You may remember a wee storm back in June when Chris Abraham, a marketing wotsit, said that Twitter was better than SL. Now I know and you know this is like comparing TXTing/SMSing some friends and flying to America to spend a week with family. Yes both are social networking, but hardly comprable I’d argue.
Well I saw on NWM today that the same guy now likes SL and his blog post about it is a really interesting read, especially the parts about what puts people off. True we all know the reasons – loneliness, empty sims, the old “what do I do?” question – but the real question behind those is that if WE know that and HE knows that, why hasn’t LL fixed it yet?
Anyhoo, read his post and leave him your thoughts – I know you are a civil and thoughtful lot so you’ll be able to share some good stuff with him and hopefully show others that SL isn’t all talking cocks and griefing.
p.s. After I’d posted this it occurced to me I’d never read Chris’ orginal post, only the New World Notes post about it. I wish I hadn’t – his reply to OpenSource Oobscure was rather horrible. Pointing out the typos is just mean – escpecially when a bit of research would tell you that Opensource is not an English speaker.
p.p.s. Here is my comment to him:
Hi there – I found your post through New World Notes and enjoyed it a lot. I remember the Twitter vs SL stuff and thought at the time that something had been lost in translation as they just can’t really be compared, so I’m glad you came back and saw what SL has to offer.
Let me say up front that SL will not be for everyone – I love it yet my wife tried it and thought “Meh” and left. The hardware needs and the steep, steep learning curve are more than enough to put off casual passers-by, but even so a surprising amount of them do stay so there must be something in it.
I don’t see the technical & learning curve issues getting better anytime soon, either – they were there when I started in Nov 06 and they were there when it was beta in 03 so I don’t see why they won’t be with us for some time to come. Having said that, it’s not rocket surgery either – yes the controls can be awkward, but they still work better than some FPS games I’ve played in the last year.
No, what I think puts people off is a combination of concept and something you put your finger on (and I’ve ranted about many times over the years and covered on my blog as recently as this week), loneliness.
Loneliness is easier than concept to explain so I’ll start there. SL is big, really big (I’ll avoid slipping into a Douglas Adams impression) but the number of people online at anyone time isn’t. Well it is – 70,000 people is not small change – but in terms of entering the world and expecting it to be as populated as a real world city, well it never happens. There are places where people congregate and it is to these places that newbies need to head, but not all such places are equal and some won’t help a confused newbie become an addicted oldbie. Still, there are dedicated centres that help, teach and develop newbies and give them their first taste of friendship and community in SL. I only wish I’d have known about them when I started as it would have save many weeks of wandering around, feeling lonely and simply ‘not getting it’.
Now, by concept I mean the age old question we SLers get asked (and have asked ourselves more than once) “What is SL for? What do I do there?” In some ways this is tied into loneliness. In real life, if you move to a strange, new city where you know no one then one of the ways you start building contacts by joining hobby groups to meet like minded folk. Second Life is no different. My advice to newbies is to go and grab SL with both hands – if you want to build something, join one of the hundreds of free classes and build. Whatever you want to do, there are people in SL doing it or wanting to do it with you.
A common comment I get as an SLer from non-SLers is that they have enough fun in their first life and therefore don’t need a second one. My simple answer to this is that my SL is not a replacement for my first one (I have a family, friends, job, mortgage, social life and hobbies) but rather just another aspect of it. SL to me is just another hobby – an amazing hobby that allows me tremendous creative freedom and has allowed me to make some brilliant friends, but a hobby nonetheless. It’s fun and that’s how I will always strive to enjoy it.
Oh, and before I go, I’d like to just mention the other aspect of SL that captures people attention and colours their perceptions: sex. Yes people come into SL to have sex with other people (although, technically it’s not sex is it. I’m fairly sure you two people in the same room at the same time for that). Why people are surprised is beyond me, people have been using every new technology to fornicate since the invention of cave paintings. But it would be wrong to think that a rampant ball of sex awaits around every corner waiting to pounce upon newbies and have its wicked way with them. I’ve had more propositions in RL over the last three years than I have in SL and in both the easiest way to avoid being ‘sexed’ is simply not do it (sigh, I know you’ll be heartbroken ladies, but I’m taken in RL).
So, there you go – my guide to SL. Give it a go, join a good newbie-helping group, find something you want to do and go for it. And don’t believe everything you read in the papers. That last one is good for non-SL stories too.
Currently having a great time in Steelhead, a steampunk style Oregon town set in the 1880s.