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September 23, 2007

A Social Network for Google Earth?

Arizona State University's students have the opportunity to test a new product "that will be publicly launched later this year". The invitation page mentions that the product is developed by "a major Internet company" and there are hints that the application is related to social networking, 3D modeling and video games. To complete the questionnaire and get the opportunity to test the product, you need to be a student at ASU.

So where's Google in this picture? One of the questions from the form asks you if you have a Gmail account and if you are willing to get one. The product's name is "My World" and the logo shows a globe - this could be related to Google Earth. Google also owns a 3D modeling software that could be used to create avatars.

Arizona State University has a very close relation with Google: it's one of the first large universities in the US that uses Google Apps, the site search is powered by Google Search Appliance, the university uses Google Maps and the ASU campuses already have 3D models in... Google Earth. But there's actually more than this: the university offered photos for the Google Mars project, Google employees serve as guest speakers or adjunct lecturers at ASU and Google has an office on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University.

The speculation about a Google Earth Second Life started last year. "The notion that you can create objects and buildings and place them in a virtual world makes Google Earth sounds less like a mapping tool and more like a metaverse. What's a metaverse? Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson introduced the term in his seminal 1992 novel, Snow Crash. (...) In Stephenson's novel, millions of users uploaded customized "avatars," or virtual personalities, and strolled the street, entering shops and exclusive nightclubs, conversing and trading with the metaverse's other denizens." In fact, Snow Crash inspired the development of Google Earth.

{ via MacRumors }


  1. Will someone please tell me the attraction of Virtual Reality and Social Networks?

  2. I'm quite sure this has nothing to do with Google Earth. Its a new feature for Orkut where users can create and be part of virtual rooms(like communities) and have their 3d avatars that can move around, interact with others where conversations are shown in bubble boxes, like the Sims game inside a web browser!

  3. Here's an answer from Avi Bar-Ze'ev, co-founder of Keyhole, the company that built Google Earth (he doesn't work at Google anymore):

    "I, as always, don’t know Google’s plans (...). But I do know that their CTO has publicly stated that Google Earth will remain true to the real world. In other words, it won’t turn into Second Life with new islands, fictional and fantastic places (apart from real fantastic places), furries, and so on.

    However, he didn’t rule out avatars at some level, and I do think they’re likely at some point — specifically, when GE offers the ability to walk down the street and enter virtual stores. Once you can do that, it makes sense to be able to do that with friends, or just sit on a virtual street corner and hang out. Street View is a step in that direction. The same data could be used to make 3D models at street level. And there’s an effort paying people to digitize the insides of stores in major cities, at least in 2D. I’d give it two years or less for the technology issues to be worked out and for this to be possible.

    However, I still don’t expect that to be a full-blown social network, unless it’s more of a way for real people to meet or find each other. The next generation of 3D social networks will have the concept of your "home" in the virtual world in the same way that MySpace offers you a home on the web. You need some anchor point to tie all of your social links together and form a big social space (a graph without nodes is just a bunch of lines)."

  4. Oups,
    réservé aux étudiants américains.
    Dommage, je l'aurai bien testé.

  5. maybe the see CROQUET in their future (! One of the big boys really need to look at it ! (its opensource !)



  6. If Google creates a virtual world, it will be a perfect platform to deliver 3D ads.

    I would like to know if google will allow to interact with this "3D World" to
    Create your own virtual world.

  7. a Google-SL alliance would be better

  8. Got to be one of the most obnoxious, loaded, and downright rude answer choices I've ever seen, and I've taken the English/Vocab section of the SAT.

    I won't sign an NDA so you can't trust me?

    No, you can trust me to give you the finger if you ask me an obviously loaded question like that.

  9. Google CTO, no President Bush then?

    I saw the attached comment in the buzz going around about Google potentially starting a new 3d world.

    Quote - I, as always, don’t know Google’s plans (...). But I do know that their CTO has publicly stated that Google Earth will remain true to the real world. In other words, it won’t turn into Second Life with new islands, fictional and fantastic places (apart from real fantastic places), furries, and so on.Unqoute

    I immediately thought to myself, having had a few jars by that time, "no, it's up to George Dubya to make a surreal and unreal world, re-inventing borders and islands, goodies and baddies"

    Well intelligent response would have bored me and I could never get to the end of typing it if I did that!

  10. It is exciting to see how google uses 3D for changing the web.
    But there are other new sites that will create more exciting software like iZigoo.
    It is still in development but looks really promising.

  11. Social Networking, etc. is a way to 'hang out' with people on the Internet. It's a comfortable way for people to socialize without having to put on the social veneer that is often present in face-to-face interactions. But by eliminating one-on-one interaction, it limits socialization to that degree.

    It's also a way to communicate with people and exchange information without consideration of time and distance.

    So therefore it has a negative and positive aspect.

  12. Google im sure is trying to find the best way to do an sl type thing with ads. The people at google arent stupid and they probably have employees that play sl they may know how bad rl companies do in sl and why- instead of coming into sl and trying to find a way to do ads its easier for them to just see if they can re-create sl then they will know the back end and the front end. Hopefully the avitars dont look like the image or it will go poof

  13. It is definitely possible that Google is working with Makena Technologies and the platform. uses GMAX / 3DS to create 3D models that are submitted into the virtual world, and I've even seen Sketchup used to create models for inside Of course I am purely speculating.

    I know it would be great for [url=][/url]!

  14. Isn't it Lively:

  15. Google Earth - Copyright laws.?
    If i 'screen shot' a picture of a place from Google Earth, and i turn it into a picture, will it be okay to place it on my profile on social network sites? (e.g. Facebook, Friendster, etc.)