So far I've managed to avoid getting sucked in by Twitter (I spend enough time blogging, let alone twittering) but finally decided to take at look the 3D virtual world, Secondlife. I know I should have just listened to Matt... there was curious interest at first, but that quickly turned to, well, boredom.
Yes, I can see the potential for virtual events. marketing, meetings, tourism, even virtual product development and perhaps e-commerce. However, the graphics and the overall experience still need to get a whole lot better - if you've played a games console lately, then this isn't an unreasonable expectation. But other than that, as a 3D chat room Secondlife gets a bit tedious. It also makes for a terrible 3D information discovery space.
Of course, adding support for voice might make a difference - but I wonder how people are going to match what they sound like, to how they look?
And its not just Matt and me who think Secondlife lacks that spark. Google around and you'll find people like Alan Graham, who on the ZDNet blogs previously commented:
"I really want to like Second Life. Alternate reality is something I've dreamt of since I read my first Philip K. Dick book when I was a teenager. But it currently lacks an emotional quality, and that keeps me disconnected from it."
(Actually, if you're looking for fiction in this space, check out Feersum Endjinn by Iain Banks)
Of course, these aren't the only virtual worlds in town - the Virtual World's Review site is currently on hold, but lists 28 different virtual worlds catalogued between 2003 and 2006. Don't forget World of Warcraft either. More recent developments include IMVU or MyMiniLife, I can see why others would prefer these over something like Secondlife as at least there appears to be stronger social networking link back to the real world.
Still, we should keep an eye on where Secondlife and these other virtual worlds are going. BTW the Secondlife research blog looks like it could be a great resource for tracking developments in this space.