The SLENZ Update – No 72, April 28, 2009

No the SL sky is not falling in …

Chicken Little got it wrong!

userhoursSecond Life  user hours are still growing

Surrounded by negativity!!! It’s frightening how the world of “yellow  journalism” even if in its latest form of  blogs permeates  the thinking of otherwise  sensible individuals.

It’s right to take precautions to lessen the effects of  the worldwide financial crash, swine flu,  so-called,  man-made climate change, the  imminent collapse of Second Life, as some of the doomsayers, have been predicting, or for that matter the end of the real world – Got religion anyone? – but Chicken Little “sky-is-falling-in” news, like that created by tabloid bloggers of the Valleywag-Gawker variety – February publication –  should be read in the same vein as the US rag, the National Enquirer. Valleywag-Gawker has been predicted the  imminent demise of  Second Life since 2006, if not longer.

There are a myriad of constructive criticisms which can be thrown at Second Life and which are based on fact, but which  often forget that Second Life, like the real world, is still under development and always will be by its very nature.  As in the real world, it is being created, more often than not, by the choices we as Second Life residents make: that is the choices the majority of us who stay with Second Life make as interpreted by Linden Labs, rather than the choices made by the minority “wankers” who nevertheless stay with Second Life even though they whine continuously.

However, for research purposes – particularly  education research, it is probably the best, most practical, and most economic MUVE currently available for New Zealand ( and other Western World) residents, despite  the problems with Broadband, which I lay at the door in New Zealand of our two major Telcos and the short-sightedness of the previous Government, a lack of  Second Life stability (it is improving almost every day) and what is often seen as the dictatorial, totalitarian influence of the owners and creators, Linden Labs.

Only the beginning

One can either dip one’s toe in the water of Virtual Reality, as SLENZ and numerous other educational institutions and organisations are doing with Second Life, or be left behind: there is no doubt in my mind that MUVEs are becoming mainstream, and that Second Life and worlds like it are only the beginning.

But, at the same time, I believe the drive for  educational research results within Second Life and other Virtual Worlds should not be blurred by either attempting to move into time-consuming and expensive real-life replica developments which use all one’s research budget, or into negativity of the Chicken Little variety -sometimes the latter results from the first – when we are attempting to determine and measure the  learning benefits in virtual worlds and how to make the most of  the opportunities.

That is not to say there are not numerous beautiful replica builds in Second Life which belong to educational institutions and others, but to me they have more to do with ego and sometimes branding,  rather than actual educational  outcomes. All the same they are still great to look at and if one cannot visit them in real life, a virtual visit is better than nothing.

However,  that long rant is not the basis of this blog.

I’ve been cheered by the latest stats  for the first quarter of 2009 from  the Lindens and Second Life, even if one discounts the spin that is invariably put on company  public relations releases. All the same  they mirror my daily experiences in Second Life and my feelings about where Second Life is going  after four years in-world almost on a daily basis. That is  even though I  often visit commercial sim developments where most of the stores are empty and avatars are few and far between and seldom seen.

Key points

In reporting strong growth for the period the key points T. Linden  made  were:

* 124 Million User Hours, an increase of 42 per cent  from the same quarter last year.

* Peak concurrent users of 88,200, an increase of 33 per cent from the same quarter last year.

* 120M in user-to-user transactions, up 65 per cent from the same quarter last year.

* The Island market has stabilized, although overall square meters of resident owned land has decreased, following changes in Open Land policy.

* Gross sales on the Xstreet SL marketplace grew 23 per cent over Q4 of 2008 and 72 per cent over the same quarter last year.

If you are in that negative place and wondering to which world you should turn this Linden blog is really worth reading. Yes, for the moment anyway, Chicken Little has it wrong!

userpeakc

Second Life peak concurrency… *grin*  No voice? Got lag? Get over it.
Oldtimers will tell you it was once much worse.

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