Lost Potenial in Early Farewell to Lively

Sad Lively Room

While I, like many others, was a bit disappointed when Google launched Lively this summer, now that Goog is pulling the plug I think I’m even more disappointed. Feeling a bit like my first Lively avatar looks above.

Six months is hardly enough time to determine the true potential, and it’s rather sad to think that economic conditions might keep an organization like Google from giving new ideas adequate time to grow.

While the limit on developers and isolationism of rooms was off-putting to those who like to build, and brand opportunities had not materialized, and Google has had other “flops,” I agree with Christian Renaud that the closure is unfortunate.

I had come to see it as sort of a “gateway” virtual world – something with the Google name that ran in a browser might be more palatable to many users who were not quite ready for a fully immersive 3D experience. But, once they became a bit more accustomed to communicating in 3D, they might start to crave the higher benefits of a world with presence.

That is why I was actively pitching ideas for its use on DellLounge and even recently talking to some in Dell’s eSupport team about leveraging it for customer service. Not as a replacement to existing methods for assisting customers, but as a less-stodgy option for a demographic that hates to pick up the phone yet still wants to connect with a real person.

Alas, it takes time to convince large organizations to try new things – more time than Lively was given. Sure there are other options like IMVU, who many noted was doing what Lively was trying to do way before them, and Vivaty which works in Facebook and AIM. But, neither can easily be dropped into place on your corporate web site, and quite frankly, don’t have the trusted name that Google has with mainstream Internet users.

So, an idea that maybe wasn’t fully researched and “overlapped the turf of too many existing competitors without delivering on a compelling experience of its own“, won’t derail the entire virtual world industry.

But it still leaves a bit of taint and another hurdle to be faced by those of us who call ourselves metaverse evangelists.

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[UPDATE: I was contacted by Keith McCurdy, CEO, and Mark Hull, VP Product Management at Vivaty, to let me know that I was mistaken about the ability to drop one of their rooms onto a web page.  Here’s the note from Keith:

Hi Laura

I am the CEO of Vivaty, and I wanted to reach out and contact you to clarify something in your recent blog post on Lively closing.

You said “Sure there are other options……and Vivaty which works in Facebook and AIM. But, neither can easily be dropped into place on your corporate web site”

Vivaty can be put on any web page, and works at AIM, Facebook, Vivaty.com , and any embedded web page. We recently, about a month or two ago, added an embedding option that enables any Vivaty scene to be embedded on any web page that supports iframes. Let me know if you want to learn more about that feature, how Dell could use Vivaty, or anything going on at Vivaty.

Keith McCurdy
CEO Vivaty


Gee, That Looks Familiar: A Commercial Trend

I will always remember my very first journalism professor (although I don’t remember his name) for two things he cynically told the class at the beginning of the semester:

  • Journalists are all drunks, and
  • There are no original stories left to be written

Harsh realities for fresh, young students. And, while the first may not be universally true, it didn’t take me long to become a believer in the second.

I was reminded of it today and how it applies to more than just news reporting by a question IABC’s Chair Barbara Gibson tweeted over on Twitter.

But, to step back a bit, you may or may not have heard about an online firestorm this past weekend regarding a commercial from Motrin. Although many were outraged at the commercial or at the reaction to it (I injected my two cents worth on that at ThisMommyGig), the first thing that honestly jumped into my head when I saw it was that I’d seen it before.

Not it exactly, but its style was definitely familiar; and, it was the second time I’d recently seen that style. I’m not sure which came first in a true time line of their creation, but I first saw this in the Girl Effect video I posted here on Blog Action Day. That video was very effective, in my opinion, so I view all similar ones I’ve seen after it as pale shadows.

First, there was the Starbucks election day commercial. It was also effective enough to give some people chills; but, I immediately thought “Girl Effect” when I saw it. I must not be alone since it pops up in “Related Videos” for the Girl Effect video on YouTube. Then, I saw the controversial Motrin commercial. And, today, Barbara noted the similarities of it to the Ford F-150 commercials. Each successive one steps a little further away from the original, but the use of typography is undeniably similar.

Commercial Images

It’s widely said that to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment — often unintended. Some say this happens in design due to the fact that we are all exposed to the same shapes/forms/patterns. In other cases, such as the already iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster, it is very intentional.

In that instance, it’s been called a “graphic design home run.” But, when it happens in writing, it’s often called plagiarism.

And, it has been contested in advertising, as well. Apple’s iPod commercials are a great example. They’ve been both copied and accused of copying!

If you get a chance, take a few moments to click through the links above and watch the commercials. Then, share your opinion on whether or not you think this is coincidence, flattery or my imagination.

IABC Accreditation Month Defies Calendars

IABC may call October “Accreditation Month,” but the opportunity to submit your accreditation application and register for some great prizes doesn’t end until November 15. Not enough time, you say? Pshaw! If you’ve got an up-to-date resume (and in this current environment, you better) then you’ve got everything you need to complete the application – it just asks for information on your education and work experience.

In case you’re wondering what this is all about, the accreditation I’m referring to is an IABC professional development program. It offers communicators a way of demonstrating their ability to think and plan strategically and to successfully manage those skills essential to effective organizational communication, which could include internal communications, media relations, crisis communications and external relations.

It’s internationally recognized – from Latin America to China. It’s requested in job postings. It’s discussed in podcasts. And, it makes you stand out of the crowd even in large markets.

The application is the first step toward making your business cards, resume, blog and everything else way cooler by placing those three little letters — ABC — after your name. There are many other reasons to do it, though, and I’ll let Ned Lundquist, ABC, IABC Vice Chair of accreditation council, tell you about them on MyReganTV. Or, listen here to Linda Mastaglio, ABC, from Dallas:

Still not sure of the value? A study conducted by L.C. Williams & Associates Research Group in three phases in late 2007 notes that 69 percent of employers and 50 percent of clients perceive ABCs as giving more credibility to their department or organization.

Ready to learn more? Check out the FAQs. But, don’t take too long or you’ll miss out on a chance to win a year’s free membership at IABC, a free registration to the annual international conference, and more!

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Calling Campaign 2.0

I actually started this post last weekend and had plans to really flesh it out to some really insightful and timely discussion of politics in the United States.

But, today’s the big day; and, despite growing up in a state where politics is a sport (only second to LSU football in popularity) I’ve been unable to come up with anything ground-breaking on the topic.

So, I’ll just throw this out there for you to ponder and maybe someone reading it will come through with the really fantastic idea on how we can improve our political processes and finish this post out for me. <wink>

United States Flag


It’s a common refrain: Politicians are out of touch with the people the represent. Opponents level it at each other as an accusation while trying to position themselves as an average American. Real average Americans say it every time we hear reports such as Sen. Ted Stevens’ recent indictmentsomething we hear all too often.

What caused me to say it this morning, however, was this sentence from an article in my morning newspaper:

“Both parties are spending millions of dollars on television commercials, mail and automated phone calls in attempts to stir excitement and boost turnout.”

Excuse me? You think all those expensive, dead-tree things piling up in my mailbox excite me? Oh … maybe the increasing number of annoying phone calls are just meant to make me hate being around the house in the evenings so much that I’ll go hang out at an early voting location instead! The mud-slinging television commercials certainly do stir me up, but not in the favor of any candidate.

Come on guys. Isn’t it time we moved on to the next generation of campaigning?

I wish I had an answer on exactly what “Campaigning 2.0” should entail. It certainly needs more two-way conversation and less pushing of messages. So, Web 2.0 elements should definitely be part of it because social media makes those conversations so much easier.

But I’m not saying that’s the magic bullet. It certainly wouldn’t enable them to reach voters like my mother, or even my husband, but I don’t think current methods really “stir excitement” in either of those generations either.

So what would “Campaigning 2.0” look like?