SINGAPORE.- Once upon a time, people went to libraries to find books instead of surfing the Internet. Computer giant IBM now wants you to walk into three-dimensional Web worlds to browse virtual libraries.
IBM sales representatives in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia will from Thursday staff the company’s virtual Business Center in Second Life (www.secondlife.com), an online world where millions of participants create alter egos called avatars, buy property and interact with one another.
“The real reason why we’re doing this is because we do feel the beginning of a major transformation on how people are going to interact on the Web — going from a flat to an immersive experience,” said Maggie Blayney, director of Global Web Strategy & Innovation for ibm.com.
“It’s not going to replace the two-dimensional Web but it’s going to integrate and complement it,” she told Reuters in a telephone interview.
IBM launched its virtual Business Center in May with staff from North and Latin America and Europe, to provide sales and support services for clients and visitors in Second Life.
Blayney said the Center had seen 10,000 visitors since its launch, still small compared with IBM’s Web site that has 250 million visitors annually.
According to Second Life’s Web site, it has a population of over 9 million residents and millions of U.S. dollars change hands there every month.