Soliciting Questions For Upcoming Fast Company Call-In

I invite members of the Technology Group to post their questions for the Fast Company.Com call-in I’m moderating next week tentatively titled: FC Examines Next Generation Interaction: Are Virtual Worlds Waiting in the Wings?

The description copy is still being massaged, but here’s version 2.5 (see below). 

Everybody, particularly marketers, are trying to get into the online social interaction game because that’s where people are going for business and social networking. Linked-In, Facebook and Twitter are the platforms du jour, but there is increasing evidence that they may give way to or become integrated into the next emerging platform, virtual worlds.

For the most part, the current environments for social and business networking lack real time interaction and presence. 

The maturing gamer market has already successfully embedded social interaction into and outside of their game. The Massively Multiplayer Online game developers understand that while competition and game-action are important, the ability to interact with friends is equally important.

As the advertiser-coveted next generation of teens and tweens cut their eye-teeth on 2D worlds such as Club Penguin and Webkinz, expectations are growing for increased acceptance and adoption of some form of virtual worlds for the larger web. 

Join Fast Company.Com’s  Technology Group Coordinator, Donald Schwartz, on October 28th at 4:00 PM as he discusses the increasing impact of virtual worlds on traditional business models and their continuing evolution. Schwartz will interview two leading experts on the subject of how we got here and how the future is shaping up.  

Covering the up-to-date developments will be Tish Shute whose blog UGO Trade is the go-to place for reading about people who are looking for a way to lessen the insularity of the many different, incompatible virtual world platforms called walled gardens. 

Tackling the historical perspective is Bruce Damer, whose book "Avatar" became a textbook for an earlier generation of virtual worlds. Bruce’s book and personal chronicle of virtual worlds’ evolution will help us to better understand what may happen in the future. 

Advance registration is required to participate…….


(Final Thoughts)
I’d really like to know what you are thinking so I don’t go off on a bender that is interesting only to me. The call-in is slated to run only 40-minutes so some form of topic compression is going to be required.

I’ll try to suppress the insider acronyms. 


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  • Lee Solon

    Clearly this is not a list of questions, but a marketer’s response to the premise that social media channels could morph through to Virtual Worlds any time soon.
    I have just researched this technology for an Australasian Digital Marketing course. Here are the views of Jeremiah Owyang- Snr Analyst - Forrester Research: Social Computing

    Virtual Worlds –
    A)Second Life
    Although Second Life has the highest profile of all the virtual worlds; there are many others
    such as ViOS, ActiveWorlds, Entropia Universe, Utherverse & more).

    Second Life has been seriously trialled by large companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Sun, Sears and a variety of retailers and (Oct08) general consensus is that Second Life is NOT the environment for real time marketing (simulations)…yet!

    Some branded games do well and the odd fashion house with avatars modelling their latest designs. However, there are only 50 companies (most still trialling) on Second Life (June 2008) and although they are claiming up to 7 million viewers there are only 1 million have registered.
    B) Online Massive Multi Player Games
    Doing well in this category are the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG for short) are appearing online such as World of Warcraft (WoW), and Club Penguin, a growing online game for kids, teens and some adults. Xbox 360 has IPTV capabilities and most console games have online components, so there are multiple experiences to tap into. Marketing opportunities include content cross-over, branded experiences and external social networks on the internet.
    C) Online Games Gaming networks have started to create mini-flash games such as mini-clips, Yahoo Games, and other networks. Supplemented with advertising or sponsored branding, these can be embedded and spread to other websites.
    Whilst I agree with what Jeremiah says above, I will add that there are a few Second Life initiatives that show promise, but only a few.
    One is below:
    Combat Training for the Defence Forces. An immersive digital war game with high production values is certainly working well for training front line troops from various countries right now. The training draws heavily on the gaming industry expertise to achieve the level of interaction that will prepare them for the adverse conditions they may encounter.
    A few suggestions with regard to your copy:
    1) You may care to re-visit your copy referring to the marketers stampeding to the social media channels to do business. Check out 10e20’s comment below.
    Social Media Marketing is NOT a Direct Response Channel
    Apr 04 2008 |
    Although it is essential to have direct marketing skills when planning ROI from your digital campaigns, social media is not just another direct response media.
    •Events in social spheres are sometimes tough to track and tie-back.
    •Social is not about individual sales nor is it about the individual.
    •It’s about creating groups and momentous group action – (groups/communities around brands).
    Social media is where marketers go to listen to what the consumers are saying about their brand/product to other people.
    Social media has changed forever the world of marketing.
    Consumers go online now and simply put up a post
    i.e. ‘Information sought re XYZ brand of washing machine.’ ‘Are they any good?’
    Then they simply wait for the answers. And they come.
    Research has clearly shown that consumers will believe social media conversations about brands not living up to the marketing promises re service, warranties etc. over any claim advertising might state. Armed then with real time research, they now make their decisions. The power has shifted; the consumer is firmly in control. This will be great for those brands doing well and death for
    the others (over time).
    As long as the consumer conversations stay on open channels like Facebook, today’s marketers are getting free real time market research enabling remedial action immediately. From that aspect they have never had it so good. I cannot see this changing for a while but this is the internet and who knows!
    Just a note about Twitter - the mobile-based micro-blogging service. This, in fact is definitely not a very *social* media, but allows yet another route by which marketers can reach their audiences in a relatively low cost (same mechanism as an RSS feed) method.
    Companies using it are,, 10 Downing Street, BBC News plus….(++).…even Barack Obama’s social media team.
    Hey, hope these comments on the intersection between marketing, the social media channels and virtual worlds provide some thought starters for questions. Good Luck with your session.
    Lee Solon

  • Mark Beckford

    Two "also-rans" don't make a great company. Are they getting complementary core compentencies that will compete with Google? I don't see them. Unless they are going to build a portal powerhouse which is Yahoo and AOL's strong suits. Google has not created a great "My Page" portal as of yet.