Google is believed to be developing an online virtual world that will be launched later this year. Insiders believe that this online virtual world may be part of a program to develop a 3D social space set in a lifelike 3-D model of the whole planet.
Pundits are already making comparisons with Second Life, a well-known virtual world notorious for the naughty behavior of its “residents”.
While Google hasn’t confirmed the rumors, university students at Arizona State University have been asked to test a new virtual world. The university, which has close ties with Google, would only say that a major Internet company was behind the project.
Rumors about Google working on a virtual 3D social network flared up in January this year when Michael Eisenberg, a partner at Benchmark Capital, wrote on his blog that he’s heard on the “PhD grapevine” that Google was working on turning Google Earth into virtual world. He then made this observation:
“I was struck by the language on the Google Earth website: ‘One more step to creating a life-like 3-D model of the whole planet..'”
In December last year Business 2.0 magazine pointed out at Google Earth seemed to be heading towards becoming a virtual social space.
The magazine quoted futurist, Jerry Paffendorf, research director of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, who said that: “I would expect to see someone using Google Earth as a virtual social space by the end of the year.”
It appears that someone is going to be Google.
What is isn’t clear whether visitors to the Google Earth virtual world (should be launched) will enjoy the same freedoms as Second Life residents, who can own land, trade, and partake in sexual activities.