Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Linden Lab - IBM

Dear Linden Lab,

As a user of Second Life in college I think that IBM's approach to conferencing and expanding the knowledge of their business through this virtual environment was an excellent way to involve all of their employees. I think one of the biggest factors for this company was that not only did they function fully with one another but they saved thousands of dollars. They saved over "$250,000 in travel and venue costs and more than $150,000 in additional productivity gains". If companies can save these amounts of money, they in turn can do something else with it.

I think a great thing to touch upon was how the employees of IBM didn't feel as though they were on the computer, or teleconferencing or videoconferencing, but actually thought they were in a real environment with others. Even though Second Life is not a physical world, it feels like it is and it gives people the feeling that they are actually there. You quote an employee in saying, "The ability to see the others there and the sharing of an interesting space together did contribute to a feeling of attending a event in a different way than simply dialing into a large conference call". If hundreds of employees can function on a virtual level then I think that Second Life is a great outlet for avatars to feel welcome and in a "real-world" setting.

A way that IBM knew that users enjoyed this environment is because they kept coming back to talk to others and hang out. You quote Karen Keeter in saying, "Anytime you visited the conference space, at any time of the day, there were always at least ten to twelve people in the plaza socializing". Something to note from this statement is that she says, "any time of the day", meaning that people were coming together outside of office hours. I think that when people do things on their own personal time this means that they actually enjoy doing something. I think that Second Life became more of a hobby than a job and employees liked the fact that they could converse with others at any time of the time, whether it be in the park or over a virtual martini.

Edward Castranova makes a statement in his book, Implications and Policies in Synthetic Worlds, about how people need to be convinced to partake in virtual worlds. He states, "In the area of video games and play culture in general, however, getting people to care is very much the first step. Because play only serves its purposes when it is play, and therefore not serious, we have an entirely natural predisposition not to care" (p. 250). I think that the only difference is that IBM was play and work at the same time. But because Second Life is known a game, IBM had to convince people that it would and could function as a job and meeting place for hundreds of employees. You quote a conversation between Katz and a colleague where the colleague states, "I don't understand how this is going to make it" and Katz responds, "Well we're in Second Life holding this conversation", and the colleague states, "You're right, I've been here for two hours". I think this confirms that even though people may be reluctant to use a site such as Second Life because its not taken seriously, they realize its positives once they are pointed out. 


Nicole Lengyel

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