Linden Labs: What Will Second Life Look Like in 2020?

Second_Life_Logo I started using Second Life in the fall of 2006.  I was a pretty heavy user in 2007 and some of 2008.  I was experimenting during that period to understand how businesses could use Second Life to help connect remote employees and improve collaboration capabilities of teams.  At some point in 2008 I came to the realization that Second Life and other virtual worlds could do this, but business and IT leaders were not ready to accept the technology.  In addition, mainstream users were not ready for the cultural and behavioral change necessary to adopt the technology.  So I basically stopped my experimenting in 2008. 

I do go back into Second Life every once in a while to visit and I continue to follow the overall trend of virtual worlds.

Today I visited the Second Life blog to see what’s up for 2010.  There’s a great (somewhat long) post from M Linden (Mark Kingdon, CEO, Linden Lab) from Jan 3, 2010 titled Happy New Year!  Looking Back…Looking Ahead that covers where Second Life has come from, what was accomplished in 2009 and what is planned for 2010.

What Will Second Life Look Like in 2020?  But what caught my eye in the post was a section where Linden looks ahead to 2020.  The view posted is, of course, biased towards Second Life…however, it does provide an interesting perspective on where virtual worlds are heading over the next decade.  Here’s a summary of M Linden’s thoughts on what Second Life might look like by 2020.

  1. Everyone has an avatar. Avatars have the ability to travel across virtual worlds, maintaining their unique identity (and inventory) as they go.
  2. Second Life is galactic.  Linden predicts a massive influx of new Residents allowing Second Life to grow 10x from 2009 levels.
  3. SLHD blurs the distinction between real and virtual.  Get ready for Second Life in High Definition where we not only see and hear virtually, but we feel things and smell things.
  4. We are able to explore the edge of possibility.  Innovations in Visualization, Display Technology, Augmented Reality, etc. will allow you to immerse yourself into virtual worlds in new ways.
  5. The walls come down early in the second decade. New APIs make Second Life a natural, practical extension and enhancement of everyday life. 
  6. The Second Life economy becomes meaningful among real world economies. The Second Life economy continues its high double-digit growth.
  7. Second Life becomes a standard in business, education and government.  SL becomes a preferred collaboration, simulation and learning tool to connect with customers, suppliers and employees all over the world.

For all the detail, check out the post Happy New Year!  Looking Back…Looking Ahead.  For the user responses, Linden has set up a discussion forum “What do you envision for SL in 2010 and over the next decade?.  The discussion is very active as people weigh in on what is Second Life should be doing. 

For more detail on M Linden you can see M Linden’s Nov 2009 Interview with the BBC