes work. While I am far too much of a loner to make something like that happen, I am always awed by those who do. Consider the various groups who run second life virtuality shows, such as Dusan Writer‘s Metanomics. Or, for that matter, Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlin‘s "Prim Perfect." And then there are the weekly meetings that Prokofy Neva holds. In addition to the blogs run by these same said, there are a variety of resident run blog sites and forums, such as Ann Otoole’s "Unique Needs" and "Other Life", McCabe Maxsted’s "Second McCabe" and well, a plethora of places too numerous to name here. SL residents also have a presence on various social networking sites such as twitter, plurk, facebook, and linked-in. And lest we forget, the lab has their own meetings, which they call, office hours. Also, in spite of the lab’s attrocious "blog software" they have the blogs and forums, as well as a presence on the aforementioned social networking sites.

All things considered, where the new Linden Home program is concerned, the interest is definitely there. And, with the upcoming closing of Metaplace, SL may even see some influx coming from that direction. Though, as with everything, this particular window of opportunity will only last so long. The key with regard to the success (or failure) of the program will be whether they (or others) step up to the plate to foster community. This is where things like monthly town halls, and weekly meet and greets can play role. This is where the newly displaced SL mentors have the opportunity to really lend a helping hand. This is where the average joe you and me’s can even join in. This is where the proof will be in the metaphorical pudding.

1 Comment

  1. CommentsuberVU - social comments   |  Sunday, 17 January 2010 at 02:21

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by AngelaTalamasca: New blog post: Pudding anyone? http://bit.ly/ProofIsInThePudding

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