Re-invent the wheel?

Lets time travel back to Oct. 10 2007. Perhaps you remember this headline: IBM and Linden Lab Launch Collaboration to Further Advance the 3D Internet.

IBM and LL plan to collaborate on:
1. "Universal" Avatars: Exploring technology and standards for users of the 3D Internet to seamlessly travel between different virtual worlds. Users could maintain the same “avatar” name, appearance and other important attributes (digital assets, identity certificates, and more) for multiple worlds. The adoption of a universal “avatar” and associated services are a possible first step toward the creation of a truly interoperable 3D Internet.
2. Security-rich Transactions: Collaborating on the requirements for standards-based software designed to enable the security-rich exchange of assets in and across virtual worlds. This could allow users to perform purchases or sales with other people in virtual worlds for digital assets including 3D models, music, and media, in an environment with robust security and reliability features.
3. Platform stability: Making interfaces easier to use in order to accelerate user adoption, deliver faster response times for real-world interactions and provide for high-volume business use.
Integration with existing Web and business processes: Allowing current business applications and data repositories – regardless of their source – to function in virtual worlds is anticipated to help enable widespread adoption and rapid dissemination of business capabilities for the 3D Internet.
4.Open standards for interoperability with the current Web: Open source development of interoperable formats and protocols. Open standards in this area are expected to allow virtual worlds to connect together so that users can cross from one world to another, just like they can go from one web page to another on the Internet today.

Back to the matter at hand. It is great to see two big companies like IBM and Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, teaming up to develop tools and standards to guide the development of the 3D Internet. They want to form a consortium to work on open standards for this, brilliant! Oh wait, there already is an entity, the Web3D Consortium. I mean hats off to LL for bringing LOTS of attention to virtual worlds but lets not get crazy here. When asked at a Bay area SD Forum, IBM’s David Kamalsky stated when asked about IBM's plans on working with the existing standards body, "we opened an invitation to them". This was a little different than the answer I got from the folks at the Web3D Consortium. Perhaps the invitation got lost in the mail. Lets hope that IBM/LL recognize the efforts of the Web3D Consortium, its global members, liasions with W3C & ISO, and decide to collaborate with those already working on these and related issues. Time will tell if IBM and Linden Labs will stop trying to re-invent the wheel and just contribute to making it better.


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