The Future of Virtual Social Worlds

The current development of 2nd Gen social worlds seems to be moving in two very different directions.  Direction 1:  An updated-improved Second Life type experience, where the key is an open platform with the users/residents building most (if not all) of the in-world experience.  These will look a lot like SL, but faster, more robust, tablet-friendly…  They directly link to the existing SL model, with tweeks to enhance popularity, user numbers and also multiple revenue streams.  Key players here would be Sansar (by Linden Labs, the developers of Second Life) and Space.

Direction 2: New platforms driven by the ideal of social interaction in 3D, or the merging of virtual reality into social interaction.  This is less driven by the user creativity, and more driven by social interaction/”hanging out”.  These players would include High Fidelity (Rosedale, the original designer of Second Life) and Facebook (Zuckerberg’s team).  There is a lot more money in model 2, as this is also more complex but is also seen as the “next generation of social media”.

Note how both directions use the only robust, long-term example of social worlds, Second Life, as their model.  But they interpret very different futures—one on virtual world interaction, where much of the driving energy is based on digital landscape interaction; the other on social interaction with other people—or if you would things-places or people.

I would like a reaction paper on the following:

Take a minute to go think back through the Second Life material, and through your own experiences in SL.

IF someone was going to spend a couple of years and millions of USD$, what changes would be most attractive to drawing you in to use the APP—what would make a social virtual world attractive to you, a place for you to spend time, and for what purpose(s)?

You might want to go to YTube and look at the recent demos for these various platforms and see which ones, if any, you find more compelling than SL.  Remember that Facebook is gambling that within 3-5 years you will not be using your phone at all, but will be immersed in a virtual social APP.  When you have this first part done, go and look at the “Microsoft Future Productivity” video demo from 2015 at YTube= and see where this fits in.  I

should note that everything in the Microsoft video is around at least in beta form.  This will be your world in 2022 (or so)—what do you think of it?  How ready are you for it?

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