One of the developments that most excites me on the web is Second Life. The voice of non-webheads rises up with a resounding “What on earth is that?”. It is not on earth, it’s a virtual world of it’s own. A virtual world where online interactions are that much richer, because the people you meet can move their bodies, and use rocket packs.
My other rocketpack’s a car
It was described a far more clearly in Andreas Kluth’s cracking New Media Survey :
Second Life, a “metaverse” (for “metaphysical universe”) created by Linden Lab, a San Francisco internet company. Mr Rosedale, its founder, says that Second Life is “not a video game but a place where people make things.” This is hard to imagine until one sees it, but then instantly addictive. People who log on to Second Life create an “avatar” (ie, an online extension of themselves). As avatars, they mingle, go to parties, create what they wear and drive in, build the houses where they live, paint pictures and compose music.
The Economist, and any other brands in the group, could take advantage of it in a number of ways. Here are a couple that spring to mind :
i) A virtual reading room. The days of having a club where you can relax, smoke cigars and come up with dodgy insider trade deals with your school friends are behind (most of) us. However, we could create the feeling of comfort, home and sociability associated with clubs by building a house where we distribute Economist content and let Economist readers meet each other.
The meeting of two passionate Economist readers is a sight to behold. Each recounts their favourite covers, surveys and picture byline. We would enable that meeting whilst also providing an environment where our free content could be read.
ii) Cobranded Experiences. There are already many brands that have moved into Second Life, what we could do would be let a brand interact with our audience in James Wilson House. Whether we provide more free content to be perused in virtual leather chairs, or created meta-rollercoaster to teach them about the stock market.
If anyone would like to join me to discuss Project Redstripe I’ll be hanging out there under the pseudonym Nigel Barbecue. I’m a very irregular user so you’ll be able to laugh at me as I bump into Major League Baseball stars in the virtual ballpark.
Harry Potter fun in Second Life
UPDATE : since first writing this post there has been a cracking special report on Second Life in The Economist.