Should Business Editors Get a (Second) Life?

Second Life is a computer fantasy world where people assume alternate identities in order to visit virtual space stations and vampire castles. So you'd think this was one online trend business editors could skip. But according to Rob Freedman and Dave Levinson, you'd be wrong.

Freedman and Levinson spoke at the Central South-East Region Azbee Awards banquet on July 12 in Washington D.C. Freedman is immediate past president of ASBPE and has written a book called Second Life Business Strategies, to be published by McGraw-Hill. Levinson is the CEO of Cranial Tap, a firm that builds Second Life sites for business clients. Their talk was summarized in a post on the the ASBPE D.C. blog.

The two pointed out that businesses like IBM and Coldwell Banker are already starting to use Second Life, and B2B magazines could do the same. For instance, Feedman said, a homebuilder magazine could sponsor a virtual workshop on building techniques, demonstrating in a realistic recreation how to install solar panels on a roof.

Other reasons B2B editors should pay attention to what's going on in Second Life (and other virtual worlds that are emerging):
  • The mass consumer market is interested in virtual worlds. That's undeniable, given the success of Second Life. The site has garnered millions of users since its launch in 2003.

  • Businesses are making money serving customers in Second Life. "Some entrepreneurial users generate a six-figure income based on the objects they create and sell," the blog post quotes Levinson as saying.

  • Virtual worlds are a global phenomenon. Right now, Second Life can be translated into 12 languages. That gives it potential to reach an international audience.

  • Virtual worlds are a way to reach a younger audience. Why should you care? Because that's the audience of the future. Rob Freedman argued that the next generation of readers "will be totally acclimated to virtual environments." As one audience member suggested, they may even require new interfaces such as virtual worlds before they're even willing to consume new content.
Read the full recap of Freedman and Levinson's talk, from the D.C. chapter blog.

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