The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Second Life == Gopher of Virtual Worlds?

Eric Schonfeld interviews Phillip Rosedale of Second Life for TechCrunch asking “Will browser-based virtual worlds challenge the client-based Second Life?” Rosedale on video has no fears; SL will prevail. But commentors on the article are less sure.

For my part, I was there at the Fortune conference when Rosedale claimed from the stage that SL was simpler to operate than moving a mouse and clicking on a web page. I may have misheard, but I didn’t mis-see when I watched Vint Cerf’s jaw drop in concert with my own.

Rosedale was on stage with Joi Ito and Larry Lessig and their response to “2018: Life on the Net” was very different — a whole world apart from SL — which made the whole digression even odder and somewhat out of context. Perhaps Rosedale was on message from marketing as others including Eric are noticing.

Office is safe from Google Docs, err no. Neither is SL safe from a more agile competitor unless SL too becomes agile and in fact lighter on the client side. We still may be waiting on that competitor.

One wag in our office says “Second Life is the Gopher of virtual worlds; it looks so good because there is so little else to look at.” That will not remain true; there is no doubt a WWW for virtual worlds out there.

On other Second Life fronts, I went to visit the ibiblio homestead on SL today. It was gone. We must have had a subsubsubsubprime morgage the invisible second hand of SL economics moved swiftly and our building was no more.


  1. “gopher of virtual words” is a funny image, because there was a TurboGopher VR:

    The Power Mac-only TurboGopher VR, from the University of Minnesota Gopher Team, is best described as the unholy marriage of Spectre (the 3D tank game from Velocity Development) and TurboGopher. Actually, I think TurboGopher VR is extremely cool — whenever you enter a new Gopher menu, TurboGopher VR drops you with a thud into a Spectre-like three-dimensional scene containing what look a bit like stone monoliths littering the countryside. Roll up to one and you can read its title (the same as you’d see in one of TurboGopher’s normal text lists) and click on it to go into it.

    and if you chase the people in this project forward in time you get Open Croquet:

    which would be a plausible “www for virtual worlds”.

  2. Yes, that whole moving a mouse and clicking thing really has held back the growth of the web. It’s much easier to figure out how to sit on a sphere and interact with a tool menu overlay full of random icons. Sorry about the loss of the homestead, you were probably sitting on some property that has been bought for one of those trendy mixed-use developments.

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