Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Personalized Virtual World Views

Metaverses (metaversi?) are proliferating, from Project Entropia to ActiveWorlds to Blaxxun's 15 communities to There to Sims Online to Second Life (whose residents have more than quintupled since the beginning of the year, especially since credit card identify (and age) verification is no longer required as of June 30).

However, these early metaverse worlds carry in too many incongruous metaphors from the physical world. One is not making use of VR to change the concept and physical layout of space. It should be possible for users to personalize by choosing a profile for the sims (properties/mini-sites) that will display in their virtual world views, at minimum with ad-blocking. The Berners-Lee Internet, in 2d or 3d, is about pull not push; users should have the right to populate their own attention flow streams.

With teleportation being the navigation method of choice, there is no requirement (or detriment to virtual real estate markets and traffic) that sims/locations be contiguous or in any static formation. People visit locations they prefer in virtual worlds anyway, personalized views is merely a facilitation tool that could also lead to greater creativity in developing and using the metaverse world medium.

In addition, personalized virtual world views could help with the zoning, local government, and enforcement growing pains that were expressed at last weekend's second annual Second Life Community Convention.

Imagine logging in to a virtual world and finding sims in your interest profile grouped all around you (possibly above and below as well), showing in different light tints or colors per parameters; a new and growing VR smorgasbord with each visit. View preferences could be changed at any time and could be set to "all" or "random" or even the meta metaverse channel.

As with cell phones, multiple environment profiles (with customized avatars) could be stored for easy access to professional collaboration, education, information gathering, hobby #1, hobby #2, sexchat, etc. Multiple full or partial avatars with simultaneous existence can hopefully be realized soon.

Thinking ahead to business and military applications, flexible user profiles would also allow different hierarchical (meta) tiers and permissioned views of virtual sites/information. There are many ways the property of spatial flexibility can be used to improve and extend the use and value of metaverse worlds.