Communities inside Second Life – a chance for a critical view?

Thinking out loud in here – which will probably be one of the purposes of this blog:

Not so recent posting (being busy lately) in the Fashion Research Institute’s blog got my mind working about different communities inside Second Life and how these communities affect knowledge transfer and business.

The writer of that posting compares dialogue / knowledge transfer between different (professional) communities to  “American tourists traveling in a non-English-speaking country. We speak louder in the hopes that our audience will understand what we’re trying to say.  Sometimes, through a common hook, we’re able to communicate. But usually the experience is a handful of apparel industry personnel discussing whatever new concept excites them while the industry outsider tries to keep up by tossing in bits of wisdom they gleaned at Style.com or one of the other fashion web sites.”

Speaking louder

Obviously this quote relates to familiar concepts in knowledge management (such as common language and situational knowledge ), but I see real potential when these examples are used in not only in knowledge management, but in the field of business management / marketing and social science. Now, let’s see if I can convince other than myself:

Communities have been treated mainly in a positive way, for example as a potential to be tapped into in marketing or as a way of increasing intrinsic motivation in people. However, in VinCo project I have stumbled upon examples when strong identification into a community may lead to suboptimal business decisions and business related knowledge transfer. Maybe one of the most clear example is from Gorean sub-culture in Second Life. Entrepreneurs inside this community and/or selling products to this community prefer to identify strongly with the community rather than using best-of-the-breed products in store management or automated selling vendors. Reflecting this with the above mentioned blog posting (and fashion) hopefully shows, how this is much wider issue than just management: “The experience also brought home to me again how tribal our fashion choices are, and how we choose to adorn our bodies is critical to reflecting our beliefs, our alignments, even in some cases our emotional state … acceptance [in a community] is lubricated by the strong visual cues created by the choices an avatar owner makes in dressing and customizing their avatar.

And there are more examples from the field of knowledge intensive business, which is my foremost interest in this project currently.

So Marko – there is a call for book chapter (Postcards from the Metaverse – Reflections on how the entangling of the virtual with the physical may impact society, politics, and the economy.) Do you buy the idea?

Teemu Surakka aka Decode Masala