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Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Second Life now has 5000 Australian residents, according to a feature article in the IT Business section of yesterday's The Australian. The figure comes from David Holloway, who runs a blog, Australia's Second Life News Source.

The article is by Brad Howarth, a freelance journalist. He has written about SL on his blog.

"As with most businesses, a venture into the virtual world of Second Life will take some time to generate returns," reads the kicker. Howarth talks with representatives from two organisations that have set up properties in SL: BigPond (the broadband business of Telstra, the country's largest telecommunications provider) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

I reported the ABC's intention to launch back in the middle of last month. A few days later, I moaned about the fact that I couldn't get in for the launch. The next day I retracted my statement, having telephoned the broadcaster.

BigPond group managing director Justin Milne says that the company feels the need "to be part of it"

"firstly to learn and secondly to be there if it proves to be something that takes off, and thirdly because it is something that is good for our brand."

I've been to The Pond, BigPond's property in SL. There are generally a few people there chatting. But that's about all you see them doing.

Holloway says that the ABC "took a more consultative role in creating its Second Life presence, liaising with existing in-world residents to assess what experience to offer".

ABC strategic innovation and development head Abigail Thomas says that the broadcaster's investment has so far been small. They are treating SL as "a small research and development project" and as a "free-to-air project" ("although the ABC Shop is interested in setting up a commercial presence").

ABC managers started talking about SL in December 2006. ABC Island now averages 7000 users daily, says Thomas.

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