Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Farewell to Lively by Google

Google plan to drop Lively on 31 December 2008, five months after it was launched. So, if you have a Lively room, use it for a final New Year’s Eve bash, take some screenshots and say bye, bye. I guess this is the way things are on the Web: if it doesn't catch on in a couple of months then drop it like a hot potato, especially in these troubled economic times.

The demise of Lively, along with many other websites, should remind us that it is unwise to build a teaching course around a website, unless it is your own – although you can't even guarantee that your own site will always be there. One of mine went down for three weeks in 2001 when my hosting service went bankrupt. I didn’t lose anything, however, as it was all backed up on my hard disk and on CD-ROM. I have links to over 1000 sites on the three websites that I maintain. The wastage rate averages 3%-5% per month – a phenomenon known as “linkrot”. The worst offenders are government and university websites; they are forever changing.

Lively was probably not an appropriate name. No one ever visited my room unless it was pre-arranged, and I am not aware of Lively catching on in education in the same way as Second Life. Second Life educational locations are springing up like mushrooms these days, and many of them are dedicated to language learning. I ran a training course on Second Life in September, and it worked quite well. A colleague ran a course on Lively for the same participants on the same day. Participants could see more potential in using Second Life.

What I like about Second Life is that I meet someone there by chance almost every day. I maintain the EUROCALL HQ there on one of the EduNation islands, and people often just drop in for a chat - three people were there between 6 and 8 pm yesterday evening, 25 November 2008. I also take part in trivia quizzes and I go to live performances of bands, e.g. Irish groups in the Blarney Stone pub in SL, and fund-raising concerts for cancer research. I have won a bit of money by taking part in quizzes.


Howard said...

Hello Graham

Yes - it's a shame that Google has dropped Lively, there was certainly some interest in it by language educators. I recently came across (I've just written a blog post on this), which is a similar project although more based around social networking. So the field is quickly expanding and developing, even with the loss of Lively.

You are right that Second Life is a good deal more versatile than Lively. It is interesting that language teachers on your course seemed to favour SL - I see the simplicity of Lively as a real attraction (limited download and no graphics card issue), as it is easier for users to get started.

ExitReality and share this virtue with Google Lively and I am curious to see whether there will be more talk of non-SL language education projects in next year's SLanguages conference ( for readers of this comment who are not familiar with the event). I see an interesting trade-off between the complexity and the customization available in SL with the simplicity of Lively, and ExitReality.

Hope to see you in SL before too long,

Graham Davies said...

Thanks Howard!

Here is the link to Howard's blog under the heading "Lively is dead - so":