Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let's get social...

Ok.. so Facebook didnt want us, Avatar United didn't turn out quite the way we or they wanted and now it turns out the warm welcomed Google+ thinks we're not real...  I tried (sstt, still trying - dont tell anyone) Google+ and I like it a lot - if it turns out they dont want me, hey.. it is their loss. But the past week while reading several blogs and a snowstorm of tweets on this subject I noticed two things which I found very interesting.

First, Second Life users or identities do seem to have a real need for social networking outside of the options supplied in Second Life itself (which are, I agree, practically non-existing at the moment).

Second, there are a lot of people out there who would rather invest a lot of negative energy into a rant trying to convince the whole world their toy sucks instead of  getting of their high horse and invest some energy in looking for something that does work. I'm not going to adress this second issue in this blog - but it surprises me everytime (wether the rant is about Second Life is dying, Viewer 2, Google+ or the SL pornstar community). Maybe I am naief and have to much of a Disney mindset - but personally I rather spend my energy on positive things.

The need for a social network is something that has been noticed by Linden Labs as well. They bought and dumped Avatar United in the past and their next attempt is currently in beta. Rod Humble (the big guy at LL, @rodvik) put his intentions out in the open using Twitter:
"Oh yeah. But I have no intention of trying to change googles or FB's mind. I would rather provide the service ourselves :)"
And given the negative sentiments surrounding Google+ and avatar identities at the moment this might just very well be the right time for Linden Labs to launch this thing - and I have to admit, I do like what they have been developing and improving the past months on the viewer and stuff so this might all turn out fine and may even be accepted by the majority of the second life users. Linden Labs is however, in my humble opinion, missing an opportunity to make a nice leap forward where interoperability in Virtual Worlds is concerned.

First of all.. I strongly believe Linden Labs should not be building their own social network software. It's not what they are good at and god knows communication has never been their strong point. There are however good alternatives out there - and it would be a way better idea (again my humble opinion) to try and integrate or interface such an altrnative into their viewer. Will Burns (@darianknight) suggested Daispora; an open source, privacy focussed solution which looks promising indeed. And surely there are others out there...

I really think a Second Life based social network is going to fail (but I'm happy to be proved wrong on this). I just dont think it would add enough value for users, it's never gonna be as good as the cool kids out there and it will not bring many new users in for Linden Labs either cause it would not reach outside of Second Life.

But think about this for a moment: integrating an existing solution would make it possible to socialize with other people (either virtual and physical) outside of Second Life. Other VW's might even (since the code is open-sourced) adopt and improve upon the integration - users from all over the different grids sharing photo's, machinima, concurrent multi-grid events linked by this overall social network and possibly even group chats and (even more daring) video-chatting independant of the grid or rl location the user choose to exist on...

Call me Disney minded... but I think that would be cool... now back to the coffee and poseballs...

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