Why Second Life Will Replace The Internet
Now, I know that is a bold statement, and perhaps I should qualify it by saying that I think Second Life will not exactly replace the Internet, but it will become the Internet.
The first reason is that Second Life is the very definition of a rich-media experience over the net. It does what Flash has failed to do. Also it facilitates the rapid transfer of information between people in a 3D space, allowing new forms of work relationships and business lifestyles to happen. I for one have been aware of Second Life for a while, and I have been participating for a while. It has it's problems, the lag can be a killer, and sometimes the way things render prevents privacy in one's apartment, etc… but in many ways it is everything that we are trying to get to with the net. It is a community in the true sense of the word, but a lot of that has to do with the people who are in Second Life, and the strict policy of tolerance held by Linden Labs. These are the things that make Second Life what it is, not really the technology. The technology is cool, but it isn't what makes me want to use it. I love the simple scripting model, and the ability to use accessible software like Poser to create avatars, clothing, etc… the behavior model is excellent. Once they get the 3D audio thing down, having conferences in Second Life will become more reasonable than video conferencing. Plus how cool would it be to put on your business suit with a couple of clicks for a meeting, and then seconds later teleport into the club with your club clothes on?
The interesting thing to watch will be if Second Life can hold up with mainstream success. The internet as a whole has actually had only limited mainstream acceptance. Sure in some major cities it seems like it is ubiquitous, but for most Americans, they only see the Internet as a way to manage their Netflix queue, watch some funny videos, and search for information. That is only a fraction of what the Internet is and will be. Even with the cool AJAX and Web 2.0 stuff out there, the net isn't even close to realizing what it could be. The goal, in my perception, of the net is to level the worlds markets, remove racial stereotypes from communication, and to share information quickly and without restrictions. Recently much of those goals have been set back because of anti-terrorist legislation, but I think that we will get back to them. Second Life does all of these things. It enables a new type of commerce, and a new type of worker. Hopefully now that so many big companies are investing, albeit on a small scale in Second Life, some of the ideas that I have and I'm sure they have will start to manifest themselves.
Some of what they really need right now are probably some help with latency, servers, security, 3D audio, and 3D imaging. But if some of the heavyweights in these fields start to carry on in there, these things will be taken care of quickly. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Second Life. I'll see you all in world!