Sweden to set up embassy in Second Life

House of Sweden in Washington According to Sweden’s largest newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Sweden is planning to set up an official embassy in Second Life. Modeled after the House of Sweden in Washington, the building is to be the virtual world’s first official embassy.

In reality though, the facility will not deal with passports or visa applications like a normal embassy, but rather acts as a marketing outpost for Sweden designed to reach the digital generation. The idea is being developed at Swedish Institute instead of the Ministry of foreign affairs.

A critical piece by Randolph Harrison recently highlighted the fact that inaccuracies in the media hype surrounding Second Life may be leading individuals and organisations to make bad investment decisions. Dagens Nyheter says Second Life has close to three million residents, while the actual number of users is probably much smaller. Which number did Swedish Institute base their embassy plans on?

After a long season of astonishing news like this one, the buzz is that Second Life and other 3D worlds along with it may be in for a bit of a media backlash. This would be unfortunate for Second Life, since companies setting up marketing operations in-world have been a big driver for the pioneering platform.

Big virtual property markets like World of Warcraft or Cyworld will probably not even flinch though, driven as they are by consumer demand borne out of individuals’ social behaviour in the user community.

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4 thoughts on “Sweden to set up embassy in Second Life

  1. The final decision was made in the aftermath of the Clay Shirky piece. We’re using Second Life to explore the 3D space as a platform for our nation-branding projects. While the protocols of the coming metaverse haven’t been settled on yet, I do think a metaverse is coming, and we’d like to start getting our expertise sooner rather than later. SL citizens will be our de facto focus groups, so we can start figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

  2. Stefan, it sounds like you would be one of the people working on the project, cool. I remember IBM giving similar justifications for building a presence in SL: it might not be the metaverse of the future, but it’s a good place to practice.

    Anyway, nice to hear that the Swedish Institute (assuming you are with them) is better informed than Dagens Nyheter.

  3. This is a decision that will be deeply regretted and politically damaging to anyone involved. It is very unlikely that the decision makers know what they’re signing on to. Why do you think these cultists are scurrying around franticly trying to prevent anyone really probing the legitimacy of these fantastic virtual world claims?

  4. Well, BBC picked up the story yesterday and reports that “Second Life has about three million users worldwide”. Sigh.

    To the anonymous above, I doubt the investment involved is large enough to merit that kind of political attention. And Sweden already received BBC-level publicity for it, one of the objectives of the “nation-branding” project no doubt.

    Harrison’s proposal is extremely interesting. I hope somebody does step forward so we can learn more about the mysteries of business in Second Life.

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