Friday, October 26, 2007

Looking at developing a meaningful online experience for children.

The Virtual Worlds Conference is wrapping up this week in London (Oct 23 - 26). An article posted on the BBC News [ Virtual worlds threaten 'values' ] caught my eye, a summary of the opening key note from Lord Puttnam.

BBC News stated that Puttnam "feared" most of the virtual worlds for kids offered nothing more than a way to sell products/services.

Further quoting Puttnam as saying "The challenge ahead is this - to ensure that virtual worlds are increasingly places that offer real meaning to their lives and in the real world to learn from the sense of community and collaboration that's been experienced in virtual worlds."

There was a panel of "virtual world creators" that focused on children's content that were there to respond. According to the BBC News article, most seemed to have a weak response to Puttnams' challenge.

Having said that, I remember when I was a kid and many articles/discussions occurred over the "dangers" of television for youth. Advertisers were targeting my young mind in between Yogi Bear and parents were used to being targeted through radio and print.

Is this scenario much different?

New generation of media - new generation of consumers.

Here are a couple of virtual world models to take a look at: Metaplace looks like a great idea....although there doesn't seem to be a place to sign-up and give it a try. Metaplace reported over 10,000 applications of keen alpha testers in the first week. In the world of tech testing...beta will be if you sign-up for may get a chance.

What is Metaplace? "Metaplace is a next-generation virtual worlds platform designed to work the way the Web does. Instead of giant custom clients and huge downloads, Metaplace lets you play the same game on any platform that reads our open client standard. We supply a suite of tools so you can make worlds, and we host servers for you so that anyone can connect and play. And the client could be anywhere on the Web." Kaneva is looking to bring social networking to a virtual world level. The website reports "think of Kaneva as Second Life meets MySpace, with a dash of thrown in - aimed not at tech-savvy teens but at a mainstream."

Users are able to new view and share YouTube videos through Kaneva.

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