Google is quietly experimenting with a social, avatar-based approach to Google Earth. So goes this week's Google rumor, at least. Avatars would stride across the Earth. 3d objects are already built using Sketchup.
If true, then Google can leverage a whole series of connections between MyWorld and current Google offerings. Besides Google Earth and Maps, one can imagine yet another plugin for Gmail and Orkut: an icon showing where this contact is in-world, and clickable to teleport there. Google Docs to plan and stash resources for MyWorld activities. Sketchup for 3d authoring.
For educators, MyWorld would leverage preexisting connections with the Google world, from accounts to familiarity with various products.
This would be the most serious test yet of web 3d. Not to mention massive competition for Second Life.
If MyWorld connects between services, and/or offers API, we could be seeing the Third Life appear.
Rumor has it that several students have been granted the opportunity to test a new product that will be launched by a major Internet company later this year. The application for participation [some images linked here] asks students if they’re interested in social networking, 3D modeling and video games. As the project’s current code name is “My World” with a globe logo, some have conjectured that this signals involvement from Google Earth.
With the existing relationship between ASU and Google, it would come as no surprise that Google’s using the college for testing grounds on a new social network. ASU was among the first to sign up for Google Apps education package, and has also contributed to the Google Mars project, while Google has an office at ASU’s campus.