Well, I think this is it.
With a front-page mention on Yahoo! today–one which has the Lindens scrambling to keep up with the load on the secondlife.com Web site–Second Life is probably going to hit the big 1-million-signups mark, if not today, then within the next day or so. The new user signup rate has been increasing; Tateru’s automated prediction of when the threshold would be crossed has been moving steadily backwards for the last couple of weeks, and, when I last looked, stood at October 21. The extra burst from a Yahoo! feature article ought to put it over the top.
Bad news for me; I picked November 1 as the day of the milestone in Second Life Insider‘s contest. But is it good news for SL as a whole? Best answer I can come up with: Yes and no.
Certainly, the crossover will bring SL some additional respectability in the Internet world, and likely additional corporations will want to follow the path of Sun Microsystems and Reuters onto the Grid. (Some Residents decry this development, but think about it: Even if a corporation comes into SL to compete directly with existing SL businesses, those existing businesses have a huge head start. I don’t think Clairol or anyone else could match GuRL 6 at the business of selling hair, for instance.) At the same time, the sheer volume of transactions that is taking place in-world is starting to make Congress take notice…and they may decide to sic the IRS on us. And, if that happens, state governments won’t be far behind–never mind the question of jurisdiction. (Hell, that’s a muddled question even for the Feds…if a Brit sells something to an Aussie in SL, is it any of the U.S. government’s damn business?)
On an in-world level, expect the Orientation Islands, Help Islands, and Welcome Areas to be swamped with an influx of people. An open question is whether LL newbie-assistance groups, such as the Greeters and Mentors, will be able to cope with the influs; the same goes for important non-LL groups such as NCI and The Shelter. And, since these folks aren’t likely to have a single L$ to their name (since LL shut off the Basic stipends and signup bonuses), expect an increase in panhandling, increased runs at the money trees and other newbie giveaways, and increased demand for camping chairs/dance pads/what have you. And out of all those new users, some are likely to be the griefing type…and we may see a new round of attacks as they appropriate the griefing techniques of the past and build on them. However, we will get a lot more new interesting people to talk to. (And the Gin Rummy may get more job applicants; Lord knows we could use them….)
In summary, things will probably not change much in the near term; the immediate post-1M world will be pretty much the same as it was last week. The really significant changes as a result of the increased population are likely to happen gradually, over time, such that none of us will be able to point at a single moment and say, “That’s where everything changed.” Of course, LL can cause a “flag day” at any time with their next software update…but what else is new?
But congratulations to LL and the entire community for getting this far…the first million is the hardest. 🙂
UPDATE: Well, there it is…the seven figure mark has now been officially reached, as confirmed by The Head Linden Hisself. Philip also says 50,000 or so new signups will happen today alone…which is causing the signup mechanism to creak a little bit. And some of the other consequences I thought of above are also coming to pass…
UPDATE II: I ran into Akela last night at The Shelter, and he was of the opinion that it was the news story about Reuters that put SL over the top. This would appear to be consistent with Pathfinder Linden’s report of exactly when we hit the 1-million mark (just after 8 AM SLT on the 18th), which means the Yahoo! article may not have made much of a difference when it came to hitting the mark. Meanwhile, Tateru reports that more people signed up yesterday than were actually registered at the time she joined (woah!), and, with fully 1/5 of the user base having signed up within the last two weeks, it’s creating some new challenges.