Innovation Week, Internationalisation, And More Utterly Useless Devices

One major reason (it’s not the only one) for several merchants to complain about a “loss in sales” is that the number of non-English speakers is growing far more than the number of English speakers. And these have their own communities, their own content creators, their own shops, their own blogosphere, and everything there is written in a language that is not English. Content creators limited to just English (or any other language, really) will be unable to target the whole of Second Life. And there is also an interesting phenomenon — most (and the best!) content creators in SL are fluent English speakers. This means that an average-quality content creator that targets the Urdu-speaking community will enjoy a lot of sales from there, even if their content is nothing special — but nobody else in the world speaks Urdu, so they have in fact a niche market to explore.

This is sort of “globalisation in reverse”. Instead of targeting a single market and hire labour where it’s cheaper, clever content creators target the whole market, exploring small niches of restricted content in a specific language, because the competition will not go there. Yet. People are heavily investing in translations, from very low-quality ones (provided by automatic translation services) to professional jobs that are costly, but might very well open a window of opportunity to markets where SL still grows significantly, and, more important than that, are little explored.

Thinking about this, I looked at my portfolio of Utterly Useless Devices being offered for sale in-world and from online SL webshops. It seems that the most recent item I still sell is from late 2005 or 2006 or so. I have a lot of semi-abandoned personal projects — there is simply no more time for me to turn them into finished products — and most of them are even more useless than my usual gadgets 🙂

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