Bridging On Line Off Line Worlds

Sun, Apr 15, 2007


In the year of 2010, 70% of the population in the developed nations will pass ten times more time per day interacting with people in the virtual world than in the physical world, says Charles Abrams a Director of Research for Gartner in, Internet Midia Digital.

What with the upcoming launch of Second Life Brasil, the arrival of Second News! Brasil, and the Gartner Conference in, Sao Paulo, Brasil (April 10th and 11th), virtual worlds in general and Second Life, in particular, are making a big splash in Brasil at the moment.

The picture on the left is of the opening party on Second Life for Second News! Brasil. The picture on the right is of the Pelorinho, Salvador, Brasil from Omar Junior’s Flickr photostream.

What is it about virtual worlds that will draw this many people in for this amount of time? Certainly it is not just about being 3D! The pivotal points of a virtual world are outlined in “Onder’s Big Three.”

“Onder’s big three” describes the qualities any virtual world must have if it is going to play the kind of role in 2010 that Abrams from Gartner describes. (Notably, Onder finds that, at this time, Second Life is the “ONLY virtual world that completely complies with ‘Onder’s Big Three.’”

1. Real money must move in and out of the “virtual” economy freely. RMT (Real-Money Trading) is designed in, not forbidden by TOS.

2.Users must be able to create unique content and retain ownership over it. Things like scripting and accepting uploads are important here. Multimedia is a bonus. We must be able to control the rights to our content.

3.The world must be persistent, and the users able to change it. Residents like being able to build the world themselves, and don’t need somebody stepping in and erasing their work.

But, in terms of the growth of virtual world’s in developing countries, at the moment, Onder’s number one point is, perhaps, the most important. The use of mobile phones as virtual bank accounts, to send, receive and save money is being touted but Telecom industry pundits as the major market driver after SMS.


BBC News notes: “M-banking, as it is known, might help to serve the three billion people who currently have no access to financial services, according to the World Bank.”


On the left is a Kaizen Cash booth on Brazilian Second Life (Kaizen is one of the Brazilian partners in Second Life Brasil – see 3pointD for the complete story). It will be possible to buy Linden Dollars using Brazilian currency, the Real.

On the right, is a “Geesm,” (GSM) kiosk in Lagos for mobile phone based virtual banking (no connection to Second Life, yet!).

Olusola Oyewola points outs call centers as they are known “attend to their customers just like your banker does when you go to cash some amount of money.” For more about the role of mobile phones in job creation in Africa see, Textually, Mobile Africa, Afrigadget, and Timbuktu Chronicles.


Jamais Cascio in World Changing, discusses “Leapfrogging” – the “notion that areas which have poorly-developed technology or economic bases can move themselves forward rapidly through the adoption of modern systems without going through intermediary steps. ” Bowers writes on PSD blog, “M-banking remains the most powerful example of leapfrogging that I know of. It’s actually a double leapfrog – from landlines to cell phones, and from traditional banks to virtual wallets.


Scott Schaffer has been blogging for a while about “leapfrogging” from “Phase 1 of internet development, the connection of the electronic world” which has been dominated by the platform creators (Microsoft) and search (Google) to “Phase 2 – connecting every physical item to the Internet,” which will take the internet into 3D. He notes, “Phase 2 will be 1000 times larger and more lucrative than Phase 1.”

Physical World Connection Players

Business Week, last week summarized the Chinese physical world connection players. Gmedia uses two-dimensional bar codes to bridge “the online and offline worlds, turning, say, a coffee table into a physical hyperlink, and your mobile phone into a giant mouse pointer. You “click” the barcode on the coffee table by taking a picture of it with the camera on your phone, and then are automatically taken online.”

Hong Kong-based, MyClick, “Although, it uses a patented photo recognition technology, not barcodes, the end result is virtually identical. Any visual medium – a magazine page, billboard or television commercial – can carry an image framed by a special border. The user simply snaps a photo of the framed image.”

Steve McCormick, vice-president of MyClick says: “In China, consumers are into marketing that’s hao wanr (fun). It’s not like the US, where the internet is a tool for purchasing products. Here, it’s all about yu le (entertainment).” Also, see Pacific Epoc’s interview with MyClick.

But, for a questioning look at whether mobile phone advertising and datamatrix codes will work , see Danwei.


What is happening “on the ground? M4G and Life Logging

Africa – Ready For Business tagged me recently. And, ever since, I have been wondering what to write for a meme post – What are my goals? Well one of my goals for this blog is not just to focus on top down innovation, but to keep looking at what innovations are coming from people who take up and use technology in creative and unexpected ways.

I love coming up with big ideas. But, I have been reining in my love of “big ideas” lately. I have come to realize that more often than not deep engagement with very specific areas evolves into big ideas one could never have imagined when starting out.

In Africa, the focus of innovation may not be on broadband at the moment, but, this does not mean trails are not being blazed. Virtual banking “the next big market driver after SMS” is being pioneered in Africa and other developing countries (including Second Life!).

Also, Africa Ready For Business notes, new and innovative uses for SMS are emerging . See their post for a video on M4G – Mobile For Good about how MG4 is helping Kenyans find jobs. And, check One World, to see more about this “social franchise project designed to use mobile phone technology to alleviate poverty” by delivering vital health, employment and community content via SMS.


Innovative approaches to connecting on grid and off grid worlds don’t just come from large corporate ventures.

Please check out, the other here, to learn about Jerry Paffendorf’s (The Futurist In Residence at The Electric Sheep Company) “on the ground” experiments in Phase 2 internet development using his shoes.


Pursuing an instinct to life log with his Nike+ tracking shoes plus new camera plus new Google MyMaps service, Jerry begins work on the virtualizing the neighborhood side of things.

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categories: Africa, bridge bloggers, Mobile Phones in Africa, Second Life, The Dirt Road To The IT Superhighway, Virtual Worlds, Web3.D

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Tisha Says:

    Oh yes virtual worlds like Second Life are taking the Internet to a whole new level and I recently was a conference where we were discussing mediascape which will go even beyond that by combining 3D with real life…very interesting.

    We not only share names but interests :)

  2. yee Says:

    Personally I take bridge blogging as something that you occasionally share with your foreign friends,because I realize that individual is aways limited by his own experience,energy and time.

    Take blogging easy,never treated it as a mission or you will feel tired soon. :)

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. UgoTrade » Blog Archive » From China to Virtual Africa: How Can Participatory Media Benefit the World? Says:

    [...] University, in the blogosphere. Yee’s blog caught my attention and I linked to him in a post, “Bridging On Line Off Line Worlds.” And, Yee’s comments on my post re the task of bridge blogging were so wise that a connection [...]