Daniel Terdiman, CNET’s Second Life reporter, covers Clay Shirky’s campaign to clarify Second Life’s dubious traffic numbers — number in two in my list of reasons why I won’t be building an island there anytime soon. Terdiman gets a thumbs up for some objective reporting — he was one of the reporters called out for misreporting the “resident” number reported by 2L. The NYT went off the deep end earlier this week, but I’m too lazy to site the sloppy reporting.
David Kirkpatrick at Fortune also took time to explain himself under the Shirky critique, conceding “The product is unusable by most casual users.”
“We’re being asked to believe that this is the future of the Internet,” said Clay Shirky, a writer and professor at New York University’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, referring to the grandiose hype surrounding Second Life and its cultural significance.”If you’re being told that something is the future of the Internet and the arguments are based on the incredible popularity, the first thing you want to understand is how popular it is,” Shirky added.
As of Wednesday, Linden Lab reported that there were 2,325,015 “residents” of Second Life. The company defines each of those as representing “a uniquely named avatar with the right to log in to Second Life, trade currency and visit the community pages.”
Here’s the problem: that total does not equate to what is commonly considered by most Web or online businesses as “active users,” in large part because many people who sign up for Second Life try it once and never come back, and because individuals can have as many as five different avatars, each of which would count as a “resident.”