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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 }

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