Ernst and Young is running a test with Second Life in which they created a virtual warehouse to run their trainees through. They found among other things that the trainees using the virtual worlds were more nervous in their decisions than a group using traditional training material. They argued this was a positive result in that trainees using traditional material were often overconfident in the skills they acquired, implying I think that Second Life training was more realistic – as one might expect.
The article mentions the start up costs in terms of time to orient the trainees to Second Life and the hardware issues, more of a reason to use Second Life more in students college classes I think so that they will be prepared to use these technologies when they leave.
It seems as if my fall 2008 class not only caused a spike on the number of avatars coming to Really Engaging Accounting on Teaching 4 in Second Life, but also created a spike in the absolutely wonderful, time and sanity saving New Media Consortium registration and orientation process, click over to the post.
Here’s a link to the graphs if you like looking at pictures: http://sl.nmc.org/reg-stats.php
Well, as my last post indicated I’ve been negligent in posting here, but I hope to rectify that as the semester proceeds. Today’s post is really to serve as a baseline marker on my sanity to look back on as the weeks and months flow by.
As of the last count this morning I have 929 students registered for my financial accounting course at the University of Central Florida. I have had 75 new and returning avatars visit Really Engaging Accounting in Second Life™ just this past week and class starts today! I’ve had 111 students register their names (real, Second Life™ and Twitter) already. I will spend this week giving an orientation for as many students as I can on the use of the tools I’ve built for them. I’ve asked and received permission to use CPA Island 2 as an overflow area in case Really Engaging Accounting is not accessible from avatar overload.
I am currently taking a wait and see approach (crazy huh) to determine how the students use SL and when. It could be that they all use at different times. Though at any one point I expect it to be very busy, hopefully the load will not overburden the sim. If students are unable to log-in because the sim is full, option 1 will be to use CPA island 2. If that’s not enough, option 2, using my private land will kick in, and if that’s not enough I will most likely let students opt out of Second Life (but so far that’s my last resort).
Well feel free to leave comments wishing me luck, or recommendations for good cocktails to get me through the next 4 months.
Humbly, your Head Bean Counter
While I’m gearing up for another semester of financial accounting, I wanted to share some recent presentations I’ve made and interview given related to Second Life. Last week I had the pleasure to do two presentations related to the work I’m doing with Second Life™ at the American Accounting Association 2008 Conference in Anaheim California.
The first presentation was for the 17th annual Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies and I presented some initial results of student perceptions of engagement related to their Second LIfe™ use and it’s impact on their performance. I have a lot more analysis to do and will be presenting a more detailed analysis at the upcoming Second Life™ Education Community Convention taking place September 5 – 7 in Tampa, Florida this year in conjunction with the Second Life Community Convention. I will post details of that after the session, but for those interested will post my slides from the AAA below.
My second presentation was given as part of the Conference on Teaching and Learning and was geared to how I used Second LIfe™, Twitter, Camtasia Studios, Meebo, Jing, and Concept Maps in my course. Whew that was a lot to over in 40 minutes! The slides for that are provided below.
Lastly, I was interviewed yesterday by CDB Barkley from the New Media Consortium as part of their Studio One series (follow the link for other interesting interviews). I mainly focused on the use of NMC’s orientation island which I’ve discussed previously in this blog and my plan on bringing in over 700 students this fall into Second Life™ (in just a few weeks, which says quite a bit about my lack of blog posting this summer).
Well it’s been a busy few weeks, but the real fun begins in 2 weeks as 700+ students enter begin using Second Life™, I promise to keep everyone posted with greater frequency.
On Sunday April 20,2008 I conducted an interview with a business owner in Second Life. Below is the transcript from that interview. I spoke with Cathy Ryder from Ink Blots which is a tattoo parlor located in Second Life on the Luck of the Irish sim. The interview turned out to be very informative. I learned that the accounting for a business in Second life is done by the actual website itself. The area of Second Life that controls of the accounting for the businesses are called the Linden Labs. Linden is the monetary unit used in Second Life, right now it is about 260 Linden to the US dollar. The business owners receive their financial statements from the website. The website tracts all of the purchases and keeps track of the owners inventory. It’s actually very beneficial to have the website performing the accounting for the owner. Linden Labs keeps track of all transactions, receives cash from the consumer, delivers the good to the consumer, and pays the owners the appropriate amount of Linden . It’s a true exception to the rule of separating operations. While the possibility for fraud is still possible, it is highly decreased because of the reduced possibility for human error or human deception.
One of the issues she brought up with the website performing all the tasks is that the owner is at the complete mercy of the website. If the website malfunctions the owner looses all of its business that it would have had in that time span. One instance in particular that was discussed during the interview was the fact that sometimes the server is overloaded and cannot process the Linden properly. Cathy has seen some businesses in Second Life actually go out of business as a result of this issue. So it is defiantly something that Second Life needs to address and try to improve.
Another possible problem that may occur in Second Life can be associated with all aspects of the internet. With having all of the transactions occurring between virtual users and accounting transactions being sent virtually there is a very real possibility of hacking. There are always layers of security to protect against hacking, like encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection devices, incident response procedures, and audits by external specialist, but the possibility still lingers.
Cathy’s business is extremely profitable. She pays nothing to generate her tattoos, they are created in Photoshop and she uploads them to the site. One of the expenses in her business is that it cost 10 Linden to upload a picture. She stated out doing the tattoos for fun and it turned out she was really good so she decided to try her luck at running a business in Second Life.
If I could go back and ask Cathy more questions I would definitely be interested to know exactly what things are listed on the sheets that Linden Lab provides to the business owners. I would also like to know how often the sheets are provided to them, weekly, bi-weekly, etc. All of the information I obtained during the interview was very informational and helpful. Before this class I was not even aware Second Life existed. Now i have a character(that now has a tattoo!!) in a virtual reality world that i can take anywhere i want, anytime i want and be whoever i want, and i have to admit im a little hooked. Second Life seems to be popping up everywhere I look now, Just the other day I was reading an article on how Al Qaeda has been linked to Second Life. I think that it is a wonderful learning tool when utilized properly as Dr. Hornik has fully demonstrated and hope that i continue seeing thses types of tools used in my future education courses.
After being (somewhat forcefully) immersed in the world of Second Life, I’ve come to appreciate the huge potential that virtual worlds hold. This is why I focused my line of questioning on that very subject when I interviewed Lou Mourelatos, Vice President of Business Development at The SL Agency. Providing innovative marketing/advertising solutions, The SL Agency is capitalizing on the increasing interest in virtual worlds, working with many big name corporations and NGOs.
Through the interview, Lou has provided surprisingly thorough insight into his business, and the business of virtual worlds in general. Beyond this, he gave detailed information on the accounting procedures he employs. The questions I asked are as follows:
1. What first led you to pursue a business related to Second Life?
TheSLAgency understands the potential for Virtual Worlds and how they bridge geography, enable unique experiences, and expand the imagination of its participants. That being said, we knew we needed to be in this space as the future of ‘digital dwelling’ looks more and more promising. TheSLAgency looked at several virtual worlds and found Second Life to contain a nice balance of ease-of-use verses functionality / audience. Understanding that Second Life, from a marketer’s perspective, should be used as a tool…and not a pool:
2. What are some of the companies you’ve worked with? What type of services did you provide?
TheSLAgency has successfully executed various types of marketing services for The Ontario Public Service, Nestle Nesquik, The World Bank/IFC, and MIRA Publishing to name a few. Services range from 3 to 6 month branding/messaging programs to live conferences events, recruitment drives, brand interaction, author readings/discussion, display media and virtual brand ambassador programs.
3. Why should companies consider expanding into virtual worlds?
The common denominator for all virtual worlds is the memorable & emotional experience they provide. When you can engage a consumer for upwards of 30 minutes, provide an interesting (read non-boring) training vehicle, or cost-effectively bridge geographic bounds via Virtual Meetings; it is difficult to overlook the value that VW could provide.
4. What advantages are there in marketing within virtual worlds, compared to more traditional means? What are the disadvantages?
Having a footprint in a virtual world allows for a unique brand experience and provides that emotional connection – this is an already establish goal of traditional advertising. A brand can engage their message target much more effectively and creatively via 3D content that is dynamic and innovative. Doing so builds brand affinity. From the business / corporate perspective; Virtual Worlds can enable branch offices from around the globe to meet, chat, and visualize ideas without paying hundreds of thousands in hotel & travel arrangements.
One may look at the non-standard metrics as a disadvantage to Virtual Worlds. Second Life for instance is not unlike the world-wide-web in 1995. It’s still new, adopted “only” by a few million users (compared to overall internet users) and still has many milestones to reach before it’s completely like the internet we know today. Content development in almost any virtual world is typically propriety, although in Second Life, content can be developed by anyone who learns the basics of the built-in toolset. This slight learning curve, coupled with any lack of “community management” can leave your consumer-targeted Second Life space devoid of visitors. This is what many 2006/2007 brand entrants into SL fell victim to: a poor understanding of the community, it’s wants/needs, and dreams.
5. What are the chief problems, if any, that you encounter when pitching the idea of marketing in Second Life (specifically to big name businesses)?
Some businesses fail to make the connection and see how Second Life can forward their message / brand experience. We haven’t found this to be unique to large or small businesses. A similar song has been played when CMO’s and VP’s were being pitched to budget a public website. TheSLAgency believes we are at that point again where innovation tentatively hangs up in a “why do we need this” meeting. Surprisingly enough, most businesses are intrigued, and excited about the value Virtual Worlds can bring to their brand; however, some are overly cautious, while others are willing but fail to do the proper planning.
6. Do you find that it’s becoming easier to make the case for business in virtual worlds?
There has been a surge of interest in finding & implementing business solutions within a virtual world such as Second Life. We say ‘finding’ as each approach to leveraging virtual worlds for a goal should be done analytically and carefully planned out. No solution is cookie cutter and truly visionary corporate representatives understand this.
7. What is the future of marketing in Second Life?
We see an heavy push by the business world to be involved in Second Life . Recruitment and Training are the top reasons why business-centric (non-consumer) companies inquire and work with TheSLAgency.
8. What do you see in the future of virtual worlds in general?
While it is difficult to see the future; we do see a inevitable expansion of Virtual Worlds into everyday life. This “mainstreaming” will come about when the general populace overcomes the stigma that was first associated with the internet. E.g. being “plugged in” to a virtual world.
9. Are there any other virtual worlds you’re looking at for your business? Any that interest you otherwise?
While our developers have been prototyping in several other virtual worlds; we enjoy working with Second Life due to its flexible functionality.
10. Finally, what method of accounting do you use? (Accrual, cash-basis, or “I don’t know – ask my accountant”). How do you account/keep records for transactions?
A single point of “cash” is utilized and budgeted out to the required departments. Since this leg of our business is done primarily in a virtual world, we primarily use the linden dollar to pay all but high-level employees and fund development projects when not done in-house.
Relatively speaking, accounting of SL Transactions is rather easy. Each month SL enables you to download a record of all transactions. Mind you, some transaction sheets can be thousands of entries long and require a fair amount of man-hours to process. A service-based QuickBooks template, as well as a basic understanding of spreadsheet software is really all you need.
Louis Volare (Real Life – Louis Landon) – you have to experience his music in order to believe it! Please be sure to check out Louis Volare in SL at Landon Arts, Landon (133, 243, 23) or through his RL (real life) website http://www.louislandon.com/…. You won’t be disappointed!
Louis Landon is a wonderful musician, smart business man, and a promoter of peace that has been using SL to his advantage. Louis has stated his personal mission is “to create a more peaceful world by writing and performing music from the heart.” That statement tells of Louis Landon’s passion for his music and mankind. The amount of work that Louis puts into promoting his CDs and his mission of peace both through SL and RL is extensive and the success of his newest CD is proof that he is doing a great job.
1. What made you decide to open a business and play your beautiful music using SL? I thought that it would be a great way to increase my fan base and reach people with my music and mission.
2. Do you see the use of SL as a plus to the advancing of your music/business? Definitely.
3. How do you track sales and/or tips through SL? It’s not possible to see where all CD sales or downloads come from, but the downloads that come through secondtunes.com are all from SL. iTunes is impossible to tell, but people often tell me why they bought my CD on cdbaby.com. And I would say that maybe 60% of my sales there are now because of SL.
4. What is the most challenging part of keeping accounting records through SL? It is not really a challenge at all. SL does all the work for me and all the information is available for download.
5. Are you able to extract the necessary information from SL to prepare financial statements and/or tax returns? Yes. Everything I make in SL goes into PayPal and then is transferred directly into my corporate bank account. Every penny is accounted for.
6. What advice would you give to other musicians who are contemplating using SL? I’d say, jump in. I still see SL being at the formative stages. I believe there is a strong upside potential in SL. It has not grown as fast as I had thought, but it is growing. And I think the best years of SL are ahead. My business model there continues to evolve and I find that more things are leading to RL work.
7. (This question is one that many fans wonder about… the Volare brothers… so I had to ask) Are you and Luigi really brothers or are you the same person? I can’t answer that question because both Louis and Luigi would come after me. I’m not so worried about Louis. hehe
submitted by: Terri Berry (SL Avatar: TerriBerry Wrigglesworth)
For extra credit in my Accounting 2021 class my goal was to find and interview a Second Life business owner. I searched for businesses in second life and IM’ed some business owners. I got a reply from Adriana Hian, who volunteered to be interviewed. She is from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, and currently sells business solutions on Second Life. My questions were going to focus on:
1) Why she started second life
2) What kind of business is she involved with in Second Life
3) What experience she has with accounting
4) The importance of accounting
What I learned:
I wanted to know why Adriana became involved with Second Life. She initially wanted to try Second Life for fun. After two days she had her own land and got a job in Second Life. Soon she started her own business, from which she sold art, clothes, and costumes. Later on, she decided to move in a new direction. With her previous experience in selling products with success, she decided to sell business solutions for new and problematic businesses on second Life. For sale now are her classes which focus on:
– Business Ownership and Leadership
– Building positive employer-employee relationships
– Product innovations
As for accounting, Adriana made the logical observation that it’s best to be able to do your own accounting in Second Life since you may not know your employees in real life. Obviously ethics is an important issue to be aware of both in reality and in the online environment. She stated that she focuses on the amounts of money in the accounts and the consistency.
I then asked about whether Adriana made any mistakes in her Second Life accounting experiences. She revealed that when she logs into her Second Life web page, she can click on “transaction history” and find her past transactions there. Records are stored automatically on the web site, which surely makes verifying one’s history much easier as it is an additional source of one’s personal journal. The Second Life website even provides the service of exporting the data into an Excel file.
From the interview, it seems the tools and services are in place for Second Life businesses to be profitable. The community seems to be growing so it will be interesting to see how large businesses like hers may grow in the future.
The interview is below:
[12:33] DaHanG Foggarty: Hi, are you ready for the interview?
[12:37] Adriana Hian: sure
[12:37] Adriana Hian: if you want you can tp me
[12:39] Adriana Hian: or if you like i can tp you
[12:39] DaHanG Foggarty: teleport? sure
[12:40] Adriana Hian: i teleport you or you teleport me lol
[12:40] DaHanG Foggarty: you teleport me
[12:40] DaHanG Foggarty:
[12:40] Adriana Hian: ok one sec
[12:41] DaHanG Foggarty:
[12:41] DaHanG Foggarty: thanks for volunteering
[12:41] DaHanG Foggarty: one moment please
[12:43] Adriana Hian: thats ok
[12:43] Adriana Hian: i have more than enough time
[12:45] DaHanG Foggarty: So, why did you get involved with second life?
[12:45] Adriana Hian: first of all , it was just i wanted to try it
[12:45] Adriana Hian: and the first day i installed it, i meet someone
really nice here
[12:45] Adriana Hian: and it all started with that
[12:45] Adriana Hian: after 2 days i had my own land
[12:46] Adriana Hian: and got a job in second life
[12:46] Adriana Hian: and a month later i started my own business
[12:46] Adriana Hian: i think people stay here when they meet nice
people at the start
[12:46] Adriana Hian: because suddenly you have a friend you only can
[12:47] Adriana Hian: in fact that friend is still my friend, and he
does all the building for me
[12:47] DaHanG Foggarty: Interesting, so do you have any experience
[12:48] Adriana Hian: yes i do it , to be sure im not losing money in
[12:48] Adriana Hian: i had a lot of business here, but it took too
much of my time. so
now im only helping people with their problems, or those who want to
start with own
business and teaching people
[12:49] DaHanG Foggarty: So what exactly is it that you do? And how do
you help people?
[12:49] Adriana Hian: notecard of what i been doing in second life
[12:49] Adriana Hian: i can give you a notecard on that also
[12:49] Adriana Hian: im holding classes
[12:50] Adriana Hian: teaching employers
[12:50] Adriana Hian: helping owners that lose money or have problems
[12:50] Adriana Hian: with shops, clubs and other stuff
[12:50] Adriana Hian: i been in second life since december 2006
[12:50] Adriana Hian: im basically a business person in real life and
[12:51] DaHanG Foggarty: Cool
[12:51] Adriana Hian: the notecard has many notecards in it
[12:51] Adriana Hian: it stand all i do and classes and what i do
[12:51] DaHanG Foggarty: So, do you do your own accounting, or does
someone do it for
[12:51] Adriana Hian: i do my own accounting
[12:52] Adriana Hian: mostly i wouldnt give the duty of accounting to
people in second
[12:52] Adriana Hian: cos they could be telling inside information
[12:52] Adriana Hian: in reallife you know ho the accountant is
[12:52] Adriana Hian: here you are not sure who the person is
[12:52] Adriana Hian: and if the accounter does wrong, im the one has
[12:52] DaHanG Foggarty: Very good point.
[12:52] Adriana Hian: so i trust myself, since i know i can do it
[12:53] Adriana Hian: but in real life i have a person doing the accounting
[12:53] Adriana Hian: here anyone can say they are elvis presley and
you need to trust
them for that
[12:53] DaHanG Foggarty: hehe
[12:53] Adriana Hian: and the question is whether you should give that
trust to someone
you dont know physically
[12:53] Adriana Hian: answer should be no
[12:54] Adriana Hian: else peopel will use youre trust against them
[12:54] Adriana Hian: in second life i only trust 5 people
[12:54] Adriana Hian: because i know them in real life
[12:55] DaHanG Foggarty: Are you aware of any principles or guidelines
accounting? Basically, do you know the importance of having consistent
[12:55] Adriana Hian: you thinking about second life now or real life
[12:55] DaHanG Foggarty: second life
[12:56] DaHanG Foggarty: but if you want to respond to both that is fine
[12:56] Adriana Hian: in second life, the important part is the amount
in the accounts
[12:56] Adriana Hian: because there’s no goverment jumping in here to
see if you do wrong accounting
[12:56] Adriana Hian: but i basically go for numbers
[12:56] Adriana Hian: and also make plan for how much can i spend each
month and how much i get in
[12:57] Adriana Hian: and i record all i get in and out
[12:57] DaHanG Foggarty: Have you ever made any major mistakes in your
accounting? Or if you did were they simply so small they could be
for you personally?
[12:59] Adriana Hian: what was the last setence i did say
[12:59] Adriana Hian: did crash
[12:59] Adriana Hian: at least in second life accounting is easy to
keep track on and i
write down all in and out transfer
[12:59] Adriana Hian: and in secondlife
[12:59] Adriana Hian: you can go to their homepage log in
[12:59] Adriana Hian: and go to account
[13:00] Adriana Hian: and choose tranaction history
[13:00] Adriana Hian: then you get in and out, and chose form and til date
[13:00] DaHanG Foggarty: [16:56] Adriana Hian: and also make plan how
much can i spend each month and how much i get in [16:57] Adriana Hian:
and i record all i get in and out
[13:00] DaHanG Foggarty: was the last thing you said
[13:00] Adriana Hian: you can also get it in excel file from the site
[13:00] Adriana Hian: yup i thought that was the last word i did say
[13:00] DaHanG Foggarty: Oh, interesting
[13:00] Adriana Hian: i have a recording machine attached to record all
[13:01] Adriana Hian: and the one on their homepage tells me how the
money come in
[13:01] Adriana Hian: if you sell an item it states the name of the item
[13:01] Adriana Hian: the money we give to each other for buying
[13:01] Adriana Hian: stands as a gift
[13:01] Adriana Hian: im also a second life mentor
[13:01] DaHanG Foggarty: What items do you exchange or sell on second life?
[13:02] Adriana Hian: in the past i rented out costumes in secondlife,
and i had an art
gallery, sold art, sold clothes,
[13:02] Adriana Hian: and now im just selling business solutions
[13:02] Adriana Hian: and holding classes that people need to pay to
[13:03] DaHanG Foggarty: What kind of business solutions?
[13:03] Adriana Hian: but i also do real estate in second life
[13:03] Adriana Hian: business solutions, are fixing negative hmmmm
[13:03] Adriana Hian: missing english word in my head
[13:03] Adriana Hian: negative money on places
[13:03] Adriana Hian: make them go in +
[13:03] DaHanG Foggarty: liabilities?
[13:04] DaHanG Foggarty: debts?
[13:04] Adriana Hian: yes debts
[13:04] Adriana Hian: put together pricing sales
[13:04] Adriana Hian: get them published, advertising , promotion
[13:04] Adriana Hian: basicly what you need to success in second life
[13:04] Adriana Hian: include training up their employees
[13:05] Adriana Hian: so they can go on holiday
[13:05] Adriana Hian: or be away and trust the people working for them
, that they are
there and not running away
[13:05] DaHanG Foggarty: hehe
[13:05] DaHanG Foggarty: wouldn’t want that
[13:05] Adriana Hian: for those of us that have business in sl
[13:05] Adriana Hian: its important to get money in, and get it to go
[13:06] Adriana Hian: before i had 24 employers, in my advertisng
agency in second life
[13:06] Adriana Hian: with basic salary
[13:06] Adriana Hian: and also bonus deals for them
[13:07] Adriana Hian: but a day only has 24 hours , so i decided i
should stop it since i
didnt have time
[13:07] Adriana Hian: so i cut back and got more time for friends and
[13:07] Adriana Hian: but i still earn money in it
[13:07] DaHanG Foggarty: hehe, real life is important too
[13:07] DaHanG Foggarty: well I think this is enough for the interview
[13:08] Adriana Hian: many people have work in real life
[13:08] Adriana Hian: and you can say for them its more difficult
[13:08] DaHanG Foggarty: true
[13:08] Adriana Hian: i m in second life almost 18 hours each day
[13:08] DaHanG Foggarty: That’s a lot!
[13:08] Adriana Hian: sleep an hour here and a hour there
[13:08] DaHanG Foggarty: Thanks so much for answering my questions.
[13:09] Adriana Hian: ok, my pleasure if you need anythgin more just ask me
[13:09] DaHanG Foggarty: I think this is good enough for my assignment,.
[13:09] Adriana Hian: and in notecard states all im doing now
[13:09] DaHanG Foggarty: Thanks, I will come back if I have a question
[13:09] Adriana Hian: ok thank you
[13:09] Adriana Hian: sorry for my bad english
[13:09] Adriana Hian: hope you understand it
Second Life released a new candidate viewer today, and one of the features with this release is the ability to display new media within Second Life. See the Second Life blog posting here. Prior to this release any land owner could choose to display video and/or music on their land. With the new release you can now display pictures and web pages!
Currently the what is displayed is a static web pages, so links are not clickable and scroll bars don’t scroll, but this is sure to be a boon to anyone wanting to bring in a web page to display in-world or to bring in text. For teaching purposes, you could display a wiki web page as your media, and make changes to that page (using your browser of course) and then “refreshing” the displayed web page in SL by toggling the media control off and on. Is this a bit clunky? Sure, but it’s a beginning and something a lot of people have been waiting for and is the first deliverable that we can play with since Philip Rosedale announced Web on a Prim should be available by May of this year.