I’ve been sitting on this thought for ages. I have to get it out.
I’m of the opinion that what’s stopping Second Life (SL) moving from the ‘game realm‘ to the ‘useful business platform realm‘ is a four letter word – TEXT
Simply put, SL needs to integrate text in-world.
The only talk for ages has been about voice integration. Fair enough. Voice could help. But really, those who care to can already partake in a voice experience while being ‘present’ in SL – it’s called Skype, or Yahoo Voice or any other existing voip platform. Many, many people already use voice over IM while interacting with virtual avatars in-world. I’ve done it. And here’s a thought. What effect on grid stability will integrating voice have.
Back to text – words. Currently the only way to get words into SL that aren’t transient (like twitter), and to stay there as part of the landscape, is to put them on an image and upload the image as a texture. Any changes means a new texture, another upload. Besides that cumbersome process, providing a way for others to interact with text in-world is hopeless. And in fact it’s not interacting with text, it’s interacting with images of text. Even a simple in-world guest book is a save card, open card, edit card, save card, copy card process.
For any of the businesses investing money into a presence in SL to be anything but a ‘presence’ will take easy interaction and collaboration. And the historical base to real business has been, and I think will continue to be, the written word.
Yes, there’s a lot of two-way interaction between in-world and the web. Certainly the membrane that exists in that space is a semi-permeable one. I’ve done my fair share of punching holes in that membrane. But as an individual interacting in SL I have found the lack of easily putting words into the fabric of SL a hurdle. I can only imagine that business has found it similarly a problem to moving forward in engaging the waiting, ‘captive‘, 3D population existing in-world in a meaningful way.
It was the web, and particularly hypertext that blew the internet open. Imagine a web browser in SL that works like a browser and you can write to and others can walk up and contribute to as well, or even just read it – while others look on. It’s that kind of thing I mean.
Bring hypertext to SL. The flexibility and power of links – links that link to each other in-world, not just in->out or slurls that link out->in.
To make the Second Life experience a truly immersive one, immerse hypertext.