Business in Virtual Worlds, Collaboration, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

Symbiotic Links, Google Wave and Second Life

Advertising Age asks whether Google Wave will achieve success where previous platforms have failed if it doesn’t form a symbiotic link between the technology itself and a fundamental dimension of humanity:

Looking back at it now, I realize what we failed to do last time around is to symbiotically couple this whiz-bang technology with fulfilling a fundamental dimension of our humanity. Technology by itself is sterile and a communication and collaboration play was pretty sterile sounding. This time round, though, Google Wave really has a chance to get it right if it forges a tight symbiotic link between this technology and a core element of our humanity…

For inspiration, then, let’s look at what fueled the biggest internet successes over the past few years and we’ll find our answer there. Without a doubt, recent successful companies focus on providing technology that fulfills our deeply rooted, collective and vital need to be a part of a trusted community. Joining, starting and living in a digital community is a far more powerful dynamic than the need to “connect” because connecting has no value without a community to connect to.

The comment had me thinking about discussions earlier this week. Justin Bovington of Rivers Run Red commented on a post about the possibility of a Second Life developer’s conference (in the interests of disclosure, we partner with Rivers on Immersive Workspaces(TM)):

These defined entry points – I believe greatest epoch change since 2003 – will give us all the opportunity to focus and build relevant experiences. This is arguably why the media still has trouble categorising Second Life. Some of the press still see Second Life as a “story” from 2006-2007, with little to no definition beyond Google researched news threads. As we know, it’s not that black and white. Hence why I think 2010 will be the tipping-point. Definition creates Clarity.

Beyond the SL developer community, we need to crossover from “niche conventions” and take this into the mainstream clients/sales/development conference circuit. Virtual Worlds are coming of age as a business tool; we’re seeing real ROI and real tangible benefits. The longer we hide this in the wilderness, the longer it will take to adopt. The current “niche conventions” are peer-to-peer meet ups, with no purpose other than showcasing platforms.

Success will come from proving to the market that these “platforms” have relevant and developed “solutions” for sector specific business use and challenges.

Now – I don’t know enough about Google Wave – but I really don’t think that ‘community’ is the right symbiotic link. I’m not even sure it needs one. Twitter didn’t – “real time messaging” was the tech, and the symbiotic link was created by its users.

And I used to think I knew the ’symbiotic link’ for Second Life, which was our need to create. But with all the talk about enterprise and firewalls and SL being something like a social media maybe the Lab is moving away from that.

I do relate to the concept though as the author of the Ad Age piece puts it (and see if this doesn’t sound familiar for virtual worlds):

“Ultimately, though, we failed, and unified messaging, as it was conceived, never fully took off for a few reasons. First, it required quite a steep learning curve to work it properly. Then, there was the “high daily maintenance” needed to make it worthwhile. Finally, despite the heft of the solution, consumers often said, “but what problem does it solve?” That question was not answered well back then and I hear echoes of that question today.”


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