The claim that new marketing company 'crayon' was the first new company to launch in Second Life raised some eyebrows and hackles among the virtual world's denizens.
The backlash against the launch was as much about a community feeling invaded by corporations that threaten to suck the creative life out of the online world as it was about the semantics of the claim, set against the history of Second Life's three years of creativity and development.
Jason Pettus, editor of a magazine about Second Life says it best in a comment on company president Joseph Jaffe's blog:
"I think there are a lot of people worried right now about the potential 'MySpaceization' of Second Life; of the entire thing becoming just a glorified environment for corporate advertising, and with the creativity and innovation that has usually defined the grid suddenly having to take a back seat. I think marketers entering SL would do themselves some good thinking about this issue, and asking themselves, "So okay, how do we impress -those- people?" I think RL veterans will find a lot of resistance melting away for their new SL companies, once they start answering this last question more."
Jaffe's post in response to the backlash: A Learning from Second Life
"Coming through the launch process, I'm learned a pretty important lesson. Opening up a storefront/presence in Second Life is not dissimilar to a Wal-Mart opening up in a small town.
"Let's leave it at that."
The critics are right that crayon's claim that it's "the first" to do anything in Second Life comes off as hubris in the eyes of people who have put in years of very uncorporate hard work building a new online world. Having been pummelled by their neighbours in their first week of operation, I suspect the crayon folks will do a bit of reaching out to those who were offended, and will get on with serving clients from their virtual head office.
I'm not a Second Lifer, so I don't claim to have special insight into the online experience there. Steve Hall, another blogger who knows very little about Second Life, suggests the backlash would be better aimed at clueless corporations than at a startup like crayon. As Steve points out, most of their work will probably be to help their clients connect with social media communities and others far outside of Second Life.
Second Life Madness - Mimi Harris, Eastwikkers
A Gallery of Lies - Urizines Sklar a.k.a. Peter Ludlow, The Second Life Herald
Backlash Week - Ed Lee, Blogging Me, Blogging You
Fucktards in Cyberspace - Peter Ludlow a.k.a. Urizines Sklar, in The Strumpette
Marketers Will Not Destroy Second Life - Steve Hall, AdRants
crayon's launch news release
Disclosure: I'm virtual pals with a few of crayon's founding employees.
See also: Second Life Backlash Continues