Flash Mob as ShopMob


There’s an interesting little business product that’s appeared inside Second Life. It’s called “mob*vend” and it was created by SL resident Shep Korvin (blogLink). mob*vend is, best I can tell, basically a standard vendor that senses the number of avatars within some defined range and then, depending on the feedback, adjusts the price of its product accordingly. The larger the crowd, the lower the price. This continues until it reaches a minimum sales price and announces that to the crowd. They then have one minute to make a purchase before the thing resets (I’m not clear on the details at this point but suspect those avatars in attendence are no longer counted).

I’ve discussed vending machines before: some time back I posted about the Art-O-mats (reLink) and more recently there was the post on the Automated C-Stores (reLink). I also posted one on the more common SL vendor, the JEVN (reLink). If you’ve read those and some of my other entries on rapid-manufacturing, you’ll understand why a designer finds this sort of thing interesting. Imagine designing a product and then uploading the fabrication data to a central server which then manages distribution and selection among a fleet of automated fabrication vending-production machines.

Now I’m not suggesting that we’ll necessarily see flash mobs hovering around C-Stores trying to get the price to drop; there are some practical real world considerations that come into play. I am, however, suggesting that Korvin is effectively reminding us that as technology advances, it has the power to upgrade old solutions in surprising and compelling ways. And for those wondering if Second Life has any merits beyond gambling and sex, I’d volunteer that if nothing else, SL makes us think. It’ll certainly get some people thinking now.

via SLNN.com

2 thoughts on “Flash Mob as ShopMob

  1. mob*vend, not mod*vend!

    It has been around a little while but I’ve always thought it a rather intriguing concept. The consequences are relatively benign (it does not cause huge clusters of people to stay for hours, like certain other merchandising tactics) and it is a new promotional activity that is not just an imitation of a RL one such as, say, vouchers or loyalty cards. The reports that I have seen of its use have been generally positive.

  2. Whoops. Corrected. Thank you.

    Understood. I actually imagine groups of “ShopMobs” getting together and tp’ing from store to store, tbh. So in the end, I see this as a funky take on Volume distribution.

    More important to me was that it doesn’t *seem* to be much more than a regular vendor with the sensing/feedback loop. In other words, it’s pretty basic. Now imagine for a moment that I inversed that relationship and put it on a real newspaper vendor. Or, left it as is and put the vendor underneath a connected ad delivery system; ads would subsidize the lower price. I wouldn’t have thought of that without this rather simple solution to get me to *think* about vending in a different way. I like that.

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