‘Second Life’ aims to become the world of tomorrow

Professors Susan Barnes and Neil Hare will be demonstrating the ‘Second life’ virtual world at the Imagine RIT festival.

An increasing number of people are ditching their jobs in the real world to make a living entirely online within Second Life’s virtual economy—making thousands of U.S. dollars selling designs, developing virtual property or creating virtual market branches to offer real products.

Familiar with social networks like Facebook and MySpace, Professors Neil Hair (E. Philip Saunders College of Business) and Susan Barnes (College of Liberal Arts) decided to collaboratively teach an online advertising class—initiating business/marketing and advertising/public relations students into the virtual marketplace of Second Life.

“We are teaching students how to use Second Life, working for real clients on consultancy projects,” Hair says. “It’s not a game anymore; we’re actually helping clients make money.”

The project was a WOW Center exhibit at Imagine RIT. “We re-conceptualized the classroom and gave students online experience where they had to create advertising and marketing proposals for real consumers in Second Life," says Barnes.

“If you were going to charge for similar work in the commercial world, you’re looking at $4,000 worth of work per project,” adds Hair.

Slated to be featured at Imagine RIT was a virtual design of the Saunders College of Business’ Lowenthal Building, created by senior Matthew Anthony—showcasing Hair teaching the world’s first in-world advertising class.

“I fully believe this kind of technology will be the next evolution of the Internet, like the World Wide Web was after news groups,” Anthony says.

As class participant Ryland Bacorn confirms, “These new ‘worlds’ are where the consumer economy is moving at a furious rate.”

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