One of the common criticisms hurled at Second Life is that it often appears to be deserted. "Ah, look", cries the sceptic or luddite as they see a screenshot or fly into an island. "No other people, so hardly anyone uses Second Life." The reality is, however, quite different. One of the features of Second Life is that you can zip up, and back down, to quite extreme levels of granularity using the map function. The screenshots on this page show what happens when you do.
Compression, to fit the screenshots on this blog entry, has reduced the quality a lot. Click on a screenshot to see a larger, fuller sized version.
First, the map view of Eduserv Island, the island my avatar (ringed) is currently on. You can make out the structures and buildings on it, as well as the location of my avatar (yellow ring). The green dot indicates the presence of another avatar on the island:
A few of the islands not far from Eduserv Island. The green dots indicate there aren't that many avatars around. As this area has a lot of UK-centric islands, and the expected audience are largely having their "real world" dinner at this time, not that surprising.
Now we zoom out to see some more of the islands in the neighbourhood:
The cluster of islands in the previous picture is in the top right hand corner. Eduserv Island, where my avatar still is, is highlighted. Each of the many green dots indicates an avatar; at this height, Second Life doesn't draw in new islands and focuses on the avatars:
Some way south of Eduserv Island can be seen regions of the world that are especially busy, with dense areas of avatars. The completely blue region in the bottom right is virgin "sea", as yet untouched by any island developments:
It's at the stage where we can see many thousands of avatars. The PC is finding it difficult, if not impossible, to keep the avatar map up to date and is making a high-pitched noise. And, not to forget, this is just a fraction of the overall Second Life world:
And finally, coming back down to an area of land not bounded by sea. This consists of more commercially oriented developments, and a wander through brings contact with a fair number of US people's avatars. Not surprising, as it's mid-afternoon on the east coast and lunchtime on the west:
So there you have it. Some areas with not many avatars at the time in them, and others jam-packed. But even those seemingly deserted islands and plots of lands have had "people" on them at some point to build the various structures.
Saying Second Life is unused because you're in a quiet bit is like going for a walk in Central Park, and extrapolating that New York is mostly deserted because all you see is the odd jogger. Or that because Arizona is mostly empty, so the USA must have a negligible population. Second Life is a vast, and constantly growing online world, with an uneven spread of developments and - especially - people. If you haven't come across many yet, then you haven't really explored it well.