Second Life: All you need is an open mind

If you want to really understand all sides of the story about Second Life as a business platform – the genuine potential as well as the current drawbacks – a series of in-depth feature articles published last week by CIO Insight magazine is where you definitely should go.

Under the umbrella heading of Is Business Ready For Virtual Worlds?, technology editor David Carr has done an excellent job in presenting a broad and balanced picture of Second Life that, when you’ve read the articles, will leave you wiser as well as with better understanding of why Second Life attracts evangelists and skeptics in equal measure.

Carr’s umbrella addresses these topics:

  • Second Life: Is Business Ready For Virtual Worlds?
    Real-world companies such as American Apparel, IBM, Starwood Hotels and Toyota are exploring whether 3D virtual communities can be adapted to serve business–and whether they are an effective place to do market research, collaborate on projects, and sell goods and services.
  • Second Life Insiders
    Philip Rosedale, founder of Second Life, is a pioneer in the development of streaming media technology.
  • Virtual Growing Pains
    When Linden Lab outlined a growth path for Second Life, it found that getting everyone on the same virtual page wasn’t easy.
  • The Anatomy of Second Life
    A look at how the virtual world works.
  • Tapping into Virtual Marketing
    Starwood Hotels demonstrates a relatively low-cost market research experiment in a new Internet medium.

I make no secret that I firmly believe virtual communities like Second Life present significant opportunities for companies and other organizations in myriad ways.

Once you understand more about what’s possible and balance it with what’s not yet possible, you will be able to make sounder judgments on whether a place like Second Life is for you and your organization.

Either way, it’s a place you need to pay attention to, no better said than this text from Carr’s main feature:

[…] And if this really is the start of something big, those companies that explore the technology now may be in a better position later, much like the first companies to grasp the importance of the Web in the early 1990s back when it was an immature technology trickling out of academia. Sandy Kearney, director of the virtual worlds program at IBM, says the transition is coming, and “you may not have as much time as you had with the Web” to adjust to its impact.

[…] “Based on the history of the Internet, we think this is a stabilizing period for the 3D Web,” Kearney says. A true 3D Web would have to be based on open technologies, with some means of passing between virtual worlds hosted by different organizations. And just as new types of businesses were born on the Web, new businesses will be created around the 3D Web, she says. “But right now it’s very early, and the technology is very, very young.”

Keep an open mind.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Colby

    Nev, thanks for a real overview of the issues for business and how to create value with SL. We’ve been exploring setting up an island for our Sustainable Futures Foundation to create a parallel world with a difference set of experiences and yet a reflection of investment for clients and donors. This will help us have more relevant discussions about what needs attention.

    How’s Crayon doing in there? Any surprises?

  2. neville

    Glad you find this helpful, Colby. A tremendous idea re an island for the foundation. I’ll keep an eye out for it but do let me know when it happens.

    Lots happening on the crayon front. Why not join us for a chat any Thursday at 1pm GMT at crayonville Island?

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