Virtual worlds carve out their niche on the social Web

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Cision's Jay Krall on NASA eEducation Island in Second Life

Cision's Jay Krall on NASA eEducation Island in Second Life

 The media hype around Second Life, a virtual world in which goods and land are exchanged for real money, began to fade awhile back. But it continues to serve as a breeding ground for all sorts of innovative applications of social technologies.

  For example, researchers at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, England are testing out Second Life as a tool for helping patients with learning disabilities to better understand medical procedures before they undergo them. Royal Sussex is building a virtual hospital on SciLands, a Second Life continent that is home to dozens of research institutes and universities, including NASA eEducation Island, a kind of virtual museum about space (pictured).

 In creating social media outreach strategies, we often hone in on the hot destination of the moment, and when media attention shifts focus to a new darling, we tend to leave communities behind. The fact is, unhip as it is, MySpace is still the best social network for discovering independent music; the Yahoo Group Young PR Pros, Web 1.0 though it may be, hosts some of the best discussion in the industry; and Second Life is still a magnet for more than 700,000 monthly unique users who spent $120 million in real money on virtual things in the first quarter of 2009. Twitter and Facebook are surely the hottest social networks of the moment, but they represent a fraction of the conversation and innovation happening on the social Web. Where else could you be looking for your community?


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