The NY Times has already covered IBM and Second Life’s announcement at last week’s Virtual Worlds Conference to untether avatars from specific worlds, but it bears further mention.
As with other forms of social media, I am a firm believer in open systems and interoperability and this move by some of the key players in the emerging virtual world arena, is great to see. It is one giant, albeit baby, step forward and points to a much higher likelihood that virtual worlds will become a key part of the social fabric, unlike their hapless cousin virtual reality.
Tim O’Reilly makes some excellent points regarding the path forward:
* Just as the web put an end to the competition between early online communities to the one-size-fits-all destination, an interoperable 3D web will allow vertical 3D application niches and platforms to flourish [I agree, it will also allow for greater depth of horizontal, meta layers as they will be able to achieve greater carry].
* Virtual worlds are far more than a game. They are ultimately a simulation layer that can be overlaid on the real world, as well as creating new purely virtual “real estate”.
* We shouldn’t think of this interoperability as being just for virtual worlds. Ultimately, virtual is just another layer on top of physical [Yes, but we should not only think in terms of layers, there is embedding, additional dimensioning and geometric tagging that can take us way beyond our current mental lines, squares, walls and barriers].
I applaud the thought leadership and initiative taken by Colin Parris and his team at IBM and totally agree with TimO’Reilly’s prognosis:
There’s quite a future ahead of us here. It’s silly to try and recreate the wheel when by working together we can build something that is so much bigger.