Supposedly, Australians are leaving Second Life in droves.
It seems, though, the researcher Kim MacKenzie’s words were taken out of context, and she’s fed up about the media looking for ‘Second Life is dying’ stories.
Beating the Ghost Town effect
Reading about the ghost town effect, and having experienced it myself in eery lone visits to Australian landmarks, it’s clear that Second life could have done with a few more European-style urban planners or American new urbanists on the team. They would have pointed out that endless sprawl leads not to a feeling of spaciousness but to isolation. Second Life is effectively a lesson in the pitfalls of suburban sprawl taken to its dysfunctional conclusion. To enter Second Life is the online equivalent of moving from Boston or Seattle to Phoenix, Arizona, or from London to Adelaide. It isn’t that there are no people, just that the residents are spread out over an unfeasibly large area. The ghost town effect is a direct consequence of trying to abolish the scarcity of ‘land’. The saving grace here is that it is in fact already possible to do the opposite – to recreate online the super dense urban slum, that allows maximum, if not optimum, conviviality. Second Life already contains a reconstruction of Hong Kong’s famous and no longer existing Walled City – a city quarter that was in its heyday the densest spot on earth. In SL it’s mostly empty. But In a virtual environment one can have all the benefits of density – connection, liveliness, collaboration – with none of the pitfalls – open sewers and hacked power supplies. Now all that’s needed is to lead people to that kind of space by culling the suburbs. It may seem a bit harsh for those users who prefer to camp out on their exclusive islands in splendid isolation and have no visitors, but the commercial alternative for Second Life is Second Death. Fortunately, Linden Labs is already planning to introduce zoning. It’s a start.
Linking 3D with 2D
Having said that, the real problem with all these virtual spaces is Continue reading