Good-bye to Metaverse Evangelists

March 2, 2009 at 8:59 am | Posted in IBM, virtual worlds | Leave a comment

The Silicon Alley Insider reported today that Ian Hughes, “IBM’s ‘Metaverse Evangelist’ and point man for all things IBM and Second Life” has resigned.  The article doesn’t mention there was a second chap at IBM with that title as well: Roo Reynolds.  Roo resigned on August 18th. The article then questions IBM’s ongoing commitment to Second Life (which was surprisingly strong).  I’ll agree, this does seem be turning down the volume on their virtual world involvement.  Especially compared to when they cranked up the volume in 2006 (for example, see “MEDIA ALERT: IBM Expands Its Virtual Worlds Initiatives With a First-of-Its-Kind Virtual Block Party in Second Life“).

Last year, Roo told me that the title of “metaverse evangelist” wasn’t really an evangelist to the general public as often assumed.  It was mostly to be an internal evangelist within IBM to convince and help the myriad groups within IBM to use virtual world technology (not exclusively Second Life).  This is a common modus operandi for IBM.  I’ve seen them set up horizontal evangelists with Java and XML as well.  By having an internal evangelist, various groups get exposure to a top mind in the field.  As a sample result, Lotusphere this year had several virtual world projects on display.

I agree with the article that this is a data point for the deflation of the fad part of virtual world’s popularity.  There’s still a real part of their popularity as well that won’t be affected by this and will continue to grow over time based on actual use of the technology. It’s just a shame that my son won’t have the opportunity to grow up to have what was frequently hailed as the “best job” to have: metaverse evangelist. 

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