I had a "fika" (a chat over coffee or tea) with Rita Raley at Wayne's Coffee yesterday afternoon, and she was kind enough to discuss my dissertation with me. We talked about aspects that would be possible to explore with Second Life as a reference, and meandered into a discussion about where Second Life as a platform was heading. Both of us saw an increasingly seamless integration with the Internet and Web 2.0 features as a likely developement.
This is a development that has already begun and in my opinion the seamlessness is likely to increase, both because this is sought-after by many SL residents, but also because of the Linden Lab aim to become a major operating system as Joe Miller, Linden’s vice president, puts it in an Infoworld article: "a vehicle for social interactions, commerce, and entertainment that amounts to a new kind of 'operating system'" (Infoworld).
Interestingly enough I read Mark Wallace's blog entry Next Gen Web Integration in Virtual Worlds earlier today and it points in exactly the same direction. A similar, and perhaps broader discussion, was initiated by Bryan Alexander in his blogpost Towards Third Life.