Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Second Life - Too Good To Be True

This terrific post by Clay Shirky summarizes much of what my subconcious has been telling me for a few months now... the hype is overwhelming the reality of Second Life.

As I've demonstrated through this blog, I'm big on experimenting with new stuff like Squidoo, Tagging and Second Life. I've been thinking about SL for almost a year now, and still haven't come to any solid conclusions - and will continue to experiment.

However, the post from Shirky is a worthwhile read simply because how it debunks the media hype so effectively and jars you back to something more grounded in reality (as opposed to virtual reality).

I've had my own issues with SL, including how difficult is is to congregate with large crowds (everything suddenly moves very slowly), how unregulated it is, and how high the technical barrier is to participating (both in hardware requirements AND in the tech/geek mindset).

I'm appreciative of the skepticism because frankly, the positive media hype makes it feel too good to be true.

As for how it relates to NPOs - I just don't think it has a big enough footprint yet. From a revenue standpoint, it's time-consuming and difficult to figure out how to make money (when I say money, I'm talking about money in large quantities - depending on what NPO you work with the specific amount will vary!).

The removal of a large revenue opportunity led me to think about how to use SL for awareness and patient services. Given the size of the SL universe it's not clear to me that SL is in fact a viable option awareness either. There just aren't enough people in SL right now for awareness or patient services to be a clear winner. As an experiment it's great... it's just not yet part of a global marketing strategy. This is where Myspace and Facebook seem to excel - there are sufficient numbers on those sites to attempt to do some awareness and patient services work.

One area that I'm very keen on however, is training. The ability to use SL or other virtual platforms to conduct training and development is more controlled, and would have a measurable outcome. As an experiment, I've posted on this topic earlier.

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