IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds

Here’s the Reuters story, as published by CNET: IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds

It’s from 9 November – I’m catching up a bit after getting back from my Brazil trip.  But it’s important enough to the Second Life story I’ve been watching and reporting here that I wanted to blog about it.

The abstract:

IBM is ramping up its push into virtual worlds with an investment of roughly $10 million over the next 12 months, including an expanded presence within the popular 3D online universe Second Life .

I highly recommend clicking and reading the article, but as usual want to clip some important quotes from it:

Second Life, where Reuters opened a bureau last month, is one of the best-known virtual worlds, with more than 1 million registered users and a well-established economy and currency. The equivalent of more than half a million U.S. dollars change hands there every day.

IBM has already established the biggest Second Life presence of any Fortune 500 company. It uses the world primarily for training and meetings but has also built a simulation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

The company is also looking to build a private 3D intranet where it will be able to discuss sensitive business information. It is moving to champion what it calls “v-business”–short for virtual business–just as it championed “e-business,” or electronic business, during the dot-com boom.

“We always ask the question, ‘if you knew 20 years ago what you know about the Web today, what would you do differently?'” said Sandy Kearney, IBM’s director of emerging 3-D Internet and virtual business. “The Web took decades. This will likely take half that time.”

Don’t miss that link to the Reuters story about opening up a news bureau office in Second Life: Newsmaker:  Reuters’ ‘Second Life’ reporter talks shop.  Second Life is first in the space of virtual worlds that parallel and connect to our own – and the world has no real clue yet how important and vast that space is going to be.  The Web’s been hot for 15 years now.  Would you believe me if I said that these virtual worlds are going to be much bigger and more important than the Web?  I doubt you would, now.   Putting this on my blog puts it in writing – let’s check my prediction in 15 years, shall we?

A spokesman for IBM said its goals go far beyond Second Life, although it currently has its largest virtual world presence there, and that the company eventually wants to see all multiverses integrated into a seamless whole.

“In addition to our desire to work more closely with Linden Labs, we’re exploring how we can work with many virtual world players, including companies like Multiverse and Bigworld Technology, as well as open source platforms like Uni-Verse.org,” the spokesman said in an email.

“IBM’s ultimate aim is for inter-world integration, instead of separate islands of virtual worlds, where you cannot cross over from one to the other in a consistent way,” he said.

This gets to things I have been thinking and talking about with friends, but have yet to blog about.  I’ll find time to do that next month.  Let me plant this seed: the inter-world integration IBM is looking toward and working on could be considered a 3D version of the Web – will it be Web 3.0? It will ideally also integrate with and be consistent with 3D modeling of actual reality (ala Google Earth and Flight Sim X) as well as with 3D gaming realities (ala WoW and EQ2 and all the others).

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