Sep 042008

Dusan Writer has a take on the panel I was on, casting it as Metaplace vs Linden Lab — though to my mind that leaves out the contributions of Mike Wilson of Makena and Corey Bridges of Multiverse. That’s because Dusan is interested mostly int he clash of philosophies about where virtual worlds are going:

But it leaves a question: are virtual worlds places? Or will the technologies that enable 3D spaces become so ubiquitous that we’ll stop thinking of them as distinct places? Because in Raph’s view, the tools and technologies to create 3D artefacts, the system for managing your avatar and identity should be EXPRESSION-agnostic. In other words, we should have the tools for creating content and then be able to seamlessly publish that content to cell phones, browsers, Flash, separate clients – whatever, it’s not the viewer, it’s in the engine from which content is derived and creating standards and tools for expressing the content from that engine.

FWIW, virtual worlds are definitely “places” in my mind. But to me, clients and devices are merely windows that look onto that place. That doesn’t preclude rich 3d “windows” — I merely happen to think that multihead, flexibly represented VWs is the future. I would swap the word “engine” for “server” perhaps, or “world.”

Apr 292008

The SIA 25 Live (a snapshot from CNet)

The SAI 25 Live is this new index that is trying to track the hottest startups based on an estimated valuation figure. As you look at the chart, realize these figures are in thousands, so the top of the chart is valued in the billions.

Several of the top 25 are familiar names to readers of this blog and folks who hang around the virtual worlds space:

  • Webkinz
  • Habbo (why it’s not listed as Sulake, I don’t know)
  • Linden Lab
  • Stardoll

Of course, if you are on the Metaverse Roadmap bandwagon, then the stuff like Twitter also fits into the eventual metaverse picture, via the “lifelogging” quadrant. And Meebo, which many think of as just a chat app, has had great success with Meebo Rooms, which is basically am embeddable chat room that you can put on any website — another step towards web-wide synchronous interaction.

The table is intended only to show privately held companies, so many of the big players are absent. And many of these valuations are purely hypothetical — there isn’t necessarily a buyer at that price, and the markets aren’t exactly hot for IPOs right now either. But it does serve to demonstrate the attraction of virtual worlds as a category.

It’s also interesting to me how many of the others are ones I have never heard of. Tudou is a video-sharing site in China. Ozon and Yandex are Russian. There’s a bunch of job-seeking sites, and a bunch of ad networks.

VWs go to Congress

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Apr 022008

As has been reported in several places, there was a Congressional hearing on virtual worlds — or more specifically, mostly on Second Life. There’s a good sort of “landing page” to go explore this from source materials on Terra Nova, including links to an MP3 of the hearings.

Virtually Blind has what seems to be an eyewitness account that I enjoyed as well: Congress Holds First Hearing on Virtual Worlds; Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale Testifies.

And naturally, it also hit Reuters.

Common to all the reports is commentary on the occasionally off-target opening remarks of the committee members, some of whom referenced MMORPGs rather than VWs, and some of whom were concerned about terrorism (of course). This has led to some sarcasm in some quarters.

It is going to be important to get deep understanding of virtual worlds of all stripes into the various governmental organizations — and for what it’s worth, I think quite a lot of policymakers are quite a ways along on that understanding. So I wouldn’t be making fun of them just yet.