The next Facebook? Absolutely!

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You thought Second Life experienced a boom last winter? CNN has an article online that can make even a newbie like me feel like cutting edge. It asks if Second Life is the next Facebook, when the boom will come, and what it will be like in the years to come. It’s an interesting article.

Used as I am to Second Life already, I take it for granted. It’s easy to forget that we’re only nine million in here, which really isn’t that many. Actually, we’re fewer, since some of us have more than one citizenship, – I once met one who had 18! – and others have left without deleting their profile.

Anyway, the article: Facebook has 30 million users today, but, by 2020, “virtual worlds may have surpassed social networking sites as the place to spend time online.”

They’ve interviewed blogger and SL-user Caleb Booker, who says that virtual worlds takes the interaction from Facebook to a more sophisticated level. “Bottom level: If people are using email for social interaction, they’ll probably be interested in other ways to be social online.”

So what’s to come? Ah, you know the score: More photo-realistic avatars, eye movement, breathing and realistic expressions. “The hard part will come with things like synching mouth movements with voice recognition. That’s something we might not have quite nailed by 2020, but there will be some kind of engine that attempts it by then.”

As a writer, it saddens my heart to hear about all these voice improvements. I may be naïve, but the way I see it, virtual worlds based on text makes people feel more at ease with, and trains them in, reading and writing. Oh well. Sound and vision always beats text, it seems.

Authors of something called the Metaverse Roadmap, which I have to google, predicts that a boom within a decade is likely. Their research has indicated that by 2016, half of us will have interactive avatars. Who “us” are, the article don’t say. Could they mean half of the world’s population? Today, only 1,173,109,925 people, or 17,8 percent of the world’s population, have access to the Internet. It’s hard to imagine four billion avatars in only nine years time. I trust Booker more when he says that “by 2020 virtual worlds will be as widespread as the WWW is now.”

And he thinks that this potential is just around the corner: “The truth is that, as far as virtual worlds go, we’re living in the flash point at the beginning of the explosion.”

And we’re here already. We’re cutting edge :–)

Here’s a link to a picture that might be funny …

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~ by theresecarfagno on August 11, 2007.

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