Over on PDF, Micah cites a Shirky article about Second Life. Shirky has extremely wise things to say about the shocking absence of long-term memory when it comes to innovation and hype in the tech sector.
But let’s not drink the non-Kool Aid Kool Aid too quickly. Second Life is not only being watched by MSM, it’s being embraced by brick-n-mortar providers and while they all may just be trying to catch a trend before it happens, the behavior of these arms of the establishment is worth noting because it indicates an evolving relationship between consumers and the market.
See Micah’s PDF post for more.
And here’s Shirky:

So here’s my question — how many return users are there? … At a guess, Second Life churn measured in the ordinary way is in excess of 85%, with a surge of new users being driven in by the amount of press the service is getting. The wider the Recently Logged In reporting window is, the bigger the bulge of recently-arrived-but-never-to-return users that gets counted in the overall numbers.
I suspect Second Life is largely a “Try Me” virus, where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited. …

Most reporters don’t remember that anyone has ever wrongly predicted a bright future for immersive worlds or flythrough 3D spaces in the past, so they have no skepticism triggered by the historical failure of things like LambdaMOO or VRML. Instead, they hear of a marvelous thing — A virtual world! Where you have an avatar that travels around! And talks to other avatars! — which they then see with their very own eyes. How cool is that? You’d have to be a pretty crotchety old skeptic not to want to believe. I bet few of those reporters ever go back. …