Earlier this month, we wondered if IBM (IBM) was backing down from its previous strong commitment to Second Life. The company’s top “metaverse evangelist” left as IBM slashes headcount in its software division.
And there’s new features too: Lotus customers can pre-select a virtual environment like “boardroom” or “outdoor ampitheatre,” and IBM has a new “sticky note” feature letting avatars “throw things up against the wall.”
I was previously deeply sceptical of this idea, having spent 18 months inside Second Life as Reuters’ “Second Life Business Reporter.” Besides the general weirdness of not only having an avatar, but navigating a world populated with furries and merchants hawking virtual genitalia, Second Life, at least in 2008, was too buggy to be enjoyed as anything other than a hobby: Browser crashes, IM failures, voice not working — these were all everyday occurrences, not one-offs.
But also new to today’s announcement is Lotus isn’t integrated with Linden Lab’s Second Life per se, but with private regions using OpenSim, an open source Second Life clone re-engineered to offer greater reliability. Still feels just as “weird” though.
We’re still unconvinced virtual worlds represent a value-add over existing teleconferncing solutions, like telephone, webinars, video-conferencing, whatever. And we’re still unconvinced IBM’s Lotus customers will embrace Second Life-based virtual worlds for as a place for “serious business.” But IBM remains steadfast the idea will catch on, and continues down the road.