Second Life: musicians, business, politicians, John de Mol and the essence of life

By: Roman Tol
On: November 6, 2006
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About Roman Tol
Roman Tol is an Ecommerce specialist. Both techical and as a marketeer. Hands on and with vision. Keyword: Innovation.

   

Second Life is a virtual world that exists on the servers of Linden Lab, nothing is real except the value of real money. Players can open an account and chat with other avatars. The avatars start out naked after which you can shop for clothes at for instance Nike. The money that is exchanged is of the same value in the “real” world. Academics are at this time analyzing the influence of the interaction of a virtual economy with the real economy. Stock analysts are examining investment values of virtual property, the IRS is looking for legal ways to tax players/concerns, and criminals are studying new ways to commit virtual crime/theft.

Second Life has been continuously in the Dutch news this month. It all started with Duran Duran four weeks ago. This long forgotten band from the eighties figured it could make a come-back, a second career, and a virtual success by playing their music for half a million Second Life clients. The obvious reason for this is because the dinosaur aged band members can hide their wrinkled bold heads behind a virtual face lift, the 3D avatars of SL.

Two weeks later the Dutch press bureau Reuters opened a virtual channel in the game. Players can follow the in-game (virtual) and out-game (real) news reports from Reuters. Reuters reports about the in-game economic state and the fraud practices by Bank Ginko (some players accuse Bank Ginko of endorsing an illegal pyramid structured game). Reuters is not the first business concern that establishes itself in the game, Adidas currently sells clothes with the three stripe logo to Second Life players. An Italian travel agent opened a bureau in the game just last week. Travel agents can give you a tour through the game. Second Life has become a tourist attraction.

Even better yet, Second Life has become a platform for politicians to “sell” their party ideology. Since last friday Dutch politicians Arda Gerkens (SP), Zsolt Szabó (VVD) and Ad Koppejan (CDA) employ Second Life for their campaign (on the 22nd of November there will be elections in The Netherlands). Politicians using the internet as a means of reaching out to the mass are not new. Hyves is a virtual community that contains virtually all politicians (networking with little kids).

Anyway, today the inevitable happened, media-tycoon John de Mol, started a real-life soap in Second Life. The real-life soap is formulated similar to Big-Brother. A small number of players are isolated on a virtual island and have to follow certain rules to win the game. The winner gets to keep the island. Of course it was to be expected that the inventor of Big Brother would exploit this show in every way possible. At this time a TV show is being broadcast on de Mols own channel, Talpa, where a small group of people are isolated in a villa. By following certain rules one person will eventually win the game and therewith the villa. De Mol clearly figured that the popularity of Second Life will lead to investment value. Possibly the format will be a success and will be copied by other production companies (which will pay royalties to John de Mol), and its publicity will perhaps draw more people to Talpa.

Applying a Big Brother format to a virtual community is in my opinion a double reduction. Like writing a novel based on a cartoon or making a film based on a computer game. I mean it happens, but it just seems insignificant. Second Life is a computer game where people are digitally caged on a server. Other players can log on to this game-server and learn about the life of their neighbors. Second Life is a virtual Truman Show where anyone is a potential Big Brother watching a lot of Trumans. Starting an in-game game that follows the same format as the game itself (which in turn is a formatted according to the rules of the real world) is a clear reduction. John de Mol is the master of reduction.

Perhaps that is what we really want. De Mol has proven to have a sense for commercial success. His shows are a reflection of the poor taste that we have in Holland. De Mol has been accused of downgrading television and Dutch society. I believe we humans are incredibly complex being with a limited ability of contemplation. We are constantly searching for insight of ourselves and a better understanding of the other. By breaking down a complex design in smaller segments, one has a clearer overview of what is studied, life. Linden Lab reduced life to a simulated kind. By examining social interactions, structural developments, property exchange, trends, self presentation, etc, we get one step closer to essence what makes us human, our primary character, and our main desire, moreover what is the fundamental nature, the heart and spirit if you will, of life.

We constantly explore new ways to simplify the world we live in and John de Mol is just doing his part. He is reducing quality, thought, taste, the media, and the mass. You can blame John de Mol for downgrading cultural products, however I believe it’s in the nature of the mass to be fed with fast food, sound bytes and a book summary. We are reducing our lifes to a secondary level. We are reduced, we are second life.

7 Responses to “Second Life: musicians, business, politicians, John de Mol and the essence of life”
  • November 7, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    “His shows are a reflection of the poor taste that we have in Holland.” Thanks Roman, now everybody knows… ;-).

    The big reason BB’s succes on tv is declining is that people find it boring once the hype is over. If BB has learned us anything it is that either real life can’t be contained in a fabricated format or that life really is boring.

    I do agree that doing the exact same show in 2ndL adds nothing to the phenomenon, as 2ndL is already a more complex version of the tv version of BB. However, it could be the perfect arena for the show. Maybe the virtual characters will give us more to watch than the meaningless discussion of “real-life” characters in a jacuzzi .
    I don’t agree with your notion of 2ndL as a reduced version of the real world. I look at it as a different version of life, as it takes things from the real world, but also creates new things by itself. You might even say that 2ndL really is a second life, making our lives more complex.

  • November 7, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    True very true. It might make life more complex instead of providing a petridish of life.

    You can look at it from that perspective. Yet, I think that is a limited view. In fact, second life isn’t a secondary life form; the avatars are being controled by humans, it therefore is still ‘first’ life.

    I recon what you mean to say is that SL is an extension of your identity/persona/character, your alter-ego if you will, enriching your ego and making your personal life more complex. However this perspective is quite subjective in the least, my point is that all these complexities put together in a microscopic scale provides an ‘object of study’ that can provide us insight in the world at large, and with it answer some difficult questions regarding life.

    Reduced/simulated/concise/petridish/madurodam…

    The CONCLUSION of ‘the experiment’, that I call SL, could well be that it makes the world more complex and difficult, however, an objective study still has to be done. And Second Life sets the grounds for an accurate case study, a good representitve of our ‘western perspective’, and a rich sample of ‘the real world’.

  • November 7, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    I just found out that people were coming to our blog via a link on Duranduran.com. I suspected it had something to do with Roman’s “wrinkled bald heads” remark and became a member of the forum to see what they had to say. Kelgura wrote the following:

    “Why do so many people/bloggers think that the concert has taken place?

    Everyday I receive at least one Google alert where it is mentioned that Duran has already played their SL concert.

    Most of the time it’s said in passing but the MASTERS OF MEDIA blog actually took the time to write this:

    Second Life has been continuously in the Dutch news this month. It all started with Duran Duran four weeks ago. This long forgotten band from the eighties figured it could make a come-back, a second career, and a virtual success by playing their music for half a million Second Life clients. The obvious reason for this is because the dinosaur aged band members can hide their wrinkled bold heads behind a virtual face lift, the 3D avatars of SL.

    You’d think being Masters of Media they would be able to do some fact checking.”

    I reread Roman’s words and I’m not sure if he thought the event had already taken place, so maybe he can clear the air or admit he was wrong… :-)

    We are the Masters of Media and fact checking is our thang! Plus, Duranduran rules! ;-) Signing up for that forum is the smartest thing I’ve done today.

  • November 7, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    I certainly did check my facts and am definitely not admitting I’m wrong.

    I thought about adding more details, like the fact that they made a virtual island on which they are planning to give their concerts. I was going to include the fact that Nick Rhodes mentions on the internet page of Duran Duran that he is very excited and looking forward to seeing them perform sometime in the coming months! I did not choose to include these incredibly insignificant details because I didn’t think it would matter for the content of the rest of the article!!

    Anyway, the words I chose to explain Duran Duran’s performance might have been too concise (and the past tense possibly confusing); however it doesn’t include or imply any false information.

    I definitely did check the facts, please don’t bother me again

    (maybe you can post this as a reply on that forum)

  • November 7, 2006 at 8:24 pm

    ….oke, I exaggerated a bit with the dinosaur remark; dinosaurs never got 48 years old..

  • November 7, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    I did think you meant it like that… We masters never make mistakes… You’re the king of fact checking as far as I’m concerned… ;-)

    And if you ever do make a mistake, you’ll have your helmet!

  • November 7, 2006 at 9:07 pm

Leave a Reply