The Tune In: Using Second Life To Garner Real People


Snow Crash was a science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. There are probably a good amount of visitors here who have read his postmodern/cyberpunk work since many CR readers are always on the edge of technology and innovation. In the book he wrote of the ?metaverse,? a virtual reality world in which people could enter and ?live? when piped in. There were social clubs, bars, streets and stores where people could meet, hang out, and go on dates. It was the next generation of the Internet. I won?t ruin the story for you, but there is a great mix of tech, action, mythology, and swordplay. Sounds intriguing, right?

Fifteen years later, a concept Second Life is coming to international mainstream attention. It is a practical application of what Stephenson had called the metaverse?a client program that allows users to interact with each other via custom avatars. While some see it for its gaming applications, others see it as a practical web navigation device (?walking? into the store, ?taking? a CD from Virgin Megastore off the shelf), as well as a progression of Internet personal connectivity.

As companies rush to use the technology, it makes one question, how can technical innovations be monetized and used by existing brands? Recently, a few television networks have created Second Life sites to bring added value to the internet experience. Showtime started a Second Life site for their show ?The L Word.,? and Sundance Channel recently launched their own for premiering films. The indie film and art network likens the experience to going to an art house or coffee shop to check out recent work. On the site for ?The L Word,? visitors can hangout at the same places the characters, can go to a dance club on various theme nights hosted by special DJs, and go to stores with virtual merchandise available for users.

The recent trend towards Second Life, in which there are now over 4 million users, shows an interesting juncture of technology and culture, with companies using it to bring a value edition to their already present properties. Whereas the internet is used to market various products, in this example, television networks use their web sites to promote new shows, post behind-the-scenes footage, leak information, etc., now these networks have tapped into Second Life to intrigue and insight. Even if a visitor isn?t interested in the show itself, they will definitely check it out just to learn more, and thereby increase the potential of exposure to the show and its network. How can you use technology and innovation to do the same for yourself or your business?


15 thoughts on “The Tune In: Using Second Life To Garner Real People

  1. I honestly don’t understand the appeal of Second Life – my first life keeps me busy enough!!

    1. Yeah, my experience with the program was that it sucked up all my computer’s resources that it would freez it constantly. So I had to uninstall it.
      Had to experience what all the talk was about at least once…

  2. Remember when you would wait for 5 minutes for a picture to download on your 14.4 modem in 1994! I am sure that the technology will ramp up and we will see an easy practical application as compression gets smaller and our pipelines get larger. At 4 million users, with increased ad-generating and communication space, the SL medium will only continue to grow. I completely understand what you are saying though, it is hard enough to find time to say hello to friends, let along be bogged down by another program!! Thanks for reading.

    1. Yeah, there is serious money going into this. And with a network of 4 million+, I think it’ll be here for a looong time. One thing I didn’t do was check my system in regards to the requirements needed to run the program…that’s probably why my computer is still being held captive at Fry’s

  3. I checked out Second Life for a couple hours to see what it was all about. Totally blew my mind.
    The two things that stand out about it are :
    1. The video game “experience” where anything is possible with code
    2. The huge economy embedded within it
    As a business you HAVE to have an online presence today. In five years you may HAVE to have one in Second Life too.

    1. I was really impressed with the economy too – it’s also the first time any virtual items were allowed on Ebay!

    1. That’s what the Matrix Online is for! :raze:
      Although, you can’t take the info with you when you disconnect

      1. When I was touring around SL I came across someone with a very badass avatar teaching a group of other people how to write weapons scripts for Second Life.
        I didn’t see a Kung Fu script class … but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is one

  4. “As a business you HAVE to have an online presence today. In five years you may HAVE to have one in Second Life too.”
    Prolific statement. I am willing to believe it will hold true.

    1. Instead of “Go to the website”, people will be saying “Come dance with my avatar”.
      Seriously though, as the technology gets better, Second Life is going to create some interesting opportunities for business conferencing bundled with interactive multimedia presentation capability.

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