The whole debacle with Facebook being nasty to people who don’t use their real name has made me think about the use of social media in Second Life and the communication tools Linden Lab has given us.
I think these can be improved and it may also remove the need for us to use Facebook at all.
At the moment most of us use Facebook or other social media to stay in touch with our Second Life contacts and communities because it is just too cumbersome to do this inworld, because it is impossible at that moment to start up the SL viewer or because the Second Life communication tools just aren’t good enough.
I use Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Hippogroups, email, Google+, Plurk, etc, etc.
Sometimes we have to talk to people in SL quickly, just a short message, we just want to look at something, read something, quickly in and out.
That is not how I would describe my SL experience.
Starting up Second Life for me means having to get my SL laptop, turn it on and start up a viewer, SL doesn’t really run on my 5 year old macbook I use for everything else and SLGo takes time and makes me use the official viewer I don’t like.
And of course once your SL viewer starts you have to wait for the world to rez, you may be bombarded by IMs from other people, get reminded of other jobs that need doing, etc.
Imagine the situation; there is a big event in 1920s Berlin and I want to make sure everyone knows about it.
I set an event on the facebook group’s calendar, I set it on the google calendar, I send a note to the group inworld, I send a message to my hippo mailing list, I stick posters all over Berlin, I send a message to group chat and finally I send a message to the region…
And all the time we’re hoping Facebook doesn’t delete our accounts.
Because replacing a Facebook account with a Facebook Page account means you lose a lot of options, including the ones we use most.
Good or bad, Facebook is the easiest and most versatile tool for us and the one we use the most, for serious important stuff but also for quick little chats, for sharing a funny 1920s themed story, event pictures, etc.
We don’t have to tell Linden Lab that, they know, they use Facebook and they have a Second Life page with more than 360.000 ‘likes’.
It would be fantastic if there would be just one place on the internet where we can do all this.
Some people think that Facebook is enough because we already use it, but because most of us use it with a different name than the one we use for our real life, we already have to log in and out when we have to switch accounts.
A while ago Linden Lab gave us mysecondlife, a good idea but not quite enough to replace all the tools I mentioned above.
For starters, I keep getting logged out by the Second Life website, which is a good security measure but not very handy if you want to use a website for social media, it is not uncommon for people to have their Facebook page online permanently.
And as the name suggests, its a very personal page, a place where you share your stories and your pictures.
But we use Social Media much more for community things, for groups activities.
There used to be something called ‘Avatars United‘, it had many of the options we need but was bought by Linden Lab, eventually shut down and incooperated into the Second Life website, but without many of the options the original version had.
What I would love to see is for Linden Lab to improve and expand the mysecondlife experience, give it more options like Facebook offers.
Make it the one stop website for all our Second Life related out-world activity.
Not just have our own page but also a page for every group we have in world, or maybe even let us build pages for groups we create outworld.
A place where we can upload all the events pictures (into separate folders), have a calendar we can use to set up events, invite all the other members of the group, share links, etc.
And who knows, maybe even have it connected to inworld groups.
Let us send messages, notecards and event announcements to groups in-and outworld via the website or the other way around.
This will allow Second Life users to stay more connected with their virtual lives even if they are not able to actually log in or if one day they lose interest in Second Life, they might still keep using the website to stay in touch with friends and who knows, this may one day make them decide to return.
It would be swell if we could abandon Facebook and Google+ and be happy using ‘Second Life Book+’ for that.
Go to the Second Life website that won’t log you off, where you can check each group to see what is going on, set events on the calendar, share pictures, see who else is online and chat with them, regardless if they are in Second Life or just online on the Second Life website, regardless if you are behind your power computer at home or on a bus using your tablet o mobile phone.
Improve the connectability and interaction between virtual reality and reality, make the barrier between Second Life and Real Life smaller.
Have you got any suggestions or ideas?
Please share them in the comments section below.
I know that a few Lindens follow my blog and are interested in hearing your opinions.
Caitlin Tobias said:
I always hoped, when LL bought Avatars United (a social network for avatars, which had all the lovely FB-like option for groups, pages, pics, events, updates, chats and so on) they would actually use the platforms software to build something for SL.
Alas, they came up with my.secondlife.com/aka : profile feed. Limited, slow loading, no options for filtering, grouping, event listing and totally missing the ‘networking’ functions.
So technically LL has this platform and its social network infrastructure, since they bought it and killed it, somewhere in their dungeon of ‘never used packages’.
I, too, resort to facebook (never knowing when the day will come they will kill my ‘fake’ acount), for all the reasons you blogged.
I do think there is a need for a social network for SL residents to join and gather and share, I am just not sure LL sees that need or maybe they just want us to be inworld and that´s it?
Indigo Mertel said:
I think Lindens know if would be beneficial to have better communication tools. See my comment at the bottom about a post I did in 2011 on this matter. I have been pushing that idea many times and some Lindens even acknowledged it would be beneficial. I don’t remember if it was Mark Kingdon or Rod Humble who commented in a tweet that a web interface had to be beneficial. IMO, it never happened because it never was high enough in their priority list
Kat Feldragonne said:
Personally, I have abandoned Facebook, for a multitude of reasons. Avatars have been leaving Facebook over the ‘real-name’ debacle and heading to all sorts of places – Google+, ASN, Ello, just to name a few. I agree, the profile feed is useless – I don’t know anyone who actually used it.
It would be nice to have something ‘like’ Facebook for SL, but unless it makes $ for LL, I just don’t see it happening. And who wants to pay for something they can get for free elsewhere?
deewells143Dee Wells said:
I wouldn’t expect anyone to have to pay beyond the advertisers. Premium accounts could view the site ad-free, of course (a premium perk with actual value? Nawww…) The features available unique to SL that could be offered, by a company arguably better able to do it than any other, is a wasted opportunity in my view. If I could host venue and event pages with live SLurls and sign into inworld chat when I just can’t start the viewer (with GIMP and Blender open with 6 Gb of files, etc.), view calendars and event information and switch between that and my profile, MP, etc., I’m seriously there. No need for an external site to get ad revenue through me. Facebook’s clear, open agenda of facilitating identity theft and encouraging stalking by insisting on as much accurate personal information as possible on our pages in the name of ‘safety’ has become the most dangerous joke on the internet. I’d hate to be a FB advertiser these days. I support a LL solution, and I hope they take the need seriously.
There has been a lot of coverage in the news about Ello today (https://ello.co). Anyway, I completely agree that the SL feed should be improved. Nobody really likes FB. FB started as a closed community at the Harvard University and from there it got really huge. Interestingly the Second Life feed is in a similar positon. They can make their social network really big and popular within the Second Life community by making it better and adding more features. They don’t even have to be innovative, they can just copy what facebook offers. In the next step they can expand to SL2. That way residents that switch to SL2 can still stay connected to SL1. Next step then High Fidelity and eventually a social network for all games and virtual worlds. This has huge potential and could make the Lindens a lot of money.
The first step however should not be adding more features, but making the feed more visible. Maybe provide a widget on the viewer log in screen and especially 3rd party viewers need to better integrate the feed into their viewers. It is amazing how good the Lindens can hide the best features and then they wonder that nobody uses them. SL Answers is another example with huge potential, but that is another story.
Danko Whitfield said:
I use Google+ Twiiter and Avatar Social Network. I gave up on Facebook entirely. Haven’t missed it. Google+ is MUCH more useful.
Indigo Mertel said:
I fully agree. Communication within SL is too cumbersome and for this reason I have been advocating a web interface since July 2011. Back then I wrote this post:
Linden Lab has the best social tool and doesn’t know it? | Fiery Red http://bit.ly/1goqkdy
Some of the things that could be done with a web interface:
* A web page as a front-end with some degree of customization for group presentation.
* A blog for group notices. Social networks should be integrated in it so that all notices can be automatically broadcasted. Of course, all new notices should be automatically delivered to group members as notices do today, but I would consider a subscription system for people who wants to receive automatic updates without being members.
* A wiki to store information, images, files.
* A forum with public and private sections. Having sections would be ideal to cover different needs in the same group, such as a private section for group officers. This could also be organized as an information stream the way Facebook or Google Plus work.
* Group owners should have the ability to make the group visible on the web.
There are thousands of special interest groups in SL. By opening them up to the web they can be very good promotional tools. Many new users don’t understand what SL is or have no idea what it is for. web groups would be a good answer to that problem.
It would also partly alleviate the load on the chat servers. Some groups relay heavily on chat to communicate with users, i.e. the Firestorm Support group being one of them. If groups had a web forum part of that traffic could be routed there.
Indigo Mertel said:
Also, think about being able to subscribe to an event and get an automatic reminder a few hours before taking place. It would be a much better way to promote events compared to what we do today.
As it is today, SL must be the only place in the world where we can’t use the power of the Internet to its full extent… 😦
Wizard Gynoid (@wizardgynoid) said:
A bunch of us are forming a community in Ello. The more people who come the better it becomes. You need the people and you need their posts to save it from being a ghost town. ello.co/wizzygynoid
rivenhomewood (@rivenhomewood) said:
One of the reasons I stopped being Director of a SecondLIfe library was because marketing and publicizing events took so much time and mental effort. A one-stop website where we could see all this might be a much better way to do it. At the very least, it would diminish amount of energy required to maintain multiple accounts, send out multiple notices, and deal with multiple accusations of spam.
Steelhead City tried doing something similar, using a social media platform who’s name I have forgotten. It quickly became just one more place where you needed to check and post. What’s needed is something robust enough to become THE place where you check and post.
Indigo Mertel said:
I agree wholeheartedly.
Mendy Emmons said:
My SL facebook account has been blocked about a week ago. Now I have to proof that my avatar is a real person by sending an ID or other official document to them. I heard of more sl friends being blocked now, as if facebook has started a witchhunt for us 😦