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In trying to quantify the impact of a new content type on the Second Life grid, it’s necessary to look at both the statistical data, as well as getting an impression of things ‘on the ground’, in-world.

It’s now four weeks since Second Life’s Mesh features went live with Viewer 3, and while it would be good to get a few more months’ worth of data, it appears that the new Mesh content type has had less impact on the Second Life grid than any other new content type that I can recall. In fact, it seems statistically insignificant.

Certainly the introduction of flexi-prims, and particularly sculpties (spatial displacement maps) had a far more significant and immediate effect on the Second Life ecosystem, at least from where I’m sitting. Compared to the new mesh objects, arbitrary sculpties are more difficult and arcane to create, generally requiring similar tools to mesh objects, but with very restrictive and particular constraints.

Now yes, there’s definitely mesh content being created and sold. There’s no question of that. I’ve not seen any of it first-hand yet – but then Viewer 3 simply won’t work properly on my system (apparently due to deficiencies in the viewer’s GPU table which seems to fail to correctly support my recently-purchased 2009/10-era video card; though there are some signs that someone’s started to look at that table and correct some of the more egregious issues with it). However some mesh content is definitely out there and there are a few viewers which support it.

Is Mesh bringing the higher levels of user-activity, economic activity, new-users and returning previously-lapsed users that previous new content types did? Not that I can see anywhere. In fact, if it wasn’t for the announcement, you’d never know from the available numbers that Mesh had happened at all. It’s the first real statistical non-event that I’ve seen in the figures for a new content type.

Which is surprising. Mesh didn’t deploy alone. There’s a variety of other interesting bits-and-bobs that piggybacked along, from physics changes to nifty new scripting features. You’d expect to see some noticeable trends, either positive or negative, differing from the status quo.

Oh, I’m sure Mesh will become more prevalent over time. In three years or so, we’ll probably not really remember much what it was like when Mesh content wasn’t a normal part of things. However, this month; this time; this year, it seems that Mesh doesn’t represent a part of core-engagement for Second Life users (current or would-be). Their interests, it appears, lie in other areas.

Update: For an alternative point of view, check out Nalates Urriah’s take.

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