The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. InformationWeek (USA) – 1 In 10 Internet Users Buys Virtual Goods. “Virtual weapons, Facebook favors and other forms of digital currency are a growing market, according to a survey released Thursday, with 12 percent of Americans saying they spent real money on these items in the last year.
The heaviest buyers of these objects — which are bought over the Internet and exchanged through online games, social networks, and virtual worlds such as Second Life — appear to be young and middle-aged women ages 12 to 44, although they were also purchased by young men.”

2. The Guardian (UK) – Virtual worlds are getting a second life. “We haven’t heard much recently about so-called virtual worlds such as Second Life, in which you move around with your own avatar. Critics must be hoping they have disappeared up their own ether. Actually, they are booming. The consultancy reports that membership of virtual worlds grew by 39% in the second quarter of 2009 to an estimated 579 million. Not all these members are active but I can’t think of anything, anywhere, that has grown so fast in the recession this side of Goldman Sachs bonuses.”

3. Hypergrid Business (Hong Kong) – Copyright in virtual worlds. “As the virtual worlds grow and develop — and evolve into the next 3D Web — the issue of copyright is being debated again. In some ways, virtual worlds copyrights may require changes in the way we think of and use copyrights. But, in most respects, virtual worlds copyrights are no different than the copyrights we currently have today. For example, today, if a content producer makes an original work and sells to a buyer, then, by default, what is sold is single-time use only.”

4. PBS (USA) – Virtual Worlds Show Promise for Newspaper Communities. “In my previous post, I talked about the browser-based virtual environment Metaplace, which I think may provide a way to boost interaction with our community on newspaper website Mediafin. To test how well virtual worlds could be used to build a community, I undertook some experiments in organizing “conferences” in worlds like Metaplace and Second Life. And the results turned out to be quite promising. How can we at newspaper websites experiment with new media without upsetting the community or — possibly even more — our colleagues? Virtual environments are not yet universally accepted as useful for newspaper communities, so the question of how to introduce community and colleagues to these spaces is especially pertinent.”

5. The Globe and Mail (Canada) – Avatars come alive in workplace. “Avatars will become the big buzz this year, thanks to director James Cameron’s pending flick of the same name. They’ve been all the rage among video gamers for years. Now they’re also sprouting up in the workplace, and experts predict they will emerge as a key trend in the coming years. For puzzled employers and perplexed employees, what’s the sense of using a digital person rather than a real one?”

6. Singularity Hub (USA) – Haptics Unleashes Virtual Reality and Telepresence Revolution – Awesome Vids. “Whoah! Prepare to be blown away with this post! Here at the Hub one of the things that we are all about is the coming merger of the physical world with the virtual world. Programmable matter, moving beyond the outdated mouse and keyboard interface model, immersive environments, and so on. Now we are here to tell you about a seriously game changing technology that is absolutely busting apart the traditional barrier between the physical and virtual worlds. Its called haptics, and if you haven’t heard about it yet then read on and prepare to be thrilled.”

7. San Jose Mercury News (USA) – Stanford’s virtual reality experiments transport knowledge to new vistas. “Even as it gained acceptance on college campuses during the 1990s, “virtual reality” could never quite escape having just a whiff of junk science. The graphics created for early virtual worlds were so clunky and slow they conjured up bad LSD trips. Giant helmets immersed subjects in fantastical environments far more virtual than real. It was like conducting a seance in a hat. “Until five or six years ago,” says Jeremy Bailenson, director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, “when I told people what I did for a living, they laughed.”

8. ReadWriteWeb (USA) – How To: Use Virtual Worlds for Business. “Despite the hype, only 11% of enterprises have adopted virtual worlds to augment their work, says a new report by Forrester. Virtual worlds have been around since about 1995, but it took businesses half a decade to realize the potential value within the enterprise. But the research released this week isn’t just an outline of the market: it’s a how-to guide for doing business in a computer-generated universe. Vendors may not have done a very good job of marketing themselves to the enterprise to date, but there’s still a huge opportunity for your company to get virtual, if you know how.”

9. Xinhua (China) – Virtual reality – a new world awaits… “Virtual reality is no longer a concept of the future, innovative 3-D technology can now transform a desktop computer into an interactive world of adventure, fashion, fun and entertainment. Using the Internet as an entry platform, the new technology is blurring the lines of the real and virtual worlds. In contrast to a traditional two-dimensional interface, the 3-D environment provides a completely immersive and highly social world, enabling access to people and places that would be virtually impossible in the real world. Through the use to avatars, a virtual replica of yourself, or whoever you want to be, life can literally take on new dimensions in cyberspace.”

10. Virtual Worlds News (USA) – Augmented Reality To Get iPhone Push. “ugmented reality is quickly gaining a foothold among entertainment brands. In the last few days, Mattel’s foray into augmented reality, with its upcoming Avatar line of action figures, has resulted in a wave of coverage. Now, iPhone developers are coming out of the woodwork with uses that coincide with the September release of version 3.1 of the iPhone software. The new iPhone software, and the subsequent listing in AR-enhanced applications in the App Store, will mark a turning point. Some dozen or so companies, according to reports, are gearing up for the day. And just yesterday, according to AppleInsider, Apple provided iPhone developers with a third beta of iPhone 3.1 software.”

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