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Second Life


How dead is Second Life? Not ...

I've always been very cautious about recommending companies to go into Second Life, although my occasional public performances on the subject may indicate something else. And now that Second Life has been declared dead by the media just as quick as they made it a hype ... I have a contrary view again.

But rather then explaining my point of view, I'm going to send you off to Neville Hobson's blog who has perfectly summarized the current status of Second Live.

Thanks Neville, no other sources needed :)



Second life after the hype (yes, already)

Today I did another presentation about Second Life. It's funny to see how people get really enthusiastic about SL if you present them with all the possibilities. To prevent all these marketing pro's from asking my business card because "I want to do something in Second Life" I included a slide that literally says "Don't believe the hype!", but in vain ... they just keep asking (usually not ordering in the end).

The morning session was fun too, Clo, Christian and I did a completely improvised marketing café. We were literally at the bar answering questions about e-mail marketing, blogs & communities and ... Second Life (again).

And tonight I read this post by Steve Rubel which kind of summarizes my point of view:

So why am I still enthusiastic? The reason is that avatars tap into the human need to fantasize and socialize - most likely not as ourselves. Lots of gamers, for example, spend hours playing games like Tiger Woods 2007 so they can win bling for their virtual golf bags. Yahoo Avatars is another site that appears to be thriving, judging by the custom icons I have seen popping up over on Yahoo Answers.

Second Life is like Geocities was in 1998 - a big idea, but a little ahead of its time. I suspect that within a year or two robust 3D virtual worlds will eventually get far easier to use and run completely in a browser. Then they will become more mainstream.

And now ... leave me alone about Second Life unless you have something really interesting or a huge amount of money to get rid of :).



Virtual worlds, the community rules!

Over the past months virtual worlds and especially Second Life have enjoyed a kind of media hype. All traditional media have covered the phenomenon at length as if the idea was invented yesterday.

But as fast as the hype rose, the sceptics were there just as fast. Especially the internet intelligentia thought it was hipper to shoot down virtual worlds (because already too mainstream) rather then taking some time to reflect what it could mean. I like to compare Second Life to the internet 10 to 15 years ago. Then too everybody thought it was slow, had average graphics and the question 'what will you do with it' popped up just as often as it does today. The answer is not easy, but in the mean time we have learned that intelligent experimentation is the best way to find answers. Maybe virtual worlds are the user interface of the future. Will, after MS Dos, Windows and Mac OS develop into a 3D interface? A workspace in which the communication aspect of the internet is harnessed 100%, a full open-source interface completely build by the community ... how much more 2.0 can you be?

And this is what makes virtual worlds so difficult to understand. It's not a game or a contest, there is no real objective. The rules are those of the community, the purpose is to achieve what you yourself want to achieve in the community.

My first project at ONE Agency, the new marketing agency I joined since the beginning of this year, was the launch of Windows Vista in Second Life with the live streaming of a gig by Praga Khan in the Atomium in Brussels. And I'd like to share some learning from that experience. The way this project came to be was very "2.0". Some enlightened minds started talking, specialists of all sorts were called in and two weeks later everything was arranged without having one physical meeting. During the project the objectives, scope and ambitions were constantly adjusted, the permanent beta. And in the end we succeeded together in mobilizing the Second Life community for this project. Anybody who was in Second Life in between the 15th and 31st of January knows that Microsoft launched windows Vista.
But there's more then the 375 people who attended the concert in Second Life (note: that's more then at the physical event). The surround effect of the launch was much bigger. Both in the SL community as in the blogoshere the conversation was buzzing at full speed. The number of 'impressions' generated is meaningless next to the enthusiasm and passion that bubbled up in blogposts and comments. This shows that programs that touch the publics hart have a much higher impact then one more banner in a even bigger size.

So if you were wondering where marketing is heading for in 2007, this give a good idea if you ask me.



A commecial shot in Second Life ... and money (L$) for free!

Today Jobat launches it's Second Life presence: "The Career Zone". Every visitor who comes by between 14:00 and 16:00h CET get's a month's salary for free (in L$ that is, so L$ 2500).

To launch the project we at ONE Agency produced a commercial completely filmed in Second Life:

Want to see the movie? Go to Second Life :) or visit the ONE Agency site to see the first commercial shot in Second Life.


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Second Life on StuBru

Tomorrow night Studio Brussel (Belgian National radio) is going to fool around in Second Life. They were looking for a poor sod with nothing on his hands between 10pm and midnight and ended up with me (thanks Peter).

So tune into StuBru on thursday evening, if you're not fed up with virtual worlds yet :)

It was a funny experience to be in SL, on the radio, IM through MS and receiving mails with pictures like this:

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Vista in Second Life - getting closer

I'm truly proud of this project we are doing with Microsoft for the launch of Vista, and this is why:
The launch in Second Life perfectly illustrates what we mean with "New Marketing" at ONE Agency. The combined team of client and agency have joined the Second Life community to organize something unique and innovative. Rather then buying ourselves into the place, we offer the community a free concert, working together with existing community members, and that should (will) generate a positive vibe for the brand.

Read all the details about the launch on Miel's blog.



Praga Khan & Windows Vista in Second Life

Life (especially health) has been a bit hard on me the last few days, but here I'm back with some great news.

We (ONE Agency) are taking care of the streaming in Second Life of the concert of Praga Khan at the occasion of the launch of Windows Vista. Work has been going on for some time and it's been an interesting collaboration with the PR Agency and Microsoft (more specifically the unbeatable Miel).

We now have screens ready in multiple locations (thanks to Miel's many inside contacts) and we're gearing up the technology to be able to host up to 2000 viewers in Second Life only. The ambition is to go over 300, but we want to make sure that whatever happens, we're ready to accommodate all interested viewers.

So, get your avatar ready and be there on Tuesday January 30th at one of the locations:
Strawberry Estate (including a real virtual atomium!)
and probably also on Crayonville Island.
For a full list of locations, check out the panels in Second Life.



Shameless self promotion: Bert on TV

"Koppen" the current affairs program on Belgian Television (één) came by last week to interview me on the business aspects of Second Life. Not an in-depth thing, but (probably) a good starter for those who never heard of Second Life. After all, één is a channel destined at the wide public.

I took the interviewer around a few places and we had a small Second Life interview at Crayonville Island, and we used the meeting facilities for a sales meeting (thanks CC). The team also interviewed Miel (Coolz0r) and Clo (and maybe more people).

So get of line and switch on the good old TV on Tuesday the 9th about 21:00h. I wonder how many seconds I will be visible :)

By the way, should you have more questions concerning Second Life and how to make it work in your business plan, just drop me a mail.


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Invitation to a party in Second Life

As you already could read, I'm moving to a new job at ONE Agency as of January 1st. But not without a great party!

On Wednesday (20/12) I'm thanking my colleagues with a drink, and you can be there too. The party simultaneously takes place in Second Life. So as of 18:00 (CET) you definitely must drop by at "The Black Sun".

Get into the atmosphere with some pics, and by the way, check out the shirt I made especially for the occasion:

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Shel Israel & Rick Segal in Brussels

The Belgian Microsoft crowd (especially Kris) was once again so nice to bring together a number of bloggers, this time to meet Shel Israel (together with Robert Scoble author of "Naked Conversations") and Rick Segal (a blogging VC from Canada). I suggest you go buy and read the book yourself, it's a pleasant read and full of useful information.

Here are some highlights/quotes I noted:

- Get ready for Shel's next book: "Global Neighbourhoods", it's got to do with politics I think.

- "In the blogosphere you get passionate response, because it are the passionate people that blog."

- Second Life:
Rick sees "Second Life" mainly as an entertainment platform where people can escape from the real world and enjoy games, sex, gambling, etc. I'd like to add music and video to that list. Interesting to note is Starwood's initiative to build a virtual hotel in Second Life. The commercial rationale is simple: soon every hotel site will have link to it's Second Life version for you to choose the room you want. However, in general Rick does not see much of a long term advertising effect from Second Life. One more notable initiative he talked about was somebody using Second Life as a therapy for kids with autism.

- Blogs, sites, forums:
Very relevant quotes from Shel about tools: "The revolution is in the conversation, not in the tool." and "It's not about what we use, but about what we say."
... much clearer is difficult :)

- Mainstream media (MSN) versus blogs:
Traditional mainstream media can not cater to the individual interests of people. Every individual has a passion he or she wants to talk about and people want to be emotionally attached to news. So the conclusion is obvious ...

- Companies afraid to allow blogging:
Microsoft has proved that it can survive blogs without a formal policy, even better, they gained a lot from it. But most (all) companies are afraid to let their employees blog. What rules do we need? Companies are responsible for their values, products, offering, ethics, etc. Simply askbloggers to user their common sense, and if you make up some rules, have them made by people already blogging. DON'T LET THE LEGAL GUYS IN THE ROOM!

- Should all companies start a blog?
Blogging is not always the right channel, think before you start. Don't just do blogs, but ask yourself (or your customer) the right questions first: "What do you want to do?", "What is your objective", "Are you prepared to listen", etc. Then decide how to join the conversation. It could be a blog, it could be that you just listen and respond through comments when relevant.

But remember ... The conversations are already going on, so you'd better join it!

Evert-Jan from Duval-Guillaume taped the whole conversation, if we get it on line somewhere I'll post a link to it later.