As much as we hate to admit it, we often find ourselves in the ranks of the "late adopters" when it comes to certain technologies. For example, we read and re-read reviews on digital cameras for over 2 years before deciding on a replacement for our well-worn but distinctly oversized Sony Mavica 10X (3.5 inch disk model). And while we've got great audio capability (courtesy of our spouse's nifty Edirol-R1, plus a collection of other solid state recorders) we still don't have a field-functional video recorder.
Similarly, I've been embarrassed to admit another big techno-gap . . . namely, my own limitations regarding dimensional presence. A significant number of my colleagues at Berkman Thursday, who are constantly exploring the edges of technology, have doubled their pleasure (and presence) by coexisting in an exciting virtual world called Second Life. In Second Life, one moves through the world in the form of an avatar, interacting with others (in similar form) and engaging in conversation, collaboration and commerce.
It's the potential for commerce that really got our attention. Because, where there's commerce, there's conversion. Apparently it's gotten the attention of others (Business Week, HBR, etc.) as well, which has provided me with some justification (in conversations with the Edirol-wielding spouse) for spending a not-insignificant amount of time online exploring this alternative world.
In future posts, I hope to share what I learn as I explore the potential of doing market research and large group process work in Second Life. Among the more complex behavioral questions that I'll be seeking to answer is whether Second Lifers' preferences and actions mirror their real-world selves, or are driven by the persona of their in-world (e.g. Second Life state) avatars?
It's a brave new world. More to come . . .