Everybody talks about Second Life and try to find it an application within the enterprise. It seems Accenture has such a project for its intranet, IBM has a “secret island” on SL too…
I’m not SL-addicted at all. In fact what I don’t like in Second Life is that it’s not “First Life” enough. Although the tool is still perfectible, it’s not SL by itself but the practices it preshadows that we have to think about. One thing is sure : I don’t know what will happen to SL tomorrow but major trends will remain of what’s happening today.
In fact, what I don’t like in SL is that, even on a virtual place, I prefer real identities. In the way I consider things, an avatar makes sense only if it’s the identified embodyment of its owner.
If we consider the phenomenon in an enterprise-directed perspective, we can identify issues that will be very important in the future (giving consistency to virtual meetings, humanizing et personnalizing places for exchanges, make life on the intranet similar to the real life in the enterprise’s offices). Of course, at this time it looks quite hazy but very promising with a little distance and an added maturity. But without th negative side : avatars, virtual universes….all that still have a flimsy image according to management challenges. If SL is a good place for marketing events outside the enterprise, it doesn’t appear to be serious enough for manager to use it within the enterprise for internal issues.
Conclusion : there’s a way to be explored in the future, but at the condition the enterprise is brought in a “first life” logic, the same kind of logic we already know with social computing. At this moment the emergence of 3D graphical universes will just be one more step.
The force of social computing is to allow the expression of the “Me I..” in a win-win logical between the individual and the group. The intranet, being a solution to enterprise break-up and “lack of availability of reality”, it’s obvious it will become a more and more accurate representation of reality. And no avatar here : on the intranet people are who they are in the enterprise’s corridors.
In general terms, it’s by tranforming the “hidden side of the intranet” into “First Life” that web x.0 will acquire its legitimity within the enterprise : autonomy, no unusful barriers, stakes appropriation, making virtuality a transcription of realty and not its misrepresentation. All this with one purpose : achieve common “real” goals and not get lost (or hidden) in parallels illusions.