Snow Crash, which features a virtual environment, the Metaverse, so like a super-version of Second Life that I'm almost certain the designers of SL must have been inspired by the book. And reading about it reminded me just how seriously people were taking this online virtual reality environment a few years ago - yet now Second Life appears to have dropped off the radar.
When I first started blogging in the Nature Network, that august publication was arranging seminars in Second Life, companies were holding meetings in it, and people were making fortunes selling Second Life wares. I thought the whole concept of meeting up in a tacky virtual environment was crazy - surely video was far better - yet the media and many big companies were convinced that the hip audience would flock to this kind of thing. But now it's all gone rather quiet.
I've never bothered with Second Life myself, and a straw poll on Facebook got me no response from anyone who uses it seriously, but from what I've read by those who do still frequent it, the main section of the Second Life world has become like a ghost-town after the makers set up an adults only continent - apparently that's still very lively, but obviously its dubious attractions are not why all those big names of science, technology and business were setting up SL presences - and their idea clearly has fallen apart.
I can't say I'm sad - it always seemed more a collective delusion than a sensible way forward. I'd love to hear from anyone who was an SL fan or involved in corporate use of it, like that at Nature. Do let us know the whys and wherefores - and whether you still think it was a good idea.