Contrary to some observations, Second Life has not been “abandoned” by all those high-profile companies. They’re still around, just more cautious about the media splash they generate. Amazon.com announced their Second Life Job Fair, starting today (July 14, 2009), which has been covered by Hamlet Au on New World Notes as well.
Granted, Amazon.com has their own reasons for being in Second Life, one of which is how much Linden Lab uses their cloud computing services to distribute content efficiently all over the world at little cost — while keeping their own co-located servers focused on serving SL content. Still, almost all high-profile companies have their good reasons to stay around in SL and do what they think is best for their own business — they’re just not bragging out loud about what they’re doing, and the media is simply skeptic. I’m personally awaiting the collapse of the Web 2.0 bubble in another 3-5 years, and then everybody will look around and say “now what?” and by mere chance they’ll find out that social communication is still happening on virtual worlds… or, at least, in one of them 🙂
For now, it’s good to know that companies like Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Sun, and Amazon.com and even Xerox are still around, doing their things in SL, but not making a fuss out of it. It’s already second nature to them.
As for the Amazon Job Fair, it’s clear that it addresses a very serious consequence of the financial crisis. Unemployed people have an additional difficulty to travel to distant places to find a job. They miss opportunities just because they are unable to pay for the travelling costs. Browsing through job-offering websites (like the popular Craigslist) and following up with email (or even a Skype call) is one thing, but you can do so much more with an immersive environment like Second Life. The nature of the immersion is also not so clear to anyone who hasn’t been in Second Life: potential employers can look much more beyond the skills claimed on a typical resumée (curriculum vitae for you non-Americans). They can see how someone present themselves. Like in real life, first impressions count a lot, and you can get that “feeling” of a first impression from an avatar — it doesn’t really matter if people “look” like that or not. A well-trained interviewer with a psychological training (which most of them have, if they work for Human Resources) can read a lot from how an avatar presents themselves, specially if they have been around a lot in SL. That’s why I tend to advise my friends who come to work in SL (for whatever reason) to spend a few months (not hours, not days) to get a feeling first for the environment, and understand the visual clues you get from how other people behave. It might be like learning a new culture in a different country, but, with enough training, you’ll pick up all those clues — and these will be invaluable during a job interview.
This, of course, would deserve another essay 😉 but I’m afraid that at the moment I have no time to write it 🙂