Dusan Writer, the founder of Metanomics, blogged a very heartfelt missive last night. You can read it here if you wish: http://dusanwriter.com/index.php/2009/10/15/the-green-light-philip-rosedales-second-life/#more-1431
I felt it was important to respond because, ONE ... no one else did at the time of my responding to it and I thought it deserved some recognition. And TWO, because I sense Dusan's ache to not loose our idealistic center.
I'd like to point out that what has made Second Life so special doesn't have to be lost as long as Linden Lab continues be a part of mending broken fences and extending themselves more to the community from within and outside their garden walls. I'm speaking here to the notion of diversity - something this blog seems to really bring home. If the lament is that rules of behavior, economics and law are changing the landscape, smothering the unique diversity in Second Life, that might be true, but I would argue that the extent of that is controllable and in the hands of the powers that be and how they enforce it.
The idea I can't get in line with though is the notion that all grids have to service the same audience, follow the same rules and goals, and that any shift to target a segment of the larger audience might be seen as ANTI-Second Life. What we should NOT do is become so enthralled with Second Life that we scorn any other cousins that grow from it. After all, wasn’t that one of the reasons Phillip Rosedale opened up the client code? We should not be afraid of these migrations and changes or the competition they bring, because they will allow the industry of virtual world/environs to expand to new audiences offering niche groups a home where none exists or clashes with others. Good competition makes businesses work harder to create a better experience FOR THEIR TARGET MARKET. This is an evitable and necessary exercise for any infant industry. Without these changes things grow stagnant and stale. If anything, these expansions should help Second life can RETAIN its openness and freedom.
For anyone who worries about Second Life’s survival due to increased competition, don’t. They will be here 20 years from now. To know this all we need to do is to look to its predecessor, Active Worlds.com, who after 14 years are still evolving and growing and enjoy a very devoted community. All of us know Linden Labs has to make money to keep the lights on and that means their business model will have to continue to change and morph to grow. No one wants to see them fail or sacrifice their core community in that process.
What is true is that Second Life will no longer be the only virtual destination of its kind. It would be unrealistic to think ANY ONE COMPANY OR GRID CAN OWN THIS. Business grids, dating grids, shopping grids, furry grids, naughty grids ... these are sprouting up as we speak and there are more than enough people in the world to give them all an opportunity to be profitable. That’s why I think the growing pains we are seeing and feeling are indeed very much in the spirit of Phillip Rosedale's dream, but on a whole other level he couldn't have foreseen back in 2002. With the ability to create our own grids we can gather those around us who share in our beliefs and dreams and as a community grow in new and exciting directions.. Embrace it and find your niche. Support it with your memberships and your purchases and watch this grow. It’s going to be exciting and wonderful ride I think.