The 3-D Innovation Sphere: Exploring the Use of Second Life for Innovation Communication

The 3-D Innovation Sphere: Exploring the Use of Second Life for Innovation Communication

Katrin Tobies (University of Leipzig, Germany) and Bettina Maisch (University of St.Gallen, Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-854-5.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter will explore the 3-D environment Second Life as a communication platform used by industry and science to create, design, develop, and distribute innovation. In order to achieve sustainable economic success in the context of global competition, companies need to optimize their communication activities within their innovation processes. In addition to identifying relevant trends at an early stage and generating marketable ideas, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to sufficiently communicate the usage and the meaning of innovations and to position themselves as consistent innovators. Virtual worlds like the high profile, realistically designed online environment Second Life offer far-reaching possibilities within the innovation management process – from ideating to market introduction. The objective of this chapter is to provide a systematic analysis of the communication paradigms in virtual environments. In particular, the main issues, challenges, opportunities, limits and trends of digital innovation communication will be discussed in the context of the 3-D world Second Life.
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Virtual 3-D Worlds

Virtual 3-D worlds are “immersive, three-dimensional, multi-media, multi-person simulation environments, where each participant adopts an alter ego and interacts with other participants in real time. World activity persists even if a player is off-line“ (Wagner, 2008). In terms of their appearance, they can mimic the real world, but may also represent fantasy worlds. The common feature of all virtual worlds is that, because they are realized in digital form, they are not necessarily subject to any of the physical laws of reality. In the case of Internet-based virtual worlds, this is supplemented by the fact that they can be accessed online at any time, from anywhere in the world.

According to Frédéric Cavazza (2007) virtual worlds can be allocated to one of four forms of use:

  • Social: worlds in which the main focus is on community building;

  • Game: worlds that first and foremost serve online gaming;

  • Entertainment: worlds consisting of music, videos and films;

  • Business: worlds that specifically fulfill business purposes, including worlds used for the exchange and sale of goods or to simulate training.

These four categories (see Figure 1) can overlap in places, since a single world can serve more than one use aspect. The virtual 3-D world Second Life lies at the interface between all four areas, as it combines social interaction, gaming, entertainment, and business applications.

Figure 1.

Categorization of virtual worlds. (Cavazza, 2007. Used with permission)

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