A series of conversations and events have left me wondering if I really ‘get’ the whole possibilities of SecondLife, or SL. I am simultaneously not a fan of the need for a fantasy life, and yet increasingly sure that SL represents both an important new stage in the development of technology capabilities for 3D interaction, as well as the provision of a public meeting place. Three completely separate events have made me think further.
First the launch of a new Scion car in itself not remarkable except that Scion represents to me that first really imaginative exploitation of the web by a car manufacturer in creating a brand and a community tied together by the web. When the launch is made both physically, and at the same time virtually on SL, it made me look at the whole topic of what, and why, Scion decided to do this in more detail. It’s not only Scion showing cars in great detail on SL, BMW and Mercedes are there with others too, and the whole point seems to be to allow children to ‘play’ with them in the same way as I had model cars when I was young. That is to say advance brand building of a relationship that creates a possible buyer latter in life.
If that wasn’t enough then a colleague told me that their 9 year old daughter had abandoned physical play with ‘My Little Pony’ for an all together more ambitious establishment of a complete riding school on SL. How much of this is bought on SL? I don’t know, but I will guess quite a lot, and if this is the trend then ‘My Little Pony’ has the choice of becoming obsolete, or moving onto SL to sell a more realistic and extended range of its toys. Suddenly the ING Bank offering a credit card on SL that recharges to your real world account seems to make sense. These two examples taken together suggest that SL has a role as the new playground for a generation of youngsters reared with PCs, and Games from an early age.
The third example was the opening by Sweden of an embassy on SL, an announcement that caused some hilarity with colleagues asking about asylum for Avatars etc. Sorry but the joke is on you there is a really serious point here around public meeting places. As we become more mobile, and travel the world more, then the ability to find our embassy from the nearest Internet café moves from being its physical address, which may be too remote to help, to being able to walk right in and ask for advice, virtually. The other way round the embassy also allows potential visitors to Sweden to find out what ever they need. That really makes you think about what SL could become.