Now that the new version of Second Life supports an in-world mozilla web browser, we soon will be able to web surf without leaving the confines of virtuality. Like all things, there are new opportunities and potential problems associated with an in-world browser, i.e.:
- Con: Potentially new viruses and trojan horses being propogated in-world
- Con: Increased bandwidth issues for in-world web content presentations
- Pro: Convenience of not having to leave SL to check an URL
- Pro: More interactive SL help system
- Pro: Lots of potential for multi-media content and accessing resources not hosted in-world
In the SL discussion forums, there is already resistance to the idea of the web entering SL. For some, this represents the invasion of the outside world into their inner fantasy-scape. For others, this is just more toys that create more lag without adding to the game play. But for more builders, being able to inject web content into SL is an exciting prospect that will spur innovation and change.
On the grander scheme of things, having an in-world web browser means that the SL universe now incorporates the web much more seamlessly. Stephenson’s Snow Crash meta-verse as a medium for people to fly through information is much closer to reality.
Beyond the coolness factor, a number of socio-techical questions suggest themselves:
- How does simulated three-dimensional navigation of virtual worlds interact with the two-dimensional navigation of the web?
- Can web developers represent website organization and database structures better in three dimensions?
- Can people find information and content faster and more intuitively using virtual space representations?
We may soon find out as the web invades Second Life….