I’ve been very busy covering the European debt crisis, but now it’s time for something completely different: the future of virtual worlds. At MetaMeets in Amsterdam, almost two weeks ago now, I interviewed some very inspiring people. I’m working on a story for a mainstream audience about virtual worlds, but I’ll publish some stuff now already on this blog.
Ilan Tochner is the founder of Kitely, a company which works on a project allowing users to create their OpenSim-based virtual world as easily as posting a YouTube-video. Just give it a try, it actually works!
Tochner however realizes that also the guests visiting those virtual worlds should have a very smooth, basically one-click kind of experience when entering those environments. He claims it’s possible to build web-based virtual world viewers – all Tochner needs is a little help from his virtual world friends.
I hope he is right about this – it would help tremendously offering a web-based access. People are used to the web, they want frictionless, instantaneous gratification. Every click extra, every hurdle they have to take means that your number of visitors dramatically decreases.
Remember: it’s not about convincing those who are willing to experiment with virtual worlds. It’s about offering some activity which interests a specific audience – an activity which probably has nothing to do with virtual worlds as such, virtual worlds would just be a cool platform. So getting people into your venue should be totally non-geeky and straightforward.
I’ve been a constant critic of Shirky. He doesn’t understand Second Life, and I suspect he doesn’t understand virtual worlds in general.
I find his stories, which you are so fascinated with, to be glib and non-scholarly and manipulative. Like his story about gin and the Industrial Revolution. He takes these little emotional epiphanies and then tries to concoct epochal theories around them — and it’s suspect.
Clay is also a big believer in non-market economies, such as the whole open-source/copybot/creative commons sort of shill as a “business model”. It’s not only that the jury is out on this; the jury came back and the sentence was already pronounced in the 20th century, but Clay is persistently utopianist about this.
Shirky is a thoroughly modern Web 2.0 conference maven who can publish a book that isn’t a scholarly article, endlessly rehash it on the conference circuit to admiring throngs, and never have to do the slog of sociological research of interviewing people one by one, tabulating, cross checking, weighting for geogrpahical samples, etc. Yes, he can tell a story. No, this is not the story of the Metaverse that we must accept. The Group isn’t it’s own worst enemy; in fact, the Core of the Group is the worst enemy of all of us.
Oh Prok. We have to stop meeting like this.
I find it hard to understand how you can simultaneously write about the adoption of virtual worlds and be skeptical of non-market economies.
Setting aside the _ad hominem_, your point seems to be that open source and CC-licensed content is doomed to fail. However, since most people aren’t paid for their creative participation in online environments, at any level of virtuality, I’m a little curious what you think the “jury” came back with? You seem to be alluding to some body of research or argument that suggests non-market motivations are somehow moot in these environments, but you don’t say what it is?