Thursday, 9 April 2009

Virtual Worlds are stuck in 1994 at the moment

I've worked it out. Multi-User Virtual Worlds, or MUVEs, which include the ubiquitous Second Life, are stuck in 1994.
How so?
When the Internet was born (OK - a little earlier - but normal people started to get interested in 1994 and take it out of geekdom), there was a lot of hype and we all thought 'I have to go on that new Interweb type thing and the world will be my online oyster'.
So we went online. And then thought, 'what now?'
We maybe went to a chat room.
Or a forum.
We looked at Yahoo! and browsed their directory to see newspapers from Wallamaloo or wherever.
And then thought 'now what?'
Well it's the same with Second Life. You go online. And then what? Your friends aren't online.  Where do you go? So you enter a search term to find a place on a subject that interests you, such as, for example, 'sustainability'. And you go to a very pretty virtual office/showroom for an organisation, with no one there, but a couple of small hard-to-read virtual posters explaining what they do.
And that's it!
You can fly. OK. Big deal.  I've tried going to London - Knightsbridge to be in fact (it looks nothing like London- it looks like the kind of London someone from Arizona would design if they'd never seen a photo of London nor been there).  No one there. Well, there was briefly, but she just carried on running by... so what is the etiquette? Do I run alongside and say 'hello'?
It might not take as long to reach critical mass as it has for the internet, but it's going to still take a looonng time.
Meanwhile, I'm going to carry on and see if I can find out where the 73000 other simultaneous users are hiding.  If you know, please post a comment and let me know.