Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Meet me in Second Life

I’m back in beautiful green Seattle. I enjoyed LA, but there’s no place like home.

I caught up on some reading on the plane home. One article in particular really sparked my imagination. The cover story from the May 1st edition of Businessweek is about virtual worlds and online communities. No, that's not me in the picture. It's the author of the article in Businessweek. Now, this isn’t like the virtual worlds promised in the mid 90’s where you would be totally immersed in a computer generated 3D environment. Nor is it like the Matrix movies. The article focuses on the “game” Second Life, although it’s more of a virtual world than a game. Here’s a quote from the article,

“After all my travels around Second Life, it's becoming apparent that virtual worlds, most of all this one, tap into something very powerful: the talent and hard work of everyone inside. Residents spend a quarter of the time they're logged in, a total of nearly 23,000 hours a day, creating things that become part of the world, available to everyone else. It would take a paid 4,100-person software team to do all that, says Linden Lab. Assuming those programmers make about $100,000 a year, that would be $410 million worth of free work over a year…

Whether or not their more fantastic possibilities pan out, it seems abundantly clear that virtual worlds offer a way of testing new ideas like this more freely than ever.”

Robert D. Hof
Business Week, May 1, 2006

What strikes me most of all about this story is the possibility of extending our conventional ideas of collaboration. We think of phone calls, e-mails, instant messaging, and face-to-face meetings all as methods of collaboration. Most recently we have blogs, podcasts and MySpace as methods of connecting with other people around the planet. These latest methods of communication are only now beginning to be seen as legitimate tools for business. Blogs are springing up so fast that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 million of them now, with millions more coming online every month.

But Second Life is something different. It is a place. Sure it’s a virtual place, but it is still a place where people can meet and collaborate. They can play, build, share, buy and sell. What about training? What about meetings online, instead of webex? Everyone’s avatar (online virtual self) meets in Second Life rather than on the phone and browser.

Maybe that’s a stretch right now, but I think this is where we’re headed. What do you think?


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