Thursday, April 17, 2008

What is coming up next on Second Life?

This is a Reuters article: The last big feature: “HTML on a prim” by By Eric Reuters.

Speaking last summer at the Second Life Community Convention, Philip Rosedale pledged that stability would be Linden Lab’s top priority for the coming year, plus two major new features: the introduction of voice, now live in the virtual world, and the ability to access web pages inside Second Life.

Earlier this month, Linden took a major step towards realizing the second half of Rosedale’s wishlist with the release of a new test version of the Second Life software. Insiders call the long-awaited feature “HTML on a prim,” for the ability to display the language web pages are written in (HTML) on the basic building blocks of Second Life objects (prims).

What it means, to hear Linden Lab executives speak, is to allow people to share the any experience that can be had on the World Web Web, collectively through Second Life. “You can have the experience of watching a video — dare I say YouTube? — with other people at the same time,” Rosedale told Reuters last week in a Second Life interview.

The current test version has nowhere near that capability. Only one URL, or web page, can be used in a given parcel of land. Eventually URLs will be tied to virtual objects, a substantially more difficult task. But as a prototype the functionality works.

Rosedale, noting the shift in his Second Life usage towards educational institutions and non-profits, said he imagined the earliest uses of the new feature would lie in creating “virtual white boards” to share ideas between people in remote locations.

“Today, you have to take screenshots of your slides and upload them as textures, which normal people just aren’t going to do,” he said. Coding a presentation as a webpage is substantially easier.

Eventually, more capabilities will be added. “We’re shooting a lot higher then just ‘HTML on a prim’,” said Samuel Kolb, a Linden developer working on the project. “Anything you can do on the Web, you should be able to do within Second Life.”

Rosedale shied away from promising a deadline for the general release of the new feature, but when pressed said he hoped to have a first version by the end of year. “If you wanted to be all Steve Jobs about it, you wouldn’t say anything to the public until it was all ready and finished,” he joked.

What you think about this innovation? Had you hear about it? Do you think this will transform Second Life? Please leave your comment about this topic.

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