Monday, February 18, 2008

Metanomics on the media in Second Life

We've been streaming the Metanomics broadcasts on Business Exchange for quite a few weeks now. Sometimes the subjects are of special interest to the people who visit the BX, and sometimes they are not.

I knew that this week's broadcast was going to be interesting, but I had no idea quite how interesting it would be. What was fascinating was the way in which each of the guests had a different take on what they were doing as journalists in SL, and what the story was.

First John Jainschigg, Executive Director of CMP Metaverse, a division of multimedia publisher CMP, whose portfolio includes InformationWeek, Dr. Dobb's, Web 2.0, Black Hat, Game Developer Expo, WorldsInMotion and other business-to-business media properties, spoke very passionately about what CMP had found in SL.

He said that 3D worlds are going to be part of every computer user's experience and every business's experience. He predicted that it is likely, by taking forward the current growth of the grid, that there will be 30,000 sims by the end of 2008.

He explained that as one of the largest suppliers of business to business technology events, it was obvious that conferences were in the cross hairs as not green.... When they organised the first in world conference in Second Life, they weren't sure what to expect, but the metrics had astonished them. People had spent 29-30 hours in a week participating in the first live show. That exceeds by some measure what they might devote to a webinar or video, or even to a real life conference.

He also made the point that while in the real world you would exchange business cards with other conference goers, often you wouldn't see them again until the conference the next year. In SL, the people you meet at a conference may become real friends or customers, and you can keep in touch with them. If you put the right audience into the seats, there is significant ROI... and when companies complain that they aren't getting ROI we have to ask why not?

For Eric Reuters he agreed that the SL audience was tiny compared to the real life audience for Reuters news. For their company, the point of SL reporting was to treat it like any other country reported from... Reuters don't carry all the reports of local news, but hope to pick up anything which is of significant interest around the world. They were positioning their brand as a purveyor of high quality journalism.

Rhonda Lowry from Turner Broadcasting, and confusingly Time Warner and CNN too, said that they had started out in SL because they were looking at their social media strategy and SL counted as a part of that. CNN already has an "I report" project in the real world, and now this project has been brought into SL, with classes being held for people participating in the project, to improve the quality of the reporting and photographs accompanying reports.

Their research was based on a question: what are these technologies allowing people to do that they were not able to do before? It was important to learn what people are doing and how they are doing it.

Prokofy Neva, writer of the Second Thoughts blog, leapt in with her comments before Beyers Seller, otherwise known as Robert Bloomfrield, had a chance to ask any questions. She had already prepared a speech about reporting news from a place which was run by a government who censor what can be told about them, among people who often refuse to tell you anything about themselves. She said that bloggers were like the pamphleteers of old.

I recommend that if you are interested in the debate, you should watch the broadcast, which is available on the SLCN website sometime after the broadcast each week. It was full of interesting stuff, not least the revelation from CMP that if the world does double then it will be changing it's strategy and SL would become a lot more important, and from Reuters that everyone is waiting with baited breath to discover whether Second Life is going to be the platform for the grand new world, or if the wild west developers on the OpenSim project are going to steal that prize away from under the noses of Linden Lab.

After having been so well behaved in the broadcast, Prokofy and intlibber Brautigan descended to hurling insults at each other in the Metanomics group channel, over the heads of delighted metanomics groupies giving out congratulations and goodbyes on the end of the broadast. For all I know, they are at it still....

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