She Dreams in Digital: Second Life Versus Enhanced Reality

So I received a couple more comments on the 10 Reasons to go Short on Second Life post and now I have a new line of thinking here... but first I want to make a couple of points.   Rick Schettino wrote:

"...And kids will be as deft in VR as today's kids are in MySpace or YouTube. Second Life is a whole lot more fun and adventurous than ANY "flat" entertainment centered website..."

Thinking that, because a technology is superior, that the product has more utility is certainly logical, but I don't think it's accurate.  That's the same kind of thinking that makes people think that voice chat is better than IM, and so far, voice on the web hasn't even made a dent in IM usage.  Sometimes, "old" technology has a usefulness that would disappear if upgraded.  I like that IM is just text.  I like that I can partially ignore it and still have a conversation with someone who is also partially ignoring me.  I like that I can talk to 8 people at a time on IM which I cannot mentally do on Skype.  It's not old or broken, it is what it is and it works.

Flatness is not the bottleneck in MySpace or YouTube, it's portability, relevence filtering, etc.  If I could get the people most like me or videos I love recommended to me in a better way, that's infinately more useful than a more complex 3-D profile or viewing experience.  We talk about the same thing in the avatar space.  Are there better looking avatars out there rendered in 3-D?  Absolutely.  Is that going to make people want them more?  I think the jury is still out on that, but certainly the simpleness of their avatars doesn't seem to be hurting Habbo Hotel, for example.  If I had a choice between a lightweight, portable avatar that could do more stuff, versus a heavier one that was less interactive, but 3-D and rendered in video or something else besides Flash, I think I gotta go with the little flat people... at least that's the bet that Oddcast is making. 

On more point from Rick, who I'm glad commented along with Stephanie is keeping me thinking on this.  Commenters rule!

"It's not for everyone yet, SL won't benefit a wallpaper manufacturer as much as it will an energy drink brand."

Absolutely...  and marketers need to realize that it works better for some than others.  However, I think that's one of my fundamental issues with it as a platform versus the web.  Wallpaper manufacturers can buy Google keywords and let the web work for them just as much as Coke can build out a whole music video website that has an immersive brand experience.  The web as a platform works for everyone and if you have a platform that is only going to be useful to a subset, that hinders the experience.  When I needed a replacement pen for my Toshiba tablet, I googled "Toshiba replacement tablet pen" and got paid results that I clicked through and bought.  There's nothing about 3-D that could have helped my experience.

The experience that I will certainly bet on, and the original point behind my post is that, fundamentally, I do believe in a better merging of the web and reality, but I don't think it comes from building a reality on the web... in VR.  I think it comes with assitive technology that is useable in the outside world.  I'd rather walk around in a real showroom with a pair of glasses that gives me Robocop/Terminator like product information based on what I'm looking at versus sitting at my computer walking through a virtual showroom.  VR is going to make it's way into my shades before it pulls us all further away from reality online, in my opinion.  When I'm walking down the street, and I look in a store, I should be able to say, "Do they have red socks?" and get an answer because my shades know what I'm looking at and they are connected to the store's database.  I want my shades to plot my course in reality with little assitive arrows to the nearest Jamba Juice.  That's were the web and reality get merged... not in a big constructed experience online, in my opinion.  That's where marketers can spend better dollars...    with floating coupons over there offline stores in real life targeted to me.  Of course, we're a little ways a way, but not that far. 

But that wasn't the point of my post, actually.