Get A (Second) Life

I’ve watched with some interest over the past several months how Second Life has emerged from literally nowhere and done a serious leap to the top of the hype curve. You knew it was only a matter of time before it reached the inevitable overexposure stage. Reuters opens an office in Second Life as it closes real world bureaus. PR firms announce they are opening offices there and starting to scope out opportunities for clients to interact with media, partners and customers in Second Life. Countless entrepreneurs and VCs talk about how there are real money-making opportunities there. Linden Labs hires a PR firm to promote SL. It got better. BusinessWeek wrote about how IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano is big into Second Life. The Boston Globe puts it on the front page of its Living/Arts section. The New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, et al. follow the herd. Essentially all the major media outlets follow suit, writing about the wildfire that Second Life has become. Or has it?

 

While I scratch and then shake my head and readily admit that “I just don’t get it” and acknowledge that I don’t have time for my First Life, much less a Second, the mainstream media continue to pour it on. Second Life became this year’s weblog. It will be bigger than Netscape or Google or YouTube.

Now the first interesting controversy for SL arises this week. NYU professor Clay Shirky takes the mainstream media to task for blindly accepting Linden Labs’ figures for how many “registered” vs. “active” Second Lifers are out there. He says that the business press has become “a zombie army of unpaid flacks” because no one has challenged the claims that Second Life now has about two million registered users. I don’t really care one way or another, but do think this all makes for some good theater at year-end. I do wonder how Linden Labs will respond to Shirky’s attack. I also think about how long it will take before Second Life appears on the “What’s Not” side of the “What’s Hot/What’s Not” lists in the coming months. Finally, I wonder what will take its place. What do you think is next on the horizon for the big stories of 2007?

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