Found out some disappointing news yesterday–the NEH Digital Startup Grant that we wrote to fund the literary role-playing game Thoughtcrime was not approved. I was optimistic that it would go through, given the very positive feedback our team received after the first submission. In any case, we’ll have to wait until a better opportunity comes around–perhaps another grant, or another platform (rather than Second Life). I’ll admit my own enthusiasm about Second Life has been tempered lately. The more I read about wild-eyed businesses developing presences in Second Life only to attract a paucity of visitors (say 1200 over two or three months), the more I think that SL has been well, a little overhyped. And then there’s the challenge of schools actually being able to use the application–Second Life requires a high-end graphics card and a lot of bandwidth, putting it out of reach for most schools.

Second Life is also considered part of the Web 2.0 revolution, since it involves user-created content and social networking. But the real thrust of 2.0 applications, I think, is the idea that anyone can use them, not just those with the latest computers and high-speed connections.

Not to sound like sour grapes here. I am still fascinated by the possibilities of representing a literary work in an immersive, multi-user environment. And I still plan on talking about Second Life at NCTE 2007. But for now, we’ll keep looking, waiting, as is nearly always the case with technology applications, for the next big thing to come along.