In an indication that I am perhaps not paying as much attention to this blog as I used to, I completely overlooked the fact that the post before last was our 700th, and thus missed the chance to do one of our traditional century-celebrating pieces. In lieu of that I’ve gone back and marked all the previous ton-up posts with a special “Century” tag, which hopefully will remind me to write something more notable when number 800 rolls around, which, at my current pace, should be sometime in 2025.

Six hundred

Before we unveil the new, reinvigorated, Second Life Shrink, we should note that this is our six-hundredth post. The latest century has taken us a little under two years, much faster than the last one, but not as quick as we were back in our heyday.

According to the ever-informative WordPress statistics page, the 599 pieces preceding this one have contained a total of 176,801 words. If one believes the advice given to would-be writers on the internet, that would equate to roughly two novels. I will leave it to you, dear readers, to decide if the contents of this blog are adequate compensation for those potential masterpieces that the world will now never see…

Five Hundred

Today is Groundhog Day, which seems like a good excuse to revisit a topic we’ve covered four times previously; the centenary marker.

Post #100 appeared in December 2008, about 20 months after SLS started. I was still quite enchanted by Second Life back then, and must have spent a lot of time on the grid, judging by the long pieces I wrote about the things I came across during my wanderings.

Post #200 came at the end of 2009, and was our first “Year in Review” piece, which has gone on to become an annual tradition. I was still writing a lot about SL, though my focus had moved on from simple travelogues to consideration of the politics of the metaverse, and in-depth psychology. The year also saw some fine commentary on SL culture from our erstwhile art correspondent Olivia, which were among the most popular pieces we ever published.

Post #300 came after another 12 months, and prompted me, rather hubristically, to offer my opinions on the art of blogging; I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to judge their lasting value. Second Life was still my most frequent topic, and during this period I penned our most-read post of all time, on SL demographics , but, over the course of 2010, our drift towards more general cultural subjects became increasingly evident.

Our ever-dwindling audience had to wait nearly three years to see post #400, during which time our virtual-world coverage waned almost to zero, replaced by my political and historical musings, along with a possibly excessive amount of personal nostalgia, no doubt reflecting my growing preoccupation with the relentless passage of time.

And now here we are at post #500, our slowest century yet, at over four years. I was never the most productive of bloggers, even during our heyday of 2009/10, but I have to admit that our slowdown over the past half-decade has periodically made me wonder whether it is worth continuing with this project, especially since we have undeniably strayed far from our original mission statement.

Yet I keep going. Partly this is due to my somewhat obsessive attachment to keeping the ten year run of at-least-one-a-month posts unbroken, but mostly it’s because, in my humble opinion, there is still an occasional gem to be found in amongst all the dross.

Onward to post #600 then, which, if current trends hold true, you can expect around 2023…


So here we are at post number 400. Looking back over the six and a half years it has taken us to get this far, I can’t avoid noticing that we have strayed somewhat from the purpose we outlined in our very first post:

My intention is … to wander around the likes of Second Life and report back on what I find, enlightening readers with erudite comments on the interaction that occurs there.

Regular readers will recall that the main reason for our recent lack of SL-related content is that my desktop computer is far too ancient to run the current iteration of the viewer. It’s about 18 months since I resolved to get a new(er) box, but I haven’t got around to it yet, partly because I’m too cheap to buy a brand new machine, and too lazy to order and fit the parts to upgrade my old one, but mostly because I never actually use my desktop these days, as my IT needs are all satisfied by my smartphone, from the comfort of my couch.

I had been waiting for Linden Lab to release an iPhone viewer, but there were no signs that was ever going to happen, so last week I finally lost patience, bought myself a cheap Android tablet, installed TPV Lumiya, and got myself back on the grid:


This set up is less than perfect; although Lumiya does have a fairly decent 3D mode the draw distance isn’t great, and it tends to slow down alarmingly if there are more than a couple of other people about. It’s hard to go to specific places too, since it isn’t possible to type in coordinates directly; instead one has to acquire and click on an SLURL via the web, which is a bit of a hassle. (Of course I haven’t bothered to RTFM, so there might be an easier way to get around; if anyone knows, please enlighten me.)

Nevertheless we are, potentially, back in the virtual world business; look out for some SL updates in the weeks ahead, before my attention inevitably wanders…


This is our 300th post; it’s taken a little under a year for us to make it from 200, just about as long as it took for our second century, but a good bit faster than our first ton. I’ve been responsible for the vast majority of these posts; at about 250 words a go that’s the equivalent of a fair-sized novel.

Has it all been worthwhile? I’d struggle to say that the world would be a poorer place without the benefit of my bon mots, but I fancy that there may have been an occasional felicitous phrase that brought a smile to the face of one reader or another.

I have no doubt though that the principal beneficiary of all this literary endeavour has been me. There was an interesting article in the Guardian this week, which examined the therapeutic potential of blogging, for those who have experienced life-threatening illness or other trauma. I have never had to face such a trial, thankfully, but I do find that the discipline of composing a regular column is a powerful antidote to the anomie of day-to-day life.

Anyway, I reckon that persevering for this long qualifies me as some sort of blogging guru, so I feel that I should be sharing the benefits of my wisdom with my less-experienced fellows.

What have I learned about the art of blogging? Precious little if I’m honest, but here are a few pointers:

200 not out

With pleasing synchronicity we have reached post #200 just as the year is drawing to a close, which seems like a good excuse to review the last 12 months in the intellectual hothouse that is Second Life Shrink.

We managed to knock off our second century in about half the time it took us to get to our first 100, which either means we are getting the hang of this blogging lark, or, more likely, we have too much time on our hands. (Or I have at least; Olivia is more of a low-frequency/high-quality correspondent.)

Our top ten posts by views over the past year were:

  1. Zombie Epidemiology
  2. No man is an island
  3. Greenies may have invaded some time ago, we hear
  4. Why we hate and fear the BBC
  5. The killer awoke before dawn
  6. Less than zero
  7. Nothing to do with your Vorsprung durch Technik
  8. Nietzsche work if you can get it
  9. Just to clarify…
  10. Liberté, Egalité, Virtualité

Our traffic generally has maintained a mostly upward trend, and while we did have a relatively quiet spell over the summer we’ve been busy again since the autumn, and this December has been our best month ever. The zombie post is top because we got a link from the popular Undead Report, the one-stop shop for post-apocalyptic survival advice. (The Australian guy who runs it seems to take the prospect of civilisation being overrun by the living dead a little too seriously, and sometimes I worry that the “zombie” thing is a euphemism, and what’s he’s really getting ready for is some kind of Charles Manson-style race war or something, though I’m sure it’s all perfectly innocent, and he’s just really into zombie-killing.) We don’t get many direct links from other blogs; this is something I’m going to try to work on. Most of our hits come via searches, with a small but growing proportion from Twitter, FriendFeed and similar social networking sites, something else I’ll try to expand in the new year.

My personal favourites among this year’s posts, in no particular order, are:

These posts reflect what for me is the main attraction of blogging about SL; the ability to casually apply heavyweight intellectual scrutiny to an essentially trivial subject. I would be reluctant to offer a Marxist or psychoanlytical analysis of some real-world situation without a lot of research and thought, but I feel free to write about virtual topics more spontaneously, since if anyone pulls me up for sounding ridiculous, I can excuse myself by pointing out that the whole idea of taking the metaverse so seriously is in itself rather absurd.

So what can readers look forward to in the new year? More of the same essentially. We will try to make good on our promise of an increased level of general cultural commentary, but the next couple of months are likely to be dominated by my quest to foment social revolution in Second Life. Whether that will be of interest to anyone other than myself remains to be seen.

Anyhow, I’m just heading off to usher out 2009 in the company of some old friends, so I’ll finish by saying Happy New Year to one and all, and may it find you healthy and prosperous.

Ton up

After just short of 20 months of work on this site I’ve reached post #100, prompting me to check on how I compare with the average blogger in terms of prolificness and longevity.

My posting rate of 5 per month is pretty poor, judging by Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, which says that the mean for active bloggers is 10 posts per month. I have got up to speed recently, managing 31 posts in the last three months, after a particularly fallow period in the summer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a drop in my productivity over January though; I’m never particularly motivated about anything in the middle of the winter.

The same report gives the figure of 3 years for the average blogging tenure, though 51% of bloggers are onto at least their second blog, so the lifespan of individual blogs must be a bit less. I’d guess that the average is made up of a few long-standing examples, and many more brief experiments, so I feel I’ve done quite well to last this long.

Googling all this stuff has opened my eyes to the whole industry that exists just to write about blogging, producing articles in mainstream publications like Businessweek and Forbes, dedicated sites like The Blog Herald, and countless individual blogs on the subject, not to mention the blog indexing services like Technorati and Icerocket. It gives the impression that the business of blogging is thriving, but, much like the economic picture in Second Life, when you look at the actual figures it doesn’t appear so rosy. The Technorati report reveals that even the top 10% (by revenue) of blogs bring in an average of only $19000 a year, and even that figure is skewed by a few high earning sites.

Not that my traffic is anything like heavy enough to sustain any dreams I might have about becoming a professional blogger. It is up a lot since I started tagging my posts, but I’ve more or less accepted that Second Life Shrink will forever be a niche product.

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