Second Life in the media is a strange beast. When it comes to technology sites people talk about “Second Life, is that still around?” and people talk about how Second Life was a thing, but no longer is, even though it is still very much around.
When it comes to what people do in Second Life, especially in the arts, it’s a different story. These articles talk about Second Life as a thing and don’t talk about how there’s nothing to do there.
These differences came to my mind as I was reading an article by Kembrew Mcleod over at Prairie Pop : Bibbe Hansen’s rebellious history and dynamic legacy.
The article is about Bibbe Hansen, mother of Beck and Channing Hansen but it’s in the final, almost throwaway paragraph, that we read about Second Life :
Nowadays Bibbe Hansen is a member of Second Life, a performance art group that exists in the online world of Second Life. There, her avatar Bibbe Oh can be seen playing virtual sound collage concerts culled from Fluxus audio sources (though she also does live performances, most recently with Lydia Lunch in New York City).
Which causes me to have a “Wait … what?” moment. However it’s the way that there’s no negative comments about Second Life in the article that really stands out.
Bibbe Hansen being in Second Life is not news I’ve discovered, Hamlet Au over at New World Notes interviewed Bibbe back in 2011 : Meet Bibbe: The Artist Who Created Art With Andy Warhol And Now Creates Art In SL :
“My son got me a small plot of [SL] land and a studio to work in,” Bibbe tells me. She means Channing Hansen, who’s also an established artist, and not her other son, who you may have heard of. Because, you see, Bibbe is also the mother of Beck, the pop art rock star.
The contrast between Second Life articles is striking in how the medium is viewed. Technology articles don’t seem as keen on Second Life as artistic articles.
This is odd in many ways though because how technology is used is what really makes it powerful. Spreadsheets and games helped home computers grow. Games are more exciting than spreadsheets of course, but people still respect the spreadsheet’s influence.
Art is a great medium, a long standing one and virtual reality will embrace art, but will technology articles take such a negative attitude to virtual reality as they do to Second Life? Will people ignore the use cases that work well as we move forward?
Ultimately I doubt it, because Second Life has laid a lot of groundwork for virtual reality to move forward, a marketplace being a glaring example, but it is interesting to compare and contrast how Second Life is viewed by different parts of the media.