Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Another Giant Leap Towards web3.D

They'll be dancing in the streets of Second Life tonight. Nothing new in that perhaps - but maybe there will be a few extra revellers celebrating what many in the web3.D (3pointD) community see as a major milestone in the progress toward the 3D internet. Personally, I have been hoping and half-expecting the following announcement for over 6 months:

IBM and Linden Lab Launch Collaboration to Further Advance the 3D Internet.

Here is a link to today's press release - though Linden need to get their act together, since it doesn't seem to appear on their website as yet. To quote from the press release:

IBM and Linden Lab plan to collaborate on:
  • "Universal" Avatars: Exploring technology and standards for users of the 3D Internet to seamlessly travel between different virtual worlds. Users could maintain the same “avatar” name, appearance and other important attributes (digital assets, identity certificates, and more) for multiple worlds. The adoption of a universal “avatar” and associated services are a possible first step toward the creation of a truly interoperable 3D Internet.
  • Security-rich Transactions: Collaborating on the requirements for standards-based software designed to enable the security-rich exchange of assets in and across virtual worlds. This could allow users to perform purchases or sales with other people in virtual worlds for digital assets including 3D models, music, and media, in an environment with robust security and reliability features.
  • Platform stability: Making interfaces easier to use in order to accelerate user adoption, deliver faster response times for real-world interactions and provide for high-volume business use.
  • Integration with existing Web and business processes: Allowing current business applications and data repositories – regardless of their source – to function in virtual worlds is anticipated to help enable widespread adoption and rapid dissemination of business capabilities for the 3D Internet.
  • Open standards for interoperability with the current Web: Open source development of interoperable formats and protocols. Open standards in this area are expected to allow virtual worlds to connect together so that users can cross from one world to another, just like they can go from one web page to another on the Internet today.
These are viewed as the key levers needed to deliver the next generation of the internet. Also, as reported at Virtual Worlds News, "last night IBM hosted a meeting of companies and researchers in San Jose (site of the Virtual Worlds '07 Conference) to discuss open standards for transporting avatars across virtual worlds. With representatives from Cisco, Google, Linden Lab, Sony, Intel, Multiverse, Microsoft, Motorola, and Philips, among others, they discussed plans to establish an organization to promote a truly interoperable 3D Internet."

Don't lose sleep over this in your excitement, boys and girls. It will take a little while to arrive. The point is that this is now out in the open, following months of speculation - and the parties involved go beyond just IBM and Linden Lab. I understand that at least 20 companies were represented at last night's meeting. Furthermore, I, for one, am curious to know how this fits with the statements about interoperability and standards between virtual worlds that have been coming out of China recently, particularly with respect to HiPiHi.


Or maybe it's all just a game, played by lonely saddoes - and I've just dreamt all of this.

1 comment:

Pham Neutra said...

As someone actively involved in this industry, I think the announcement is great and will be seen by many as a kind of accolade for virtual worlds technology. Like you, I would not hold my breath for any quick results, though. Interoperability is NOT achieved by technical standards alone (they are an important foundation, though). Virtual worlds will be much more diverse in many ways, than some business people (who sometimes tend to forget that these platforms are used for entertainment purposes first) envision.

I would like it to cross more easily between different virtual worlds (and the web), of course. I am not sure, how much of my avatar (besides the name) and of my virtual posessions I will be able to take with me. :)

Some reasoning behind these doubts here:

dubdub's comments on Nicholas Charr's blog about semantic mappings between virtual worlds refer to a possible solution ... in theory. That's, why I find his vision of an overengineered, though imperfect connection network of worlds, domineered by a set of two or three strong players, not too implausible at all.

All the other aspects of the IBM/Linden agreement (besides just "universal avatar) are interesting, too - and might be more easily achieved because they can be tackled "under the hood" of the virtual worlds machines.