Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tunneling between the Web and Second Life

James Wagner Au picked up in his New World Notes a very interesting development worth highlighting. Heretofore, Second Life existed as a self-contained environment. That is, once someone enters Second Life, he cannot access websites or other Internet content outside of Second Life. Similarly, someone surfing the 'net cannot access Second Life content.

Well, all that is about to change. A British teenager named Katharine Berry has created AjaxLife, an open-source viewer of Second Life content. What that means is that someone can access Second Life from within a browser like Firefox. Absent AjaxLife, one could enter Second Life only by using a separate application provided by Linden Lab. Although AjaxLife's capabilities are pretty limited right now (NWN: "you can use the SL map, teleport, chat and IM, and check your friend/L$ status, and that's pretty much it"), Katharine has released the code under a BSD license. The coding community can now think of all sorts of improvements and applications for AjaxLife.

The linking of the Internet and Second Life is potentially very significant. The most obvious benefit is that more people may start using Second Life, and current users could increase their SL activity. Bypassing a stand-alone SL application puts fewer demands on a computer's resources, thus enabling (theoretically) less powerful computers to access Second Life. Moreover, if someone wants to chat with a friend or attend a meeting in SL, all they would need to do is open a new tab in their browser.

Be sure to also check out Katharine's AjaxLife blog, as well as Adam Reuters's interview with her.