Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Greg Verdino "gets" Second Life

I've been labeled a "technologist" for many years - before that it was "scientist" and in living up to the stereotype, I have been wary of anyone remotely associated with "sales and marketing". As disciplines, science and marketing seem to be at odds when it comes to ways of thinking, approaching a problem, and most importantly, communicating results. Today my role in new product development provides a new perspective on this apparent tension.

In the past, it seemed that marketers were simply pleased with hype - real or imagined - and were experts at the spin and the silver lining. To the contrary, scientists and technologists drove and graded their work merely by data, often at the expense of the intangible obvious when faced with actual consumer wants and needs. But the landscape is changing as CMOs turn over faster than pancakes at the Waffle House for failing to deliver measurable results, and *successful* technologists are turning their ear to the consumer - sometimes foregoing new bells and whistles for predictable performance, coupled with aesthetics.

So why the long winded introduction? Because I found a recent MediaPost article with
Greg Verdino especially refreshing. I fact, I had to read it a couple of times to convince myself it really was Greg Verdino, but it was and he clearly "gets" it - at least more so than some of his colleagues. His points are simple yet salient, and communicate a few very important points about the Second Life and what companies should expect. I especially liked this quote:
"You don't just build something and say, 'Hey, great. It's done!' You have to keep adding to it and maintaining it," he says. "A big mistake marketers make is to invest in building the environment, but not investing for the long-term."
How many times have you visited the myriad of big name private estates in Second Life only to find no one there? Greg does a good job of calling out the true mystique about Second Life without being as blunt as I will. So what's the secret sauce?
It's the culture, stupid ....
What do I mean by "culture"? I mean nothing less than every entry in the definition of the word and every elemental discussion of the ideal including values, norms, institutions and artifacts.

Second Life has it's own culture and it is not one that should be presumed, it must be experienced and consumed. Starbucks has a culture - and you can figure it out in a few visits - it's defined by the ambiance, the language and even the barista. Second Life has a culture that is evolving - shaped and influenced every day by new and old Residents, by external forces like Clay Shirky's wag, Henry Jenkins' insight, and Howard Rheingold's experience.

If you want to succeed in Second Life, then you have to live it to "get" it and thanks to Greg Verdino, maybe more people will start to understand.

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