Second Life, and IBM announced last night that they have achieved the first recorded teleport of their avatars from one virtual world into another. Researchers from the two companies teleported avatars from the Second Life Preview Grid to an OpenSim virtual world.Staff of Linden Labs, the creators of virtual world
While unaffiliated parties have created versions of this process before, Linden says theirs is the first effort to achieve trans-world teleportation without logging out of one world and logging in to the other. No virtual goods were transported across the barrier, a major concern for Second Lifers concerned with virtual property theft and rapid depreciation of their assets' value.
We wrote about initial interoperability discussions when they began in October. Author Nick Carr brought up then, only partly tongue in cheek, the concern that World of Warcraft avatars could attack and conquer parts of Second Life if they were allowed to pass from world to world.
All concerns aside for the moment, the possibilities are very exciting. Below is a corny but appropriate video produced about the event. (Removed until autoplay issue resolved, but available in the original announcement.)
Linden faces widespread user dissatisfaction about its platform's stability, intellectual property protection and other concerns. A lively discussion in comments on the announcement is a good place to get a look at the public mood.
Interoperability across virtual worlds could be an important step in maintaining the viability of Second Life. As an increasing number of virtual worlds proliferate, user and digital asset data portability is as likely to be essential for Second Life as it will be for other platforms online. Walled gardens will face increasing competition from the open world at large, so taking a leadership role in enabling that openness is a good way to thrive in the coming era of openness and portability.
You can laugh at Second Life and you can complain about it if you want, but we are excited about this news. Cynicism may have its place, but we'd argue that today isn't the time for it.
We congratulate Linden and IBM for their achievement and are excited to see what will come of this big step. Watch for news about the general availability of this functionality - once policy concerns are dealt with or once outside parties figure out how to achieve the same thing.