If you weren’t spending enough time on the website you are reading, Google is trying to provide a new reason to stay a little longer: Lively. Lively is a new virtual world system for websites. The system is currently only available for Windows users though so for all you Mac users, you are just going to have to wait. What’s so spectacular about these virtual worlds?
Not much really aside from being able to interact with other avatars on any given website. I spent a good hour trying to get Lively working properly yesterday and finally pulled it off after a reboot of my computer. The software appears to work well if you are looking to build a virtual home on your site. I’m just not quite sure how this really helps improve user interaction though.
Rather than actually talking with people via the GChat back-end chat system which users talk over, most people end up moving around and clicking on random items in the virtual world. In theory, each site has their own custom world that they build and different conversations can take place in them. I’m just not so sure that this is the best platform for encouraging dialog. Instead it’s a great way to look at some virtual eye candy.
If you have a PC and want to be part of the Social Times virtual world, check out the embedded virtual world below. I can see this having larger implications in the long run but for now this is clearly an experiment which could end a number of small startups focused on people building their virtual homes. I don’t think this is going to attract many of the users from Secondlife though. We’ll have to wait and see.