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What Happened to the Virtual Worlds Explosion Analysts Predicted?

  1. Feb 23, 2010 #1
    A few years back, you couldn’t open any newspaper, magazine or law review journal without seeing yet another article about the crazy things that were going on in virtual worlds. *Today, not so much. *News of the*closure of Metaplace didn’t even make it very far beyond the usual VW blogs… *So what’s happened to them?* [...]http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=virtualnavigator.wordpress.com&blog=11498882&post=24&subd=virtualnavigator&ref=&feed=1

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2010 #2


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    I suppose it takes a huge amount of time to get established in a virtual life, a lot like moving to a new town. Not many people have that much free time.
  4. Feb 24, 2010 #3
    Maybe virtual worlds in a sense need to be scaled down. Places like WOW or Second Life are monstrously large. Perhaps virtual world games like the new Sims 3. A focus on just one community.
  5. Feb 24, 2010 #4


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    This is pretty much exactly what has happened. Facebook games like "YoVille!" and "FarmVille" are extremely popular now.
  6. Feb 24, 2010 #5


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    Anyone read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson? Sorry if that's off topic, the thread made me think of it.
  7. Feb 24, 2010 #6
    That's a good point David. Even my grandma is using FarmVille!
  8. Feb 24, 2010 #7


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    Yep. I read it in high school.

    Ever read "Neuromancer" by William Gibson?

    The opening line of that book is "The sky above the port was the color of television tuned to a dead channel"

    It's funny, Gibson meant it to mean television static (I think), but almost all the kids who read it today either think it's a half-tone pattern or bright blue.
  9. Feb 24, 2010 #8


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    Yes! Fantastic novel (as are the rest of his). Amazingly forward thinking considering the state of technology when that book was written. The sequel 'The Diamond Age' is almost as good.
  10. Mar 28, 2010 #9
    I get the idea that any time the media play with the idea of virtuality, realism gets defensive and takes to asserting and insisting about how terrible it would be that any alternatives to "true" reality would even be considered.

    The truth is that virtual realities, worlds, things, or whatever you call them are not alternative realities at all. They are different configurations of the same kinds of things that make up the realities that realists accept as true realities.

    I can still remember when the internet came out how the realists had to buzz and buzz about globalization, the global village, etc. all presumably for the sake of making "the world wide web" seem like a threat to nationalism.

    Yes, the fact is that information can be sent via internet anywhere with an internet connection in about the same amount of time. The question is why there was even such a big issue made about the geographical locations of nodes on the internet anyway. Actually, I know the answer and it has to do with power, control, regulation, and territorialization.

    In reality, virtual worlds are anything that happens on internet, or in the cognitive network of your imagination for that matter. Shopping on Amazon.com is virtual shopping. Communicating on this forum creates virtual discussions.

    The problem with the word "virtual" is that it automatically compares something with another, presumably non-virtual version of it. Is an online discussion any less real than an offline one? No, the only thing that changes is participants' relationship to the medium of communication used to facilitate the discussion.

    Still, the most interesting issue to me remains how various virtual and non-virtual realities interact with and influence each other. Nicolas Negropante saw the information economy as a revolution in which atoms would be replaced with bits in increasing ways.

    I don't know if bits have so much replaced atoms, though, as they have changed the way people see and use them. Virtuality is a reality, but it's neither separate nor in competition with any other reality.
  11. Mar 28, 2010 #10


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    The virtual worlds turned out to be the wrong metaphor.

    Shopping on amazon is like shopping from a catalog, and works very well.
    A 3d virtual book shop where you had to 'walk' through the shelves to a particular dept and then search along the shelves wouldn't work as well.

    There was a terrible early network system that had a virtual town, you walked along the road into the post office to send an email, then you walked to a library to retrieve a file.
    Needless to say it's usage after 5mins of demo was zero.
  12. Mar 28, 2010 #11
    A printed catalog could be viewed as a virtual world if you think of the pages as rooms. It sounds like you want to limit the label "virtual world" to apply to navigable 3D images. You don't want to see a hyperlink as a "door" unless it appears to physically open and expand to the size of your browser window to reveal the linked page/room.

    You might want to consider watching the introduction credits to any Star Wars movie in which the text, "A long time ago in a galaxy far far away" drifts toward a vanishing point against a cosmic background giving the impression that the words are actually objects moving forward in space.

    Once you entertain the idea that words on a page are objects, you might consider the possibility that a page could be a room, etc. Sorry if I sound condescending with this example. It just came to mind in thinking about 3D spatial representations and text.
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