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’s 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.”