Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Australia's ABC buys an island in Second Life

Australia's ABC has bought an island as part of a new R&D venture. You may ask how the ABC can afford to do this with taxpayer dollars. Don't worry, the island exists in Second Life, the virtual world of three million people run by Linden Lab – with its own currency and opportunities for social and financial interaction.

The move by the ABC's innovation division involves New Media manager Abigail Thomas assuming a virtual identity, or avatar, on Second Life as Abi Goldflake. The ABC’s island will feature streamed local content, exclusive events and other activities. Total business done on Second Life is estimated at $840,000 a day with the overall 2007 GDP estimated to be between US$500 and $600 million. Second Life has faced issues around child pornography and legality of business deals but virtual worlds are one of the fastest growing areas of the Internet.

Interestingly, a recent ABCTV Four Corners program on virtual communities did not mention the ABC’s purchase of the island in Second Life. When I spoke to Four Corners, they advised that production of the program was commissioned well in advance of the SL island purchase. Is this just an omission or a sign of healthy commercial nous in the new business areas of our ABC?

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