Apples and Oranges

A couple of years ago, a lot of residents on the forums voiced their “fear” that they would be “pushed out” of SL because corporations would have enough money to “buy the out” and establish a “corporate metaverse” without the need of the talented amateurs that managed to survive in SL pushing their content for a few Linden dollars. I always found those claims perplexing in their ingenuity. It would mean that things like MySpace and YouTube would be doomed once professional designers and video producers would set up their own sites; but as we all know, this never happened. In effect, video producers and TV stations are releasing their content on things like YouTube, but they’re just a bubble in the ocean of amateurish production showed there. But then again — they’re not on YouTube to push the amateurs away and become the “best” and “most famous” youtubbies there. Instead, they want to explore a niche and say: “we’re here, too, if you want to look at our content” (which not everybody among the 150 million YouTube users wants to do).

So, while the fears of “corporations displacing amateur content” were pretty much ungrounded — American Apparel did not sell more clothes than Pixel Dolls! — the claims that “corporate virtual presences are not effective in generating traffic” are also rather hard to validate, without access to the marketeer’s metrics that enable them to measure success and a return on investment. Some of the most proeminent analysts in Second Life are so good at measuring apples that they think they’re able to count oranges as well.

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