Goodbye, Virtual World

I’ve been preaching for a long time that the web is where conversation happens today, period. It seems that everyone goes online at some point to talk about a company, a product, an issue or their personal lives. Using the web is like having access to an infinite number of backyard fences, a party line that never goes dead or gets dull.

In fact, online communication has become so ubiquitous that there is no longer any difference between the online world and the "offline" world — it’s all just "the world," and we live in it with little conscious realization of where offline ends and online begins.

So, given all this, why do we view Second Life as a virtual world, but not for example Amazon.com?

Is Amazon a "real" store? Of course not. It exists only as strings of code, just like Second Life. Yet we believe Amazon to be real and Second Life to be virtual.

Is Amazon real because it sells what we consider "real" products? Again, the premise is flawed. I buy a book on Amazon and I can hold it and read it, because that’s the product’s purpose. I buy a book in Second Life and my avatar holds it and reads. Both things really happen, and both products do what they are supposed to do.

I’ve got news for you:  every  online destination is  virtual. That’s just the reality.

This entry was posted in Popular Culture, PR & Marketing, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Goodbye, Virtual World

  1. Linda Zimmer says:

    Great point, Gary. Every online destination is virtual – and so is email and IM. And they spawn virtual communities just like Amazon and Second Life.
    In an immersive world like Second Life we mentally process it as “real” in addition to it being virtual.
    I think the word “virtual” has value and power today. Virtual implies we are not bound by “real world” limitations. It implies a distinction between the physical and the simulated.
    Someday in the future when real and virtual are far more tightly integrated we’ll move quite seamlessly between them.

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