Thursday, 10 July 2008

What's in a Job Title?

I have recently been pondering the question: "What's in a job title?"

I've been prompted into this line of pondering by the role of Chris Collins. I am not referring to the well-known virtual worlds educationalist, whose avatar name reminds me of Nip/Tuck. I am actually thinking of the one who works for Linden Lab.

If you do some choice Googling you will most likely encounter Chris being described as "the Technical Assistant to the CEO at Linden Lab". While this may conjure up images of a geek whose role in life is to switch on the CEO's PC and make sure he knows when Outlook has a message for him, I suspect the role may be larger than that. For example, most techie button-pushers are unlikely to be interviewed by Tech Crunch. The article, dating from November last year, gives us more insight: "recently he took up the Technical Assistant to the CEO role, an interesting position in that it’s essentially an executive in training position. Collins shadows Linden Lab CEO Phillip Rosedale at all meetings and functions, and is also directly responsible for Lindex Exchange, the Linden Dollar to US Dollar currency service for Second Life. At the end of the position (6-9mths) he will then take up an executive role with Linden Lab."

In more recent articles (such as this from Reuters) it is clear that he has now taken up that executive role, as Director of Enterprise Business Systems. To residents of Second Life who have no interest whatsoever in the enterprise use of the environment, this job title might sound as vacuous as Homer Simpson's classic 'Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence'. However, for me, given that the thrust of this blog - and indeed much of what I do in Second Life - is directed to the business use of virtual worlds, this job role resonates strongly.

I would therefore be very interested to know what the heck this role entails. I can see that there is a recurring piece of blurb that appears in recent articles: "For more information about the Second Life Grid visit, or contact Chris Collins, Director of Enterprise Business Systems at" But frankly, that tells me sweet F.A.

Is this job title as meaningless and confusing as his earlier "Technical Assistant" role? Or does it mean that Linden Lab are really going to provide some proper focus on enterprises wanting to use the environment. While some residents whinge and moan about the arrival of enterprises, there is no reason to believe that this needs to be to their detriment. Indeed, the size and strength of enterprises should be better at applying pressure to obtain the necessary improvements in grid performance, stability and capacity.

Right now I am not getting a strong sense of "Enterprise Business Systems" forming part of the Second Life ecosystem. I would therefore be interested to know how the new CEO (with or without someone to switch on his PC) and the Director of Enterprise Business Systems are going to address the shortcomings of their company's engagement with the business world.

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