If that’s my avatar on the phone, tell ’em I’m not in.

Vodafone in Second Life:

Vodafone has launched a mobile operation in Second Life enabling users to connect real life with the virtual world. Vodafone Inside Out, which launched yesterday in beta, will only be advertised in the virtual world through Second Life newspapers The AvaStar and Metaverse Messenger. The service will enable users to call other Second Life avatars and connect the call to mobile phones in the real world.
The service will enable Second Life friends to speak to each other offline when one is online. Users can also send messages to friends in the virtual world when they’re offline and can send and receive texts using their own virtual identity on their real life mobile. Users will receive unique numbers for calls and texts and will be offered free handsets which can be collected from the Vodafone InsideOut vending machine.
The service within Second Life will be free until 30 November 2007. Justin Bovington, CEO of London-based virtual world agency Rivers Run Red, said: “The link between the first world and second world is coming together. This is what we’re calling the ‘second wave’ of projects coming into Second Life – a move towards brands developing compelling, relevant and immersive technology applications for the virtual worlds.” This project was developed by agencies BBH, Dare and Rivers Run Red, the agency responsible for Vodafone’s Second Life activities. (NMA)

Business application – talk to customer service/sales ‘inworld’, and if you need a “real” voice, do a click-to-call out to the service centre.

I used to think that there could be nothing worse than voice in a virtual world, because it ‘destroys’ the immersive experience but I have got used to it. And I understand that for many participants, it’s a critical service – I was astonished at the number of Ventrilo and Teamspeak server channels set up to run in world events. Me? I just want an SMS message of when my uber-wand has sold in the World of Warcraft auction house. Or a notification system of when my friends are in-world, so I can stop whatever I’m doing and stalk them join them there.

What is this thing called real world??? Since when did communication over a device (mobile) constitute “real” and communication over a device (PC/Virtual) constitute “not real”? Surely the only real world communication is face to face? Or is everything real world? Second Life has voice now – catching up with other virtual worlds that have integrated TeamSpeak and Ventrilo – does voice mean “real” and text not? I’m guessing years ago, face to face was “real” and the telephone “unreal“. And so it is, but we just take it for granted now. So next time you yell at a teen for texting instead of calling, remember, somewhere in the past, teens got yelled at for calling instead of visiting. Bring back letter writing and fountain pens I say! Oh ok, maybe not.

For those of you that are interested, here’s my presentation from WebDirections at the Sydney Convention Centre last week. Death by powerpoint awaits. šŸ˜›