NY Meetup Meeting Again
Last night I was at the New York Metaverse Meetup to celebrate Mark Wallace and Peter Ludlow's new book, The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid that Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, or as I think of it: "Virtual Tabloid: The book with a really long subtitle that, realistically, can't be shortened for people to understand what it's about, and it provides a lot of good keywords for searching".
The party was fun, Peter and Mark were in good spirits, and I even bumped into Jerry Paffendorf, who since leaving Electric Sheep Company has been gathering troops and working on a secret project under "Wello Horld". So secret, in fact, that at least two people working for him have told me that they don't know what it is that they will be doing. But that's how valuable Jerry's ideas are to people!
I might note that there are two other books about Second Life out that I wholly endorse, only partially because I'm quoted in them:
Daniel Terdiman's The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life
Ideas - How Similar Are They?
At the meetup, I bumped into Boris from Combined Story, one of my company's contemporaries in the metaverse field. We were chatting about various things, and he mentioned that Joel of the Sheep blogged about how he'd bring Ikea into Second Life, hypothetically. This is something my company's done before, and it actually helped to win us our contract with Dell Computers. Having not read the article, I shh'd Boris, and before he could tell me what Joel thought, I proceeding to come up with what *I'd* do.
So now I'm curious to compare. I still have yet to read Joel's blog, but I'm going to jot down my ideas here, now, and then read his blog afterward, compare and contrast.
What I'd Do With Ikea
Ikea to me is an experience, and that differs from how most large stores work. Most large stores have departments, but Ikea shuffles you along a set, linear path and makes you look at everything. It's a highly engineering experience, and while you still go through various sections of the store (office, bedroom, etc), you wind up seeing, quite literally, everything. So when I go to Ikea, I wind up spending 3+ hours there, and usually buying something I'm not planning on getting originally. Considering most items are furniture, that's a big up-sell!
Ikea's got this *down pat*. The irony is that their online US site, and their catalogs for that matter, are much more similar to a traditional department store. You pick your categories, perhaps get a few ideas, and pick your product. It's utilitarian and easy to navigate.
In Second Life, however, I think Ikea could explore entirely in new ways, as compared to their website. A quick list of what I would do, and for the record, this is off the top of my head with perhaps 15 minutes of thinking:
- Customize-your-own-room: Clearly, the obvious idea.
- A guided walk-through like a real Ikea: Still obvious, since that's how SL furniture stores are. It's also a near literal translation of Ikea's real store.
- Give away all of its furniture in Second Life: That's right, I said it. I'd tell Ikea to give away all of their virtual furniture, because it's iconic in design (like Coca-Cola) and it's instant advertising, especially if that furniture linked to where to order online. Heck, people may even build their real home or apartment in Second Life and see how the Ikea furniture looks and where to put it. I know I'd personally do that.
- Provide a public forum to share/swap/rate and critique different peoples' furniture setups. Have regular contests for the best setup of the week/month.
- Staff the store in-world: with people knowledgeable of the real products, and could help with ordering assistance.
- Link Ikea's site to the virtual experience. "See this in 3-D!" is the thought-process.
- Different sims for different areas: I'd have a different store for different European countries, the USA, and other locations. This is important since their marketing can be much more targeted.
Well, first off, Joel immediately tells the readers to view Ikea's own trippy, experiential website Dream-Kitchen tour.
Joel comes up with a list of what you can and can't do with Ikea's online experience, and bases his recommendations on it. The list, unedited:
Ikea’s online kitchen design tool is potentially really great. With it you can:
- Lay out your kitchen, choosing from all the elements available.
- Get a price list for all the components of your kitchen.
But there’s much you can’t do:
- Easily position your camera due to the wonky camera controls.
- See textures, other than the simple ones provided.
- Change wall colors and textures to make your kitchen look like the space it will eventually live in.
- Share your kitchen.
- See other people’s kitchen ideas for inspiration.
- Position items where you want them to go because sometimes the positioning logic is buggy.
- Really understand which pieces fit together better with others. Suggestions would be good here. (”I see you placed the corner base cabinet in your kitchen. May I suggest these other cabinets to go next to it?”)
- Really understand the underlying logic of their system, so you can make intelligent choices quicker.
- Get initial suggestions based upon price ranges.
- Use the design tool for other rooms in your house.
- Easily measure arbitrary distances like you can with the measure tool in Google Earth. This would help position islands.
But I'm happy to see that Joel didn't list a few ideas that I did, including staffing the stores, having different stores for different areas, linking the website to the 3-D experience, and having contests to encourage people to customize rooms.
There you have it! Now I suppose I'll go ping Joel and see what he thinks. :)