Second Life Presents at CatalystJune 28, 2007 at 10:51 am | Posted in burtongroupcatalyst07, collaboration, communication, virtual worlds | 1 Comment
There have been scores of great presentations at our Catalyst conference this week, but I wanted to take time to single one out that was a bit outside the norm.
Joe Miller (VP of Platform Technology at Linden Lab) did a presentation on Second Life, focusing on its collaboration, community, and enterprise aspects. From conversations at lunch, it seems attendees were pleasantly surprised how many enterprises have a presence in Second Life to interact with their customers. And even more surprised how many have a presence for their own internal use as well. It’s well known that IBM has made great use of Second Life as an outreach system, but Joe described how it is used internally by 5,000 IBM employees for uses such as gatherings of retirees and fellows.
I was speaking to Jeff Barr of Amazon Web Services after the presentation and they have looked extensively into Second Life. Personally, I think the concept of a virtual bookstore would combine the best of the instant access via search that the web provides with the serendipity that browsing bookshelves can provide. Alas, Amazon doesn’t do that quite yet. But there does seem to be something important about spacial relationships. He mentioned that their Second Life real estate is located near that of a number of other retailers, forming a cluster of online retailers. The concept of being “near” the other retailers is one that could only be realized in a virtual world.
One conclusion we came to in our discussion is that it’s difficult to really comprehend the potential value of a tool like Second Life without actually using it. From a textual or verbal description, it seems one could communicate and collaborate just as well with a group of distributed people over IM without the virtual browser around it. But then again, people seem to like gathering in person to communicate information that could be conveyed over the phone as well. There’s value in personal contact and gestures and some of that seems to apply to a virtual environment as well.