Posts Tagged ‘Second Life’

Google embarks on a second life

July 10, 2008

The concept of alternative reality worlds has been given a significant shot in the virtual arm by the news that Google is entering the field. The Search engine firm announced on Tuesday that it was launching Lively as a beta service through its Google Labs project.

Google has a different twist in that users don’t enter the alternative world through a special (and separate) graphical client. Instead, the Lively service operates through the browser and allows you to create a vast collection of different meeting places, or ‘rooms’, that are embedded in existing Web content like blogs and social networking sites. The company’s goal seems at this stage to be about providing a more dynamic, 3-D way of interacting with other viewers of a particular site’s content.

Google is not alone in trying this idea of embedding virtual rooms in existing content. A start-up company called Vivaty also went live this week with a similar concept.

Virtual worlds or meta-verses like Second Life and Warcraft already have millions of users, but Google’s ability to transfer users in from its various other activities should see it take off. However, not to be outdone, the increasingly venerable Second Life company, Linden Labs, issued a press release to announce that for the first time ever a user’s avatar (character) had been transferred or ‘teleported’ from one virtual world to another, as a result of research work that the company has been undertaking with IBM. You can see a hilarious (although possibly not intentionally) video which breathlessly describes the world’s first-ever inter-VR world teleport as if it were the moon landings.

All in all, the 3-D Web, which we wrote about last July, seems to be coming along nicely. I shall begin work on embedding a restaurant room into this blog as soon as time permits.

It’s a BERR’s life: Second Life in the public sector

December 6, 2007

You know when an innovation is really taking off when parts of the public sector start to make use of it. This now seems to be happening with the virtual world Second Life.

At the European Union’s Privacy Conference (which I mentioned last week) I was involved – for the first time – in a roundtable discussion which was also featured ‘live’ within Second Life. The physical discussion took place in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s (BERR) new Futurefocus centre, deep in the bowels of the department’s Victoria Street offices. At the same time, a group of 20 or so avatars gathered in a virtual version of Futurefocus. Indeed, one of the presenters (Paul Ledack of IBM) was not physically present, but was, in fact, one of the avatars. Everything we said within the physical room was also being streamed out to the gathered avatars who could post questions by in-world text. We could see the avatars via several large screens within the room and a moderator handled the interface between the real and virtual discussions.

This kind of mixed reality meeting seems to slowly becoming more commonplace. On the same day a NHS event was taking place elsewhere in London with several hundred clinicians and this was also online in SL (through the weblink secondhealth.org.uk). And I gather that the Climate Change gathering in Bali will also have a parallel, Second Life, event hosted at Nature magazine’s SecondNature virtual island.

All this public, indeed governmental, use of SL raises questions. Second Life is a private space owned by Linden Labs and the privacy experts in London had a number of concerns over the clarity of exactly who owns what and how data privacy was being handled within the various islands within Second Life.

My online identity mash-up

November 14, 2007

There seems to be a steady trickle of whizzy little apps that manage one’s public persona in Web 2.0 applications. I recently noted the MoodBlast tool, but the latest, Second Friends, allows you to import your Second Life avatar details into your Facebook profile and comes courtesy of EduServe’s Andy Powell (via his Second Life alter ego Art Fossett).

By creating an open Applications Programming Interface (API), Facebook is encouraging this kind of innovation on top of its core product. Andy Powell’s widget could be the first stage of a larger development where you can control your avatar in Second Life, from within Facebook.

This got me thinking. Increasingly a real person is represented online by a variety of virtual personae, aspects of which are filtered through different applications.

Somebody, somewhere, probably in a back bedroom, is building some kind of amalgamating, persona application that allows easy control of all these aspects from one handy desktop widget. This would be a true identity mash-up.