Futher reflections on OnRez and CSI

Wednesday evening, I wrote blog post about the OnRez Client for Second Life. I like the client and have been using it as my primary client for the past few days. It takes a little getting used, but seems to work quite nicely.

Prokofy Neva responded in the comments presenting a different opinion, and I wanted to look at some of the data and at Prokofy’s concerns. Prokofy starts off by wondering how many new people will come to Second Life. According to recent Nielsen ratings, CSI NY has around 14 million viewers. If one tenth of one percent connected to check things out, that would be around 14,000 new avatars on Second Life.

The last I saw, Second Life had just over 10 million avatars signed up, having broken into that range a couple weeks ago. However, at any given time, the number of avatars active cycles in a pretty predictable sin wave between 30,000 and 50,000 avatars online. Over the past few days, these numbers have stayed approximately the same, with no discernible effect from CSI.

The average number of avatars that have been active in the past 60 days averages around 1.5 million, plus or minus a quarter of a million. It has been staying fairly consistently below that number since shortly after school started in the fall. The CSI episode appears not to have had any significant impact there either.

On a typical day in October, the number of new avatars grows by around 20,000. From the 24th to the 25th, it grew by closer to 80,000.

Based on these numbers, I’m going to guess that around 50,000 extra people created Second Life avatars as a result of the CSI NY show. They have not all come online at once, so there haven’t been grid disruptions, and those 50,000 aren’t a big impact on the number of people connected over the past 60 days.

Prokofy is concerned that people using this new viewer are less likely to buy things based on searches of classifieds. I must admit, I’ve been on Second Life for over a year and a half, and I’ve never bought anything based on a search of classifieds. For that matter, I’m not sure if I’ve ever searched the classifieds. If anything, more of my searching is done externally using Google than in world. Perhaps I’m an anomaly, but I just don’t see it. I will note that when I do searches using the search box in OnRez, I often refine my search using the tabs on the top of the results that take you to the standard Second Life searches. In fact, since searching with OnRez seems easier than with the older client, I could easily see people doing more searches, and refining them to get to the classifieds than exists with people using the older client and going directly to the classifieds.

Instead, it looks to me as if the existing community is likely to stay the same, and the economy will stay the same. An additional group of people will come online. Some may stick around and get involved. They might even spend a few Linden’s here and there. Sure, that additional part of the economy might be slightly skewed towards companies more closely involved with Electric Sheep, but I just cannot see this as resulting in a ‘draining out of the inworld economy’.

Back in the early nineties there were lots of people concerned about allowing corporations into the Internet. Now, many years later, there are many corporate presences online. Yet this did not stop the growth of blogging, and the number of individuals creating content online has grown even more substantially. I think the same is likely to apply as we see more corporate and mainstream media interaction with Second Life.

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