Second Life
Second Life

Second Life

All the major players are leaping into Second Life while I’m still muddling through my first. Can virtual reality be that much better than real life?

Second Life is a three-year-old virtual community with 1.39 million members created by Linden Lab. This “virtual universe” or “metaverse” is like the popular video game “Sims” where participants create their own reality and populate it with “avatars” to represent themselves in either a realistic or surrealistic ways. According to Steve Hamm in Business Week, IBM’s head honcho Sam Palmisano has two avatars – business and sporty. waupaca elevator class action lawsuits

Evidently this digital world is being discovered by cutting edge firms eager to demonstrate their commitment to innovation. They intend to use it as test bed for ideas and as platform for marketing and recruiting. And in the short ruin the race is on between IBM, SUN, Dell, Nissan, Toyota or CNET for publicity and first-mover bragging rights.

A range of agencies and marketing services firms are either leading or jumping on the bandwagon depending on whom you believe. Steve Rubel announced Edelman’s multi-part entry, which includes a contest for the best Second Life business plan, on his blog; MicroPersuasion.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the British-import creative shop, claims to be first ad agency on SL by creating a virtual office with virtual hottie receptionists on an island sim. According to a press release they intend to “involve these digital advocates in new business problems” whatever that means. Meanwhile Anomaly argues that their island called “Tenjin” has been operating on SL for 7-8 months. Without much hype Leo Burnett set up the “Ideas Hub” and others are sure to follow.

In October, after Sun Microsystems claimed to be the “first Fortune 500 company” to hold a virtual press conference on SL with 60 attendees logged into the site and connected by conference call, Dell followed suit by announcing its intention to build Dell Island as a platform to sell virtual PCs using virtual currency and the new high-end XPS line in real green backs.

All this leaves me scratching my real bald head.

I understand that marketing in the digital world is bedeviling major brands. I get the fact that agencies can’t or haven’t really followed their audiences with the speed or agility that marketers need. And I know why agency brands are rushing to embrace the “latest and greatest place you can find to spend marketing dollars”, as Eric Friedman put it in his blog.

What I don’t get is:

1. Why all of a sudden did this particular virtual world get the nod?

2. Is this the flavor of the week or are these pioneer brands staking out prime real estate in a world I’ll eventually need to care about?

3. Who really believes that simulated reality and this particular flavor of simulated reality will emerge as the venue and the social network of choice for either consumers or business?

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