I got some good news the other day that we’ll be moving ahead with our Second Life pilot (I know, like everyone else, right?). I’ve been somewhat delayed in investigating SL as I’ve been busy with teaching and my current research with mobile media networks–working on a few articles, presenting at a couple conferences and so on. However, the next couple months I’ll be getting into SL in a more significant way as I move toward our pilot program in the Fall and my sabbatical in the Spring (and there was much rejoicing).
I don’t know what most people think about when they hear Second Life, but it is an opportunity for fantasy, particularly with mature content. From that perspective, you wouldn’t think of it at first as a place to build a reputation, at least not a reputation you want associated with your first life.
<p>But like the 2D or "flat web," there will ultimately be enough space for all interests. In the video below, an exec from the Text 100 PR firm give a talk (from late 06) about the potential of SL and his company’s position that now is a time for business to start experimenting with virtual worlds. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I’m not here today to take issue with him either.</p>
<p>I just think he brings up an interesting issue when he starts to talk about terms like loyalty and reputation. These are familiar terms in PR and marketing, as well as in Web 2.0, especially in the context of "reputation systems." His point, as I see it, is that in the many-to-many network, companies must establish personal relationships with consumers that foster loyalty and maintain reputation. For the rhetoricians in the room this is clearly a question of establishing <em>ethos</em>.<br /> </p>
<p>So that leads to an interesting line of investigation. How do communities develop and maintain themselves in SL? How does one establish a postiive reputation and gain the loyalty of such a community? These questions are worthy of research in and of themselves. They are also of interest from a pedagogic perspective as a professor or program or institution seeks to establish an SL community.</p>