On Tuesday, September 15, 2009 Beta Technologies celebrated the opening of the Beta Business Park (B2P) in Second Life with an open house. I'd been aware of the opening and had noted it on my calendar, planning to stop by for a visit. As it turned out, I got there sooner than planned when the subject of my interview meeting offered me a teleport over to the celebratory event. The park, as I noted from their second life group charter is, "a project of Beta Technologies, is a community of businesses and the people who own, operate, and work at them". The charter goes on further to define the park community in that it "offers a different way to use Second Life" and "provides a coherent territory dedicated to businesses and their clients". The festivities had just begun just shortly before my arrival, and I found that a lively crowd had assembled to celebrate the opening.
Having completed the interview, I listened in on the live performance of one of several musicians who'd been scheduled to appear while scanning the crowd for a representative to chat with about the event and the park. Noting several were present judging from group tag names, I opened an IM window with one and introduced myself, then asked, "How's the opening going?"
"Hi Nazz … Oh, I'm happy with it — people are having fun and socializing, which is at the core of what we wish to tell, being in touch with people, that is the important thing of being in SL." Gwyneth Llewelyn replied.
"It's good to hear the opening is going well. I saw the web site and announcement ... a full day of music and a nice line up as well." I commented
"Yes, no boring business presentations." She replied and then added. "Even the promotional video is as far as we could make it from a 'typical corporate video' and still be taken seriously for it. So, no CEO keynotes, or people telling others how great it is to do business in SL. Instead, we do what we 'know' that people love to do in SL, get together listen to great music, chat and IM each other."
"May I ask what your role is and what it entails?"
"Beta Business Park has its own team to run it, but it's a product by Beta Technologies, of which I'm the European Operations Manager. I wish we had a better site for Beta, but you can also get some more info at http://betatechnologies.info/. Oh, and you should mention that we're rising to Linden Lab's own challenge to create products that specifically target the business market, as they're so fond of promoting, but we certainly don't want to 'sell' our clients things that have little relevance to the vibrant community of SL. They have to be part of the community." She replied.
"After the celebration today … what's would be in store for visitors?"
"The next "big" event is the B2P Fall 2009 Conference. That will be a more traditional business conference." Llewelyn replied and then she added. "Between today and the conference, there will continue to be a mix of small chill-out events and training sessions. These will be ongoing for several months ... So we have sort of a mixed approach ... 'big events' every other month or so... the previous one and you can think of it as a pre-launch, was the Hair Fair '09. Then, smaller, regular events every week, sometimes more than once per week, which are a pretext for people here to network and refresh their contacts, and finally clients, will naturally be allowed to use our facilities too. A typical example ... we often rebroadcast mixed media events per request."
"An interesting approach." I commented.
"Yes … the next one might be a TED talk ... not confirmed yet though." She added
"I do like the TED series." I said.
"So do I, they will have a full SIM for that event, September 19th, which is not being organized by us, but with a promotion group that often partners with us. Here is the organization's link, http://www.accvirtual.org/. They're a not-for-profit that does a lot of promotion work in SL, for example, they did a fund-raising mixed-media event, http://accvirtual.webnode.com/news/fado-live-from-alfama-lisbon-to-second-life/ … so we turned our usual 'rock club' into a typical Fado house for that event." She said and then added. "So the strange bit is that the 'official launch' of the Beta Business Park is today for our own internal reasons, but it has been in constant use for over a year now."
"Thank you for the information Gwyneth, I do appreciate it." I said shortly before porting home to work on my notes for this and the previous interview.