Alternative (Development) Universes

Despite vendors' rapturous embrace of Second Life, many observers remain skeptical about its legitimacy as a business tool, or serious environment for real- world business. (Non porn business, that is.)

Face it, the minute IBM starts dropping wads of PR dough and allocating marketing bodies to Second Life, it's time to run in the other direction. Sad but true. It's like watching a high school vice principal trying to be hip and happening. It just doesn't wash. And frankly wouldn't you prefer that he not even try? (Related aside: Fake Steve Jobs' thread about Irving Wladawsky-Berger holed up in the Second Life metaverse was brilliant.)

Still, even curmudgeons have to keep an eye on such upstart environments as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google etc. They all offer some tools and at least bits and pieces of a development stack and -- perhaps more importantly -- they can deliver a ready-made networked audience.

And that's why developers have to keep one eye on what happens in these consumer-oriented spaces. The CEO of a hosted solution provider has an interesting take on the possible pecking order of these new environments for business developers.

His first impression of Second Life is it's "freaking weird and fringe"but again realistically the difference between it and the business-oriented LinkedIn and more fun Facebook is probably an eighth of a inch."Facebook is more interesting socially contextually than Linked in which is sterile and static. Second Life? Well that's the wild Wild West.

"Entering LinkedIn is like going into a hotel ballroom where there's no cocktails, no hors d'oeuvres. Nothing but name badges. Facebook is like the same ballroom but with open bar, appetizers, college kids and middle-aged people. Casual dress. No resumes. It's more free-form interaction.

Then you go all the way up to Second Life it's the ballroom but inside there's a Star Trek convention, and nudists in the corner smoking and whatever else you can think of."

Barbara Darrow, industry editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Developer News and Redmond Channel Partner, can be reached at

Posted by Barbara Darrow on December 27, 2007 at 11:52 AM


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