Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who are your Twitterfriends?

Most people are pretty honest in building their social network at sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo, connection to people with whom they have a real relationship. It also helps that if you want to connect with someone out of the blue, you often have to enter the person's email address.

Building your friendlist at microblogging site Twitter works differently though. On Twitter you send out your message to the world. Everytime you blurt something into the Twitterverse there's a good chance it gets picked up by someone you don't know. If they like your tweet, there's a good chance they'll start following you, and if you politely follow them back, you'll get into a new network, building your own. Networks on twitter can expand pretty fast to thousands of followers.

Stars of Le Web 2.0 often have massive lists of followers, like Barack Obama (555,878), iJustine (285,034) Guy Kawasaki (100,318), Robert Scoble (74,688). It's impossible to pay attention to everything your 'friends' say when you've got such a list to monitor. Chances are that you're barely able to follow about a 100 or 150 of them actively.

One of the nice tools that plug into Twitter is the Mailana social network analysis system, which taps into millions of messages, tweets and pulls up a nice graph of your Network. If your list of followers has grown too big to manage and you start to forget who your real friends are, maybe it's time to pull up a graph of your own to see who you've been interacting with. The image below is my Twittersphere, which you can explore here.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Crunch back with Visual CV

A Credit Crunch and recession do funny things with people. All of a sudden we are all looking for a new job. Well, I personally am not, but professional networking sites like LinkedIn report an increase of 25% in activity and new connections made.

On the other hand, Headhunters seem to turn down their activity a little. Over the past yerar I received at least two annoying calls a month, but it's been pretty quiet over the last two months. I guess it's pretty much a US thing to use LinkedIn for finding and hiring people, here in the Netherlands we kinda stick to old fashioned, not networked sites like Monsterboard or Nationale Vacaturebank.

Anyway, if you're looking out for a new job, you might want to check out a new startup called Visual CV. It opened up for beta in early 2008 and offers a whole range of cool features to pimp your resume with video presentations and so on.

"...VisualCV is a clever idea to update the traditional resume. It also allows applicants to stand out in the job market, and cuts out unnecessary steps (phone and in-person interviews) that make it more difficult for employers to see a body of work. Plus, it is entirely free..."

Read full article at Killer Startups.

One of the example resumes that stands out of course is the one of Barack Obama, the president elect of the United States of America. One slight comment, analysts say Barack is the first internet president, with all his neat web 2.0 ventures, like on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the Obama Blog. His resume is a little outdated though, it still states Presidential Candidate. However, a striking example of how leveraging the power of internet can help you get a new job.

Visual CV Barack Obama

One example down the road, we find the Visual CV of Torley Wong, better known as Torley Linden or @torley, neatly wedged in between Barack Obama and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki in the "Influencer" category at Visual CV. Not sure if this is on the same level, but one could say Torley is the people's president of Second Life, or officially Resident Enlightenment Manager at Linden Lab.


Well, time to get out there and pimp that resume.It's easy to do, create then share.


Some more press coverage from early 2008:

"...New to this field is VisualCV. With an online resume at VisualCV, you can showcase your work in a visually appealing way. Although VisaulCV may sound like they're just jobster, version 2, take note - VisualCV already has 50 participating companies onboard receiving VisualCVs and their names may surprise you...

...VisualCV offers a unique feature that lets you track who views your profile after you've shared it, but unlike resumes you post on other job sites, VisualCV's members have more control over their resume's privacy - there are no backdoors for recruiters or marketers to access your resume..."

Read full article at Read Write Web.

VisualCV, a free service for individuals offered by a Reston, Va., start-up, lets job seekers create an online résumé that can include work samples, references' video testimonials and a visual for accomplishments, such as a chart showing surpassed sales targets...

Read full article at Wall Street Journal.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Plaxo looking for the People Layer

A few weeks ago I made a few remarks about the new fanpages on plaxo (currently in beta) on twitter, which got picked up by John McCrea, head of Marketing at Plaxo. About the same time I blogged Yahoo's oneConnect in which I wondered what the differences were with services like Plaxo.
In my book, Plaxo didn't have the best of starts, as it carried the smell of Napster. Way back in 2004 David Coursey wrote a (2nd) article on Plaxo, titled "Plaxo Reconsidered" at eWeek.com.

The big issue was that one of Plaxos co-founders, now departed, was also a co-founder of Napster. That company, of course, was basically about enabling people to steal other peoples intellectual property. My own opinion is that some Napster people should have ended up in jail. After the Napster meltdown, Plaxo was positioned as the "next big thing" for this ex-Napster exec. That publicity helped Plaxo raise $20 million in venture money and gave the new company more credibility than it would otherwise have had.

I don't want to get into the Napster story here, and just concentrate on Plaxo. I think the Napster background serves well in positioning the founders as being early experts in networking and understanding the power of virals. What I wonder though is, what were the initial thoughts on Plaxo? What was it that the founders envisioned. What was Plaxo supposed to do, or grow into? And what's still standing of that original conception?

Although I was not there at the time (as I joined in 2006), the original concept was to help people stay connected by leveraging the power of a networked address book. But not just another online address book, one that synced with the various tools you used, like Microsoft Outlook or the Mac address book. The vision is still pretty much the same, but the challenges of staying connected have expanded in a world of many different social apps. That’s what gave rise to Pulse, the first social web aggregator, which brings your address book to life, with feeds from your connections from all over the Web. What’s interesting to note is that the original “grand vision” observed that the Internet was missing a “people layer.” Now, as web itself is going social, and the Social Web is going open, that grand vision is looking smarter with each passing month, as we help a new “Open Stack” of OpenID, OAuth, XRDS-Simple, Portable Contacts, and OpenSocial come together to enable exactly that.

Another quote from the Coursey article:

Given that I consider Napster money and influence to be tainted, I was immediately concerned about Plaxo, especially when I couldnt imagine how they could turn the company into a huge moneymaker without doing something shady.

There were other things Plaxo did, such as keeping track of how many information requests Id received and using the number in e-mails to try to convince me to sign-up. That seemed a bit like stalking and, along with a few comments and rumors Id heard about the company, only intensified my concern.

His initial hesitation against Plaxo is one I share, but this wasn't untill sometime early 2007, when I started receiving tons of invites untill finally almost everyone in my company was using Plaxo, so I signed up also. I reckon many people have felt that initial hesitation. Did it affect the way you did business in any way, did it temper your expectations for the platform? When most invites at that time were generated by my professional network, I assumed Plaxo would take on the competition with LinkedIn for instance, being a profiling site plus extra features to lifelog. When looking at the current profiling options, it looks like it's somewhere in between LinkedIn and Facebook. Was Plaxo aimed at professionals to take on the competition with LinkedIn?

Plaxo has always had a broader vision than simply “business networking.” We are keenly focused on providing a better way to stay connected with the people you know and care about, rather than being a service that is for “networking” or connecting with people you don’t know.

The latest addition to Plaxo are the fanpages in which you can sign up as fan of a tv series. Right now this feature is only available to US residents. Are there any plans to go beyond GEO blocking and make this feature available worldwide?

The geographic restrictions are not Plaxo-specific, but rather come from the content sources. You’ll note that everyone in the space is dealing with the same issue.
[to work around geoblocking read this blogpost on hotspot shield]
Considering this latest addition, is Plaxo moving away from say LinkedIn and moving closer to Facebook, from business oriented to more social oriented?

We aren’t moving toward or away from either company. We are continuing to move further down the path that we started upon back in 2002.

From the Coursey article again:

Plaxos current mission is to reach 10 million users and $10 million in annual revenue as quickly as possible. Right now they are at more than 3 million users and essentially zero revenue. The Plaxo execs asked that I not pre-announce their forthcoming products, but they discussed them in enough detail that I have great confidence that Plaxo wont abuse its customers. A key part of their plan is finding other services that Plaxo customers would be willing to pay for. There is no plan to discontinue the free service, only to add revenue-producing products to the offering.

Well, I figure you've more than doubled the 10m users now, but where are we with revenues? This previous quote, as well as the first one about the 20m VC gets me thinking about the Business Case behind Plaxo. I've discussed this with colleagues of mine. Maybe it's because we're Dutch, but we just can't see where the money is to be made. Signing up is free, there are hardly any adds and datatraffic streaming all the lifestreams must be huge. Where's the return on investment for Plaxo?

The return on investment for the investors in Plaxo came earlier this year when the company was acquired by Comcast. Our current business model is a combination of Premium services and advertising.

What can you tell about new features for Plaxo? What are must haves for you?

As you may have noticed, Plaxo shows up in the majority of news announcements around opening up the Social Web. Plaxo is today one of the largest and most prominent OpenID Relying Parties (sites that accept OpenID). With Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and MySpace really heating up the OpenID space working on a great end-to-end OpenID user experience is an area of critical focus. And that’s really all about getting not just the sign-on piece right, but leveraging the whole Open Stack to make onboarding to a new site as frictionless, secure, and useful as possible.

I'd like to think I've got a pretty big digital footprint and participate in dozens of social networks and platforms. Initially I thought that Plaxo had a number of advantages. One was that it gave you more flexibility in managing groups than LinkedIn and you that with the new Pulse you could plug into tons of services. However, when I look at my own usage of Plaxo, I just plug in and let it stream, and it's what I see happening with dozens of colleagues. We sign up, use it for contacts, but that's it. In a way, Plaxo is converging channels into one stream, just like most sociall apps right now. This is, I believe the design flaw in the current web 2.0 landscape.In the past year I've thought a great deal about web 2.0 and how we deal with it, how we use it. We spread our names all over the web, signing up everywhere and leaving parts of ourselves all over. The major issues we have to deal with -in my opinion - are privacy and identity management which need to be elevated from a classical corporate solution to be web 2.0 ready. At plaxo, you've got millions of users putting private information into your databases. How do you deal with this? Where do you see Privacy going in this changing information age?

As you can imagine, privacy, security, and trust are critical to the success of our service. We have one of the strongest privacy policy’s in the industry. And we are focused on giving users fine-grained control of what they share with whom. Hence, not every relationship is forced under the term “friend”. When you give people a choice of family, friend, business, it unlocks a lot of sharing that would not be possible otherwise.

As LinkedIn now is gearing up with adding more collaborative tools, it will be pretty interesting to see what the competition will bring us, users and if the world is big enough for multiple players in the market. To be honest, I have spent more time and energy on my LinkedIn profile than I did with my Plaxo account, and although lately I'm starting to favor Plaxo a bit more, I think it's just not good enough yet to relocate my digital self. Both Plaxo and LinkedIn, as well as Facebook and oneConnect still have too many design flaws in common where it comes to Identity Management for me. At this time, they're players in the same yard to me, with each addition the scales might be tilting slightly, but I don't predict a big landslide here in the near future.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Connect - Again?

It's been around for a while, but somehow it hasn't reached critical mass yet in Europe. It was not untill yesterday that I noticed Yahoo had a nice new app out on the web: oneConnect. It was launched as early as februar this year.

Yahoo has upped the ante in its campaign to rule the mobile Web.

On Tuesday, the company announced at the GSMA Mobile World Congress here OneConnect, a new tool that allows mobile phone users to aggregate their social-networking updates and messaging in one spot on their phones. The service integrates directly with a phone user's address book and allows people to share status updates and messages from a variety of messaging and social-networking platforms. This means it can provide status updates from Facebook or MySpace.com as well as provide access to e-mail and archived instant-messaging chats. [Read full article here at CNet]



Okay, here we go again. Time for yet another tribal migration, another MeToo social networking app where we can leave our personal data up for grabs. Right now every new web 2.0 app is about converging streams, plugging things into something else, creating more of the same data stream, to pretty much the same people. Why is this different than say Facebook, or Plaxo?

Let's have a look at some of the features.

There is a distinct difference. oneConnect does connect. It doesn't require building a new profile like Facebook, LinkedIn and Facebook. It simply leverages my existing social networks in their current states which saves me going through the hassle of importing contacts and extensive profiling once more.

oneConnect services the usual stuff, converging contacts and lifestreams from multiple sources, but also adds some new features into the mix.

This is what I consider oneConnect's biggest advantage over the existing competition, it allows you to post across different platforms. Better yet, it let's you select which platform you want to push your content to. And although we often use these platforms for specific purposes, often we'd like to update our status to all of our networks, or just to announce a new blogpost without starting up Pownce, Twitter and Jaiku.

Another new one (to my knowledge) in the social space is the integration with Instant Messaging applications making oneConnect one of the most versatile communication platforms out there at the moment.

Now does this all make oneConnect the next killer app for the web? Not yet. It isn't stable yet, it's buggy and has performance issues. It doesn't support enough feeds or services yet and you're pretty limited in the amount of contacts you can add.

Aside from the number of feeds and sources to leverage, there are a few other things that are still lacking to get the next revolution going. We still need some innovation to make the next level of social networking. Yes, oneConnect has some nice extra features over other lifestream aggregators and social portals but it isn't enough to herald a new massive tribal migration on the web just yet.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Enterprise mode? Why Bother?

After I heard 3Di is releasing an Enterprise version of Opensim, I read up on a couple of blogposts about getting the virtual workspace ready for business to prep my blogpost on 3Di (previous post). Most of these blogposts (including my own ramblings about making things fit for business) are very serious about this with all sorts of tea-circles and self-help-group-like things like the Interoperability Forum and groups like Professional Second Lifers, Virtual World Roadmap and Association of Virtual Worlds on LinkedIn and so on.

Don't get me wrong here. Virtual Worlds need serious pondering to make them fit for business. Companies do need privacy in certain areas. Think of what would happen if you could walk in, or eavesdrop on a session between a bank and a wealthy customer on how to invest his money, but every once in a while it would be good to take a step back, look at what you're doing and have a good laugh. Raph Koster did a very nice blogpost in which he wonders why we would have Enterprise VW's. Here's some quotes:

Enterprise VW's - do they suck ?

Second Life technology continues its slow move towards being an enterprise solution with the announcement that the SL-derived OpenSim project is getting commercialized by 3Di. Enterprise was a big buzzword this year at the Virtual Worlds conf in Hollywood. (Of course, in the midst of it, someone had to ask “what is enterprise anyway?” It means “selling VWs to businesses”). The penny has also dropped for some users that SL itself seems to be trending in this direction — as Tateru Nino writes on Massively,

When you look at the hiring of Tom Hale, the ongoing hiring of enterprise sales and marketing staff, and the licensing of the Immersive Workspaces product from Rivers Run Red, this all seems to signal a clear direction for where Linden Lab is taking Second Life. Clearer than anything else we’ve seen in a year, certainly.

Of course, we have also seen Forterra and their OLIVE platform (derived originally from the There.com codebase) continue to focus on this area over several years, with particular success in work for the military.

and

"So, no, the dream isn’t dead. Consumer virtual worlds are still coming on strong, despite the focus on enterprise lately. It may be that part of the reason why these slightly older worlds and platforms are having to shift is that they are simply the wrong design for the consumer space, and the future belongs to stuff that looks more like Lively, Whirled, SmallWorlds, Vivaty, and yes, Metaplace. I sure hope so, because the very different architecture choices made there can grow back to the big immersive experiences, but I am unsure that the big architectures can shrink down to the smaller needs of the ordinary person."

read the full article

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Your expectations of the Metaverse in 2007

This evening I took some time again to skim through my Linked-In network and browsed the questions from my connections. There's this lad, Rick, who's working on a thesis on Second Life and the metaverse. He posed this question:


Has Second Life in 2007 raised or lowered your expectations for the
Metaverse?
Since the big hype in October of last year those who have been watching the Virtual World of Second Life have seen the hype come and go. But what have we learned from the most successful metaverse up to now? Has it raised or lowered your expectations for a social virtual world?

Now I had a bit of a fight with Linked-In tonight. My answer was too long (apparently 4000 characters max), I tried adding the last bit by clarifying, tried editing and finally deleting and start over again. However, that didn't work either as it said I had already posted. So here's my answer:



Early 2007 I said that the age of the Digerati was gone and that 2007 was the beginning of a new era, that of the Metarati, the visionairs that bring us the metaverse. It truly has begun. It's not just Second Life, but the whole industry.


The year isn't over yet and we've seen over 2 billion US$ in investments in the Networked Virtual Environment Industry. It's not just SL: It's platforms like Qwaq springing up for business, it's Neopets going 144 million subscriptions strong, it's Hipihi, Novoking and the other Chinese booms, it Football superstars and Barbie Girls boosting the extraverse (branded worlds) and it's Sony Home or Eve Online with the new Crytek engine bringing us superior graphics


Over the past year Second Life has drawn more media attention than any other virtual world, respectively positive and then later ill-informed negative publicity has driven the world of Second Life into a hype cycle, especially in the Dutch Press after the Dutch PCM Web (Personal Computer Magazine) picked up a story by the LA Times that companies are getting disappointed in Second Life.


It is another sign of old media living in total oblivion of what is going on.


"After an enormous hype om Second Life more and more 'experts' are getting sceptic on the added value of Second Life to business. Online visitors aren't big shoppers, but are mainly looking for entertainment" reads the introduction. Where did this come from? There's hardly a real life company to be found in Second Life that's actually selling stuff. If it ain't on offer, we can't buy it.
"Successfully promoting your company inside the virtual world of Second Life shows to be harder than expected. More and more marketing departments conclude that Second Life residents feel like visiting their online stores. "Actually there isn't any convincing reason to be present in Second Life" says Brian McGuinness, a Hotelchain bigshot in the LA times, and thus his company left Second Life"


Most of these 'marketing departments' probably have never seen Second Life from the inside. Many companies just use Second Life as another medium for corporate communication... without understanding it. It's back to the early 90's when serious companies launched crappy (excuse me) Frontpage websites.


In most cases there wont be a ROI (return on investment) indeed for the year to come, or even the year after. When will companies see that Second Life is not a commercial, a product flyer?
There are companies that dig SL though. Have a look at Intel and Cisco giving tech meetings and classes on Java and other skills. take a look at Philips taking surveys, or at ABN Amro organising sponsor events for non profits.


One of the most telling lines in this article is the following quote: "Analists from Forrester (yay, the big reasearchers) have calculated that at prime time there are only about 35,000 to 40,000 visitors in Second Life" Okay, prepare for another research paper (usual rates about $ 1.000,- US dollar / hard cash) telling you the same the counter on this webpage -an many many other websites - will show you every single day. The good news is: You don't even need to pay me L$ 1,000 to get this info. (Concurrent Logins as per june 07, now over 50K)


Now the Dutch seem to have been in the grips of hypecycles for several years now, on a range of subjects. The nation is becoming governed by the whims of media. The point is that most companies don't really have a clue either to what they want from a virtual world like Second Life. It still seems like many companies establish a presence in Second Life because everybody does so (that's no longer valid). It's like users: If you register for SL and have no idea what you want to do there, you're likely not to return. You're at a loss. Companies should have a goal in Second Life as well. Innovation, Exploration, Crowdsourcing, User Acceptance, Branding, Sponsoring whatever, just make up your mind and set some goals...


Aside from the misperceptions I have seen the virtual worlds grow. Many new startups stir up competition, challenging each platform to innovate and stay at the top. There’s the promise of new and converging media with projects like CSI:NY, The Office, Gossip Girls and the Korean Que Sera adding interactivity to television, which make me believe we are making progress on making these worlds fit for business. So yes, sofar 2007 has definately raised hopes of making the metaverse fit for business. Virtual Economies are the fastest growing economies on earth. Advancement in terms of stability and scalability are made in rapid succession. It's an enormously varied landscape though, different cultures, people and habits. A wide variety of engines are used to drive these worlds. Some are java-based, some are desktop applications that connect to grids and some are using streaming technology. It's almost impossible to try and define these worlds, let alone find ways for identity management unified communications, interoperability and portability for the sector. These are the steps we have to make these worlds an integral part of our daily work or leisure time.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Virtual World Conference wrap up

It's friday and the conference is over. Still got tons to blog though. '


I'm noticing I'm going quite randomly through my notes and don't really put up the speaches and notes in the presented order. Just browse on for the ins and outs of the conference.



All in all, the conference was a success I think, from a VW point of view, as well as a personal and business point of view. I've finally met lots of people on my twitter and linked-in list, and established several new connections and got tons of inspiration to dwell on

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What is BI2.0 and does this really compare to Web2.0?

Another Question from Linked-in
I have been seeing more and more references to “BI2.0”, “Next Generation Business Intelligence” and “Business Analytics” on the web and blogs.
My company is currently sponsoring a series of independent webcasts and whitepapers by a group of business intelligence experts to discuss the successes and shortfalls of traditional BI and identify the new technologies and user experiences. The featured experts include Neil Raden, Stephen Few, Dr. Wolfgang Martin, Dr. Claudia Imhoff, Dan Everett and Dr. Ben Schneiderman.
(Here’s a link if you’re interested: www.spotfire.com/nextgen/bi.cfm)

My Marketing Team tells me BI2.0 is the next big wave, especially now that Microsoft is building out their BI portfolio.
I would like to get a more independent and real world point of view though…
What do you envision as being the next generation of Business Intelligence, and does this really compare to Web2.0?

The next wave will be when we let go of our current views of static html, predefined applications etcetera.

The future in BI lies in the I, integration. We need to go beyond Microsoft's predefined conception of Office when it comes to office applications. It is beyond Word and Excel right now, it's also HRM, CRM, DMS and last, but certainly not least Communications.

When we talk of integration, SOA is just a mere step, Cordys (www.cordys.com) is doing a good job, but it's not the future. People are used to conventional screens (say 1024*768 ratio), but now we have widescreen. The usual application doesn't utilise this beyond a wider screen and resizing the spreadsheet you're working in, but that doesn't change the way we work. Extra Widescreen capacity could be used for communication centers, linked applications etcetera. Also, we've been working the same old keyboard for ages now, why not make the numpad detachable and replace it with changeable business specific short-key pads.

So in short, the future of BI starts when we let go of the fram,ework (keyboard, monitor lay-out) we designed in the previous century

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Succesful Second Life Business Integration?


Interested to see where Second Life is going, from a business point of view, I asked a short question about thison the Linked-In forum.

The Question:
Second Life is now in hype-stage. But the blizz of drinking virtual whisky's and being hit by a passing whale will be over soon. Does Second Life stand a change from a business point of view?

What will be -in your opinion- the most likely business to succeed in Second Life?
How can we integrate existing real world business into SL, or create Real World business for Second Life

Some Answers:
Answers received from various experts in the IT world:

Johan,

There is an article in the February 2007 issue of Wired that talks about how MTV is using Second Life to create more buzz around its 'Laguna Beach' show (first link below).

Coca-Cola and Microsoft have also grabbed some virtual real estate in Second Life, presumably to use to promote their real-world products.

Digital farming operations have received a ridiculous amount of attention in the media (see 2nd link below). But beyond these shady and often-hyperbolized enterprises, Second Life does hold some promise as a short-term location for marketing, and as a long-term location for entertainment-related ventures.

The denizens of Second Life have spare time, high-speed connections, and a desire for escapist entertainment. That makes their eyeballs pretty valuable to certain companies. There already are billboards on Second Life, and in the short-term I think there's an opportunity for an outdoor advertising giant to emerge. The business model would be very much like that of a large, real-world billboard owner. The technical challenges would be related to tracking visual impressions, detecting vandalism or obfuscation, etc.

In the long-term, I see Second Life as a great platform for online gaming. I believe that there have already been some early discussions related to this. There is already a conversion rate between Second Life currency (Linden Dollars) and US Dollars. With gaming, the money must be added to the account through a method that makes chargebacks impossible.

What kind of business are you looking at incorporating with Second Life? Would you be willing to provide goods and/or services in exchange for Linden Dollars?

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Best of Luck!

Julian

(Julian)

Second Life is not only a gaming world but also a virtual world. The interesting thing about this is that people are in SL also there because of the social aspects. They hang around, meet, conversate, buy and reflect there needs that they have in RL (real life) in SL (Second LIfe) too.

This means they want to own things like a car or motorcycle or just want to have there own place like an island or a house. There is a whole virtual economy already who supports these needs, with real dollars behind it. People even get married in SL or have hobbies like sailing and skydiving.

Even more interesting is SL if you take a look into the future. SL adds the social aspect that misses in even the most sophisticated conferencing or participation technologies. This is why even meetings and virtual presentations could work better in SL then in any other approach.

From a business perspective, I spend much time in traveling for meetings. An important reason behind this, is the social aspect reason. People feel that they have talked to me and they have seen me. This open doors and makes it easier to make appointments. The same thing is true for training and presentations.

A part of this social aspect can be fulfilled by virtual meetings or presentations with virtual characters (avatars) that take place in virtual places with virtual buildings.

They are virtual but they feel ‘real’. There is a thin line between Virtual Reality and Reality. We are just on the beginning of this. Open your eyes.
(Pascal)
I think the hype outweighs the reality for Second Life at the moment.
It is interesting that large companies like MS and IBM have a presence in the Virtual World but there generation of revenue from direct sources in SL is in doubt.
Porn will (and is) fueling the most cash generation at the moment as I understand it. The hype machine is in overdrive at the moment and I will be watching with interest the development but I would not be advising people to attach a revenue stream to this for a long time if at all.
As the world is virtual providing more 'space' later for people is not that much of an issue, where the space is is going to be more important.
(Phil)
I think that unless you, as a company, experiment with these types of technological online worlds then you can't take full advantage of what the next generation of online worlds will have to offer.

If i were a big corp - I wouldn't expect any direct monetary positives from anything 'we' did in SL. It's, at this stage, more branding, awareness - and surely the top message is: 'We, (Nike, Coke, MTV... etal..) 'get' what you guys dig here and we are 'with' you.'

I'm sure companies will make mistakes in messaging and 'voice' - in the same way companies will continue to mess up their corporate blogging activities.

It's a learning experience, as in 10 years SL will probably be unrecognizable from what it looks like or 'is' today.

Best make the mistakes and learn those hard lessons now - when there are only 3 million there rather when there are 50 million to see you mess up.

(Chris)
Great questions, and I wish I had the answers. That area is exactly the area I'm interested in exploring. I do believe there is much benefit to be had from integrating business with these virtual words and social networks, but I don't think we have figured out the optimal strategies yet.

One aspect of Second Life that intrigues me is it's value as an application platform / content delivery platform. I've been of the opinion for some time that "the web" is broken in many ways and that "web 2.0" is a giant kludge layered on top of a brutal hack, and have wished for something better. But desktop penetration is so much better for web browsers than for anything else, that web browsers have become *the* platform. IOW, ask how many people have X servers on their desktops. By comparison to web-browsers, the answer is "not very many."

And truth be told, relative to web browsers not many people have Second Life... but I'd wager that many more people have Second Life than have an X server, and I'd further wager that installs of the Second Life client are growing much faster than installs of X servers.

(note: this doesn't really have anything to do with X servers specifically, that's just one made up example to illustrate a point)

And now that the Second Life code is going open-source, is see (in a vague sense) a lot of potential for growing the use of SL as a platform.

(Phillip)

Links:

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