Monday, October 10, 2005

Expression in a digital environment

What is so great about a digital environment compared to the physical world?

There are currently two main kinds of experience to have in a digital environment such as Second Life, Project Entropia and Sims Online: avatar representation and interactive activities.

If the digital world is avatar-based as the current models seem to be, you create a visual representation of yourself or your presence in the form of a person, animal or object, which is a chance to explore and experiment with identity. You can be someone or something else. Shape, size, gender, age, color, texture and other attributes are all an exploration. Another property of digital identity is dynamism, you can change your avatar'’s appearance at any time.

Doing activities is the second main experience in digital worlds, including social chat, dancing, gambling, designing and building objects, discussion and learning.

The list of potential activities is much longer. There could be a digital world version of any physical world activity; best represented as an adaptation and abstraction with fun new elements, not just a re-creation of the physical world activity. The ability for any group to meet and interact in a richer synchronous way than with current Internet-based methods of chats, email lists and websites is just starting to be imagined.

Each physical world entity (e.g.; business, university, hobby group, book club) should be thinking about what its digital environment presence should be, where it should be (e.g.; in the existing digital worlds of Second Life, etc. or in its own digital world) and starting to get it created. For businesses and services, there are two audiences/customer sets, the existing customer set that can be brought into the digital environment and the customer set that is in the digital environment already.

Marketing to digital environment participants for business or other purposes is an interesting puzzle, a mix of traditional and new marketing techniques. Maybe Second Life and other environment custodians or external digital world watchers will make aggregated demographic user data available for an idea of the profile segments that are already part of the digital environment.