It's not the most innovative name but the concept may be revolutionary. Metaplace, a virtual community that is currently being tested for launch in spring 2008, was one of the most talked about start-ups at the TechCrunch40 Conference. The new platform allows anyone to build a virtual world from scratch -- for the web or even mobile applications -- without any programming knowledge. Like other virtual communities such as Second Life, There, Entropia Universe, or World of Warcraft, the Metaplace worlds can be used for gaming, socializing, and e-commerce. And they come with the usual community features: forums, user … Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--Most folks who try the Second Life virtual world grimace as the primitive 3D imagery drags its way onto their screens. Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner, though, smacks his lips with anticipation.
The chipmaker, always on the lookout for something that will give people a reason to buy a new PC, has reason to be excited about Second Life and its ilk. The technology, while still mostly for a fairly nerdy audience, has the potential to appeal to a broader audience than video games where overmuscled marines blow away aliens.
And just as significantly, Rattner said in a … Read more
We're constantly imitating nature.
Artificial intelligence researchers study the way babies learn to right themselves after falling down to help train robots to behave similarly.
We're still learning new things about flight dynamics and wing design from butterflies and other animals.
If you've ever carefully tiptoed across the floor to keep from disturbing someone, you're mimicking how a deer walks to avoid alerting predators to its presence.
Okay, that one's a stretch, but if you've ever watched a deer do this, it sure seems like one heck of a coincidence.
In any case, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's also how modern science works - creating models for simple structures in order to approximate the real world. When we succeed, we learn; when we fail, we learn more. It's a painstaking process of trial and error called the scientific method.
Every year the biotechnology industry comes one step closer to learning how to cure our ills and extend the human lifespan. We have further to go than we've come, to be sure, but getting here was no easy trick. After all, biotech research is attempting nothing short of unveiling the secrets of life.
Ask any first grader to name the five senses and sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste will roll out as a satisyfying answer. But this list leaves off the sense of balance, along with body position. We generally don't think of this sense because it is always on. We close our eyes and it gets dark, but we still know which way is up and what our bodies are doing. Gravity feels like a constant force of nature, and we feel firmly rooted in our bodies.
The key word here is feel. As much as we may take it for granted, there is a true sensory process going on, involving the vestibular organs of the inner ear, the positional information coming from our joints, as well as integration of other sight and touch cues. And since it is a sensory process, it can be manipulated to induce an illusion. Neuroscientists have used surprisingly low-tech methods involving virtual reality goggles and a stick to create an out-of-body sensation in ordinary people.… Read more
CHICAGO--In Second Life, avatars can fly with the push of a button. Maybe that's why it seems like the virtual world's enthusiasts sometimes have trouble staying grounded.
At this weekend's Second Life Community Convention, Philip Rosedale--founder of Second Life creator Linden Lab--ambitiously declared as he often does that "this is something that everybody on Earth is going to use," that the virtual world will be "bigger than the Web."
But minutes earlier, Rosedale had been jokingly boasting over PowerPoint graphs showing the extent of Second Life's problems with server lag time, maintenance … Read more
Virtual world Second Life, the centerpiece of this weekend's Second Life Community Convention in Chicago, has occasionally come under fire for its outages. Scheduled downtime, unpredicted outages, server crashes due to onslaughts of thousands of Super Mario graphics flooding the tubes (those are from griefers, natch)--it's a headache for newbies and avid residents alike.
But in his keynote at the convention on Saturday morning, Philip Rosedale, the founder and CEO of Second Life parent company Linden Lab, suggested that we all look on the bright side. The virtual world is active about 90 percent of the time, … Read more
CHICAGO, Ill.--This might just be the perfect city for a Second Life convention. At least this out-of-towner thinks so.
When you think about it, a good number of Chicago's urban planning quirks have quite a bit in common with the aesthetics of some of Second Life's more popular "sims." It's because parts of the city are so planned--as though they were created with a few well-thought-out mouse clicks that could easily be tweaked and improved. The business and shopping districts are peppered with bright displays of greenery and flowers, the streets and gardens in … Read more
There are plenty of critics who claim, however erroneously, that Second Life is a mess both structurally and technologically. And Linden Lab's decentralized and laissez-faire approach to the largely user-created virtual world, it could be argued, has allowed its identity to be shaped by its most prominent and press-worthy residents--who are, on occasion, blowing up buildings, stealing identities, and barraging lectures with oversized flying man-parts.
We won't really know until tonight … Read more
CHICAGO, Ill.--They call it the Windy City, but I don't think travelers to this weekend's Second Life Community Convention in Chicago were expecting tornadoes to get in their way.
The Midwest was smacked with thunderstorms and flooding on Thursday, with winds in one storm hitting 70 miles per hour, and a tornado (albeit not a very big one) running amok and even entering the grounds of Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
I, for one, was scheduled to take a 4:25 flight out of New York's JFK Airport that would (allegedly) touch down at 6:15 … Read more
In a couple of hours, I'll be off to Chicago to cover a different kind of social media: the third annual Second Life Community Convention (SLCC), a gathering of over 800 enthusiasts of the virtual world. It's a phenomenon that saw a dramatic rise and subsequent backlash in the past year, touted by media and business first as a revolution in communications, marketing, and socialization and then as an enormous three-dimensional ghost town.
So what's going to happen at the first SLCC to take place in Second Life's "post-mainstream" age? We'll see. I'… Read more