Google Lively

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Google is entering the immersive social world. This is not exactly a competitor to the likes of Second Life, HiPiHi, OpenSIM or Wonderland, but a lightweight 3D chat system that is easily embedded on a Web page – at least, it is if you happen to run Windoze. If not, tough. This doesn’t feel like a typical Google application. Though small and easy, it is ugly, closed and clunky, the opposite of what has made Google great in other areas. It has support for static multimedia and embedding stuff from YouTube etc, but no real-time sound. There’s a big menu of objects to populate your space and a decent collection of avatars, but this is not a space for authoring. It may be OK for small groups, but there appears to be a limit of 20 people in each space.

What I really like is that it enables easy, low-threshold, rich collaboration in real time, embedded in a wider context without big downloads and separate environments. It is also nice that Google is thinking about integrating it with the desktop, the browser and its own gadgets.

What I really dislike is that it appears to largely ignore any standards (apart from pulling in stuff from elsewhere) and of course it relies on a single service provider.

This is Google doing ‘me-too’ rather than innovating in a big way. There are plenty of good systems out there like IMVU and Twinity and it is hard to see much in Lively that makes it different. It is encouraging that immersive spaces are hitting the mainstream and starting to live in browser space, but what we really need is something like this that is genuinely distributed, interoperable and connectible.
Created:Thu, 10 Jul 2008 18:12:53 GMT

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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