As you’re probably aware, Linden Lab progressively abandoned various interoperability efforts that it was participating in. Some of which it started. I can guess why, and I think the Lab has things the wrong way around.

The obvious answer, of course, is that a lack of interoperability with other platforms keeps people in, and the Lab really wants to keep a critical mass (and ideally an expanding one) of users within the service.

However, alternatives exist, and if alternatives exist, they will inevitably be used.

There are any number of reasons why someone might switch to an alternative.

The Rule Of The Sandbox is: If you want to play in someone else’s sandbox, you must abide by their rules.

If you don’t want to do that, there’s always another sandbox or you can create your own with whatever rules you please. It’s very egalitarian that way.

For some, Linden Lab’s rules may be too loose. For others too strict. Yet others might prefer that they were simply different somehow.

As alternatives become more prevalent, it’s inevitable that some people will choose to make use of them; to go play in another sandbox.

If the conditions suit them better, they’ll become increasingly attached to their account there. It becomes their ‘main’, and their account on the Second Life grid becomes increasingly viewed as an ‘alt’.

Many folks can’t run two viewers at once, and the time to log out from one service and log in on another with an alternative account… well, it takes time.

The barrier to interoperability works both ways. People whose primary use of virtual environments happen elsewhere are increasingly disinclined to go through the extra steps to log into Second Life. Median concurrency is declining, and though it is for a number of complex reasons, this situation is probably an important factor.

If a user on an alternative service could jump into Second Life as easily as teleporting to another sim, and arrive in one familiar piece (or at least the same number of pieces that they departed in), then it would be easy for them to jump back into Second Life to visit friends, to play a game, to go to an event or party or a concert.

Fast. Easy. Fun.

I don’t think that the lack of interoperability is keeping people in, so much as it is presenting a barrier to people coming back and spending time in Second Life on things that might appeal to them.

And I could be dead wrong. Do you think so? Speak up!

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