Union Island closes down
Despite the mainstream media preoccupation with virtual weddings and real life divorces, Second Life is big business. Its economy grew by 65% in 2009, to a total of $567 million.
Second Life first came to prominence in the Union world in 2007, when Italian IBM workers held a ‘virtual strike’ over a pay dispute, which contributed to an improved agreement. Union Island soon followed, involving the TUC, Union Network International and the New Unionism Network.
As a member of the working group, making the most of the opportunities of the Island proved time consuming, and given the finite resources available, the decision was made that these could be more effectively employed elsewhere.
The difficulty with new technologies is predicting the ones that will remain popular, and the ones that will prove most effective for Unions. The only way to learn is to engage.
I can remember running the first ever Union banner advert campaign while at the Engineers & Managers Association. Google didn’t exist in those days, and Yahoo was the most popular search website. We advertised to users who searched on certain keywords, and while we didn’t have a significant increase in recruitment, we learnt a lot from the exercise.
Technology moves fast, and is difficult to predict. A few years ago, MySpace was the leading social networking site, and in 2005 News Corporation paid $580 million for it. However, within a few years the upstart Facebook enjoyed phenomenal growth, and the use of MySpace plummeted.
Twitter is the current darling of the Internet. Unions are rightly rushing to set up Twitter feeds, and it’s proving to be a cost effective and powerful way to communicate. But some sceptics are already predicting its’ decline. Towards the end of 2009, the growth of new users fell from 7.8 million a month to 6.2 million, and only 17 percent of Twitter users updated their accounts in December – an all-time low.
However, once upon a time some people in Unions thought websites, Intranets and email were fads. The moral of the story is that technology is very difficult to predict, and the only way Unions will learn is to engage. You have to kiss a few frogs to find your Prince.
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