God has a second life

September 3, 2007 at 3:00 am 3 comments

NY cafeI really don’t get Second Life, that 3D online digital world. I have dabbled in it but became bored pretty quickly – maybe I need to dabble more because it seems that God now has a second life. The Jesuits (I struggle to believe this one) are taking the Word of the Lord to the digital realm. Of course Jesuits have always been a pretty brash horde – slashing through jungles and croc infested waters in remote parts of the world to save souls. Now it seems they’re after virtual souls in a new missionary territory. So…if the Jesuits are thinking about it, well maybe I’d better investigate Second Life a bit more closely.

And a Gartner Report is suggesting that Second Life (SL) and other virtual worlds will dominate consumer and corporate collaborative and community ecosystems by 2011. Their analysts are saying that by the end of 2011, 80% of active Internet users (and Fortune 500 enterprises) will have a “second life”, but not necessarily in SL. Gartner is suggesting that corporations should investigate and experiment with SL but limit financial transactions until the hype and dust settles.

Corporations (as usual) lag behind individuals in the take-up of new trends and whiz-bang technology, so Gartner is offering Five Laws for companies brave enough to consider placing their toes in the SL water:

  • Law Number One: virtual worlds are not games, but they’re not parallel universes either (yet). Business needs to see beyond the game aspects and sniff out opportunities such as “How can we exploit this as a sales channel?”.
  • Law Number Two: behind every avatar is a good woman, no sorry, a real person! There are unwritten rules and expectations for behaviour and culture and business users will need to consider corporate reputations.
  • Law Number Three: be relevant and add value. Have a SL presence sure but make sure it’s converted into a profitable sales channel. But a sage piece of advice is offered: “Do not expect to undertake profitable commercial activities inside most virtual worlds in the next three years”.
  • Law Number Four: understand and contain the downside. I’m not clued up on what goes on in SL, but apparently this sort of thing can happen – a new resident’s avatar control may cause a misdemeanor such as graffiti or protest activities designed to disrupt can occur. So business has to think about how virtual activities could cross-over in RL, damage reputations and so on.
  • Law Number Five: this is a long haul. There are many virtual worlds out there but over time, market pressures will probably lead to a merging of current virtual realms into a smaller number of open-sourced environments that support the free transfer of assets and avatars from one to another with the use of a single, universal client.

Gartner recommends (and this would be a shock for a bureaucratic, conservative organisation) – find some dudes in your organisation who are enthusiastic and maybe have experience with SL. Let them play around (gasp!) so the business can begin to experiment, understand the business risks and get some experience. “Despite the concerns within companies, don’t ignore this trend. They will have a significant impact on your enterprise during the next five years” the analysts say.

IBM has already fearlessly gone into SL with sales representatives in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia staffing the company’s virtual Business Centre. They’ll be providing sales and support services for clients and visitors in SL. Apparently, the Centre has had 10,000 visitors since its August launch and it has a population of over 9 million residents and millions of US dollars change hands every month. Even Reuters has waded into SL. And the World Stock Exchange sits on its on SL island.

Do any ThinkingShift readers have a second life? If so, what do you do in your virtual world? What am I missing out on??

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Entry filed under: Second Life.

Sunday cat fun Politics and the fear of death

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nobody Fugazi  |  September 3, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Gartner is on crack. Not even 20% of the global population is connected to the internet yet (really), and if 10% of the world has access to enough bandwidth to use a virtual world…well, that would be doing good.

    Virtual worlds are the future, but Gartner’s claims are outrageous – and he should be suitably chagrined for making such irresponsible claims.

    Reply
  • 2. Josh  |  September 7, 2007 at 2:19 am

    I think that the whole 2nd life is fantastic for those who like it – but it’s not my thing.
    I also think it’s funny that missionaries are going into these ‘worlds’ to spread their message, because I can relate to that.

    As a Raelian, I use discussion boards and internet chat forums to achieve a similar aim.

    I just hope that the Jesuits are respectful and nice – because alot of Christians in real life are damanding and judgemental!

    -Josh

    Reply
  • 3. labsji  |  September 17, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Stumbled into your blog and found this. Interesting. Indeed it is very early days for the 3D metaverse.

    Speaking of evangelism, there is a lot of geek evangelism going on in Secondlife: Amazon Web Services is a case in point. Lot of geeks hangout in SL and Jeff Barr of Amazon thought making a pitch for AWS in SL will appeal to the geeks. Looks like it is working.

    Just like the nexus between the Missionaries and the Colonizers in the age of physical land conquer, now there is API evangelism for (future)market Colonization.

    -Balaji S.
    Chennai
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/labsji

    Reply

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