spiritual self-exploration through health, fitness, and nutrition

Posts tagged ‘economy’

Second Life…the “Game”

“People often underestimate the creativity in Second Life. If you can dream it, you can probably find it.” -Onder Skall

I recently just tried out Second Life, a new Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) . Well, it’s not really new – it was launched by Linden Lab in 2003 – but new for me. I have heard about it before but never really had any idea what it entailed. My first impression was…well, pure confusion. I’m more of a Tetris kind of girl; I’d rather play games that keep score and have a clear purpose or goal. In SL, there is no score – there’s money. The purpose or goal is far from clear – it’s what you make of it.

I focused on the only thing I knew how to do (sort of), which was making my avatar attractive and dressing her nicely. Of course, this took some time. I had a hard time determining whether I wanted her to look just like me or completely different. I tried my best to make her look like my real self, but found myself giving her certain “assets” that the real me doesn’t have. It got me thinking about how many others go through the same thing. It makes sense to me that with much control over the avatar’s appearance, it is inevitable that users will create a more ideal, and sometimes cliche’, image.

I eventually figured out how to fly and transport to other “worlds.” The vast array of worlds in SL is mind-blowing; there is a world for every interest imaginable. If the user can’t find it, they can create it.

The idea of the game is very clever, although I would argue that it could even be considered a game. It strikes me more as a hobby, and for some, a business. The benefits of using SL as a business platform are evident, but where do we cross the line between real life and second life?

Could users become too engulfed in this alternate world to a point where they completely lose sight of what is real? Could SL completely take over the web? What are the economic implications? The questions are endless, but one thing is certain; as long as there is an alternative to real life troubles, this “escape” will continue to be developed (with newer and faster technologies) and used by many for years to come.

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The Long Tail Theory

Back when I was in middle school, radio was my primary source of the hottest songs and artists. I always had my cassette tape ready to record the latest song on the radio so that I could go back and listen to it repeatedly until the next hit came along. Sometimes I would go purchase the whole CD if I really loved the track (Fiona Apple, anyone?) or if a friend recommended something. My taste in music was essentially chosen for me by radio stations and record stores. And to think, that was only 15 years ago.

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In his revolutionary book, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson efficiently outlines the concept of business demand moving more down the path of niches and further away from “hits” where all the competition lies. This has proven to be increasingly true

in my personal experience, thanks to the three forces of opportunity in this new marketplace (outlined below, see page 57). Anita Campbell from smallbiztrends.com argues that markets should focus their business models around the long tail, and as Danny Iny so efficiently puts it:

Since you’re focusing on what makes you unique, you’re no longer trying to fit yourself to the same mold that all the other candidates are trying to fill – you’re creating your own.

Producers: Growing up, I was formally trained in classical piano and developed a deep appreciation for all genres of music.  In college, I experimented with a production tool called FruityLoops to create my own electronic beats. This was my extent of experience with production tools, but I’ve known an increasing number of people who have used these types of tools to their full extent and ability.

Aggregators: Once I reached college, the Napster world opened up doors I never knew existed. I built a library of nearly 11 gigs on my hard drive (which was a lot back in 2001!). Today, iTunes is my primary source of purchasing music. As for shopping, anything from Zappos.com to eBay.com are my primary retail sources.

Filters: Recently, last.fm, and MySpace have been my primary music discovery tools. Friends no longer rant and rave about new music through word of mouth, but rather through status and playlist updates. Recommendations have also been an invaluable resource (for books, movies, etc.), and usually act as the deciding factor on whether I would purchased a product.

The biggest difference I see now is that music is no longer chosen for me and products are not unpredictable. I have full control over the selection and quality of my media and products. This control will only increase as the Long Tail lengthens and thickens in unperceivable ways. This is especially true when you take Moore’s Law into account; the faster the tools, the longer the tail.

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