Turn On The News

My blistering critique of the Second Life Herald obviously hit a nerve with its publishers, as less than a week later they have (re-)re-branded themselves as the Alphaville Herald and promised to eschew the tittle-tattle of Second Life in favour of consideration of serious issues in the wider metaverse.

Second Life Insider went down the same route more than a year ago, reinventing itself as Massively, again with a remit to cover all virtual worlds, though they seem to mostly concentrate on World of Warcraft.

There used to be five online publications that I read for news on Second Life – but now the Herald and the Insider have changed focus, and Reuters SL and the Ava Star have folded, leaving only New World Notes soldiering on (and lately they seem to have been running a lot of puff pieces about their business partners). There are still scores, if not hundreds, of individual bloggers documenting the grid of course – blogs I read at least semi-regularly include SL on SL, Gwyn’s Home, Metaversally Speaking and Your2ndPlace – but the scaling down of organised news-gathering specific to Second Life suggests to me that there is less confidence around about the platform’s future as a significant cultural phenomenon.

It might go the way of crop-circles; they were everywhere, now you never hear of them.

2 Responses to Turn On The News

  1. As a point of historical interest, the notion of expanding the remit of the Herald had been on the virtual table for at least a couple of months. And I doubt there’ll be any eschewing of the prurient and the profane in Second Life šŸ˜‰

    With a Second Life paper, magazine, or blog, focusing on Second Life is fine, especially if you have a narrow remit. But at some point you have to make a decision about (a) what you want to be and (b) whether you want to make money at it.

    If you want to make money, here’s you challenge: how many folks are there in the Second Life universe? How many read the SL press (whatever that may be?) And how many advertisers are prepared to sppend money targeting that market?

    Unless your definition of “news” is very broad (for example, big “news” this weekend was the surprise wedding of Mimmi Boa after a fashion show), finding substantive copy is tough.

    One of the general issues with “news,” in both real life and Second, it that for 99.9% of the time, life is dull, mundane, trivial, and simply not interesting. After all, “drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” And there are certainly dull things that need to be cut out of Second Life existence.

    Take a peek at many of the blogs dedicated to Second Life and you’ll read about how Cutiepie Wishmaker bought a divine new scarf that matches her awesome Armidi jacket, and how her boyfriend, Lovemuscle Hunkeyman, is such a sweetie and loves to take her dancing at Frank’s. Honestly, how interesting is that?

    So it’s something of a natural evolution for an SL paper to become more metaversal. My last article for SLentrepreneur Magazine was on a paper by a Law Professor on Virtual Crime, and I’m currently working on another on Intellectual Property theft – both of which are applicable across worlds. I suspect “SLentrepreneur” may morph into something like “VWentrepreneur” or “Virtual World Business,” simply to snag a larger audience.

    The blogosphere is, as you suggest, probably the “truest” representation of a Second Life popular press, but it is stunningly fragmented and idiosyncratic. And in truth, there’s no way to read them all! I use Google alerts to snag news from Second Life and Virtual Worlds and I end up with around 100-150 per DAY in my box! If I were a full-time correspondent in SL, maybe, just maybe, I could select the best and blog about them, but as a full time dweller of real life and a part-time writer in SL, it’s just impossible.

    Ah well, just a few comments from a regular reader. It’s late and I have spent most of the evening on SL stuff – without needing to actually go in-world!

  2. secondlifeshrink says:

    What I’d like to read about more is the virtual world experience as seen from a non-western viewpoint – particularly from Korea or China, where they seem to take it very seriously. There has been a lot published in the psychology literature about the pathological aspects of internet use in these countries, but not so much about the experience of non-addicted users. From what I can tell there seems to be more emphasis on the real-life social aspects of the metaverse, with people getting together in internet cafes to go online rather than sitting alone in their houses. It’s certainly viewed as a potential social and health problem by the Korean government, with a special department of the health ministry dedicated to treating virtual world addicts.

    The Herald should look for a Korean correspondant if it doesn’t have one already.

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