Virtual Worlds for Enterprising Sociality

Virtual worlds supply for the social enterprise some new places to hang out, and some new places to hold celebrations and other ceremonies.

The author draws on personal experience here, staring with a project that caused me to assume an avatar in Second Life. This project built the observation that people regularly rehearse complicated tasks and events, such as stage productions and sporting events. The insight was that there is also value in rehearsing complex team tasks in enterprise services, such as preparing for a client presentation or working on technical problems with teams that are widely distributed geographically. This notion of rehearsal services fostered some exploration of various collaborative technologies, and I was elected to do some due diligence on the appropriateness of Second Life, as representative of virtual spaces more generally. I was surprised at how compelling the social interactions turned out to be, based on the psychological suspension of disbelief about being co-present with colleagues in a virtual location. This rehearsal work is just one early experiment in using 3D technology to facilitate serious business interaction. As we will see, there are many ways of using the compelling immersive social presence of the virtual environment for enterprising purposes.

Since my initial introduction to virtual worlds (VW) I have had many adventures in the virtual environment, including helping to organize conferences where all the attendees are avatars meeting in a virtual space.  I have gotten involved with the arts and education communities, with an emphasis on the work in virtual libraries. This has led to speaking engagements, travel, and leadership positions in groups that I otherwise would have never gotten involved with. This all supports a perception that a virtual environment is a rich communication channel that can support serious pursuits in a uniquely immersive way.