The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Wired – Virtual World Griefing Reaches New Heights. “This month’s issue of Wired contains an impressively in-depth article on the griefing exploits of the Something Awful Goonsquad. Most famously, the Goonsquad was responsible for interrupting 2006’s CNet interview with Second Life pseudo-celebrity Anshe Chung via airborne flocks of oversized penises”.

2. The Christian Science Monitor – Can Web-Based Worlds Teach Us About The Real One? “With last week’s stock market sputter and re newed warnings of a recession, policymakers and presidential candidates are hawking countless plans to jump-start the economy. These proposals are often complex, sometimes controversial, and almost always conjectural”.

3. The World Next Week – Virtual world: rogue state? “There are quirkier items on the agenda than stock market sturm und drang and terrorism at the 38th annual World Economic Forum in Davos. On Saturday, one of the presentations, ‘Virtual Worlds – Fiction or Reality’, muses on the impact of virtual worlds on different generations, and asks how this world of immediate access, limitless social skills and unrestrained behaviour influence our moral framework”.

4. PC World – Starting Your Business’ Second Life. “If you’ve got a product that’s hard to show off in person or your customer demographic skews thirtysomething, start thinking in 3-D. While skeptics write off virtual worlds on the web as arcades for young folk, research firm Gartner Inc. estimates that by 2011, 80 percent of active internet users will have an identity in a virtual web world”.

5. The Independent – Cyberclinic: Virtual Populations. “The number of people actively exploring an alternate existence in a virtual world just keeps on growing. With last year’s release of The Burning Crusade – an expansion pack for the online role playing game World Of Warcraft – the number of current users of the game has just topped 10 million; in terms of population, that puts World Of Warcraft somewhere between Serbia and Hungary. The makers of the game also stress that these figures exclude all free promo subscriptions and dormant users.

6. Science Daily – Haptics: New Software Allows User To Reach Out And Touch, Virtually. “European researchers have pioneered a breakthrough interface that allows people to touch, stretch and pull virtual fabrics that feel like the real thing. The new multi-modal software linked to tactile hardware and haptics devices have enormous potential for shopping, design and human-machine interaction”.

7. Computerworld – Vision of the future: Researchers build bionic eye. “Nanotech could let travelers check Net, e-mail or play games on floating display screen”.

8. Information Week – Linden Lab Working To Beef Up Second Life Stability, Usability. “Linden Lab plans sweeping improvements to the Second Life platform this quarter, designed to improve stability and usability, and to make it easier to connect Second Life with the rest of the Internet”. (see our own story on Linden Lab’s media conference.

9. Jalopnik – Lancia to Launch Car in Second Life, Before First Life. “Hey Lancia, welcome to 2006! It’s good to see you finally decided to approach and embrace Second Life, the virtual world game thing. The Italian Fiat subsidiary will be launching the Delta sedan in Second Life one day prior to its official unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show”.

10. – Second Life has potential for public sector, says analyst. “Governments have been taking tentative steps towards establishing a presence in the virtual world. And while the business case may yet to be proven, there is potential for the public sector to utilize virtual applications such as Second Life, says analyst Alison Brooks”.

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