P O S T E D B Y A L B E R T
Business Booms in Second Life The July/August 2007 issue of Technology Review has a feature article on the “Metaverse,” a proposed melding of Second Life (the virtual world created by Linden Labs) with Google Earth. Users or their avatars will be able to move seamlessly between the two worlds, touring virtual real estate one minute and zooming down to catch the destruction in Darfur the next (see below).
You’ve read in these pages about the nonprofit presence in Second Life, but, not surprisingly, for-profit companies are also very well represented:
Dozens of companies, including IBM, Sony Ericsson, and American Apparel, have bought land in the virtual world, and most have already built storefronts or headquarters where their employees’ avatars can do business. ... In 2006, Starwood Hotels used Second Life as a virtual testing ground for a new chain of real-world hotels, called Aloft. The company constructed a prototype where visitors could walk the grounds, swim in the pool, relax in the lobby, and inspect the guest rooms. It’s incorporating suggestions from Second Lifers into the design of the first real Aloft hotel, set to open in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, in 2008.
An interesting idea from our colleagues in the for-profit world.
According to a recent article in Advertising Age, “Everyone from Starwood Hotels to American Apparel angled to score bragging rights on being the firsts in their respective industries (‘First hotel in Second Life!’ ‘First clothing brand in Second Life!’), until there came a point when it seemed to be news if a company wasn’t considering jumping into Second Life.”
Darfur Goes Digital The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has joined forces with Google in a special mapping initiative called Crisis in Darfur. This initiative enables Google Earth users to better visualize and understand the genocide in Darfur:
Witness the destruction for yourself. Using coordinates provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Google acquired high-resolution imagery over the region of Darfur and Eastern Chad. Now you can witness the destruction in Darfur via Google Earth. Zoom down and see what a burned village looks like from above, the vast tent cities of people displaced from their homes, and photographs on the ground of refugees struggling to survive. Read eyewitness testimony of atrocities in attacked villages.
“When it comes to responding to genocide, the world’s record is terrible,” says Museum director Sara J. Bloomfield. “We hope this important initiative with Google will make it that much harder for the world to ignore those who need us the most.”
Manhattan Goes to Seed The July 2007 issue of Scientific American interviews science writer Alan Weisman who has spent some time figuring out what would happen if all humans suddenly disappeared from the planet. Without the constant intervention of human beings—street cleaners, road crews, pump operators, and others—our infrastructure would quickly crumble. Water-logged foundations would corrode causing skyscrapers to fall, bringing other buildings down with them. Rivers that once flowed through Manhattan would flow again, and the island would return to a state of nature in fairly short order.
Weisman’s thought experiment provides a new way for environmental activists to understand and communicate our impact on the environment.