In 1994, Peters (1994) claimed that we are experiencing crazy times and that calls for crazy organizations. As a matter of fact, we are embedded into a complex and “transitional” historical phase, that philosophers and social scientists define “post-modernity.” This phase is characterized by a progressive skepticism towards the exasperated individualism generated by the liberation movements and towards the rationalism of the modern period. This shifting of perspective does not crystallize in any specific movement, but, on the contrary, it is a mosaic composed by a plurality of different ideologies.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Avatar: A representation of a real user in a virtual world. It can assume different forms (e.g., icons, two or three-dimensional representations, text-descriptions, etc.) and may reproduce realistically the specific user or, on the contrary, portrait a totally invented identity.
Hyper-Reality: A concept related to the post-modern reaction to neo-positivism. People react to the lack of social values and cultural landmarks by defining new identities in their own world, built on emotional states and experiences of life and congruent to their self image, way of being or transitory psychological state.
Immersive Advertising: An extreme application of tribal marketing. The idea is to seamlessly integrate sponsors’ brand, products or services in an online “tribal” community. In this case too, the viral effect could also be exploited for creating and selling ad-hoc user-driven products.
Virtual World: A computer-simulated environment, usually inhabited by avatars. The virtual world representation may assume very different forms (two or three-dimensional graphic landscape, text-based description, etc.). The majority of virtual worlds allows multiple users.
Online Community: People who interact through an ICT-based communication environment, recognize a minimum common goal that holds them together (may share one or more domain/s of knowledge and shared practice/s) and define implicit or explicit policies for regulating their interactions (see e.g., Preece, 2000).
Post-Modernity: In sociological studies the term “post-modernity” defines the reaction people has shown during the second half of the last century to the neo-positivism of science and to the illusion of freedom and happiness it brought along.
Post-Modern Tribes: Virtual or physical communities people use to build their own identities in new possible worlds, where everyone can become what she longs to be (see e.g., Maffesoli, 1996).
Role-Playing Games (RPGs): Games in which players are requested to assume a new imaginary identity, a life-conduct coherent with that identity, and to accept rules and roles that allow the community to survive. The goal of role gaming is more than winning. It is being someone people long to be (see e.g., Douse & McManus, 1993).
Tribal Marketing: A marketing approach aimed at creating, supporting and exploiting post-modern tribes for commercial purposes. The viral effect in tribes could also be exploited for creating and selling ad-hoc user-driven products (see e.g., Cova & Cova, 2002).