Second Lease on my Second Life

Back when we thought Second Life could be the next Facebook, I entered the virtual world to see if there were any opportunities for marketers. I remember having fun designing my avatar and came up with the name of Goffman Ochs by combining the last names of my favorite social theorist and a ‘60s folk artist.

Eventually boredom set in and to be honest, the whole scene was a little too sexual for me. I left Goffman, the sociable singer songwriter, sitting on a park bench in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Time went by, Twitter became the new Facebook, and the other day my cousin told me our mutual friend Brian chaired a recent SL Convention. I hadn’t thought of SL in so long and suddenly a wave of guilt came over me…

  • How could I do that to Goffman?
  • How could I leave him slumped over on a park bench like that?

I met up with Brian Perry at his home in Newton, MA to see if we could find my avatar. I was relieved when I logged-in. There was Goffman, right where I left him. Sunlight danced off the Pacific and clouds floated through the sky as he walked around for the first time in three years. The improved graphics were immediately apparent and navigation was easy due to a redesigned search capability.

Back in the real world, Brian and I had a conversation about the current state of SL. Here’s what he told me…

  • Second Life is changing—it used to be that the SL population was one-third gamer, one-third artist, and one-third social misfit. Not anymore.
  • Second Life for collaboration—more and more people are using SL for actual purposes.
  • Second Life for a healthy life—Brian chaired the healthcare track of this year’s SL summit. Topics included the use of SL for clinical trials, cancer outreach, and stress relief.
  • Second Life for learning—one of the biggest groups in SL is SLED, which is dedicated to educational opportunities in SL.

In 2006 I went into SL with the wrong attitude. I observed a subculture that had its own brands and I didn’t think there were a lot of marketing opportunities. I left, but Goffman lived on, and so did his surroundings. While it may not have the mass appeal of Facebook, SL is a great place for groups to come together and collaborate, and unlike Facebook, the company actually makes money.