Second Life: Another Reflection on Virtual Worlds

2 10 2009

Last moth I wrote about the Second Life demonstrations I gave at the ASDTDDC Chapter meeting.  I wanted to follow-up with a short post to further the discussion as to the relevance and importance of three dimension (3D) immersive worlds.

I recently read a white paper produce by Robert B. Cohen from Athena Alliance where he states: 

“Virtual Worlds, including Second Life, have the ability to leverage the place, embodiment, and simultaneous collaboration at the core of interactions within virtual worlds.  Place grants both context and organization to conversations, helping an observer to immediately understand relationships between speakers and the topic being discussed.  Avatars, the user’s representation in a virtual world, embody the conversation, allowing real-world cues to flow into the virtual world.  Simultaneous collaboration allows multiple participants to interact in ways not commonly seen on the web, such as musicians in different cities playing a duet to an audience from all over the world.  This real-time exchange is at the core of how content is created within Second Life. The main point about Virtual Worlds is that they enhance collaboration and innovation.

As the paradigm for life in the digital age quickly shifts from “live to work” to “work to live”, immersive 3D worlds provide an exciting environment to experience life in a multi-sensory environment where anything is possible.  The key is to let our imagination, creativity and transformational thinking surface by asking: What if?  What’s possible? Why not?

Another way to look at SL from a business perspective is to analyze the narrative (the business story) and the economics (the financial drivers) of the SL Business Model.  I propose the following that I created with input from a colleague (John Jamison from Imagilearning, Inc.) who has extensive experience in leveraging SL for learning, education and business:

Narrative:

  • Free anytime access to 3D immersive online experiences to explore, join groups, interact with avatars, and create objects in-world.
  • Participation in a global social network in which people can interact without traditional barriers on a platform that lets them express raw creativity and emotion (visceral responses) both individually and with others.
  • A “PLACE” that draws people back simply because they want to go back.

Economics:

  • Modest fees to buy objects created by in-world vendors.
  • Premium fees to buy or rent islands (sims).
  • “The visceral value of business PLACE”.
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