Is Twitter the Next Second Life?

The Crowds of Second Life The Christian Science Monitor puts this link-baiting headline (ok, it worked) on a story about Twitter’s retention rate.  They don’t answer the question (or even mention Second Life) in the story , but if you want an answer there is a clear tell here: IBM.

In the absence of announcements about making Twitter run on the mainframe, enterprise-class Twitter, Twitter interoperability with private Twitter clouds, IBM company meetings on Twitter or a concerted press campaign about Sam Palmasaino’s Twitter account, I think it is safe to say that Twitter is not the next Second Life.

This bodes well for Twitter whose simplicity and accessibility are the antithesis of IBM.  IBM has product names that won’t fit in the 140 characters of a single Tweet.  The B in IBM isn’t brevity.  But I digress.

It is good to see that even as IBM continues their stealth layoffs, their commitment to Second Life is unwavering (Silicon Alley Insider has covered for my negligence in mocking recent developments in IBM’s Second Life strategy here, here and here).

A Major Milestone

I nearly missed this industry first, following last quarter’s related announcement:

Linden Lab and IBM Achieve Major Virtual World Interoperability Milestone
Open Grid Protocol Enables Avatars to Teleport Between Second Life and OpenSim Virtual Worlds

NEW YORK & SAN FRANCISCO – 08 Jul 2008: Linden Lab®, creator of the virtual world Second Life®, and IBM (NYSE:IBM) have successfully demonstrated virtual world interoperability by teleporting avatars between the Second Life Preview Grid and an OpenSim virtual world server. The joint development project represents an industry first of a quantifiable milestone for virtual world interconnectivity.

Here is a screen shot from the demo:


Evidently the tumbleweed avatar was successfully teleported from Second Life into an enterprise-class IBM virtual world running on a mainframe (which they want you to know are more relevant than ever, especially for really popular applications like interoperable, enterprise-class virtual worlds…).  Unfortunately, no observers were present in either virtual world to verify the claim.

Looking ahead, with enterprise suitability and interoperability now firmly in hand for the burgeoning enterprise virtual worlds market, IBM will no doubt turn its attention to the security problems raised by interoperability.  After all, you wouldn’t want more typical Second Life denizens teleporting into your enterprise-class virtual world.  Expect a hue and cry about illegal virtual immigration, foreign avatars soaking up system resources and taking virtual jobs away from local avatars.  Politicians, responding to virtual outrage, will demand action.  And then, enter the virtual world lock-down solution with IBM Tivoli Avatar Access Firewall Manager for zSeries Enterprise Class Virtual Worlds.  Because sometimes you have to create the problem before you can solve it…