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  ‘Second Life’ Marketing Panel Implodes  
Posted 2006-06-23 by Tony Walsh
Today I joined other speakers in a round-table discussion about the potential for marketing to avatars in the virtual world of Second Life. During my opening remarks, my Second Life client software crashed. Then it crashed two more times. After the third time, I couldn't get back in as the entire world was downed due to "unplanned circumstances" (according to Linden Lab). I tried for several minutes to get back in, and then gave up. If Second Life is to be a truly viable marketing platform, it needs to be a stable platform first.

I imagine that the panel was probably useful for most of the attendees, but I shouldn't have been a panelist (although I appreciate the invite). I can't talk seriously about marketing potential when morality is specifically excluded as a discussion point. It's not that I didn't have much to say, it's just that this was the wrong venue for me.

Due to what I think was probably unfortunate wording in the email outlining speaker expectations, I understood that in my opening remarks I'd be responding to one or more questions posed by the moderator. Turns out I was wrong. Unlike some or all of the other speakers, I hadn't prepared anything to talk about... you know, because I was expecting at least one leading question. I'm normally a quick thinker, but when I crashed midway through my second sentence, it killed any momentum I might have been building up. Such are the perils of virtual world panels, I suppose.
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Comment posted by rikomatic
June 23, 2006 @ 5:38 pm
Is SL getting massively griefed? Is their scaling model starting to fall apart? What's going on over there?
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
June 23, 2006 @ 5:42 pm
Either option is a possibility. I have no idea what's really going on, but I suppose if it's a grief attack, we'll find out soon enough.

This page gives a vague indication that something is wrong: Second Life Grid Status
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
June 23, 2006 @ 7:28 pm
I was inworld when they began to send out messages about "data base problems" and I couldn't search inventory or get money to move or basically do much of anything but twirl around, studying the events calendar and marveling that the Harvard people had closed their panel due to being "oversubscribed". When I saw all the crashing going on from customers, I thought, hmm, perhaps I can get a seat there now -- but the entire ball game may have been rained out.

I'm puzzled what you meant by "morality," Tony. How did that relate?

Technology crashes a lot in general. You've probably worked in offices where there's always something "down". I used to keep two DSL lines going on the system just because one was always "down". The big copier was always "down" so I had a small desktop one as a back-up, etc. Stuff doesn't work lots of the time.

SL can still be a very viable commercial and non-profit application even if it crashes, it would be no different than most ISPs which are "down" at least some of the time, sometimes for "maintenance". The question is whether their new "unaccountable accounts" system has led to increased griefing, if the people they've banned for grid-crashing before are now able to sneak in on new accounts. They'll have to rework that somehow.

Griefing has definitely increased. But not 10 fold. More like 3-fold in some hotspots. And the Lindens seem to deal with it pretty swiftly. The question is whether they could develop more policies and use political will rather than more fragile technological solutions.
Comment posted by ivv
June 23, 2006 @ 8:54 pm
The full transcript is here. Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet today.
Comment posted by csven
June 24, 2006 @ 11:36 am
Actually, that isn't a "full" transcript. I've noticed a few things missing.

Now I think of it, I wonder if the sales pitch posts were edited out. I didn't read the whole thing, but suspect they were. Tony would have had a field day on those alone.
Comment posted by ivv
June 24, 2006 @ 12:54 pm
That's right. I had to drop replies that I couldn't match to each other when people were just shouting out stuff, as well as things blatantly off topic. But true, the plugs were priceless. Let me know if you want the raw chat log.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
June 25, 2006 @ 10:13 am
Prok, to answer this question:
I'm puzzled what you meant by "morality," Tony. How did that relate?

In my opinion, marketing is most often about persuading a person to weigh "want" higher than "need," and because of this, any conversation about marketing should include ethics as well. In her opening remarks, the moderator of this panel instructed us that "We shall leave the moral debate on this topic for another discussion." That killed the conversation for me.

I also thought the question the panel was gathered to answer was weak. The question was "Do virtual worlds present a significant marketing potential for real-life companies?" If I answered this question, it would be with a simple "Yes." Again, conversation-killer.
Comment posted by Brace
June 26, 2006 @ 9:09 am
"If Second Life is to be a truly viable marketing platform, it needs to be a stable platform first."

Nuff said, really.
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