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Social Networks: immersive 3D worlds

Monday, 13 August 2007 — by

There’s something inherent in the trust we bestow on someone when after a time of anonymity, we finally get to see their face. Think of the number of people you know on the ‘Net and you know neither their real name, nor what they look like. Yet we often trust these people implicitly. But if you met someone in person and they gave you a false name, why would then not trust them?

These aren’t trick questions, I’m just trying to get you to attempt to resolve the rules & regulations of the ‘Net the same way I do; by comparing the societal rules of the really real world with the rules of this world right here.

In the first installment, I looked at the problem of Social Media Fatigue and a possible cure. The cure being an open, secure and portable means of describing you and your stuff that the various Social Networks would make use of.

In the second installment on Social Networks, I talked about Social Networking while mobile.

In this installment, I’ll be looking at a possible coming together of worlds, those being the existing Social Networks with those other three dimensional Social Networks like Second Life and There.

I’ll be exploring what we might expect to see inside these realms and whether the rules & regulations of the ‘Net will drift further from those of the real world.

It’s life Jim, but not as we know it…

How and where we choose to socialize is largely irrelevant these days. People meet in all kinds of different places, none of which we can be too judgmental about.

Take the web, for example. Here’s a place that’s something of a huge collection of venues for people to socialize which in many respects mimic life; some are cool, while others are crap. Some are even dangerous, sexual in nature, explicit and vocal in intent, while others are populated by a broad mix of people.

But that’s life, right?

Quite recently, Multiverse announced the launch of their platform for creating MMOGs:

“How fortuitous that something like this should come along.

In a recent prognostication of mine, I talked up the possibility of social networks coalescing with virtual worlds in the not-too-distant future.

Having something like Multiverse makes this much more realistic idea…”

The acronym stands for Massively Multi-player On-line Game, which is probably a little misleading, especially if you’re thinking along the same lines as me.

These things aren’t just games anymore. If you take Second Life as a key example, it’s been the focus of businesses, too.

People like rich, deeply immersive environments. We like choice, escapism and the freedom to just dick around without having to be directly responsible for our actions. Like when you’re drunk, but without the hang-over. Or the loss of memory.

What we have are worlds that are virtual only by virtue of not being really real, but they’re still worlds with rules and customs, populated by real people, just like any other world:

“In time, businesses will return to the MMOG scene as the fabric of this new iSociety begins to bind and commerce is an accepted thread. And if not to Second Life, assuming that it’s no longer around, then some other virtual world.”

And if not to Second Life, eh? In light of Multiverse, the platform for MMOGs, here’s the possibility of an inflection point in time, a disruptive moment in the history of web where an idea made real by the guys behind Second Life is surpassed by someone like Multiverse, opening a door for virtual worlds hitherto unknown and unexplored.

The consequences of something such as a development platform for MMOGs is very significant. Here is where a dialogue with Google might not be too far away.

But that’s to be a topic you’ll just have to wait for, covered in a later installment of my Social Network serialization.

Follow the white rabbit

If you look at the likes of Second Life and There, the graphics are relatively crude, especially when compared to even World of Warcraft, let alone something like Halo III or Quake 4.

But this crudeness will change, because it’s what people want. If you’re going to have a digital you, and it’s going to be a fake / false / faux digital you, then it’s gonna / gotta look good:

“Craig Sherman, CEO of Gaia Online, said that within ‘two or three years,’ an alternative online universe like Second Life would provide real-time 3D graphics rivaling the digital effects in today’s Hollywood blockbusters. ‘You’ll see the kinda stuff that Transformers is doing today,’ he said.”

But let’s not get distracted here, this isn’t just about the digital you, this immersive realism will be everywhere.

Meanwhile, there’s always There, that other virtual world, which looks a lot more fun than Second Life, if the promo video is anything to go by. Incidentally, the rendering engine looks a lot like that used in Bungie’s Oni.

Imagine sumptuous worlds, rich in colour, texture and sound. With almost everything in that world within your control.

Imagine people emerging, auto-discovering you and your tastes, matching your likes and dislikes; be that music, movies, books, places to go, as your digital neighbors in your virtual neighborhood.

Your digital neighbors in your virtual neighborhood are your kind of people. They’re unlikely to play the music you don’t like into the wee small hours. And people from around the world will stop by to say Hi!

Whether there are businesses inside these worlds or not, business will be done. Friendships will inevitably lead to partnerships. Ideas and concepts will be shared amongst the like-minded and start-ups will emerge and flourish.

Whether it’s the big Social Networks going to the virtual worlds, or the virtual worlds taking on the trappings of Social Network, it doesn’t really matter in the end.

Besides, this is an imaginary world, right? You can imagine virtually anything you want…

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[…] Social Networks: immersive 3D worlds by Wayne Smallman There’s something inherent in the trust we bestow no someone when after a time of anonymity, we finally get to see their face. Think of the number of people you know on the ‘Net and you know neither their real name, nor what they look like. Yet we often trust these people implicitly. But if you met someone in person and they gave you a false name, why would then not trust them? […]

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