The Internet has been the venue for many experiments that asked what would happen if some source of friction was reduced or eliminated. For example, eBay allows many millions of buyers to get stuff they want, and many millions of sellers to unload stuff they don’t want. And Google has made high-quality information available to anyone. There are many more examples of technologies that have completely changed how we do things.
On the other hand, there are examples where nothing fundamental changed as a result of the new technology. Voice over IP comes to mind. Sure, VoIP squeezed the cost out of phone calls, but have people dramatically increased the amount of phone calls they make?
Now that we’ve put 3D spatial voice technology into Second Life, I am thinking about what this will let people do, or do more easily. One idea that came to mind was standup comedy. Think about it.
This is the perfect venue. Standing up in front of a crowd to crack jokes is a high-risk endeavor! Second Life provides a way to lower the risk. You don’t have to put yourself physically in front of a drinking crowd that may be hostile. It’s just your avatar. If it doesn’t work, you can teleport out of there without wearing egg (or worse) on your face.
But until now, there has been a lot of friction. You had to set up a podcast, get permission from a landowner to tie it to an object in-world, pick a time to tie it to the object, and get people to come by at that moment. And this is only half of the solution because the people could not talk back, but were restricted to typing.
I am sure it must have occurred, but I do not know of any stand up comedy acts in-world.
The integrated voice capability eliminates the whole podcast tied to streaming audio object, landowner permission, and need for a fixed schedule. It also lets the audience talk back.
If virtual standup comics start appearing online, it will be a classic case of people using something when the friction is eliminated. If some people use it, then that attracts other people. Eventually, a virtuous cycle begins. The Internet makes it possible to find a group of people who are ready for the same activity at the same time. And you can join them, without having to travel.