Has Second Life, the weird, clunky virtual world, ever been good for anything except strange computer sex and time-wasting? For about a year there, you couldn't pick up a magazine without seeing 2L touted as the next big thing for business. For business! Yes, why wouldn't an imaginary land packed with flying monsters and huge selections of virtual penises become corporate America's preferred communications medium? Christ. Lots of the hype was the fault of BusinessWeek, which bought into it with wide-eyed enthusiasm. And the magazine is still trying to get your employer to drag you off to a fantasy computer island for fun team-building exercises:
IBM is using 2L-like programs to indoctrinate far-flung employees in places like China and Brazil. A terrific way for IBM to give itself the same image employees associate with bad acid trips! And here's a good time:
In September, Xerox used Second Life to enable about 20 out-of-town employees to virtually attend its 2007 International Women's Conference in Rochester, N.Y. While some 570 people, mostly Xerox employees, attended the event live, a parallel track took place in Second Life. Virtual attendees watched streaming video of the conference and interacted through text chat.
My, if that doesn't sound like the single least fun corporate event that could possibly be inflicted upon an employee, I don't know what does. It's time for BusinessWeek-and their corporate dead-ender followers-to stand up and boldly say: this thing is stupid.