ellie <3 libraries

sooooo much!

Going where our users are? April 11, 2008

Filed under: Staff Development,Web 2.0 — ellie @ 8:17 pm
Tags: ,

I was at the College of DuPage teleconference today, Trends, Fads or Folly: Spotting the Library Trends that really Matter. It was mostly a Second Life sales pitch and I got myself so worked up that I decided to do some research and number crunching.

Before I rant though I’d like to qualify my tirade by saying that I think some organizations are doing amazing things with Second Life, my own college being one of them. I’m very hopeful that we’re going to open up at least a portion of our island to some of our programming students to use as a sandbox. With that caveat however, I offer the following statistics: (All Second Life stats from their key metrics excel file.)

  • World Population: 6,660,687,784 (from census.gov)
  • US Population: 303,831,195 (from census.gov)
  • Registered Second Life Users as of February 2008: 12,671,638
  • Number of Active Users: 526,915
  • Active US Avatar Count: 182,698
  • Registered Premium Second Life Users as of February 2008: 91,531

If every one of those registered users was actively using Second Life (which we know isn’t true) and was located in the US (also not true), that would be 4% of Americans on Second Life.

But only 35% of Registered Second Life Users are in the US. Thats about 4,435,073. Which is 1.5% of Americans. And only 182,698 of those are active users. That’s .06% of Americans. Not even one tenth of a percent. And we haven’t even discussed what percentage of those are companies or people with multiple accounts…

Well it’s what the kids are doing, right? Actually the 25-34 and 35-44 both out number the 13-24 and even the 45 and older spend more time in Second Life than the young’ns. Note that the teens make up less than 1% of all users.

And please note that most of this is talking about registered users, not actual active, habitual users. For more on the difference read Clay Shirky’s explanation. In short:

“There‚Äôs nothing wrong with a service that appeals to tens of thousands of people, but in a billion-person internet, that population is also a rounding error. If most of the people who try Second Life bail (and they do), we should adopt a considerably more skeptical attitude about proclamations that the oft-delayed Virtual Worlds revolution has now arrived.”


2 Responses to “Going where our users are?”

  1. Amanda Says:

    Thanks for posting this. A bunch of our staff watched this video presentation today (I hesitate to call it a teleconference since it’s pretty one-way) and felt the same way about Second Life. We felt the title and description of the presentation was particularly misleading. I personally am about to give up on these “Soaring to Excellence” things because they are also too long – seems they could cover what really needs to be covered in an hour or less.

  2. Ellie K. Says:

    Hi Ellie! Greetings from another Ellie on WordPress. I used to be a minor library worker. In 2003, I was a circulation asst using CARL DBMS app for Broward Cnty FL branch library. However, my little bro is only a few courses away from finishing an MLS at U of Alabama.

    I like your blog a lot. I even forward links to bro to read. This post I’m commenting on is very old, about Second Life. I actually like Second Life a lot, but agree that the business and education applications got over-hyped. It was absurd for countries to have embassies (Sweden maybe), a Reuters-Thomson newsbureau, etc. But I think many felt that if they didn’t get into it early on, they’d miss out, get left behind.

    The usage statistics are very misleading, as you inferred. I go into Second Life several times a week, mostly to walk around and meet people from other countries and practice my foreign language skills (not much other opportunity to speak French or Chinese where I live now, in Arizona!) I also like to find interesting clothing, like a period costume of Anne of Cleves outfit from her portrait for King Henry, or sari’s, or cheongsam, or Victorian bustle gowns. I’ve gone to several dozen structured events, ranging from presentations by NASA scientists, or university math profs, a few very good artists, a Holocaust survivor lecture, two authors (one was William Gibson), a magic show, and some historical re-enactments that were a lot more fun than Renfaire because I didn’t get muddy and could participate in battles as competently as the guys can, unlike the real world!

    Ironically, there are now other “virtual worlds” that are proving much more accessible to business, for purposes such as more participative, and inexpensive, videoconference events and meetings, recruiting and interview screening for distant students, etc. Same for educational institutions, in a variety contexts. Reaction Grid, maybe Blue Mars, those are some of the alternatives to Second Life.

    Anyway, I really like your blog! I’ve been subscribed to you for most of the two months since I started doing a wordpress blog. You post a lot of content that’s interesting to me even though I have an only marginal interest in library since-related matters. I’m actually a healthcare statistician/ economist, and you post about a lot of good stuff.

    Hope your read comment pages for your 2008 pages!

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