Bookmarked Second Life was ahead of its time (by Neville Hobson)

I’ve thought regularly about Second Life in the past months with all the hyped up Metaverse talk. In a Dutch post last November (machine translated link) I wrote:

Sitting around a virtual table with Zuck’s avatar to have the same video call conversation on a virtual laptop as behind my real laptop? No thanks. Where are the new affordances? Not in recreating your office or gym I think. The arguments are the same this time, the visual and audio effects 15 years more advanced, the mentioned use cases just as unsatisfactory as they were in 1993 when the still-existing Digital Space Traveler started. In my opinion, replicating what was already possible is not enough, new affordances and agency are needed to convince. And yes, that’s what it always starts with, with replicating, but starting with that we already did 20 years ago, so let’s not do it again and build on it.

We see companies enter Roblox the way we saw before in Second Life (a profitable business all these years). But what has really changed in the mean time, except the computing power of our graphic cards and our gigabit internet links?

It feels to me that in all the metaverse discussion this time around, as Neville also notes, there is very little awareness of what went before. I’ve walked virtual worlds for well over 2 decades, but it seems none of that existing experience feeds the current discussions much.

Much of this past action isn’t in the mainstream memory today when people talk about ‘the metaverse’ and make comparisons with Second Life those years ago.

Neville Hobson

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