Second Life, the “brilliant metaverse” that achieved its 4 millionth signup earlier this week, will soon have voice communication possibilities, according to an announcement made by Joe Linden on the Official Linden Lab Blog. Now, Prokofy Neva of SL Herald asks (as the devil’s advocate here for some) if voice features are really needed in SL. She (“he”) says:

We all know who “needs” voice. The Lindens do, first of all. They need it because they want to be like There, WoW, X-Box, and whatever else is out there that either has voice right in the client or uses voice services more routinely than Second Life. They also want to sound like they are really Business-Ready and Business-Savvy and nothing says “Business” like “A Conference Call”. But when Second Life turns out to be nothing more than a conference call, will it be as cool?

And we all know who doesn’t need voice — the deaf, the transgendered, the shy, the insecure, the old, the foreign. That is, all the people who have Second Lives unlike their first lives — and we’re about to find out just how many of us there are like that.

Prokofy Neva casts her (“his”) doubts about the voice feature being “Vox Populi” (Voice of people) or “His Master’s Voice”. I myself have some very different concerns and in fact, don’t feel interested with all these voice stuff. I have been asking just one thing since the very first day I joined Second Life:

“Do you pay a rent for the land you own in real life? So what the f*** is this tier payments thing?” If you believe it’s a kind of “real estate tax”, then come to think of it again and answer this: Do you know any country with a real estate tax which doubles the price you paid for the property in less than a year? Is there a 210 % payment for the land you own, anywhere on this earth?

You don’t own land in SL, you actually just rent it. And if you fail to pay your rents (a.k.a. “Tier Payments“) you lose your land completely, without a refund of the amount you paid when you purchased it.

So I really don’t care about “voice feature” or anything that sound “innovative” for some, unless something is done about this unfair system. Almost everything about land (from the unfair, inflated land prices to the tier payments) is connected to a kind of “robbery” in SL, that’s all. Now you can have and enjoy your “voice” if you have the right to “speak” against this “Tiers for fears“.

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The Lindens’ announcement that they’re going to add voice to Second Life will likely be met with mixed responses.
In the typical upbeat LL fashion, the Blob tells us that “many” residents wanted to have voice, but in fact this isn’t something we can determine accurately that “most” wanted. Those who truly need voice within SL tend to use Skype, Shoutcast servers, Ventrillo, etc. already. But having it Always On will pose problems for significant numbers.
It’s a sad day when a virtual world, which is supposed to be special, which is supposed to have a magic circle even if it isn’t a game, which is supposed to be about freedom and creativity, makes you do something against your will. There will be many, many others more anonymous than me who will keep typing and therefore endlessly invite suspicion and speculation.
Check out the Features Voting Tool and it tells the story about “Voice” in Second Life.

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