A couple of years ago on the Second Life forums a few of us were wondering why Linden Lab wasn’t using Second Life as the core for a bigger social network. I recall key words from one of my own posts in that discussion, but like the “trademark” threads, the thread I’m seeking is apparently unavailable. However, the basic idea resurfaced later in my comments to a post discussing Yahoo!’s branded avatars (reLink). From that comment:
Iâ€™ve been wondering why LL doesnâ€™t build a system with SL at the core; everything from hosted e-commerce to blogs. My3DSpace. Given their comments on branded avatars, I have a feeling someone at LL has been thinking along those lines.
Unfortunately for Linden Lab, if they were thinking about doing something along those lines they didn’t move quickly enough. Mark Wallace over on 3pointD has posted (Link) that Kaneva, a company I’d read about some time ago, appears to be doing just what I’d described.
Originally I thought Kaneva was all about providing an easy-to-use MMORPG engine, but going back now and doing some reading it appears they were more. In fact, they appear to have had all the pieces, only not the glue. Or the publicity; if you check out their history, they were basically chasing the same model Multiverse is currently pursuing. Their apparent shift in focus from MMORPG’s to virtual worlds probably hit, I’m guessing, around the same time we were having that discussion. Recall that MySpace was making headlines in mid-2005 when it was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. That was only about a month after Kaneva started getting some press mostly focused on the MMO side of their offering (Link 1, Link 2). But I can just imagine a collective light bulb going on above the heads of those at Kaneva when MySpace was sold.
This sort of thing was inevitable, imo. The only surprise was who it is that’s doing it (and given what I’ve learned about Kaneva, I shouldn’t have been). More important to me is that this news is related to what I’ve been pondering about more and more lately: imagine the same kind of hybridized social networking system implemented for Spore and it’s content distribution system. It’s not hard to extrapolate from there, so I’ll let you do that on your own.