Your case study How Meeting In Second Life transformed IBM’s Technology Elite Into Virtual World Believers had many interesting points. The amount of effort and money that was put into the conferences was pretty surprising to me. Although they saved around 320,000 dollars in expenses by hosting the conference online, spending 80,000 in the virtual world is a lot a lot of money. I wonder if a majority of this money was spent on the face to face training of employees on how to use Second Life. I could not imagine a company spending a huge sum of money in Lindens. Since the initial conference space has already been developed and many staff members have been trained, future conferences could run the company even less money.
IBM’s employees embraced Second Life. It is interesting that participants would gather in various places to converse with fellow employees at the end of the conference. I wonder what percentage of employees stayed online after the conference versus signing off. It is also feasible to think that some may have stayed on to avoid returning to their regular work.
Although there are several positive aspects about IBM’s usage of Second Life, I believe this case study fails to recognize a major aspect. IBM is a technology-based company. Many of the employees should already be familiar with various types of computer programs and technologies. Many of these employees have a passion for technology. I believe this made it easier for IBM and its employees to embrace Second Life the way they did. For example a few days after the event, one member asked if she could use the meeting space to relax in a hammock.
In chapter 12 of Edward Castronova’s book Synthetic Worlds, he discusses the downfalls of these virtual worlds. He explains that people can become addicted to these virtual worlds. He acknowledges the fact that virtual worlds are no longer a game. This is apparent with IBM’s usage of Second Life for their conference. He goes on to say that this can be dangerous due to the anonymity of virtual worlds. However in the IBM case, I am sure most of the employees did not feel anonymous since their virtual identities can be connected to their real life identity.