I’ve been playing around with Second LIfe. In short it’s a 3D world similar to that of Everquest or World of Warcraft except there is no game. It’s a meeting point for people to build a virtual world and interact in whatever way they see fit. In that way it’s a lot more similar to Gibson’s original concept of Cyberspace or Stevenson’s Metaverse than anything currently around at the moment.
That said it’s actually really not all that impressive so far. Most of the people who create things there seem to do it with the express intention of selling their work to each other. That coupled with the fact that there has been virtually no-one else in the areas I’ve explored while I’ve been there has meant it is somewhat of a disapointment. However it really is just starting out and as more artists perform there (concerts, etc) and more online meetings are held there it can only get better (the graphics and downloaded client application could do with being a lot better as well).
It really does have the potential to grow into something very interesting over the longer term. Perhaps it will fulfill the old hype about virtual reality by the time there is widespread access via headsets and haptics.
Anyway, that coupled with a conversation I had reciently has lead me ot think about the continuing move (for some of us) into the online world. Since the internet is very quickly soaking up all forms of media some of us are content with having less and less “real” things in our lives. A quick think got me this break-down of “things” that I own:
Transport related things (eg car)
Food related things (preperation and storage)
Containers (bags, boxes)
Pet related things (also include plants)
Washing related things (surprisingly large given food, clothes and self)
Toys (boardgames, etc)
Ornaments (and pictures)
Media acquisition and playback (cameras, home electronics)
Media (and furniture storage of same)
Look around where you live – what percentage of “things” you own makes up each of those categories (plus whole classifications I’m sure I have missed out)? Now consider the impact to the amount of stuff you personally own as each of those sections is impacted by the move online (starting with the consolidation / elimination of the last two to be replaced by one interface and media that is just “out there”).
Starting the obvious gains no points but we certainly are going to be living in interesting times over the coming decades as the amount of “stuff” that some of us owns drops considerably…