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The Web's Second Life

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DQI Bureau
New Update

In the last issue I wrote about the disruptive power of

Search, the Web's killer app. Everyone needs to Search. If there's one thing

that's helped make the Internet useful, it's the search engine. And it's

spilling over onto our desktops, networks, and enterprises.

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But there are other killer apps and disruptive technologies

helping shape Web 2.0.

The Blog is the most visible. Giving a voice to millions, it's

the new, democratic face of the Web. The jury is out on whether the blog will

replace traditional media. People do like the expertise and filter of a credible

news source, versus a thousand sites. But the blog is a force that will disrupt

media. From CEOs to government officials to journalists, they're all blogging,

often saying what they cannot 'officially'.

VoIP is another killer app for the Net. From Skype (and its

competitors, and compatible products) to corporate apps, it's helped rapidly

shrink the world.

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Micropayment takes my vote for tomorrow's killer app, with

Paypal et al taking first steps. Someday, soon, you'll be able to click on

something, and transparently, smoothly pay tiny amounts for content or services

without entering enter numbers or IDs. This will drop the barrier to paid

services on the Web.

But for now, the most disruptive new app on the Web looks

like a game. The 3-D virtual world, seen at SecondLife.com or There.com. You

register, and get a virtual avatar, a SecondLife, and become a 'resident' in

a 3-D world that exists in servers run by Linden Lab. And you participate in a

virtual economy-which is turning into a real marketplace.

One million 'SL' residents in October 2006, 1.5 million

by December. They include key industry watchers and participants. IBM's Sam

Palmisano has an avatar in SecondLife. IBM hopes to sell systems, to power 3-D

worlds; and consulting, on how to use them for marketing. For this, it plans to

spend $100 million and set up a new organization.

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Over 50 companies have established themselves in SL,

including Reuters, with a virtual news desk and a full-time reporter assigned to

SL; Sony BMG, and Reebok. There are car-makers who test-launch virtual versions

of new models in SL.

Virtual worlds exist in gaming. But this is different. Here,

you interact and talk to live people, in a crossover of cyber fantasy and

reality. You test drive a car; buy products and services with virtual dollars

(or real ones, if you use your credit card); meet strangers; have heated

discussions; even start a business, raise funds, get virtually married, or have

sex.

They don't draw the hype of the dot com boom days. Yet these technologies

and apps are quietly but rapidly shaping the Web, giving it a second life. One

that, unlike the dot com boom, will long endure.

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