CLAY SHIRKY — I got a pre-launch demo of Second Life, straight from Mitch Kapor and the Second Life team, several years ago at PC Forum, so I'm well aware of Mitch's bullishness on the subject. Mitch has done more to advance the state of the world through better technology than I ever will, but neither my admiration nor awe for him is enough to make me suspend my own judgment, and on this subject, I think Mitch is wrong.
More to the point, my contention is not that Linden Labs, the Benchmark Capital portfolio company which runs Second Life, is lying, but that they are happily tolerating unsupportable claims on their behalf made by the press. Note that the core of the piece is reasons why reporters, not LL employees, are treating the story with undue credulity.
Rosedale has been admirably direct in some forums, but quite content to have the "1.x million" figure quoted in others. I'd take LL's bona fides more seriously if they'd pull the Total Accounts number from the login page, and shrink the recently logged in window to 30 days, but these changes, as unlikely as they are, still don't begin to get at the real number, nowhere reported on or derivable from their stats page, which is return users.
As for the in-world experience, and especially the technological support for this sort of thing, you are reading something into the article that is not there. I am not a skeptic of the _technological_ success of SL, but of its social success. WoW long ago proved that the tech scales to many passionate users; the difficulty is in creating many passionate users.
As for pulling my punches because "there are lots of people involved", there are a lot _more_ people on the receiving end of the current hype, and they are the ones I'm concerned with. LL employees can take care of themselves; my audience is the people hearing only that there are millions of people using SL; they haven't been getting their USRDA of skepticism.