I recently went to the taping of an in world television show called Designing Worlds. The studio was packed tightly and the only seats free were for tinies. The lag was so bad that one of the panelist has to log out and relog because after leaving to rebake her skirt she was unable to get back into the sim. It was technically not a full sim because there were less than 100 avatar there, but the number was great enough that many were afraid to move, fearing that they would crash.

The reason things were so packed for this show was that the topic of discussion was “Where Next for Second Life?” After the round of lay-offs which prompted the creation of this memorial cemetery of departed Linden, many residents of Second Life(r) are wondering about the future of the virtual world that we have all become so fond of. The business that was at one. time Phillip Linden’s spoilt first born has become Cinderella to efforts to create a Second Life(r) for businesses. (which I heralded with surprise in this post)

Some of the panelist also worried about the talk of a browser based viewer for SL. Some were against it because the computing ability necessary to create and enjoy certain aspects of a virtual world are totally missing from current web browsers. Others saw it as a way to introduce new potential users to the benefits of a virtual world that could be gained by downloading a fuller version, which would not be browser based. One panelist, Ignatius Onomatopoeia, is a university professor and is working with his students in SL. He made a point to mention that many younger people do not want and can hardly afford the computing and bandwidth drain of running a high level viewer because they are on laptops and using the university wi-fi services. (I second that motion as I type this message on my laptop using the university wi-fi) He hoped that having a browser based viewer would be a goal in the future as an option for those who simply want to enjoy the virtual world, while still having the option to use a more computing intensive downloadable version  for content creators in world.

At the end of the show, the hostess asked for suggestions about what the future of SL should be. One hoped to see a future where residents would stop speculating and whining when Linden Labs(r) does any little thing. (Never going to happen) Another suggested SL be given to the residents. (Talk about killing a virtual world quickly!) Yet another suggested that Linden Labs(r) would be bought out buy Google. (No comment) I made no suggestions because I don’t think I could have come up with any better, but I do hope that Second Life(r) will continue for a long time and the community of residents continues to flourish.