Thursday, February 22, 2007

Second Life in the Business World

Colin Rule is one of my favorite online dispute resolution (ODR) pundits. He never fails to find the most interesting intersections of technology and ADR. In a recent article in ACR Resolutions, Colin introduces us to Second Life, a virtual world.

Second Life

Second Life is a 3D online digital world created and owned by its residents. I made a quick visit to the site to check it out. It looked like lots of fun to explore and I plan to go back.

Linden Labs, the creator of Second Life, sought out Colin, who designed dispute systems for Ebay, to explore what might work for the 3D world where, uh, people inevitably have issues and fights.

Bringing virtual to the real world

Linden Labs' desire to bring real life processes to its online world got me wondering what would happen if the real world took conflict resolution virtual. What?? Ok, what if mediators encouraged disputants to create avatars and mediate in a virtual community?

It's not so far-fetched. IBM, which I credit as being the architect of 'modern corporate culture', currently uses this new technology to onboard new employees and train interns. And, if it's good enough for Big Blue....

Would virtual mediation change participants?

I imagine, certainly without knowing, that disputants might behave differently in a virtual world than in the real one. It kinda takes 'face-saving' to a new level. Disputants, feeling empowered by having such control, might decide to be more open to brainstorming and collaborative options. I mean, if you could turn yourself into the person you always wanted to be, wouldn't that experience transform feelings of defensiveness into expansiveness?

Let me know what you think?

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!




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