18 May 2010


A couple days ago my human had brunch with a friend, and after the second or third mimosa mentioned to him that I make money in Second Life. (Yes, there I am, above, at Babele Fashion's main store.) He's a business entrepreneur and a sharp guy, and just then he looked like he was going to choke on his omlette. "You make money in Second Life!?" he said, looking at me incredulously. I could see his brain was scrambling hard and fast trying to make sense of this improbability, because on the one hand his fuzzy memory equated Second Life with something from a BusinessWeek article from 2007 and Monopoly play money ... but on the other hand I had clearly and simply stated that I was really making money, real money, and he could tell I wasn't kidding around. I explained to him how people buy stuff in Second Life, how there's a real economy, how Linden Dollars are a convertible currency, how I just transferred some more money to PayPal and dumped it in my bank account, and so on. "It's kind of like the Wild West," I said. "If you ever want to check the place out, let me know." I could see the wheels in his head already turning.

And then just now I was reading Wagner James Au's New World Notes (with which I have a love-hate relationship but read every day), and many of his posts have to do with marketing: with the recruitment and retention of various constituencies, with demographic studies, with SWOT analyses, even if he doesn't use those terms. Often I disagree with his reasoning, but I do I agree with his goal: Second Life, let's face it, needs to grow. It's an absolutely incredible place—amazing!—but those of us who are residents are probably not its best evangelists. And, the big question: Why is that? Why aren't we, the users of Second Life, out there pounding the pavement? We have the potential to be SL's most important communicators, salespeople and representatives in real life. Perhaps my perception is skewed: maybe most Second Life residents are indeed chatting it up on the other side, but I'd be surprised. I suspect, rather, that for many of us this place is some sort of secret hideaway—notwithstanding Wagner's assertion that those people who "connect" their real life and Second Life identities are more likely to be retained in Second Life, an argument which I find dubious—I suspect that on some level we're reluctant to admit our devotion to the place. How can Linden Lab gain the enthusiasm of its patrons and market base sufficiently that we, the residents and users of Second Life, would earnestly help market the platform? That is, after all, what Apple managed to do with brilliance.

It's all part of the brand experience. Now, back to the shop.

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