Jul 16, 2008

Another world?

So, what’s all the fuss about ‘online’ and Web 2.0? What has changed? The World Wide Web (WWW) has fundamentally shifted up a gear in terms of what it can do now. Web 2.0 has changed the online experience from being ‘talked at’ to being able ‘to be in conversation’. It is perhaps this ongoing concept of interaction that is most distinctive. Web 2.0 has opened the door (for example) to Collaboration (Wikis/ Blogs), Recommendation (Tagging/ Digg’ing), Convergence (MySpace/ Second Life), Casting (Narrow/Wide/Video/Pod), and VOIP (Skype). What impact does that have on the average business in the real world? Take for example the ‘futuristic’ (but nonetheless, here today) world of Second Life [created by Linden Labs (http://lindenlab.com/)]. Just wasting time? Well, not so for Rob Hof of BusinessWeek who went ‘in-world’ and discovered a whole new parallel world with an economy that genuinely crosses over into our ‘real’ world. Hof (a Baby Boomer) found creating his avatar (Rob Cranes) very involving. He describes the ability to have a ‘...social experience. You can do almost anything… Create homes, buy islands and create a resort...” “ This is not just a business phenomenon… it’s entertainment at its root [but] there is an economy developing here…[Linden Labs] not only let people create their stuff (e.g. clothing)… they have ownership of the intellectual property they create [inworld]… they can sell it… it gives them an economic incentive to create it…” and they can turn it into real product outside ‘Second Life’, explains Hof. There is an internal online currency that is in fact exchangeable into real world money. The currency online is ‘Linden dollars’. The rate to exchange it into real dollars is roughly 300:1 (Lindens to USD). Money is exchanged back and forth through the creators ‘Linden Lab’ and Hof reports some people are taking out ‘thousands of dollars a month’. People could do this for a profession! Too far-fetched? Well, you aren’t alone – not everyone is a fan.

Next time: What about ‘real’ businesses? How is this relevant?

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