The blog of one of IBM’s virtual world evangelists, Irving Wladawsky-Berger (some call him Irving Berger, not sure why) reveals an deep understanding of the potential of this platform. IBM are exploring Second Life as a way of conducting remote meetings and are developing ways of using it as part of an induction program for new employees. A colleague recently met Irving in London and told me that in the IBM office, about twenty people were on-line in Second Life. It might look like The Sims, but Second Life is pushing the envelope in the human-machine interface and in e-commerce.
Irving draws comparisons between the beginnings of the internet and Second Life and that is correct. What is not correct is the Channel 4 description of Second Life as the latest internet phenomenon. That makes it sound like another web site. You cannot compare MySpace and Second Life. Second Life is a new platform.
Also on the ball, somebody at General Motors or perhaps at their agency Leo Burnett, who have themselves recently entered Second Life. This press release touting Pontiac’s soon to be Motorati Island shows a very good understanding of the platform. Rather than mimic their real-life products, like Toyota and American Apparel, GM are allowing the residents to create car-lovers’ content. This will generate involvement and some buzz.
And that is the point. Was talking to some conservative business friends of mine who are not in Second Life. They asked how Second Life people will feel about corporations putting advertising billboards up all over Second Life. No, that’s not what’s going to happen fellas. This is not a passive medium. It’s interactive. Something that GM and IBM have already grasped.