Second Life, Uncategorized

Don’t Worry, Says Philip Rosedale: “There’s No Eye Contact in Second Life”

Philip Rosedale continues his tour of the media this week with an interview in Fast Company extolling the benefits of business collaboration in Second Life, pointing out that a) when people talk their voice comes from their direction and b) there’s no eye contact.

Now, I’ll give Philip a little more credit. But this interview comes on the heels of a TechCrunch interview where in explaining why the 3D properties of Second Life are important he compared it to Warcraft, and then followed it up by telling the New York Times that Second Life is a terrarium.

In the Fast Company interview, Philip is a little more reasoned in his arguments for why Second Life is good for business. He talks about the immersive properties of “being in a room with people”. He talks about rezzing a prototype or viewing Web pages.

Philip Rosedale is the Best in the, um World When it Comes to Developing Virtual Worlds

Photo: Fast Company

Let’s recap:

Tech Crunch: Why a 3D World Instead of a Browser-Based One?
“In a browser you can’t render a 3D environment with sound, lighting, shadows, the actual sort of World of Warcraft like…you know uh most people have seen that…the real 3D rendered experience.”

New York Times: Why Virtual Worlds for Business?
““In a way, he says, Second Life can be used as “a terrarium for looking at these changes.”

It is time for real-world executives to learn from their virtual counterparts, he says: “They’re going to figure out that they don’t need to control this from the top down. These companies will still get put together, but they’re only going to be connected at the balance sheet and at the level of finance. Information technology levels the playing field.” “

Fast Company: Why virtual worlds for business?

There are two features we’ve added in the last year that has made Second Life attractive to both business and education.

OK, yeah, but?

The virtual world creates a sense of realism that’s way beyond what you can do with two-dimensional whiteboarding or a Web conferencing application. Admittedly, it’s a little harder to get set up, and that’s our challenge.

Oh, so it’s not quite ready yet?

“We are still very early in the functionality and adoption of virtual environments in general. The majority of people who try out virtual worlds — and Second Life is definitely the leader in that overall category — don’t stay.”

UM…did you say that Second Life is the leader in the category of people not staying?

OK, but you say meetings are great in Second Life because of voice and other stuff right? What else makes meetings a good thing in Second Life?

“I guarantee you that you would remember the content of this conversation better than you would driving in your car and talking on the phone. I guarantee you would have laughed once or twice when I put on a funny hat or changed clothes with my avatar.”

Ah, funny hats.

Anecdotally, the virtual meeting space allows people to establish friendships in business context and get closer to one another. You don’t have real eye contact. And meetings are significantly less threatening. The sense of threat we have in real world meetings just isn’t there in the virtual environment.

So, um, I guess Philip is saying that the real world is threatening. If you find reality threatening, you should go into a virtual world, wear a funny hat, and not worry because no one can make eye contact anyways so you won’t feel, um, threatened.

I don’t suppose that plays into the myth at all that virtual worlds are populated by geek losers with no socializing skills?

Please. Philip.

OK. But maybe there’s a solution to all these problems of attrition, difficulty setting things up, barriers to entry?

How can Second Life improve?
“We have to do a tremendous amount of innovation and product work and technology work to grow beyond where we are now. I think it’s best for the company if I reserve a large amount of my time to contribute there.”

Ah, OK, so this platform with all of the barriers to entry that you built will solve its way out of those problems because the person who built all those problems is now going to try to solve them?
I am fundamentally a product and design guy and technology is my background. We’re a profitable company, growing quickly and closing in on 300 people. That’s a big business and I didn’t feel I could do it better than anyone in the world. If you looked at my contributions to designing virtual worlds, I think they’re second to none.

And Philip’s experience as the top dog, the best in the world, the genius wunderkind is, well, sure, he developed Second Life deploying an architecture that they knew from day one wasn’t scalable, whose barriers to entry mean that less than 10% of new users stay, which gives us funny hats to wear in meetings….I mean, I know he did more than that, but if he’s going to be the geeky uberlord, then stay the geeky overlord and stop giving press that can’t articulate the platform benefits.

By the way, how’s the search going for Cory’s replacement?


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