Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Where is everyone in SL??

A friend recently suggested that every time he's in SL, there is no one around (despite the fact that LL records approx. 444,000 logins per week, which is an average of 63,500 or so per day).
Whenever I log in, there always seems to be between 30K and 55K in-world at the same time (this is up from what... 14K in spring 2006?). Anyway, it seems like a ton of people... so where is everyone??? For those of us who have to on occasion explain things to newcomers and/or naysayers, I did simple math, and it explains things a bit.

Currently, there are 3,952 sims on SL's main grid (http://www.slmaps.com/). This means that if evenly distributed, 50,000 users would result in about 13 users per sim. There are sims/areas that attract many times that number, so the likelihood of finding more than a few green dots in any one location is small. Education builds tend not to attract 'hoi polloi.' Hence, lots of emptiness.

I am not SL's biggest apologist (there are certainly things as an educator that I wish a competitor would come along and fix), but when folks tell me, "SL is boring, " I tell them (with a smile), "So is your course website." Maybe I'm not right 100% of the time, but I've seen a lot of course sites, and looking through them is about as exciting as watching KillDisk zero out a 300GB HDD.

SL MAP: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cd/Second_Life_map.jpg

The claim of "no one is there" was put forth by Wired magazine, and a lot of journalists have continued stories along this line because it's easy to replicate the results: Go to Second Life, find no one... and find a bunch of companies pulling out en masse (as reported on APM's MarketPlace on 22JAN08). Their criticism is likely valid for the business world, which wants to put product/service ads & content in front of users. If users are mere vapors, then money spent by companies to use SL (which, all things considered, really doesn't chew up their ad budget too much I suspect) might be better used elsewhere.

Anyway - it's easy to be a critic. As an educator, I'm interested in SL not for the bazillion people I can bring to my plot of land, but what it means for the couple dozen students in my class.


J.S. Clark said...

Well put, Milos. The criticism of SL mirrors a lot of what one heard about the early web, and to some extent I wish that (commercial disenchantment) had come to pass. Imagine a commercial-free web!

However, for good or ill I suspect that the affordances of the MUVE will catch fire sooner or later. Meanwhile, the usual "Death of the 'Net: Film at 11" counterhype goes on.

Karen said...

That question comes up all the time! This is really good information to have and thank you for doing the math!

Brandon said...

I think this time the criticism is legit. I mean I have notice the ones on my friend's list that hardly go inworld. When have any of us that have been to an event with either live music or DJs with a large crowd? A few months ago during the weekends, there use to be over 80,000 people inworld. Now they are barely 50,000 - 60,000 average daily.

The problem is not SecondLife itself, but the ones that run it, Linden Labs (LL). A product is as good as the creator. I leave with this question: "How can all sorts of Sorts of social networking services can grow and prosper beyond all expectations while SecondLife is falling behind?"