TIME names Second Life one of the 5 worst ‘websites’

Let me say that I’ve only dipped into Second Life, and found it much as I had expected – full of potential, so far largely unfulfilled, and generally of much more interest to those with masses of time to spend learning and building in the environment. But it’s hard not to laugh at this TIME article.

Firstly – as second-lifers will be quick to point out – Second Life is not a website, but an application that runs over the net. I’m not sure why this slipped under their editing radar, particularly as one of their gripes is ‘it runs on free software you have to download’ (not software you have to download! Surely everything should come preloaded on your system and require no further effort on our part? And at least, please, can we pay for our downloads?!)

My favourite of their stated gripes is that “there are crazy people around every corner — disruptive types that spread graffiti and get in your way and throw you off your groove”. Hmm, not like the internet (or life) in general then? Roll on Second Life: Police State.

The criticism that really bugged me here is this:

Fans praise Second Life as a virtual hangout where you can meet and chat and buy sneakers and real estate (that’s fake stuff for real money) and dance and go bowling and have sex — suggesting that “virtual humans” doing “human things” online in Second Life is somehow less pathetic than, say, cooking Kaldorei spider kabobs or making magic pantaloons in World of Warcraft.

Let’s forget for a moment all the items that would presumably be included under this definition of ‘fake stuff’ – webspace… virtual (TIME) magazines… music?… but the most irritating part of this criticism is the classically retrograde suggestion that online pursuits – of any nature – are ‘pathetic’. Thanks for the flashback to the early ’90s, TIME.

As a side note, it’s interesting to note that another of their worst websites of 2007 is MySpace: which happened to be one of their ‘coolest’ websites of 2006. Their reasoning is that

It seems the community has become infested with marketers and other opportunists who create false profiles and essentially spam other users, all under the guise of “making friends.”

Yes, yes. Terrible behaviour. That never happened in the early days of MySpace, and this sort of thing never happens on other social networking sites. Good to know TIME isn’t just jumping on any (anti-)bandwagons that come along, particularly since a publishing competitor (Rupert Murdoch) took over the site (and in case you are under the impression that I’m a big MySpace fan – please read my February post about MySpace’s ‘mymoviemashup’).


  • AA says:

    Interesting entry.
    And I agree with your criticism of TIME’s critism.

    I also happen to think that SL *is* slightly on the pathetic side – perhaps very much so, probably depending on the individual expectations and SL experiences. I know that it is pathetic because *I* entered it at the lowest low in my entire life – and it’s when *I* am at my most pathetic that I visit SL. Can’t argue with that, can you? ;)

    Anyway, great post.

  • Chris Joseph says:

    Thanks a lot for your comments AA. It’s very interesting that you enter at your lowest points… I wonder does it help you get out of those states, or simply perpetuate the lows? Perhaps as John Luo suggests, there is a role for SL as a therapeutic tool…