Explaining Second Life inside and out

This week I had the pleasure of driving to the NEC in birmingham and presenting the a body of people attending the Events UK trade show. The presentation was quite last minute, I was offered the chance to fill in for Linden Lab/Second Life.
The show came in two parts. The first was presenting at the NEC live, the second was doing the same presentation in Second Life so that there could be a compare and contrast.
The show featured myself, Justin Bovington(Rivers Run Red) and Kevin Aires(GPJ) with moderation by Adam Coulter for the Institute of Travel and Meetings(ITM)
The NEC version was an interesting stage open and in the corner of Hall 8. The other corner past all the trade stands was a battle of the bands expo. This made for some interesting competing sounds for us and the delegates. I was accompanied by a Michael Jackson tribute and Kevin was battling against a version of the Kings of Leon Sex on Fire. Justin had some guitars to compete with though it may have been an original tune.
This was of course out of anyone control in the hustle and bustle of a trade conference. It does of course highlight a massive benefit of a virtual environment where you can make sure that you only get the distractions you want, passers by etc. So it became part of the conversation when we did the SL rerun of it all.
You cannot get away from the irony of an audience question “So what are the measurable benefits of business meetings in a virtual world”, and having to ask them to speak up because the guitars drowned out the question 🙂
In world was interesting too, as clearly doing a pitch about SL in SL does not really need the powerpoints. For Justin he was really showing the Immersive Workspaces off by us all being in there, and for Kevin, as he was talking about alternatives and different ways of getting online interaction again we were already in there.
We were using streaming media for the slides, as we all know this is to stop uploading and giving away textures to Second Life for a ppt, to help show there is a secure way to share visuals. However as we all know some people have problems, the play button, the quicktime install etc. So I had some IM’s saying a few people could not see the slides. Handily I had my rezzable clothing presentation and used that to both illustrate the point was on, but also to illustrate the dynamic nature and benefits of being in a virtual world such as Second Life.
I think both shows went very well, reenforcing the fact that this is not going away, there are challenges, but also huge advantages and interesting tradeoffs.
The presentation I used is below. Some of the slides are really just the basics, a vehicle to explain what this is all about people and immersion and engagement with one another and with information.

As I was writing this post I also went over and commented on the great infoworld piece pointing out “19 Century thinking wont cut it in Second Life”
I have pasted my comment here too to avoid repeating myself too much 🙂
“I have been helping enterprises and individuals alike get used to the changes and ways of working online for a long while. As a metaverse evangelist I spend time with anyone who needs hear why, or what, virtual worlds are and what context they can be used in. Due to the visual nature of the environments people often have to go through the stages of exploration that start with “can I do exactly what I do at the moment in here?”. The classic being, if we have a serious business meeting can I show powerpoint? Once you get people into the environment it is much easier to show that there really is no need to restrict yourself to one screen or one room layout. We use ppt in real meetings because we only have one projector and one screen, we cant alter the size or mood of a room or environment. So locking into this area of mirror world thinking is really missing the point and benefits of a dynamic evolving space that can be used to explore the data or subject of any gathering. There is also an assumption that because we are dealing with a technology that in some way this is just one thing, one way of working or engaging. in reality it is a vessel for people and the things people need to communicate. It is the web, but with people live in it too. Hence I am never surprised at any objections that people throw at the technology, but really is is that they are being challenged to work with people in a richer way. You are not hiding behind a mass email you are in the place with the people who need to hear what you have to say. When people attempt to classify any virtual world but focus on one thing they dont like about a particular one it really is like saying they don’t like all literature because some people write historical dramas and they don’t like historical dramas. Many of us in the industry are quite used to these potential misdirected objections and fears (though they are valid if people have them). “I don’t have time to contribute to x, to blog, to twitter to go into a virtual world” – I usually ask what they do spend time doing, wasted travel time, responding to CC emails, waiting for teleconference calls to start rather than being more efficient. “I am not a gamer” – Well its not about games, it can be but its not games. You can send something playful in an email as much as a serious statement, you dont regard email as a game. “People lie and cheat and misrepresent” – Some do yes, but they do that in the office and con men convince people via all sorts of means. Again this is just a medium, a place for things to happen. “There is sex there” – Yes there is, it is the internet, you do not choose to not have a company website just because other people use the web for other means. The list goes on, but the benefits of the degree of engagement that you can have, not to replace face to face, but to enhance your online interactions when you cant move your carbon atoms around the planet are undeniable. You don’t have to use all the tools all the time either, this is not an either or. For me the greatest benefit to a virtual world gathering is memory of where it happened and who was there. As with all memory aids keying into a space and place gives a common context. Which is easier to reference when following up “In the course of the teleconference held on the 9th September at 2:45 pm you mentioned a new product development” or “You know when we were sitting on the park bench in Dublin last week and you mentioned..” or “We were just coming up to the 9th hole at the golf course and..” Space and relative context to one another is important to human communication, social and business, and yes business and social can mix and do already very nicely.”

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