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I often say that 18-year-old Second Life has many lessons which newer metaverse platforms would be wise to learn from, and it would appear that the BBC agrees! Yesterday, in an article titled Zuckerberg’s metaverse: Lessons from Second Life, reporter Joe Tidy wrote:
It has been about 10 years since I first entered the virtual world of Second Life, arguably the internet’s first attempt at what every tech giant is now racing to build: the so-called metaverse.
The term metaverse was coined in the 1990s in a science-fiction novel, Snow Crash, where it served as a virtual-reality successor to the internet, where people live large portions of their lives in virtual environments.
Second Life peaked in the late 2000s with millions of users and hundreds of excitable headlines about people devoting hours of their daily lives to live digitally.
Since then, I assumed it had died a slow and quiet death. But how wrong I was.
One of the people he met in-world was Rei:
Our avatars bumped into each other after teleporting to a seaside world modelled on a strange rundown 1960s Scottish fishing village. He told me he had been spending time in Second Life for about four months after “getting curious about all this metaverse stuff”.
Rei is not a fan of Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse. “They’ll want to control everything. But I think the people should be in charge and it should be fully open,” he told me.
The entire article is well worth a read, especially if you are not familiar with Second Life and its history. SL’s massive marketplace where avatars can buy and sell user-generated content are just one of the reasons why Second Life is still so popular (in fact, many newer social VR platforms such as VRChat and Rec Room are hard at work at building their own in-world marketplaces!).
There are indeed many lessons which the newer social VR platforms (such as Meta’s Horizon Worlds, still in closed beta testing two years after it was first announced) can learn from the both the successes and the scandals of Second Life’s 18-year history. Joe ends his article:
Back in Second Life, I asked Rei one last question before I logged off: why does he keep coming back?
He answered: “I like to dream with my eyes”.
So, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you—if you have never done so, or even if you haven’t been in SL for a long time—to come pay us a visit! You might be surprised by what you find. Second Life still is a vibrant place, 18 years after its founding, with tens of thousands of concurrent users in the virtual world at any time of the day or night.
Thanks to Neobela for the heads up!