Active Worlds vs Second Life
Was talking to someone recently who didn't know the former, a kind of also-ran in the buzz metaverse, or buzz about the metaverse, if you prefer. Posting these links for further comparison. I recall a "Virtual Chelsea" in Active Worlds with wireframe modernist gallery buildings, from about 8 years ago, that never quite got off the ground. Avatars could meet, talk art, and look at painting thumbnails mounted at oblique angles. It's all Lawnmower Man kitsch but interesting to think about the different ramifications of the "fully-immersive" Matrix paradigm (some wildly successful and some not), still grinding on while new social networking schemes based on much less memory intensive tech (MySpace etc) take off even more.
I get the impression that, like First Life, Second Life is driven by shopping. $10 USD goes a long way in Linden dollars. That said, there are some cool artists there. Ian Ah has built a great squat out of found "objects" complete with empty beer bottles and long underwear drying over a fire. I also ran into some big Campbell's soup cans (made by Gazira Babelli) that swallowed my avatar and bounced it up and down while spewing out the phrase, "If you love pop art, pop art hates you." After quite a long time I was spit back out, and my avatar was completely and hilariously mangled. I could still walk around, sort of, but my legs were on backwards, my arm stretched way out to the side, and my head was like a tiny pill on top of a very long, thick neck.