Our resident Second Life expert forwarded me this article from Fortune.
I've been exploring it myself a bit, interested in seeing what the marketing possiblities might be. (Branded T-shirts for avatars? A billboard on Duran Duran's island?)
But reading this article made me realize how big you can go. IBM, for example, has virtual meetings in Second Life: They own several islands on the site, and over 3000 IBM staffers have avatars.
ABN Amro, the Dutch bank, has a branch in the virtual world.
Virtual real estate moguls have bought islands -- and have sub-divided the land and rented it out, parcel by parcel. Does anyone else smell a Trump opportunity here?
The most amazing learnings from the article? SecondLife, though it was exceedingly slow to take off, was deliberately left content-free. Even though it went for eons (in online time) with only about a thousand "citizens," creators and early investors were so encouraged and amazed by the creativty of those initial devotees, that they shied away from the obvious path of making it a gaming site. Instead, they invested in tools to foster that creativity and make the site a pioneer in CGM:
Impressed by this passion, Kapor wrote another seven-figure check, and Second Life relaunched in January 2004, this time with more focus on user creativity and in-world entrepreneurship. Linden (Labs) took the advice of Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford Law School guru on intellectual property, who recommended letting users own their own content. That, he argued, would encourage them to create more.
And so came the Second Life we all know and love. Although, according to the article, it's in desperate need of better back-end technology (nearly 20% of first-time users will not return after their first visit out of sheer frustration) the site's here to stay and challenge the barriers of the Web.