Steve Rubel, whose opinion I respect, says he believes 3D virtual worlds are going to become a place where people will increasingly spend time and conduct business online.
Spend time, probably. Conduct business? Depends on what you mean by business.
If by business he means sell virtual land and houses, OK. If he means maybe sell some real-world books and records, OK. If he means PR business, which I suspect he does, maybe. In a let’s build a cool structure, put our flashy logo on it and hire an intern to chat up the people and animals that fly over sort of way.
But if he means business as in the kind of big corporate business run by that gigantic percentage of the population who have never heard of Second Life and/or think it’s some online video game (which largely it is, all the square peg stuffing notwithstanding), he’s smoking crack.
Steve says Nasdaq should start an exchange in Second Life. It seems they might actually be interested in doing that. What’s next, NYSE in World of Warcraft? AMEX in Sims Online? CME in Webkinz World?
I’m trying to imagine how it would go if I called up one of my clients and told him/her that we should start doing business in Second Life.
[Ripple effect as we fade to a dream sequence, which begins with Kent dialing a phone number from his chaotic office. Several people stand by nervously, with reams of paper in their hands.]
Kent: Hey Bob, how ya’ doing?
Client: Fine, how ’bout you? Are we ready to close the acquisition of that office building portfolio?
Kent: Just about, that’s why I’m calling. I think we should call the seller’s representatives and see if they want to have the closing in Second Life.
Kent: You know, that virtual world that was on the cover of Business Week a few months ago. We could all create some avatars. I think I’ll use a zebra head. Then we could meet over at this castle I built and shake virtual hands. Then maybe we could take a spin on my dance pads. I found this great 80’s station that streams to my parcel.
Client: What in the world are you talking about?
Kent: It’s the new thing. All of the A-List bloggers are talking about it.
Client: What’s a blogger?
Kent: It doesn’t matter. Look, just get on the internet. It’s that little blue “e” at the bottom of your computer screen. Click over to Second Life and register. I have to wait until I get home to do it, because our corporate firewall blocks Second Life. They don’t realize it’s a business tool.
Client: Stop messing around. Do we have wiring instructions from the seller?
Kent: No, I told them we’d pay with Linden Dollars.
Client: Have you been drinking? C’mon, man, we’ve got a big deal to close.
Kent: Look, I’m just trying to drag you into the 21st century. Remember when you said email was too hard? Now you can send emails even when your secretary is at lunch. Second Life is the same way…only you have to ignore all those XXX rated stores on every corner. Just pretend you’re in Houston and walk right past ’em.
Client: Look, I need you to stop goofing around and get my deal closed.
Kent: Did I mention that you can fly in Second Life?
Kent: Bob…hello…Bob…are you there?
Somehow, I don’t see it happening. Sure, 3D worlds tap into the human need to fantasize and socialize. A need that likely arises due to the real world stresses of real world jobs. Jobs that, for most of us, are about as far away from Second Life as possible.