A couple of weeks ago I posted an entry (reLink) regarding Clay Shirky’s rant about the fuzzy numbers being thrown about by both the mainstream media and Linden Lab. While I wasn’t clear about it then, my feeling about his rant was – or should have been – evident in my focus on his example for why something like the “metaverse” will always be the great idea that never materializes (pun intended). It was good to have the hype called out at that level, but the manner and tone of the piece seemed all wrong to me.
There’s a curious rift between people like Shirky (including many of the Terra Nova regulars) and the critical but apparently more objective people like myself (along with other equally critical voices like Tony Walsh, Mark Wallace, and Peter Ludlow). Curious because this can’t be about those fuzzy numbers, since the people now going toe-to-toe with Shirky on the Terra Nova forum (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3) are the same people who, like me, have been complaining for months about those same numbers. There’s something else going on.
I may not fully understand what it is that’s driving someone like Shirky to be so passionate in this matter that he goes off and makes the very mistake he accuses the media of making (i.e. not bothering to do his own research and thus sticking his own foot in his mouth), but I do get the impression that the conversations that should be happening are being trampled on by whatever biases are held by these people. It almost seems as if they don’t want a virtual world/metaverse; they want games or maybe, in Shirky’s case, they want vindication of some sort. Considering that many of them are involved in development, this does make some sense to me, because what Second Life also represents is giving up Control… which I suspect more than a few of them don’t care to relinquish. Personally, I’m happy to side with the Salon des RefusÃ©s.