Clay Shirky, Beth Coleman, and Henry Jenkins have decided to coordinate simultaneous blog posts discussing Second Life.
Clay's post on Many-to-Many, entitled Second Life, Games, and Virtual Worlds, addresses two questions: "Will Second Life become a platform for a significant online population? And, second, what can Second Life tell us about the future of virtual worlds generally?" No, it's not an SL-bashing piece. Not in the least. What it is is a thoughtful, lengthy exploration of the questions he poses. His conclusion? That the promise of immersive virtual worlds will not be met with today's technologies, and that "as a result, games will continue to dominate the list of well-populated environments for the foreseeable future, rendering ineffectual the category of virtual worlds, and, critically, many of the predictions being attached thereunto."
Henry's post, A Second Look at Second Life, responds directly to some of Clay's previous criticisms of SL press coverage, but shifts the focus: "I care only a little bit about the future of virtual worlds. I care a great deal about the future of participatory culture. And for the moment, the debate about and the hype surrounding SL is keeping alive the idea that we might design and inhabit our own worlds and construct our own culture. That's something worth defending."
Unfortunately, Beth's post has yet to make its appearance on her site, but I'll update this post once it does.
The posts are intended to be the beginning of a coordinated conversation. According to Henry, "After corresponding with Shirky and with my colleague Beth Coleman, it was decided that we would offer some new statements about this controversy across our three blogs today and respond to each other's posts in about a week's time. We also agreed that we would post links to the other posts through our sites which would help readers navigate between the various positions." I'll certainly be watching this interchange with interest.