Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Looking Back on 2007

I started this blog almost exactly 12 months ago, so I thought it would be a good point to pause and look back over the last year and see if any shapes have emerged.

While the commercial world started to sit up and take notice of Second Life back in 2006, it was not until 2007 that it really hit its stride. The first half of the year saw an explosion of new commercial sites, coupled with an increasing sophistication in the way Second Life was used.

A few themes stick out during this time:

  • inworld recruitment
  • techie communities
  • virtual conferences
  • cities going virtual
  • evolution of island archipelagos

A number of recruitment companies established themselves, hosting job fairs targeted at attracting skilled professionals in areas such as IT, finance and marketing. European business units from my own company participated in such fairs, and found them to be an effective method for shortlisting candidates.

Large technology companies, such as Intel and Microsoft, established thriving developer communities. The benefits worked both ways: for the company they had a ready focus group to work with, while for the developers it gave them an opportunity to establish networks, share ideas and keep their costs down. I think this is a trend we will see more and more in the year to come, and leads nicely into virtual conferences.

Although these have probably been around as long as virtual worlds, the extension of real-life conferences into Second Life was a common occurrence in 2007. In this way it was thus possible to attend at least some conference talks without incurring vast travel costs, loss of productive time and conference expenses. The impact of this should not be underestimated. I recall talking with a SAP developer who was unable to attend the various SAP conventions as he could not get the time from work, and his employer was not prepared to pay his expenses. This left him feeling isolated and largely out of touch with the rest of the SAP community. He was looking forward to participating in the inworld SAP community, and attending virtual developer conferences.

Cities – particularly those in Germany and Benelux – started to put in an appearance in Second Life in 2007. Whether sponsored by the local tourist board, the Chamber of Commerce, or enterprising locals, such city sims seem to fulfil a need. Much as we might like to ignore frontiers and live the international high life, for many of us there is still no place like home: a place where people speak your language, share the same cultural heritage and laugh at your jokes! These city sims go some way to doing this, while also offering a more traditional 3D billboard for the city, its features and its opportunities. Building on this theme, I also noticed a tendency for related sims to cluster and form entire archipelagos. Most often, this was related to a common language or culture – so for example, there are French, Italian and German archipelagos.

I reckon that’s enough to be going on with for now. Too many words in one post (and no pictures!) gives me nose-bleeds. A view of the second half of the year will need to wait for another day.

1 comment:

Nic Mitham said...

Well summarised Al.
Pretty amazing what can happen in a year.