EuroOSCON: Jim Purbrick – Second Life

User Creation. Very big thing. User creation tends to be quite low: Less than 10% of people that read the web create content for it. As difficulty of user creation goes up, so participation goes down.

More people in Second Life contribute than any other platform, but small numbers in absolute terms. Users growing 10% per month, and level of 60% participation is constant.

But just geeks? Community is older, ave age 32. Gender neutral by hours of use. Women and older residents demonstrate greater skills conversion than 18 yr old boys.

Just doing it for money? No, a lot of people do it just because they can.

Nearly all trivial? Yes, but you have to start somewhere.

Nearly all bad? Sturgeon’s Law Applies – 90% of stuff is crap. But ok, stuff isn’t always good, but it might be useful to that person. Creation is an end in itself. People just like to make stuff.

Why participate?
Instant Gratification? If you want to get people to participate they want to get results quickly, see the results, get rid of furstration. SL is not completely free of frustration, but you can make stuff pretty quickly. To make complex or pretty stuff takes time, but easy to hack simple stuff.

Always On Creation. There’s no ‘edit mode’, it’s always on. You can make stuff all the time. People are at parties they are still tinkering at the same time.

Collaborative creation. Can use sandboxes to make stuff, 24/7/365 Maker Fair. You can go and see what people are doing, ask them about it.

Culture of teaching. Ivory Tower of Primatives – how to make stuff. Easy to share and distribute. Unlike with some systems you have to build and then make a conscious effort to distribute it, but there’s little friction because if you mark something freely copiable, then people can just take a copy of it.

Creation engine. Used to think it’s like a bulldozer, but it’s more about the people – being able to communicate, hang out, and be able to participate. That’s what’s important, not the tools.

Another interesting thing – we are potentially coming to a turning point. People have created this vibrant world, so real world companies and organisations are coming into Second Life, e.g. American Apparel. Can buy t-shirts for your avatar and for your real life person. Also Creative Commons are in there.

So what will happen? Will the commercial companies come in and ruin it? Or will it maintain an open scouce feel? Probably will be a mixture. But everything in SL can be open sourced in the way that real things can’t, e.g. you can’t copy a real chair, but you can do that with a SL chair.