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Google Testing "My World" Second Life Rival? 195

Tjeerd writes "Rumors of Google's plans to create a virtual world that rivals that of Second Life have popped up once again over the weekend. The company could now be collaborating with Arizona State University to test the 3D social network, which may be tied into Google's current applications of Google Earth and Google Maps."
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Google Testing "My World" Second Life Rival?

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:02PM (#20744501) Journal
    The year is 3007. A tour guide is moving people in futuristic suits along a wall containing ancient artifacts--some over 1000 years old.

    Tour Guide: What you see before you on this wall is the registration page of "My World" which was a mediocre success from the once successful company Google ...
    Tourist 1: You mean the religion Google?
    Tour Guide: No, this is before Google was technically a religion, although leading theorists are still in hot debate over whether or not they ever exhibited non-religious behavior.
    Tourist 2: So is this the "MySpace" that almost lead to the completely downfall and lack of productivity of the users?
    Tour Guide: No, this is a sad an unfortunate result of the ignorant times of the beginning of the fourth millennium when companies copied each other in naming conventions. Unfortunately this lead to confusing statements such as "You can find it on my MySpace profile." or "I like your My World house." Remember this after the point in time when everything had an e- appended to the front of it to raise more money due to reasons not yet understood ... although this is before the time of the iCar, iHome, iWear & iMarthaStewartBedSheets.
    Tourist 3: So pre-iGod era?
    Tour Guide: That's right, prior to the death and rebirth of Steve Jobs.
    Tourist 4: What's this ancient script here on this page?
    Tour Guide: That is a dead dialect of someone criticising another user's "My World" and it reads as such, "J00 need a life, ur MW site is teh ghey." Scientists suspect this sort of talk was indicative of people who had experienced full frontal lobotomies or spent more than 10 minutes on a (now banned for obvious reasons) cell phone. The criticizing user is unimpressed with the amount of memory a plain "My World" consists of and seems to be demanding that more objects, backgrounds, dancing jesuses and flying toasters be added to the 'ghey' user's page.
    Tourist 5: What was the point of all of this?
    Tour Guide: Again, a much debated topic although the currently accepted belief is that these sites were often a strange mating ritual as many of the once private messages are now public and indicate that sex, hooking up or unspeakable acts were highly sought after from other users.
    Tourist 6: I can't believe I evolved from one of these 'people.'
    Tour Guide: Indeed, we have come a long way. It is too bad it took a thousand years and the complete eradication of all Microsoft products to return our productivity to nominal levels.
    • by omega_dk ( 1090143 ) <alpha DOT dk AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:13PM (#20744647)
      Your precognition intrigue me, and I would like to know more. For example, are there holy wars between those who follow the great Google, and those who worship the iGod? Also, there are these private messages asking me for sex, hooking up, or unspeakable acts? Oh, right, I read slashdot. Well, I would still like to know about the religious dynamics of this world. Is there a subculture of people what worship Microsoft and wear red, blue, green, and yellow colored clothes? Is Ubuntu Christian Edition *really* what jesus would download? These are questions that need answering, man! I need to go ahead and start these religions now. I mean, hey - it worked for L. Ron Hubbard...
      • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:26PM (#20744833) Journal

        are there holy wars between those who follow the great Google, and those who worship the iGod?
        No, you're confusing the Grand Search-quisition with the great Appleing. The holy wars from the former involved people being held down while their name was searched for on the all knowing search engine of Google. If it was found that they had died or where traitors to any of Google's causes, they were executed as witches. Truly an unfortunate time for people with common names, hence the beginning of middle, post middle, pre middle and ultra middle names in the western world. The great Appleing involved a band of VW bugs driving around the country, finding leaders of Microsoft & Google and pummeling them to death with Apples. We're still unsure of who was behind that, the iGod claims he never used the term 'open season.'

        Also, there are these private messages asking me for sex, hooking up, or unspeakable acts?
        Just claim to be a football player in your My World and then post a picture you find online of one. If it doesn't work, add "shirtless" to the search.

        Is there a subculture of people what worship Microsoft and wear red, blue, green, and yellow colored clothes?
        There are rumors of a sect that still survives the purging of Microsoft however, those who have witnessed a meeting have never survived the chairs of death that soon follow when they are found out to not fully endorse every Microsoft product. Ever seen a grown man cry his way through trying to use Windows 4? Not a pretty site.

        Is Ubuntu Christian Edition *really* what jesus would download?
        No, the third coming was a joyous event. Christ quickly became a hit at parties in his conversion of dust and water to cocaine and coors lite. He doesn't download much these days as he spilled coors all over his only computer.
    • by sepluv ( 641107 ) <blakesley@gmail.cAUDENom minus poet> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:25PM (#20744819)

      Tour Guide:Research suggests that the origin of this, as well as many other phenomena designed to cause confusion, was a software company called Microsoft.

      Tourist:You mean the satanic religion that worshiped the one known as Bob?

      Tour Guide:No, this is before Microsoft was technically a Satanic religion, although leading theorists are still in hot debate over whether or not they ever exhibited non-Satanic behavior. They produced operating systems, of which Bob was one that had a very short life after no one bought it. Anyway, following the demise of Bob, Microsoft caught on to the idea of forcing all new computers to come with their new window-based operating system (known confusingly as "Windows") which caused hours of torment by doing the opposite to the user's wishes and constantly succumbing to what was known as the Blue Screen of Death.

      In order to patronise and confuse their users (or The Used as Microsoft worshipers preferred to call them), they labeled everything in their operating system with the prefix, "My" (e.g.: My Documents, My Computer), thus causing many suicides in tech support call centres after the staff tried to explain to callers what they meant by "Can you open your My computer on your computer's desktop?"

    • by sapgau ( 413511 )
      Your views are relevant to my interests and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter...

    • Ok...we need something above "Funny" Too many things are rated "Funny".

      Slashdot editors...listening? We need "Hilarious"
  • won't work (Score:3, Funny)

    by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info&devinmoore,com> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:05PM (#20744541) Homepage Journal
    Everyone will put down that they live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and the servers will asplode!
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eln ( 21727 ) * on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:08PM (#20744567)
    Is there some sort of shortage of virtual flying penises or something?

    Second Life is useless other than an entity for journalists to write stories about so they can look "plugged in" to the Internet culture. Many companies have attempted to maintain a presence there, but they usually don't last because they don't really get anything out of it. Why would Google's offering be any different? Just because they're Google, so everything they do is automatically better?

    Maybe Google is looking for an entry into the burgeoning banking scam or furry porn industries.
    • Second Life was big because it had potential that was killed by trolls and the ability to change the world too much. If google can make a good version, it's possible that it'll succeed and be something worth looking at. Not likely, but possible.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by discord5 ( 798235 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:40PM (#20745077)

        it had potential that was killed by trolls

        Welcome to the Internet.

      • by misleb ( 129952 )

        Second Life was big because it had potential that was killed by trolls and the ability to change the world too much. If google can make a good version, it's possible that it'll succeed and be something worth looking at. Not likely, but possible.

        According to the article, the goal is not to rival 2nd Life in any of its fantasy/moneymaking aspects. I guess they want to tie to the "real world" in the form of Google Earth. So you won't be creating or doing much of anything. Overall, it sounds pretty darn point

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:16PM (#20744691) Journal
      Second Life is really 3D IRC, with a much poorer frame rate than the old-skool IRC.
      • So... Second Life is just VRML from like 10 years ago?
        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @02:42PM (#20746739) Homepage Journal
          Yep. When I first saw Second Life I was reminded of my forays into VRML sites (usually Java based) back between 1995 and 1997. I can't see what the difference is other than the client, more CPU and GPU power and higher bandwidth. Beyond that it's basically IRC with a 3D environment that passes for a GUI. The way I see it, Second Life is a lot like going through real life with the use of one eye, one ear and one finger. Hmmm... sounds kinda like a dalek. Anyway, I think I'll be more interested in something like Second Life when the environment is fully immersive. By that, I mean, I should feel like I'm somewhere else and have full function of my entire body. I shouldn't see the room I'm sitting in. And physical actions in the space should correlate to certain real things in real life. Being that the kind of technology to pull that off is probably 75-100 years off, I don't think I'll be seeing it.
      • Oblig Bash Quote (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And as we all know, IRC is just a multiplayer notepad ;)
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Saxerman ( 253676 ) * on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @04:43PM (#20748341) Homepage

        Second Life is really 3D IRC, with a much poorer frame rate than the old-skool IRC.

        And the various MMORPGs are just IRC with Auto-Attack. I agree with you, but you're missing the longer term pictures our Internet Overlords are looking upon. Most of us already 'go online' every day, and this manifests though various and unconnected internet clients which each do their own things, with some degree of overlap. The Brave New Future would be one in which an Internet Overlord can create a single client to rule them all.

        Of course, those of us in the UNIX camp of 'do one thing and do it well' would fail to see why you would want to bundle a mail client and a web browser, and IRC+various IM clients together into one bloated application that doesn't do any individual task well. (Wait, I've heard of that before, haven't I?) And while a 3D everything browser might seem foolish to those of us who use a command line, the unwashed masses might not agree. "I know this, this is UNIX."

        We've already reached the point where we have PCs with massively more processing power than they need. (Yeah, yeah. Those of you doing real work quiet down.) Grandma's email machine doesn't need that extra GPU or dual cores, or phat Bus so she can view pictures of her grand kids. But... what if those pictures were placed inside an easy to navigate virtual world! Where she could sit in the same virtual nursing home as her peers, and ogle each others grand children? Think of the new virtual real estate we could place advertising on?!

        And, of course, if you think cleaning up her compromised PC was bad... wait until our virtual havens are struck with flying.penis.worm.F7!

        • Second Life is really 3D IRC, with a much poorer frame rate than the old-skool IRC.

          And the various MMORPGs are just IRC with Auto-Attack.

          And IRC is just multiplayer notepad

          (apologies to

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          And the various MMORPGs are just IRC with Auto-Attack

          A while ago I saw an anime called ".Hack" that was all about people's MMORPG avatars standing about in fantastic settings and just chatting - I found that weird. I was very suprised when I actually started playing one of the things that the game generally ran that way!

    • Why would Google's offering be any different?

      I don't think there's any chance that google actually is going to be doing something like this at the present time, but there's a lot of reasons to think they could do it better than second life. The primary reason would be that they've got a huge amount of failures from SL to learn from. Additionally, they could probably do it with a better revenue source and more up to date infrastructure. If they built it up to a point where the average user could create a F
    • by Goaway ( 82658 )
      Just imagine: Now that evil, evil, evil Google will, in addition to all the other compromising information it has collected about you, know that you are a furry!
  • Ahh, Rumors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oahazmatt ( 868057 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:09PM (#20744577) Journal
    I love rumors. Rumors make me believe everything will be better and just the way I like it. Google -might- create a new second life, Microsoft is -poised- to buy stock in Facebook, there have been -talks- that Mac OS X won't run on 800 MHz machines.

    Now facts... facts I have no time for. Facts are depressing, facts are cruel and heartless, and facts are used by people such as Jack Thompson. Or, rumor has it that he uses facts, so I suppose in truth he's rumored to have certainty -- which shakes me to the core.

    Also, rumors tell companies like Google what to do next. "Hmm, what will we do tomorrow? Let's see what we're rumored to do? A new Second Life and a puppy-reselling website? We'll need some more Ajax scripters!"

    Oh, rumors, is there anything you can't allude to?

    (not a dig at /., just feeling a little jokey today)
    • "Hmm, what will we do tomorrow? Let's see what we're rumored to do?

      Isn't that how the iphone came about?

  • by hibiki_r ( 649814 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:09PM (#20744585)
    Second Life has a good PR team, but that's all they have. They really don't matter. Claiming that they plan to rival Second Life is like claiming that they'll develop an OS that will rival BeOS in market share.
  • by dr_labrat ( 15478 ) <> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:13PM (#20744657) Homepage
    If it ties up with google maps and earth, then I can only assume that given where I live my avatar will be really, really blurry and be wearing flares.
  • virtual inc (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kurtis25 ( 909650 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:14PM (#20744661)
    This could be more of a tool for companies and others to organize their data on a map in a new way (Google has been doing more for companies on their maps lately). What if you could drive or walk down the road to the local pizza shop and order your pizza or ask an question to the automated worker. Google has much of that information already they just need a way to pass things around (grandcentral, gmail). Flat text on a map isn't always the best. If you have a picture of the front of my shop why not put me in my virtual shop and let me help real life customers. They can virutally watch me cook a pizza and send my driver out and a few minutes later the real driver shows up at the door. It's all about organizing the worlds data in a way people will interact with it.
  • Home (Score:3, Informative)

    by KyoMamoru ( 985449 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:16PM (#20744695)
    Don't forget that Sony is also launching 'Home' for the PS3 in the coming months. []
    • Yeah, DEFINITELY don't forget about that. As you can see in the link, they trademarked "Home", so if you're going to talk to people about real-world "homes", you'll just have to find another noun. Might I recommend: domicile, dwelling, hab(itat), pad, crib, and estate.
    • Unless you are a console developer, I'm not sure why we should even think about Home right now. It will not be out until next year. Hopefully, by that time, the PS3 will cost almost half of what it does now and have a couple of fun games to play. ;)

      In the meantime, enjoy the dozen or so other Virtual Game worlds on the market (which are free and run on the hardware you own today).

  • by incer ( 1071224 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:18PM (#20744717)
    Cool... So you would be able to travel all over the place using a virtual alter-ego! Imagine, you could meet your friends over the internet and go to places you usually go, only it's virtual! Isn't that absolutely cool? Wait, even better! Imagine if you could carry with you a GPS device that would allow you to be tracked all over the earth and show your avatar in the client? Wait, even better, let's make that device able to connect to the virtual world and exchange messages... You could use it to meet people near you! I mean, imagine if you could just bring out your gPhone MyWorld Edition and use it to talk to the pretty girl at the other table! Wouldn't that be absolutely cool and bring incredible improvement in personal interaction? You could see all the people near you on this device and you could use it to meet them! (I hope no one takes this seriously....)
    • by Kelbear ( 870538 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:44PM (#20745131)
      I'm ashamed to admit that the idea excites me.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by incer ( 1071224 )
        And I've also been modded intresting.... My God.....
        • My God.....

          That's rather what you were describing, yes? A God-like no-sparrow-shall-fall interface between the real world and a simulated one.

          Just avoid recursive things and you should be fine. What could go wrong?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by skeevy ( 926052 )
      I would have my virtual avatar use its virtual gPhone to call the pretty girl's virtual avatar's virtual gPhone. Then my virtual avatar would virtually chat up her virtual avatar, and both our avatars would virtually go out to play "virtual virtual ski-ball" (it's just like virtual ski-ball!)
    • Geospacial networking is a neat and very human concept.

      One of the things I love about Facebook is I can keep up with friends and acquantances that in the pre-Facebook world I would have simply lost touch with because of distance.

      Anything to make distance a non-issue is fantastic.
    • You won't need to pay hundreds of bucks to do that exact same thing half way across the world. You could pop in anywhere and even be present in different locations at the same time (someone mentioned the IRC analogy above), while not worrying how to get there and back home, thus saving time, money etc.

      This is the next step up from using the letters/telegraph/telephone or any invention designed to save us time by allowing communication without requiring us to be physically present.

      The difference to IRC
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:19PM (#20744733)
    I hear that Google is going to make this awesome search engine and make $$$ from the sale of relevant text ads using search engineer queries. Pretty clever!
  • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals.nnamredyps'> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:26PM (#20744829) Homepage Journal
    It has been confirmed that Google will create a subsidiary named "The CC Company" and that their virtual environment will be called "The World". The project will be lead by Dr. Harold Hewick, an expert in A.I.

    Rumours of beta-testers suddenly falling in coma after entering "the World" are completely unfounded.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:38PM (#20745029)
    What do they mean by "3D social network"? People aren't 3D. They are flat, made up of pixels, usually with a resolution of 1280x1024. At least that's all I've seen of them since the last time I came out of my parents basement.
    • see, lets say you and I are friends, and I have a friend named Jane (I know, no geek has a female friend, but lets just say) And you are friends with Jane too. And lets say Jane has a friend named Teresa (try not to get too excited, she's really a guy, all girls online are). And Teresa is friends with all of us. Now if we connect the lines we can draw lines from friend to friend without intersection on a 2D screen. But now theres Don. Don is friends with all of us too. Woah, now we need a third dimension to
  • by stoicfaux ( 466273 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#20745207)

    Normally I consider a Neuromancer type cyberspace to be completely useless way to locate and process data. Functionality > cool factor.

    However, combining it with Google Earth to enable "avatars being able to walk around on actual streets and enter real buildings to check out what's inside and socialize with other avatars" might almost vaguely be a good idea. It's one thing to shop online with a traditional web interface, but it's quite another 'enter' a store and talk in real time with other customers or store personnel. It changes online shopping from a 'research item, browse for lowest price, and buy online' task into a First Person Shopping experience. I find it disturbingly appealing for some reason.

    Combining a generic, omnipresent (i.e. non-Microsoft) video/3D conferencing network would be useful. Instant messaging is great but it's still just text. Video conferencing isn't ubiquitous enough to be useful. (The unwashed IM masses do not use it.) Upgrading instant messaging or chatrooms to a 'First Person Person' experience might take group communication and organization to a new level. Imagine what you could do with political meetings or neighborhood meetings.

    I'm not saying that actual face to face human interaction should be tossed out. A 'First Person' 3D avatar Google Earth could make it easier to attend tedious or 'mandatory' social organizing events such as neighborhood meetings to get petitions signed for new stop signs. Instead of having to rush home after work and fight traffic to make a 7pm neighborhood meeting (which discourages you from participating,) you can just login and participate. Sure you lose some of the social interaction (quality,) but you make up for it with quantity (more people can make it.)

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @01:07PM (#20745529)
    It's only a matter of time before SL-type worlds interoperate, and there are bridges/portals/stargates to let your avatar travel between all of them.
    • What, just like instant messengers? If something as simple as "sending a rich text message from one computer to another" can't interoperate across providers, who the hell is going to make 3D virtual worlds interoperate, when they have entirely different graphics engines?
      • by Knara ( 9377 )

        I imagine someone(s) much smarter than I could come up with a standardized method whereby the data transmitted could be rendered at the other end in a way chosen by the program used to view and interact with it.

        Oh wait, that's XML, nevermind.

    • by switcha ( 551514 )
      Here's a start, for better or worse. []

  • I can just see it: a virtual world as the unifying interface for information about the real world, with news searchable by location and marked on the map. And current satellite images projected onto the virtual ground, allowing users to observe the real world in places they aren't physically located. And, above it all, bloggers looking down from their dirigibles, identifiable by their avatars' red capes and aviator goggles...
  • I'm at ASU and I haven't heard of any collaborations involving this. If it's true they're keeping it under tight wrap.
  • if adobe had kept going with Atmo we could have had actual decent "worlds" going by now (and horror of horrors it was built to allow running your own server!!)
  • What makes facebook hot right now and the whole social networking scene on is that it allows people simple access to information they want. What makes SL hot is that it's entertaining. People aren't looking, necessairly, for information as much as they are for entertainment. Combinbing those two concepts and you get a world that is too public to be private in (who would want to escape in SL if they knew you were a 35 year old father of two?) and a social network that is too complex to just get information f
  • How many WoW killers are out there? How many times has a follow up game ever been as successful as the game it's trying to imitate?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GameMaster ( 148118 )
      You do realise that WoW is a "me too" game, right? It copied games like Asheron's Call and Everquest which copied games like Sierra's "The Realm" and Meridian59 which copied games like the original Neverwinter Nights and MUDs...etc. Heck, even the storyline is a rip off of Warhammer, which borrows heavily from Tolkien.

      • by Knara ( 9377 )
        WoW is pretty much DAoC with better quest lines and poorer PVP.
      • Right, but until then no one had the perfect storm of ingredients that WoW does. So, now everyone is trying to capture what ever that is and relabel it and it's not happening.
  • Why spend time designing a new 3D world and not build a robust protocol to allow the interconnection of different 3D worlds into one super-3D world? We already have 3D worlds, and what we need now is to connect them all together.
  • I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of these rumors about Google (the ones that aren't wishful thinking by fanboys) are actually released specifically so Google can see what people think of the ideas. The Google articles on /. are an excellent resource for the feasibility of Google adopting various ideas.
  • If they give me superpowers, cool sunglasses and a long black coat, I'm in!
  • I'm more worried about the a company that wants to crush, or if that fails, buy, everything and move everywhere that tends to be successful, and they ain't called Microsoft. In their important quest to sell more ads and get more eyeballs, year after year, Google has to do this and use their vast resources to crush everybody else. I never build products for the Windows paltform, either you'll fail, or you'll succeed, MS will crush you, and you'll fail. This seems to be the entity Google is thriving for to be

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."