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8/24/2007
03:05 PM
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IBM Employees Might Strike...In Second Life

IBM, like other businesses, plunged into Second Life partly in search of a new profit stream. I bet it never considered employees would use Second Life to strike the company.

IBM, like other businesses, plunged into Second Life partly in search of a new profit stream. I bet it never considered employees would use Second Life to strike the company.The Register in the U.K. is reporting that a trade union that represents 9,000 IBM employees in Italy is planning to strike IBM next month in Second Life to protest its stance on salary increases.

Interesting stuff. My first thought was, that's kind of cowardly; why use the Web and a collection of avatars if you're trying to instigate real-life change? Norma Rae would be so disappointed. But actually, it's kinda clever. And creative. It shows that even with the business world's enthusiasm for Second Life, it remains a democracy.

So far.

IBM does have 11 "Netiquette" guidelines it provides for workers who spend time in Second Life. One guideline stipulates that employees must "Protect your -- and IBM's -- good name." It tells workers to "assume that activities in virtual worlds and / or the 3-D Internet are public -- much as is participation in public chat rooms or blogs."

The guidelines also remind employees that IBM's HR policies apply in virtual worlds: "If you encounter an inappropriate situation in a virtual world which you believe to be work-related, you should bring this to the attention of IBM."

So it sounds like if you're an employee of IBM, so is your avatar. Will IBM recognize an employee union in Second Life? The duplicity of it all is mind-bloggling.

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