Metaverse Roadmap Project Website Launched

This announcement doesn't have too do much with massively multiplayer games (of today) specifically, but I thought you folks might find the Metaverse Roadmap Project interesting.  I attended one of the three roundtables at GDC '06 put on by these folks and it was very intriguing... borderline science fiction, but interesting.  This project seeks to bring together research and forward thinkers to assemble a constantly-updated roadmap of progress towards an eventual "metaverse" of some sort.  Basically, mapping what we know now and following it to what it might mean for the future.

To get you in the mood, their new site starts out like this:

What happens when video games meet Web 2.0? When virtual worlds meet maps of the planet? When simulations get real and life and business go virtual? When your avatar becomes your blog, your desktop, and your email address?

What happens is the metaverse. ...

It was fairly difficult to grasp my head around the concept as I sat in on the GDC shindig, but not so much because it's all technologically insane (even though it's smart-people craziness to me) but more because I hadn't really taken the time to think through the issue before.  I've read a few books about "cyberspace" and all that -- embarrasingly the definitive one, Snow Crash is not one of them, but it sits right over there *points to my copy on the shelf* and I swear I'll get to it eventually -- and it's not always easy for me to make the jump to imagining how real it all might end up being in the future.  Now I'm not talking about Lawnmower Man becoming real, but the idea of such levels of connectedness online that the line between avatar and operator become very blurry.

I'm struggling to even discuss this issue here, since I just don't quite "get it" yet.  

I had a great dinner chat with one of the folks from said project and lots of very fun concepts came spewing from his brain.  One of them focusses on Google's purchase of the company that makes SketchUp.  Now, if you don't know what SketchUp is, go look at it for a minute and consider this... what if Google takes their Google Earth product and combines it with the technology of SketchUp to generate (I said "generate", not "create") what would ultimately be a 3D virtual space from their data from Earth!  Add to that some simple avatar options and couldn't we have an online "copy" of the real world built from actual satellite imagery and real locations? 

 Uh... whoa.  (You can imagine that said in Keanu-ese if ya want.)

I can think of all sorts of amazing implications of a navigable 3D Google Earth... not sure what value they all have, but it sure sounds neat from that core level!

Anyway... proceed down this path if any of that stuff interests you.  I'm considering opening up a MRP discussion forum here, but I'm not sure what use it would serve.  If you find that interesting, send me a note.