Avatars To Walk Between Virtual Worlds

Avatars are computer generated images that take the place of real people during online encounters. At present, each online world uses its own proprietary format for avatars, which were popularized for science fiction fans in Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash.

For example, visitors to Second Life take on a new graphic identity for their visit. However, each virtual world is separate and uses its own proprietary graphic characters.

(A quiet day in Second Life)

IBM and Linden Lab (creator of Second Life) are trying to free the avatars. They have announced plans to develop open standards that will allow avatars to move freely between online worlds.

“Now, for every world I touch I have to build an avatar,” said Colin Parris, the I.B.M. vice president in charge of virtual world technology. “It’s an obstacle to the development and spread of virtual worlds, both in the consumer and corporate space.”

Open standards have lead to greater ease-of-use as well as higher quality and lower costs throughout the world of computer software. Freeing the avatars sounds like a winner for everyone.

Update 17-Nov-2007: It turns out that this very idea is suggested in Charles Stross' new book Halting State. End update.

Avatar-related stories? I've got'em:

Via NY Times.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/11/2007)

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