A great article in the New York Times today by RICHARD SIKLOS looking at Second Life. He includes an interview from Philip Rosedale from Linden Labs on the growth of Second Life and takes a look at the increase in interest from businesses to get involved. The likes of Sun Microsystems, Nike, Reebok and Nissan have all set up stores or held events in Second Life.
Obviosuly businesses are seeing some potential in this virtual world as a way of reaching people in new ways or possibly (and maybe more accurately) as a way to generate more media coverage in the offline world – i.e. being the ‘first’ to do something. I thought the Nissan example of allowing people in the offline world to drive cars around a virtual track in Second Life was pretty neat.
He mentions the Sun Microsystem event in Second Life and some of the issues real world businesses might face when entering a world where the consumer is in full control:
For example, Sun Microsystems kicked off the opening of its Second Life venue with a press conference online hosted by executives and Mr. Rosedale of Linden Labs. But by the time the event was in full swing, several members of the audience had either walked or flown onto the stage, where they were running roughshod over the proceedings.
Even Mr. Rosedale got in on the act: he conjured a pair of sunglasses that he superimposed on a video image of a Sun representative talking on a screen behind the stage. (In virtual world lingo, such high jinks are known as “griefing.”)
Some corporate events have been met with protests by placard-waving avatars. And there is even a group called the Second Life Liberation Army that has staged faux “attacks” on Reebok and American Apparel stores. (The S.L.L.A. says it is fighting for voting rights for avatars — as well as stock in Linden Labs.)