Terraforming the Internet: when 3D models meet business models

Panelists: Ben Batstone-Cunningham, Bill Victor, Eric Rice, Jan D’Alessandro, John Tolva.

(What’s below are my notes, not direct quotes.)

What is the difference in the ‘page-based’ Internet and the 3-D ‘virtual world’ Internet?

I didn’t quite catch the answer, but I think the answer was a 3D world is “more immersive.”

Victor: With 3D, the idea is to create an immersive environment.

Tolva: The most popular virtual worlds are open environments, with user-created content. The push, however, seems to be pushing counter to that. Sony, for example, is moving into the “space.”

I learned more about video-blogging and blogging from spending time in Second Life.

D’Alessandro: When these virtual worlds become advertising platform, their first question is, “How do I control the message?” However, it’s like in the real world: You can sell someone a tee-shirt with Coca-cola on it and they can go rob a bank. Does that mean Coca-cola endorsed the bank robbery?

Setting up businesses in virtual world: Will we see accounting firms set up in a virtual world?

Batstone-Cunningham: Why not? If there is such a thing as a “hip” accountant.

Eric Rice: I can totally see Real Estate businesses be in a virtual world.

Tolva: What are the truly unique business models possible in a virtual world?

Tolva: At first, some of these real estate (metaphors) in virtual worlds were feudal. That’s now changed.

D’Allesandro: Two potential business models: advertising and the sale of virtual things. The sale of virtual things is huge in Asia dn will be here, also.

Rice: I’d add media to that list. Who’s to say that we can’t listen to a local band that we can see and interact with.

Batstone-Cunningham: Real world and web-1 metaphors are easy to think of. Beyond that, it’s hard to imagine the sell of virtual goods and virtual services. Like hiring a virtual tour guide. Tour guide is not a new business model. Much of the metaphors of the virtual worlds is “real estate”

D’Allesandro: The possibility of brand extension is great in a virtual world.

Issue of identity — crossing from one virtual world than another.

Batstone-Cunningham: It’s up to individuals to move their identity. Suddenly, everyone I know is on Twitter and then I’m on Twitter. When my community goes there, the cost of moving over becomes much less. We have an IRC channel outside of Second Life (for a Nintendo Wii community), so is that IRC channel a virtual world? It’s the same community, but it’s easy to transfer and export.

What about gaming? (as a business model — or are there lessons to learn from that business?)

We are now able to move the “user-generated model” into the gaming world — it’s like what happened with blogging and podcasting. All companies are media companies.

D’Alessandro: From a focus group of teens: “I want to be different, just like my friends.” It’s about community. People want to be with their friends. People want to be where people like them are. It doesn’t matter so much what the technology is.

Eric: The easy technology will win.

Batstone-Cunningham: World of Warcraft is not that great a game, but it’s got a great community. You’ll pay the money to support your community — and to grow your community. The money is made by keeping people together and keeping it working.

Tolva: Facilitating a critical mass of people.

Rice: Google just bought an in-game advertising platform for $23 million.

Tolva: There is an opportunity for helping people learn how to work in teams — styles of self-organization. What does it teach us about the nature of team work.

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