There’s an excellent piece in the Hollywood Reporter at the moment by Andrew Wallenstein that looks at media companies’ growing interest in Second Life and other virtual worlds. Wallenstein has done a great job gathering a range of perspectives and dispenses with the usual lurid descriptions of what’s going on in SL. In fact, his description of the service is one of the best I’ve ever read: “Imagine the premise of 1999’s “The Matrix,” which presented a computer-generated 3-D alternate universe where humans could interact, filtered through the bizarre sensibility of “Alice in Wonderland” and rendered with the graphics of “Grand Theft Auto,” and you’ll end up with something like Second Life.” Spot on. More importantly, Wallenstein talks to a couple of analysts who have very balanced and sensible things to say about the potential of Second Life for media companies and others. We’ve talked on SecondCast before about the fact that much of the value of launching in Second Life is in the print headlines you garner, not the in-world eyeballs you reach. JupiterResearch vp and senior analyst David Card feels similarly: “There’s definitely buzz and quite a bit of growth, but it’s still a relatively small platform,” he tells Wallenstein. “So many companies are getting in now, but at some point the PR value will wear off, and these things will have to pay off on how many people are being reached.” Any way you slice these things, this is recommended reading.