In a post over on New World Notes, Tateru analyzes the impact of SL’s crossing the magic 1-million registered users mark. (I like the header image, by the way…that would make a nice header for some stationery, Tat.)
One part of her observation caught my eye:
You and me, we had a culture. Maybe it was a good one, and maybe it wasn’t. But it’s gone now, for better or worse. By sheer numbers, these new women and men are Second Life. They outnumber us, and they will be the ones to make or break the world. They don’t know who Aimee Weber is, or Anshe Chung, or Starax Statosky or Prokofy Neva or Torley Linden. They’ll likely never even hear the word “FIC” during the rest of their second lives. The tax protests will probably not even register as a curiosity.
OK, I myself arrived too late for the tax protests…though I later read about them. But I do know about the rest of it…and have even met Torley in person, and Prokofy’s shown up at our club for a live show. See, I didn’t come to SL to impose my idea of a “culture” on it; I came with an open mind, looking to learn about the existing culture and maybe tell other people (back on Electric Minds) about it as I did. It saddens me that I may be one of the last people to do so, if what Tat says is correct. (I arrived in May…after the January boost she mentions, but before the gates were flung wide with open registration in June.) Still, cultural change is inevitable…and perhaps my own efforts at fitting into the world will leave it changed for the better.
I come from a site that’s had its own issues with its culture, and has resisted change in the past more often than not. Yet it’s culture is not too dissimilar from SL’s…SL’s strong emphasis on IP rights, for instance, closely parallels EMinds’ “You Own Your Own Words” philosophy. Some of my fondest wishes are that I figure out how to help bridge the gap between the two worlds…make it easy for the two to talk with one another, paving the way for more Resis to become EMinders and more EMinders to go in-world. This will, no doubt, change both cultures; one may only hope that the blending will leave each stronger than before.
More interesting is her assertion (in a comment) that the SL of 2006 is very similar in feel to the Web of, say, 1996. That’s the era that Electric Minds originated in, of course…so one wonders: What will the “EMinds” of SL be? And who will start it off? Or, even more interestingly, and possibly lucratively…who will be the SL equivalent of Yahoo!, or Amazon.com, or eBay, or Netscape? Or do we even need one?
I don’t have any answers as to what’s to come (and I’m pretty sure Tateru doesn’t either). Just questions. But–like metaphysics–what fascinating questions!