The Decline & Fall of Our Rome

It could be argued that much as Classical Rome reached a zenith and then decayed to be a mere shadow of its former self, all civilizations must inevitably follow such a pattern. The culture changes and then what was once well known is gone and something new takes its place. A key indicator of such a fall is the decay of the society’s infrastructure. Maintenance on essential systems such as aqueducts and the vaunted Roman roads was forgotten while less civic-minded projects took the forefront. Some were wholly abandoned as the empire contracted, unable to sustain itself.

In our New Rome, Second Life, I continually see of late such evidence of a decline. The blogs and forums are redesigned to accommodate the “government” rather than the “governed.” Primary tools such as Search fail as resources are directed toward trendy Social Media platforms that give no direct benefit to the in-world experience. The leadership is fragmenting with mass layoffs, swift changing occupants in the “big chair,” and further reliance on a handful of increasingly influential long-term Residents while vast populations of volunteers are banished to continue their chosen work unassisted. And the infrastructure is in decay. Herds of Linden “Moles” have built new “shining cities on the hill” that oft remain empty while existing resources are ignored and fall apart despite the numbers of Residents that frequent them. Take, for example, the Help Island (Public) that I visited today. Consistently full (at it’s “Agent Limit” of avatars), it is nonetheless very much worse for whatever virtual wear can occur.

While this could be just a sloppy build, I suspect ‘prim drift’ of some sort. Sections of walls, parts of buildings, and other individual prims are just so slightly “off” from where they should be.

Whole elements from the Sandbox are missing, most notably ground-textured prims used to flatten the landscape are gone, leaving a patchwork of surfaces that are hard to navigate by foot.

Another example of a missing ground prim, but if you look at the bench to the far left  you’ll see that high-prim objects using age-old construction techniques are still deployed rather than feature the latest features such as sculpties. And don’t mention to me the freebies in the Noobie “shop” in the distance. They were never that good and today have almost no place outside a Second Life museum, compared to what can easily be found in most retail shops.

I felt almost bad changing the Windlight setting for a nicer picture considering how ancient and decayed Help Island has become. This is not the world I remember from some 5 years ago. This is rapidly becoming a place that archaeologists will one day look over and decide how our civilization collapsed.

Whither now our world? Has Second Life gone the way of the dial up BBS and America Online? Judging by the infrastructure, I can’t help but feel sad for what is likely another civilization in decline.

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