I spent some time yesterday furnishing InformationWeek's office -- or, should I say, bureau -- in Second Life. Read on for a photo of our little office, and some discussion of how it came to pass.
That's me in the foreground, Ziggy Figaro.
I got the office about a month ago. I had two goals, one immediate, and one not-so-immediate.
The immediate goal was to have a private place where I could strip down my avatar and change his clothes. Prior to renting the bureau, I had been going to one of the big corporate areas -- a place that some big company probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build. That area was almost always completely deserted, and so I could stand there stark naked and try on outfits without being disturbed.
Let this be a lesson to big corporate readers: Do not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building a sim in Second Life unless you know what you're doing.
Which brings us to the not-so-immediate goal for getting the office: I wanted to not make the mistakes that big company, and others like it, have made. Before investing significant money in SL, I wanted for us to learn about creating a journalistic and business presence in Second Life. The way to do that is the same way that smart companies learned about doing business on the Web, more than a decade ago. You start small, and see what works.
My Second Life friend Russell Innis is a real-estate developer in SL, among other things, and he leased me a floor of an office tower he's constructed. It's got no interior walls, and the exterior walls are completely transparent, looking out on the surrounding region. The surrounding region is, quite frankly, a bit commercial and random for my tastes, sort of ugly. But, overall, the office suits InformationWeek's immediate needs. Although I do hope we'll upgrade in the next month or so.
I left the office empty for the next month, but, yesterday, as I said, I suddenly needed furniture. So I typed "office furniture" into the Second Life search engine, and found a shop that had merchandise that I thought would suit our needs.
What does a small office need in Second Life? Well, what does an office need in real life? My immediate need was to have a place to do a one-on-one interview, and I wanted to make a good impression. After a short bit of browsing, I found a living-room set by an outfit called Hoffman Designs in Second Life. I bought most of it: Leather-upholstered sofa, matching chair-and-a-half with ottoman, coffee table with tchotchkes on it (table clock, small plant, wine bottle), two end tables, each with a lamp, large plant on the floor. And an aquarium, with fish controlled by scripts, which I haven't had a chance to play with.
The hardest part about laying it out was getting the lamps to sit on the tables. They kept wanting to float above the tables, or off to one side. It took me about 10 minutes, but eventually I got 'em in the right place.
It looks great. Of course, now I need a desk, and some more office-like office furniture. And furniture shopping in SL is fun. As much fun as clothes shopping, maybe more.
Unfortunately, the interview didn't happen in our offices. We had scheduling conflicts. Also, we're having some problems with access control on the office, which I expect will be straightened out very soon.
How much did all this cost? Well, I'm paying about US$2 per month rent for the office space, and I paid about US$10 for the furniture. That's right: Less than the price of eating lunch out. We do have bigger plans for Second Life, but, like I said, we don't want to throw around significant amounts of money until we know what we're doing.
I was struck by a thought today that made me chuckle. InformationWeek's parent company is CMP Technology (formerly CMP Media). For years, all our corporate offices used a particular kind of burnt-orange carpeting. CMP employees used to joke about it. CMP has always had the policy of investing money in products and people, not luxuries, and, well, nice carpeting has always been a luxury. That carpeting got downright ratty. They finally ripped it out and replaced a few years ago, but, still, I've always associated CMP with that particular carpet. And this morning, I found myself wondering where in Second Life I might be able to find threadbare, burnt-orange carpeting that's covered in coffee stains.
If you're in Second Life, instant-message me (I'm Ziggy Figaro), and come visit our bureau -- that is, as soon as we get the access control problems straightened out, which should be any moment now.
Also, what are the best places to get furniture in SL? I don't want bland, corporate stuff. I'm looking for furniture which will delight our visitors, while still presenting a professional appearance.