Beautiful Browsers: Therapy for the Mainstream
March 25, 2009, 3:34 pm
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Everywhere I turn these days, someone is reminding me that virtual worlds like Second Life or Opensim will never reach ‘mainstream’ adoption until everyday ordinary web users can access them through special plug-ins downloaded for those precious 2d web browsers we love so much.  Lots of serious programmers are hot on the heels of this holy grail of technologies, but if you’re among those millions who are allegedly out there in the ‘mainstream’ who refuse to explore virtual worlds until you can see it through your browser, wait no more!

I’ve created a special ‘Placebo Browser’ you can attach to your avatar, which provides the illusion that you’re still inside your browser!**  Just to reinforce the full effect, the browser is double-sided, so people you meet inside the virtual world will see you framed inside that beautiful browser as well!   Send an IM request to Keystone Bouchard, and I’ll provide you with a free copy of the ‘Placebo Browser’ so you can finally begin to experience the metaverse from the safe, cozy and artificial comfort of a 2D web browser.

** Warning: Using a Placebo Browser can have serious side-effects such as others laughing at you, sometimes hysterically.  Other side effects may include the obscuring of part of your screen, and the slight but potential risk that you may eventually want to remove the browser attachment in order to see the full virtual world experience full-screen.  Be sure to check with your IT professional to be sure Placebo Browser is right for you.

Seriously folks… we’re talking about a 22 +/- mb download (many 3D browser plug-ins and the subsequent content downloads are the same or far greater).  This takes less than 40 seconds to download on average broadband.  I realize browser integration is key for accessing virtual worlds behind a firewall (though I’m told many plug-ins are equally restricted), but is this the only way?

While I’m at it, I also don’t think poor orientation or the presence of X-rated content is the big bottleneck either (there’s X-rated content and poor orientation in Manhattan, but people still do business there…).  I think its those annoying bugs that haven’t changed in years and years.  Its the lag, the gray goo, the forever-blurry textures that never seem to rez, the naked-avatar bugs, the lack of model interoperability, heck – even the name “Second Life” itself!  Does it really have to be something ‘secondary’ or an alternative to my first life?  I certainly don’t see it that way.  One of the most exciting things about opensim is that I can simply tell people ‘I’m doing work in opensim’ and people are genuinely curious about what that is, and how it works.  Compare that with the smirky, ‘you gotta be kidding me’ reaction I get when I tell people I work in Second Life.

Yeah, maybe lack of browser integration is what’s keeping virtual worlds from the mainstream.  Its certainly worth a try.

Whatever it takes.