Are metaverse communities a fad -- or the future?
Is Second Life today's hottest emerging media fad or the future of online communities and experience?
I've been asked this question a lot over the past year as Second Life increasingly graces the covers of mainstream magazines and conference room whiteboards of communication agencies. While multiuser, networked platforms have a long, deep history, Second Life has become the poster child of multiuser, Internet-enabled environments because of its no-cost entry, universal access, nonlinear user experience, and multiplatform availability.
Sounds a bit like how people talked about the Web in 1995, doesn't it?
One thing's for sure. Second Life is going strong, with a community of over 4.8 million citizens and growing. Although there's been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about actual (or repeat) users versus registered users, Second Life provides us with a glimpse into the future of networked communities.
Kids Are Getting Into the Act
The booming success of Club Penguin is a sure indicator metaverses (define) have appeal beyond early adopters. But don't go to ClubPenguin.com by yourself. Go with an 8-year-old power user and watch carefully. Social networking is a natural experience for kids as they learn to network, play games, earn coins, and budget their spending. And the recent launch of Nicktropolis only emphasizes that they're very comfortable with multiuser environment platforms.
Social Networks Affect the Web As We Know It
Though I can't predict the future, I can make a few educated guesses about what really works in Second Life and what's likely to influence the future of online communities from content and navigation perspectives. In addition, I'll provide an example of new platforms that might have been influenced by Second Life's success.
What really works and what might have influenced it:
What Do These Things Mean for You?
It means if you plan on participating in Second Life or other metaverses, you should keep these ideas in mind. Ask yourself the following:
Look for confident brands to take full advantage of these trends. Give them some thought, and let's keep the dialogue going.
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Chad Stoller is the executive director of emerging platforms at Organic Inc., a leading digital communications agency with clients such as DaimlerChrysler, Sprint, and Bank of America. In this role, Chad leads Organic's strategy on client communication platforms and Organic's Experience Lab. Prior to Organic, he spent 13 years at Arnell Group in various roles, including director of communications solutions, and was responsible for branded entertainment, new media, branded gaming, and marketing alliances. He has developed a series of award-winning programs, including the Cannes Lion winner, "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker," for Reebok and Jeep Evo 4 x 4 for DaimlerChrysler. Chad is also a regular contributor to Organic's blog, ThreeMinds.
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