communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.

12/01/2008

Bucharest downtown on Second Life

For about a day, people cared about someone opening a virtual 'Bucharest downtown' in Second Life.
Not much involvement from people mentioning it - even Zoso casually copied and pasted press release I think (BTW to person wondering how pro bono could cost 30k, it means they only had to pay for the land in SL, and did the building pro bono).
Anyway, y'all know I was a bit of a SL fan a while back and, by virtue of that, I have been pondering this Bucharest in SL thingie. Truth be told my first gutt instinct was "what a rubbish, stupid ass idea". But then, I decided to act grown-up and ponder.
So far no conclusion, just some things:
1. Is this a PR stunt? Because it would make sense insofar as they simply wanted to get some exposure. BUT then, it's a bit late since SL is fading fast in Europe mainly because of its sheer lack of "detail+interaction" value which kindof supports no. 2...
2. Is this a branding initiative? In which case, they do not know what branding is and how it's done plus it's rubbish because SL does not allow you to beautify a lot but rather to schematize.
3. Were they trying to present this as a traveller's resource? If so, why SL again. What's wrong with photographs or movies? And if someone decided to visit Bucharest would they do it based on pixellated images of downtown Bucharest? which brings me to
4. Why now? SL has been old news for a while. Most relevant thingies happened about a year ago and since then a lot of people have withdrawn from it.
5. Is this meant to be a gathering place for Romanians in SL? Well, maybe i'm just getting the wrong vibes but not a lot of Romanians are enthralled with SL. Oh, Romanians from other countries, then. But why? It's so much easier to joint a forum and, beleive you me, forums tend not to freeze on you as fast as SL does.

Don't get me wrong, all in all, I think it's a decent idea, only a bit too late, a bit wrongly targeted, a bit with the wrong objectives (the release said something about events...okay, give me more details on that)

My two cents: don't make downtown Bucharest a visiting place (SL will NEVER beat a decent photograph, unless you are really interested in the angles at which streets bend University Circle) make it a place where stuff happens: like Romanian-driven lectures, concerts with Romanian bands, exhibitions, meetings with Romanian VIPs, virtual events, releases, and press stuff. This would maintain traffic and work as a "branding" tool.

Someone please help me reach a conclusion on this one. what do you think?

6 comments:

Andrei said...

hey you! )

i've sent the permalink to your post to Aura, a (virtual) friend of mine who is behind the project (from what i gather). i'm sure she'll have much more info on the project and its plans, just like she describes in her blog here http://auratatu.wordpress.com/

Bogdana Butnar said...

@Andrei, sa traiesti. am scanat si eu blogul ei insa raman intrebari :-)

auratatu said...

the entire project does not only mean paying the land and building (which, btw, was a huge amount of work) but also hardware, servers, security and programming. How much costs a higly interactive webpage for one of your clients, to be built and maintaned for 1 year? Advergames included?

1. about the marketing opportunities in such 3D environments (among which SL continues to be the leader) is no need to comment further, I write extensively on my blog but possibly my oppinion has no relevance. I suggest you a few links to see what others are saing:

[url]http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/129/the-second-life-of-second-life.html[/url]

[url]http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2008/tc2008054_665274.htm[/url]

[url]http://www.doingbusiness.org/features/secondlife2009.aspx[/url]

2. since when you have not try the platform? check some photos on my blog to see the level of detail (it's almost virtual reality) and take into consideration the advantage to navigate in a 3d environment (much more immersive than a photo or a movie)

3. check some information about virtual travel as an emerging new domain, see how many platforms are developing as "mirror places" and then we talk. On my blog you will find many links to such resources.
SL is the biggest virtual world, it has over 16 milion users and simulatenously connects an average of 70.000 people from all over the world. Comparatively, 2 years ago the same platform had 6.000 users connected simultaneously -can you imagine what this growth rate means? I'll put the screnshots publicly on my blog.

4. see the links above

5. yes, besides the service we are voluntarily doing for romania, we are building a community of local users by offering them a familiar place to meet and interact. You may laugh but I myself am surpised of how well this project was received by the experienced romanian SL users and what a traffic we got in the first 2 days.

Last but not least, we are trying to change a mentality, a very unhealthy one - that of criticising the country, the people, the city, the traffic etc but actually not doing anything to improve it.

We're specialising in virtual worlds marketing, this is our domanin and this was our way to contribuite.
I know it's hard to understand why somebody pays money and works 16 hours a day for a "rubbish stupid idea" (I could have easily continue my work for foreign companies that pay me and appreciate what I do). I'm doing it because i believe in this:

"One determined person can make a significant difference, and a small group of determined people can change the course of history".

and don't be surprise to find out that i've found a lot of ppl who share the same vision.

Good luck!

Bogdana Butnar said...

@aura, appreciate your passion but you're taking it a bit too personally. I did visit virtual Romania as Ingrid Fox which has been my avatar name for almost two years now :-) and I stick by my opinion, nothing beats a good collection on Flickr if you want to travel (check me out I think I am stuck in Amsterdam Island somewhere now). Also, SL may have xxx mil registered users but only a minimal % of those people are active, let's not forget that. The likelihood of them becoming more active increases as more stuff happens in SL which so far has not happened. I was hanging out in the IBM island for a long time and in the end they kindof faded out even the small events they were having there.
Don't get me wrong, I think you guys are doing great but for the sake of helping Romania you might have outlined clearer objectives like doing some interactive presentations of Romanian thinking, building a copy of the Bran castle etc. The psychology of SL-ers, pretty much like that of all MMPGs, is to look for knowledge or excitement. I just think there may have been better ways to use SL :-)

andreea said...

a better version of this virtual-visiting deal is provided by google earth. they do 3D versions of famous buildings and people post real life pictures..it's really fun if you go 'visit' places you've seen in real life

auratatu said...

Bogdana, the community grows if relevant things happen there, the buildings are the hook to bring those people there and it's our job to keep them coming. We bet on events, fun activities and social interaction, it's strange that you, as an experienced SL user who visited the place haven't got the idea.

Branding a country starts from and within the people, from those people who stop crisicism and jump to action. We did this and we are aiming to gather a community of people who share the same vision. To use the power of example and inspire certain values to fellow romanians. To feel proud that we are romanians, as I stated from the very beginning here:

http://secondlife.chase.ro/romania/?p=1

Bran castle is next on the list, I am planning a fantasy island with role play and adventure to exploit the myth of Dracula, we have lots of ideas. But first I need to make Virtual Bucharest self sustaining and then move to next step.

So, if you have ideas and really want to contribute, you are welcome. But don't criticise without sustainable proof. I won't respond to this topic anymore because I said all I had to say with proof-links and have little time to spend in such arguments. Its your right to consider a collection on Flickr the best virtual travel experience but don't make it a general truth, valid for everybody.

As a conclusion, if you really think u can do something for you country, pro-bono, I am waiting for you either in-world or in real life (my contacts are on my blog).