Last person on the region please turn the lights off.

I still am amazed at the amount of land-to-population ratio when it comes to the Second Life grid. I'm not even referring to the private estate regions, but rather the Linden mainland.

I remember seeing those television commercials for Philadelphia Cream Cheese where they loved to proclaim "ounce-for-ounce less than half the calories of butter!" However, when spreading that cream cheese over your toast or bagel, you need to spread it thick. Really thick else you won't even taste it. Thus, even though that brand of cream cheese might be less than half the calories of butter per ounce, you put three to four-times more of it onto your food, negating any benefit of "less calories". The only benefit is to spread the stuff thin. But then you can't even taste it.

It would seem the same is true with the second Life grid.

There are many who may not be genuine "newbies" in Second Life, but not yet of complete understanding with regard to the dynamics of the grid. So they will proclaim "Second Life is a ghost-town!" others will debunk it, but both are correct.

The argument against the "ghost-town" proclamation is usually about how the grid is international and that when you stand all alone listening to your own echo in an empty region it may not be the case at other times of the day. A good point to be sure.

But opening the map and looking at the pretty little green dots as compared to the virtual land mass and it is pretty easy to say "yes, you're right and that applies to about 5% of the entire grid." It's a lot like butter on toast... the users are spread thin across the grid.

Incredibly thin.

Linden Lab charges a monthly tier for mainland parcels, most of which are virtually sized between 1024 and 4096 square meters, which when looking at the map is a lot of tier. Yet 95% of the grid, and those parcels go uninhabited.

True: many of these parcel owners are likely elsewhere on the grid when in-world... a dance club; sex club; private cuddle club, shopping club or whatever. But that still could only account for about 10% of the grid. So how many of those parcels are sitting dormant where either the virtual owner is still being charged that $15 tier every month and they either don't realize it, or the account is simply in default and Linden Lab hasn't gotten around to "condemning" it and setting it for auction...or intentionally not doing so, else the map would show a helluva lot more purple than yellow or green.

Looking at the dots on the map, I would take a guess that at least 50 to 60% of those are bots, alts or otherwise "illegitimate" accounts (as far as genuine "population" numbers go).

It might explain why Linden Lab has this major push to get new users. Genuine new users, not alts and bots. A major part of that push is the new Second Life Viewer version 2, which I refer to simply as V2. Beyond that it's currently buggier than Microsoft Windows Vista - (that says a lot here, folks) - it also is highly "builder unfriendly".

MarxDudek made post at his blog where he mentions the idea that Linden Lab is slowly "corralling" the population into a highly moderated state - completely opposite of what the intent at the beginning where the grid and its activities were practically hands-off as far as LL was concerned.

I agree and have felt this was the case ever since the bank shutdowns back in 2007. Linden Lab has been actively "cleaning-up" the grid over the last year at least and is steadily pushing harder and harder in this direction and the red-light district south of the tracks called Zindra just proves it.

Whenever Linden Lab sneezes or farts or coughs, there are shrill shouts of how evil the Lab is and how they are ruining SL businesses and all that junk. Then there are the loud cries about how someone will abandon all their land, give away all their inventory, tier-down, and cancel their premium subscription and "LEAVE!"

My personal reply to any and all who proclaim this is simply: "good effing riddance, don't let the prim door hit you in the ass on the way out."

I myself have one foot outside the grid now and I am heavily leaning in that direction. And to be clear about it: I really don't care if you care. I mention that to mention this: it's not so much for anything Linden Lab is doing or not doing or their policies or anything like that. But rather because the grid is becoming more and more boring.

I have already told my friends that when I "leave" SL it won't be in some dumb-ass self-important fanfare fashion. But rather in a quiet, discreet and imperceptible fashion as possible - mostly because I believe one should never say "never". I'll just stop logging in one day. I do not have any intention of doing that right now (super-secret coded message to friends who read this and start freaking out: don't be concerned, it's not going to happen yet! I'm just closer to it today than I was yesterday kinda thing.)

Over the years (I came into the grid originally in Spring, 2006) the virtual landmass has grown exponentially in comparison to the virtual population. Add to that the idea that every two of three concurrent users is a bot or alt account and the "total population" (number of users logging-in in the last 60-days) is a laughable farce. Divide by three, at least. And it seems the empty echos have been getting a lot louder over these last few months.

Open Sim is still immature compared to the Second Life grid, but it has come a long way. There were often many shouts and rallying cries to "dump Second Life" and join-up on the open-sim grids. Those irrational evangelists have mostly fallen silent (thank you because the noise was beginning to be really annoying).

However, how many people are simply logging into the grid less and less to the point where they just don't feel the urge anymore? Quaintly Tuquiri has mentioned that her current connection issues are preventing her from spending much time on the grid at all of late. And she states clearly that she doesn't "miss" it.

She also mentions that when she does login she tends to sit idle... no exploring, no chit-chat with old friends (who also seem to never be around any more,) no shopping...

Her epiphany: "why?"

And I agree. I now login when I need to: to handle customer care, run some numbers and names to the business team members, answer questions and that's about it. I login mostly when I need to get something done. Once the task is completed, I might idle around for a few minutes, but if nothing grabs my attention then logout again. I don't like sitting dormant.

I have an iPad 3G coming soon (3G versions aren't shipping, yet) and I don't own an iPhone or iPod Touch, but already have purchased software that will make it less necessary to use any SL Viewer. It is an iPad App that will allow me to login to Second Life (from anywhere with the iPad 3G as it were) at any time and be able to chat in IM, pay money, send inventory and all the rest. All for three bucks. Combine this App with the V2 "building experience" and the grid boredom and I am left to ask "what reason is there to log into the grid At all?"

So, how long does it take before interesting play becomes boring work?
For me, just about four years it seems.

[art: Ein Provinzler]