Interactive Media

Kapor on Second Life

3pointd presents his very comprehensive notes and outline of (Linden Labs board member and IT pioneer) Mitch Kapor’s talk on Second Life at the Second Life Community convention. There is some really fascinating talk contained within – about innovation, about paradigm shifts, about disruptive technologies.

“Today’s skepticism about Second Life, and I hear this not in this room or in the 40,000 people a day who are logging on, but in the next concentric circle of people reading Business Week, is that this is not for regular people. ‘I’d never use this.’ It reminds me of other things I’ve heard people say. In 1995 I was showing people Amazon, and they would say I will never put my credit card information on the Internet. Well, we got over that one.”

“It’s all about imagination. When people say, I just don’t know what I’d use it for, the gap between their imagination about what they might do and their perception of what goes on isn’t sufficiently close.”

“Two things are happening. There’s an enormous explosion of new stuff going on in Second Life. The number of possibilities becoming real on a daily basis is exploding and expanding, and the kind of knowledge and understanding people have of it is also growing dramatically. So, ‘this is not for regular people,’ that’s going to go away. It only looks like it’s not going to go away to some people. So my experience says, in the battle between faith and skepticism on these kinds of things, you don’t have to take on faith that faith is going to win. There’s lots of good empirical evidence from past waves to give you confidence that the early stage that we’re in now is in fact an early stage and we’re going to see maturation, growth and further change.”

“One thing that’s very important to keep in mind is something called Macromyopia. For people who are inside a new phenomenon like Second Life, we tend to overestimate the short-term effects. We think more great things are going to happen sooner than they typically do. Conversely, we underestimate the long-term impact. People are not especially good at forecasting this. What I would say is, certain situations that may be problematic in the short term may well take longer than anyone would like to fully resolve. On the other hand, it’s very diffcult to fully grasp and imagine what the long-term impact of Second Life and things like it are going to be. We have to stretch to think about that.”

“In particular, in the short term, right now there’s still a chasm between the power users and the clueless newbies. Those are slightly provcative terms, they’re not the best, it is just a fact, there’s still a significant number of people who come in, try it and leave. It’s not ready for prime time. I don’t believe it’s going to change overnight. It’s going to change in stages. It’s hard to know how long it’s going to take, and how long before it’s mainstream. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not next year, but it’s coming.”