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Second Life, MySpace, YouTube--It's All About Mining Intentionality.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 26, 2006

We’re rushing to complete IN3—the third issue of Inside Innovation and there are fascinating stories in it, including one on Second Life. The more I see in Second Life, the more I realize that one of the most important business opportunities there is mining intentionality. This is a phrase my brilliant colleague Frank Comes came up with to describe what’s going in in that space.

People in SL are expressing what they would LIKE to do in reality. For example, it’s easy to pimp your car in second life and clearly lots of people want to customize their transport there. All the major auto companies are piling into SL to learn about this—and build their big after-market customizing business in the real world.

Ditto for hotels. Starwood is designing a new brand of hotel—Aloft—in SL by letting people mess around inside their virtual hotel concept, showing what they like, what they don’t.

It’s about intention, what people intend to do if given the possibility. Intentionality is part of the ethnography space, part of that unmet needs thing. My guess is that every company, every organization will want to be in Second Life to get at, to mine, this intentionality, as a basis for developing new products and services.

Reader Comments


October 28, 2006 7:04 PM

This is the reason I rarely read your blog, Bruce: Second Life is now old MSM news. Where on earth have you been? How is it that someone so focused on innovation misses one of the most innovative technologies around? It's not as if it's been a secret.

bruce nussbaum

October 30, 2006 3:39 PM

One of the most important things you must do in business or journalism--in anything in life--is know your audience, understand their culture and respect it. Second Life may be "old news" to a small group of folks who first adopted it when it was launched in 2003. But to most of the business community around the world--indeed, to most people-- SL is a new phenom. They are curious and want information about it. Being "insidie" and culty may make you feel good but it borders on arrogance and disrespect.

Rit Mishra

November 5, 2006 11:11 PM

I quite like the phrase "mining intentionalities" but I strongly believe that platforms like SL will never reflect the true intentions of users about their likes and dislikes.

I wounder if companies are using these data and behaviour patterns inorder to shape thier product, service and offerings...


November 29, 2006 5:02 PM

There is a significant amount of gender changing that occurs in SL (i.e. men using femal avatars. Are we to draw the conclusion that the users intentionalities are to be female? Should we market feminine products to these men?

No - of course not. Virtual worlds like Second Life are projections of our fantasy life and need to play. Drawing real life learning from this type of environment is fraught with error.

Mining intentionaliities for the real world should occur in the real world.

That is not to say that there are no product opportunities in Second Life. Clearly there are - but they are limited to that environment.

Brock Danner

November 30, 2006 3:13 PM

I think this is a very interesting phenomenon, although I may not fully align with belief in mining this environment. I have found virtual community behaviors interesting since the original MUDDs of the 90s, but I have struggled to differentiate my interest from one of "oddity" or real value.
Here is where I agree: the internet and other forms of virtual connection are becoming fully immunized into everyday life and thus require our full attention, but we need to be able to separate initial nostalgic behaviors from genuine behaviors and preferences. The ability to be whom or whatever and do anything will always invoke the most extreme of responses, but is this real value for real world innovation and development? I would have to say that no relative to common real situations and commodities that are only being simulated in these environments and yes to what the effects of these behaviors will be on our everyday lives. Mentally we are fully able to separate illusion from reality. Think of those days when you awake and cannot distinguish if the dream really happened or not. Or when we make a error and go searching for the undo key. These are the migrations that become interesting and valuable. And then the basic visual relationship changes - the effects of spending extended hours in an environment that is visually simulated on a back-lit screen will create a new generation of viewing. The same way the GenX generation grew up on flattened art, the computer environment is the next visual revolution that we have only begun to understand through our younger generations for whom it is more common. It will effect our behaviors and relationships, but the value will only be found through a intelligent filtering of the data and insights.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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