Your “home” on the web

Google just announced Lively, a virtual world for all social networking sites. It immediately struck me as really cool and pretty scary. Here’s my 10 minute analysis.

The idea is that you have a virtual room or home on the web with a virtual person. You can than decorate your room, hang out it in or go visit your friends. When people come to visit you, they can move your stuff around. Rumor has it that your friends will be your friends from all your existing networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

I think it will take off if:

  • It’s accessible via browser with no special hardware.
  • People can tweak and customize it both as a user and a developer, i.e. you can customize your room or you can write apps that interact with the room.

What’s scary?

  • Google’s stuff catches on quick. And if this catches on, they will be defining what our online world looks like. What our homes and cities look like. It’d be a good thing if Google made it all customizable. It’d be better if it was open source. But whether it’s open source or not, Google will own it.
  • It’s one thing to have ads in my email. They are easy to ignore. It’ll be another if my friend’s avatars are all wearing branded shirts or if my "home" has a banner ad in it. I’m not sure why, but it’ll feel different.

What’s cool?

  • It’ll bring virtual reality worlds to many more people. We’ll be that much closer to Neal Stephenson’s realities.
  • It might push virtual reality technology forward faster.


4 Replies to “Your “home” on the web”

  1. Those of my online friends still using Second Life laughed at me when I presented Lively for them. They think its a joke. And with no user-creation, it stands no chance against SL.
    It is Google we’re talking about though. I’d be surprised if they don’t bring it up to standards – which most likely will mean a Linux client to boot as well.
    Somehow, the lighter ‘room’ metaphor sits better with me than the ‘gigantic world of crap inside your computer’ metaphor of SL.

  2. Still require a special software:
    “Requires Windows Vista/XP with Internet Explorer or Firefox”
    Not that impressed.

  3. I was disappointed to see it still takes additional software. That’s a problem that can be easily fixed though – especially if they open source it. (And it turns out to be worth someone’s while to port it.)
    To me, Second Life’s requirement of a (non-laptop-standard) graphics card is a huge barrier to entry. Hopefully some of the work that GNOME and others are doing can help them change that.

Comments are closed.