Recent news items mention how CNN, the global, respected, cable news leader, has established a presence in Second Life, a virtual world online.
Even though I have cautiously resisted jumping on the Second Life bandwagon (for fear of wasting time even more than I do at present), this seemingly innocuous news item has far greater long term impact on an industry, and society, than, say, Citibank or McDonald’s creating a presence.
For the most part, even large companies like these are merely touching the tip of the benefits iceberg that a real viable virtual world presence will bring businesses in real world terms.
News, by its nature, is the most well suited to that virtual world being leveraged in the real world.
A virtual burger sold by McDonald’s will not fill my hunger, virtual or real. Sure, some bank’s virtual branch could lend me virtual money in Second Life to buy some virtual property there – while they could charge me a fee in the real world, costing me real Dollars.
But, a virtual CNN reporter asking me a question of my virtual persona (especially if it is based on my true identity) can get the same valuable (or useless) insights as if they had met me in Atlanta or New York.
A citizen journalist in Pakistan could provide detailed accounts of dictator Pervez Musharaff’s latest hooliganism against journalists, judges and the Constitution of Pakistan in a virtual world, far quicker, safer and better than than it could be done in the real world.
That is one small aspect and there are many more. Here are the key points to keep in mind particularly for large businesses:
– Real world businesses can be in virtual worlds merely for appearing virtually cool
– Some large businesses can make small incremental revenues quickly in the real world by leveraging “services” delivered in the virtual world
– News media are ideally positioned to leverage virtual world presences for real world benefits far greater than other industries can experience at this stage.
What do you think – “really”?