Google’s Metaverse

The planets are aligning and it seems that Google is making a world all it’s own, or perhaps just an alternate version of the one we now inhabit. Speculation is running rampant that Google has started testing a rival application to Second Life, the popular online virtual world from Linden Research where people work virtual jobs, go to virtual movies, build virtual objects and landscapes and just generally socialize, all while spending and making virtual money that can be cashed out for the real thing.Since Second Life has devolved into a red light district economy this could be a major coup. One can only assume that with the backing of a company like Google, the environment would be a cleaner more up to date virtual world in which innovation would reign supreme. Given their ties to advertising, credit card processing, and world mapping capability Google has the ideal combination of tools  to create a diverse and sustainable online world, a world that has captured the imaginations of so many sci-fi readers ever since Neal Stephenson first wrote of “the Metaverse”.

A culmination of information seems to be pointing the way to this monumentous breakthrough by Google. Here are some clues.

  • John Hanke, the Google Earth general manager said that Google Earth had in fact been partly inspired by sci-fi author Neal Stephensons fictional virtual world, “The Metaverse”, first described in his 1992 cult classic Snow Crash.
  • Michael Eisenberg, formerly of Disney and now a partner at Benchmark Capital, has since posted an entry on his blog stating that he had heard  “through the PhD grapevine … Google is working on turning Google Earth into a virtual world a la Second Life.”

The final tidbit of information is the recent news that students at Arizona State University (a facility with close ties to Google) are soon going to be given the opportunity to test a new product “that will be publicly launched later this year”. The university also stated that the project was being developed “by a major internet company” and included ties to 3D modeling and computer gaming.

While I am hopeful, I am not letting my hopes get to high. In creating a social platform virtual world there are too many variables and too many things that can be done wrong. For the moment I will just sit back with my fingers crossed and await an official announcement.

 [Via: Times]


~ by David on October 17, 2007.

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