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IBM and Sun Launch Intranet Metaverses 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the meet-me-in-thunder-bluff dept.
wjamesau writes "Sun and IBM have launched intranet metaverses designed for business and built to work behind their corporate firewalls, so their worldwide employees can use them to collaborate together. Most interesting to game developers, IBM (which also runs a private, no public access Second Life island as a development lab) created their intranet world from the 3D Torque engine from Garage Games. Will the metaverse actually be thousands of gated community metaverses?"
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IBM and Sun Launch Intranet Metaverses

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  • It is. (Score:4, Funny)

    by affliction (242524) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:02PM (#19155915) Homepage
    This is the worst fucking idea ever.
    • Re:It is (Score:4, Funny)

      by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:37PM (#19156233) Homepage Journal
      Not really. They ARE going to play games on company time. At least this way the employer can sort of put a cap on it. ( And freeze your avatar when you are behind on a deadline )
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)
        And when it comes to layoff time, they can see who spends the most time online.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        If you've ever played Second Life, then you know that it's really a fancy chat room. IBM, and lots of other companies, run on Sametime (IBM's Lotus branded chat program, works pretty much like AIM or any other chat program).

        I'm not surprised that there's a new chat-room product built like Second Life. I just wonder if it meets the business requirements as well as or better than the chat program we already use.
    • by pete6677 (681676)
      It reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon about intranet collaboration tools [itcilo.org].
    • by Benaiah (851593)
      Why don't they just play WoW instead. I think it will be about as productive and get some team work going :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by creimer (824291)
      You don't get it. This is the first step in IBM's plan fire 150,000 workers world-wide and then hire virtual people to the virtual work that they plan to charge at real prices. It's a brillant strategy!
    • Don't join.

      I heard they are suffering from global warming.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you don't understand how a 3D virtual world can extend internal communications way beyond the limits of mail, IM, webpages, etc, then you have no insight.

      95% of the responses to this story show how riddled with dumb, non-tech plebs Slashdot has become. Pretty sad.

      Fortunately companies like Sun and IBM still have techs and planners who can see beyond the end of their noses on issues like this. Yet all you can do is criticize with empty insults or cheap shots for +Funny mods. I guess there's no shortage
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by skarphace (812333)

        If you don't understand how a 3D virtual world can extend internal communications way beyond the limits of mail, IM, webpages, etc, then you have no insight.

        Yet I don't see you trying to school us ignoramuses.

        Fact is, it's not really that great of an idea. It's noting like real life where you have limitless expressions, can write on white boards in front of them, assemble models, etc. Now if they pack that into the 'metaverse' engine, then maybe it could be useful.

        However, IM, Webpages, e-Mail, a

    • by Yogs (592322)
      Businesses, especially big ones, do really stupid stuff all the time.

      The thing that's remarkable here is that the stupid stuff doesn't just have a flawed line of reasoning behind it, it has NO reasoning behind it. I mean, anyone, give me any reason, any reason at all for this as opposed to chat and videoconferencing. Physical organization is lame compared to virtual. Why simulate physical organization in a virtual environment?

      So, this will go nowhere, on a budget large by sane standards and tiny by big c
  • IBM (which also runs a private, no public access Second Life island as a development lab)
    I wonder how long until pranksters start breaking into these systems to put in an appearance as a merry prankster.
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      flying penises
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mbook (782023)
      It's been a while since I read Snow Crash, but I think Hiro Protagonist spent most of his time in two "gated communities" -- the Black Sun (a private club) and Rife's HQ (heavy security to keep out the uninvited). Not much time spent in public spaces. Seems like you'd want both public and private spaces, just like in Real Life.
      • by thc69 (98798)
        I can't believe I had to scroll down five pages of comments before I saw one about the metaverse gated communities in Snow Crash...
    • im in ur boardroom, readin ur pwrpointz
  • Try Croquet (Score:4, Informative)

    by MarkWatson (189759) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:03PM (#19155933) Homepage
    Check out http://www.opencroquet.org/index.php/Main_Page [opencroquet.org]

    Open source and well funded, based on Squeak Smalltalk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuantumG (50515)
      Could have been worse I suppose.. you could have said it was based on LISP.

      Go read The End Of History And The Last Programming Language.

      Stop living in denial.
      • I decided to go on Google and see what that book was about, and guess what? The book is old and its major prediction, that nobody will ever use OO because "MOOOOOOOOOOMYYYYYYYY, IT'S TOO COMPLICATED!", has pretty much fallen apart.
        As for living "in denial", it worked pretty well for Paul Graham.
    • Open source and well funded, based on Squeak Smalltalk.

      I have wanted to give it a go for a while. The only download seems to be the SDK. Does that mean you have to write code to get it working at all?

      I tried to get the SDK via a torrent once but I got an error from bittorrent and didn't take it further. It seems rude these days to download 70M at a time from one server.

  • WTF? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    WTF is a metaverse?

  • Can you do mo-cap without getting into a blue lycra suit with dots all over your body?

    How about doing multiple humans at the same time?

    Can it be done in real time?

    Ok, great. How about making a system that can take a video feed from a web cam (with pivot and tilt) and map the body and facial movements of the humans it is look at onto models in a 3d environment?

    Then I can collaborate with my co-workers on the other side of the world at the weekly meeting with more to go on than just their voice over the spea
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Osty (16825)

      Then I can collaborate with my co-workers on the other side of the world at the weekly meeting with more to go on than just their voice over the speaker phone.

      Or you could use any of the existing videoconferencing hardware/software and actually see their real faces. Sure, that's not quite as cool, but I bet it's several times more productive and it already exists.

      • by maharg (182366)

        Or you could use any of the existing videoconferencing hardware/software and actually see their real faces.

        Sometimes that's not what you want ;o)

        Sure, that's not quite as cool,

        Agreed, not sure how it helps you argument though.

        but I bet it's several times more productive

        You don't offer any evidence. Do you have experience in this area ? I would say that a virtual world is more productive in some ways - for instance, in the videoconferencing scenario, there really isn't a way to continue interacting after the conference is done. Everyone disconects from the conference, and that's it. In the virtual world, it is possible to have a conversation with your virtualised colleagues as you le

    • by Jaxoreth (208176)

      How about doing multiple humans at the same time?
      I've done this, but only in virtual reality.
  • Answer. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:08PM (#19155991)
    Will the metaverse actually be thousands of gated community metaverses?

    No, that's just silly. A metaverse will be a single line of the first metapoem.
  • I thought I might go like a whole week without seeing "second life" mentioned on /. Reset the clock!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radarsat1 (786772)
      heheh... seriously though, I think something like Second Life will only really take off when an open-source, decentralized metaverse comes along. Though, even then... I dunno. VRML didn't really work out.

      But the idea of being able to visit rooms hosted on people's computers, and finding other rooms by walking through doors ("hyperlinks") might actually be interesting.. you walk through a door and are then in a room hosted on another server. Common protocol, running on whatever operating system. The probl
      • No, Second Life sucks because it's pointless. If you want to "collaborate" (awful word), call somebody on the phone. Send them an email. Write them a letter. Why do you need a poorly rendered world to get work done? You don't.
        • Re:wow... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fimbulvetr (598306) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:14AM (#19161207)
          Send them an email

          I'm sure people said "We don't need email, just call them on the phone!".

          call somebody on the phone

          I'm sure people said "We don't need phones, just write them a letter!".

          Write them a letter

          I'm sure people said (gestured:)?) "We don't need to write letters, just stay in our hunter-gatherer band!"

          While I don't want to imply that Second Life is the next communication revolution, I do want you to notice the trend. Just because something exists that can accomplish roughly the same thing, doesn't mean it won't kick the other one's ass.

          It's called progress, buddy, and it's telescoping, whether you like it or not.
          • I'm fairly sure that you missed his point.

            It's not that other ways exist - it is that Second Life is shit.

            This was a public service announcement, honest.
      • by agentk (74906)
        Open source system for interoperable 3D environments: http://www.interreality.org/ [interreality.org]
        (Also useful for other stuff than 3D!)

        And we've put a lot of work into trynig to design a flexible structured system, and also actually making the networking perform efficiently for this application (no conneccting to random SQL databases or using HTTP over TCP sockets and stuff like that!)

        Check it out. We're currently revising a some of the core library, but we will soon need people to help make the end user application have
        • Well that fast forwards my plans for world domination up... oh about 5 years.

          Say have you selected a scripting language, and if not would you consider Tcl/Tk?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by stonecypher (118140)

        seriously though, I think something like Second Life will only really take off when an open-source, decentralized metaverse comes along.

        I don't. From my (admittedly limited) experience as a commercial game designer, I believe that Second Life's primary two benefits are the open scripting (obvious) and the size of the player base (less so.) The game that got famous inside Second Life, called Tringo, is an excellent example. What Second Life brought to Tringo's author wasn't a scripting enviroment s/he cou

  • Sun and IBM? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Necroman (61604)
    Why are Sun and IBM collaborating on something like this? They tend to be direct competitors in many markets...
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:24PM (#19156125) Journal
      They've leveraged forces to combine synergies to collaboratively multitask new paradigms for shitcanning their entire US work force.
      • by tttonyyy (726776)
        Before you start solutioneering, lets have a sense check and rationalise the paradigm shift towards metaverse solution providers. I want this project firing on all cylinders! Ratify some face-time - I'd like to stir-fry some ideas in your mind-wok.
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      by working together they can instantiate new markets() to compete in.
    • Re:Sun and IBM? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:33AM (#19156631) Homepage Journal
      Sun doesn't work like that. The corporate culture is not one of zero sum economics. They don't think they have to conquer the market like an effective short french general to somehow "win". Their bread and butter is making new markets and serving customer needs better in existing markets.
      • by allenw (33234)
        ... and in the mean time, they are losing old and potentially new customers to Linux because they are too busy screwing around with things that "someone might use someday" (as the person who gave the presentation about raising the limits on the number of nics said) vs. revamping and upgrading other critical toolsets. [C'mon: This is 2007. Why isn't rsync being bundled yet? Jumpstart is great and all, but why can't I mirror *and* patch without having to worry about blowing up my root filesystem or doing
        • by QuantumG (50515)
          Yep, all those researchers at Sun Labs should just get busy on fixing the problems at Sun Microsystems.. I mean, shit, are they too good to work on existing projects?

          Or, ya know, maybe they have nothing to do with that stuff and we're just being a little unfair here.
    • Re:Sun and IBM? (Score:4, Informative)

      by hutchike (837402) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:20AM (#19156943) Homepage Journal
      Sun and IBM are not collaborating on this. Sun is using its Darkstar [sun.com] gaming server to deliver Menlo Park 2.0 [sun.com]. IBM is using a private island in Second Life [secondlife.com]. No connection - just a similar initiative.
  • by spoco2 (322835) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:30PM (#19156175)
    I mean, why spend all that time building your altered reality avatar, the altered reality objects for demoing etc. (they show sun objects in one of the video demos)... why spend all that time navigating around a virtual world (which has to be built) and doing things in the virtual space when really you should be actually working?

    I work from home every couple of weeks, and really the biggest thing I would like is a live video link to the colleges I most often talk to, having to break from working to go into a virtual world to talk to colleges is just such crud.

    They show their 'virtual boardroom', which has video streams from other locations. Why bother with the virtual boardroom at all? What's wrong with just having video feeds?

    Urgh... this is almost doing something for doing something's sake, without actually considering how useful it really is.
    • by chatgris (735079)
      Well, off the top of my head if there are a more than one or two other people, having a boardroom would give a physical reference to select a video stream to view.

      What's wrong with adding a virtual boardroom?
      • by spoco2 (322835)
        All the video showed was a board room with a wall with video streams coming in to choose from, why do you have to go through the hassle of firing up a 3d world, walking your avatar to the boardroom, aligning your in game view to the screen properly etc?

        All you should do is fire up a webpage or app that has the video streams on it, end of story
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not much of a visionary are you. This isn't meant for people like you that work from home every so often. This is meant for the workforce of the future that NEVER goes into the office. Sun is a company that has been trying to move the majority of its own workforce home for a while and has learned some valuable lessons about human nature and work from home programs.

      For instance, without physical presences, many colleagues and managers have a natural tendency to believe you are not working or that they are
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "why spend all that time navigating around a virtual world (which has to be built) and doing things in the virtual space when really you should be actually working?"

      Why spend all that time navigating around the WWW (which has to be built) and doing things in the these websites when really you should be actually working?

      The problem is that a lot of people see the metaverse as a "Game". A better way to think of it is as the next extension of the web. You don't have a game client, you have a 3D browser.

      Webpage
      • Webpages are not always fully interactive. But lets say if you turned up at a webpage and you saw three other people viewing it at the same time. You could chat to them, find out if they found something interesting or maybe they have a common field you need a question answered on.

        Um, you mean, like, this [slashdot.org]?

        • Correct only a 3D representation.
          • by neomunk (913773)
            That is honestly the very first time I've tried to imagine avatars for the various slashdotters, and I nearly shit myself laughing.

            All the little astroturfers in their virtual ties in case a boss wanders through (in a double sized ego boosting power avatar) to check if they are earning that paycheck.

            All the oldschool linux hippies running around in full pixilated nudity, expressing their freedom.

            All the REALLY hardcore slack and gentoo peeps runnign around in optimized featureless single colored textures. (
    • by drerwk (695572)
      Agree with Parent completely.
      In the early 90s I was doing some VRML work and I was shown the future of media research by one of our collaborators. They had created a virtual library. You started in the lobby and had to take an escalator to the second floor. I've seen more bad UI than good in my career but that was special.
  • by rhs.coder (1068158) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:41PM (#19156271)
    "Will the metaverse actually be thousands of gated community metaverses?"

    I sure hope not. If the Stephensonian concept of a Metaverse were ever to take off in full cyberpunk force--VR goggles, gloves, and fiber lines in all glory--I sure don't want it to be a community of gated communities.

    The entire idea of a Metaverse embolized existentialist absurdity: the idea of an "unending avenue of lights," 24 hours a day, is supposed to suspend reality. We're supposed to make this irrational and, frankly, just have fun with it.

    For the thousands who don't work for IBM, Sun, or have some other connections, a gated Metaverse will be a bad place and waste of time. Not everyone (especially those who have few friends in real life) will have these connections. A Metaverse could be the perfect place to interact and meet others who want nothing else to do but relax and enjoy a little digital vice. This triumphs over EQ or WoW because you DON'T have a goal: it's not competitive and you can just relax.

    In short: a filfilling Metaverse could be a great place for the (bored/lonely/connectionless/antisocial). Making it a world of gated communities will only make it some fancy social party.
    • I don't know if it triumphs over the traditional MMO or not, because those games allow the formation and obtainment of goals. I mean, I personally feel better about wasting time in those type of games than I do watching a movie, or simply chatting online BECAUSE I can at least point out to myself that I accomplished something. Niel Stephenson type metaverse is a nice Idea, but I think we are more likely to see a version closer to Tad Williams Otherlands novels. Not exactly gated communities, but somewhe
    • Never read Neromancer? Stephenson and everybody else who did CyberPunk coped off of Gibson. Gibson coined the tern Cyberspace in his short story Burning Chrome, the very idea you just described, and perfected it in the books Neromancer, Mona Lisa Over Drive, and Count Zero. The idea of "full cyberpunk force--VR goggles, gloves, and fiber lines in all glory--" is hardly the idea of Stephenson, as talented as he may be.
    • You just described both William Gibson's world and —brace yourself— Second Life! Yes, I know many people here hate the guts of SL, but this is exactly what it tries to be. Whether they achieve it or not is debatable, and there is the matter of it being centralized rather than distributed but that's just the idea behind it.
    • The entire idea of a Metaverse embolized existentialist absurdity: the idea of an "unending avenue of lights," 24 hours a day, is supposed to suspend reality. We're supposed to make this irrational and, frankly, just have fun with it.

      I disagree. This is your subjective reading of the Metaverse. Objectively, the metaverse did not symbolize anything, rather, it was a technological commodity that people found to be very useful and fun. It is a tool. I don't know what you find absurd about this, and you

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I sure hope not. If the Stephensonian concept of a Metaverse were ever to take off in full cyberpunk force--VR goggles, gloves, and fiber lines in all glory--I sure don't want it to be a community of gated communities.

      What you are missing is that the Stephensonian concept of the Metaverse is a community of gated communities.

      It's a good thing I came out as a geek a long time ago, because this comment would leave no doubt.

      The equipment that draws the street and other non-internal environs belongs to L. Bob

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:01AM (#19156815) Homepage Journal
    Those virtual worlds aren't "metaverses". "Meta" means "beyond", not "inside", which is "endo". If anything, real life is the metaverse of these endoverses.
    • "...dispensing pain than you or I will ever know."

      Ok, I rate this comment because it mentions Endo and Endo is cool.

      However, You've given the Greek meaning of "meta". The Geek meaning is an extension (a "metameta" if you will...) of this, meaning "based on", "connected to" or "extension of".

      None of which matters because "metaverse" was coined by a novelist. Fiction writers use what's called "poetic license" so the invented word or phrase cannot be judged against the same rules to which "science" (bwah

      • "Meta" means "after" or "beyond", as in Plato's "Metaphysics", so called because it was bound in a volume subsequent to Plato's "Physics", so it was the book "after" Physics on a bookshelf.

        The universe beyond the real one is "heaven" or the imagination (or nothing), depending on your faith. These virtual universes are contained within the real one, and so are "endo", as in "endodontic", "inside the teeth".

        I am a writer, of Slashdot comments at least, and so I have used my own prose license to correct the wo
  • Ever since the days of Neromancer this idea of "gated communities owned by mega corporations" has been around. Gibson saw it right. This will happen and the "Metaverse" world of "CyberPunk style Cyberspace" will be the providence of the rich and powerful. Enjoy the days of the "Free Internet" where people like us have a say, as small as it may be. It won't last long.....
  • as a developer I think I would hate this idea. Having to go into a virtual world to collaborate? Email and IM is just fine.

    Also most of the time when I'm writing code, having another channel of interruptions is just suicide. Already with email, IM, phone, and in person interruptions its difficult to get 2-3 hours of solid coding in in a day. Add this to the mix, who knows, if at any time someone can just jump on and request a meeting on the thing...
  • Just maybe we're already all in a metaverse, making these fully contained microverses.
  • It is spelled Underverse. Once there you are forced to join legions of coders programming for the grand ruler, the MCP. Eventually you come to terms with your metalife, metawife and your metapaycheck. Your only hope for survival is successfully saving against MCP (metachlorian count + roll). You must seek out the golden D20 of Yendor! Go forth adventurer... don't forget your towel!
  • Finally, a reason to keep buying more powerful processors. Even if much is offloaded to the graphics board, all the intermeshed video, real time gesture and what the heck else will all be good for the bottom line if a metaverse is required for business. They've been salivating about this for years. No more having to fund music startups and whoever else comes up with a product that requires serious processing (had a friend who got investment from them for such a purpose).


    Torque sounds neat but extremely expensive. Just how much did IBM spend on liscensing it and how much to upgrade hardware to support it? And is it that good? They could also have invested in becoming the top sponsor of croquet too, though it seems to require significant resources. (in terms of max. people in a room, and also how well it works on different pcs - I've had it crash mainly due to a gl bug I think or fail to run on a number of machines).

    • No, no, and no. (Score:3, Informative)

      Throwing out a guess: I'm guessing that croquet is slower than torque, given that croquet is written in Squeak, and I can't get Squeak to run on my 64-bit machine, haven't even considered trying dual-core. Guessing (again) that Torque is written in something like C++ or C#, and thus, will be able to do both of these things -- and it's probably easier to port a game engine than an entire language.

      Also, Second Life is not what you should be using to measure how much horsepower this takes. Pretty much anything
      • by mattr (78516)
        Thanks for your detailed comment. I certainly will take a closer look at it. I meant expensive because somewhere I saw a 300,000 dollar charge for a company, or a IIRC 1500 price tag. I am not clear on how much better graphics need to be, if the rendering engine is written in C. That is, if you just wanted to rotate an object for example you could build it in Perl or C and the rendering would be the same speed.. as someone showed. However of course Torque is a very comprehensive system built with different
  • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:12AM (#19157613)
    Now we now Sun has totally lost it.

    But wait, no, if they can make all our development and design tools run INSIDE their 3D world, on virtual computers, and make their workers use the virtual computers to work, then we know they lost it.

    Seeing from what we have here though, I wouldn't be surprised if they're already working on it.
  • by NetCow (117556)
    ... as opposed to collaborating apart, I assume?
  • This is the same crap that people said about VRML in the 90's. That didn't go anywhere and this won't either, regardless of how many media idiots proclaim that things like Second Life are the new frontier.

    And isn't it interesting that crap like Second Life and it's ilk still look like 90's VRML?
  • Hi, I am a great cyber punk science fiction buff, and so, I'll take it upon myself to explain what the metaverse is. The metaverse is a 3D representation of reality that is fully networked. Instead of a website, you would have a block of real estate on "the street". It's essentially the internet with 3d goggles. The term metaverse was coined by Neil Stephenson in the book "Snow Crash". However, Stephenson's metaverse bears a striking similarity to :cyberspace" as coined by William Gibson in the book
    • Hi, I am a great cyber punk science fiction buff, and so, I'll take it upon myself to explain what the metaverse is.

      On behalf of the two science fiction non-fans that read Slashdot, I thank you. Note that I'm not such a person, and I haven't knowingly met one, but I'm sure they're here. Maybe.

  • by Morrigu (29432) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:10AM (#19159977) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it's inevitable that the metaverse will start off as individual islands. Look at the history of computer networks - they started off as individual LANs, then people started bolting on wide-area connectivity through the phone network, and then after a great deal of work you get to something like ARPAnet [wikipedia.org] circa 1977 with its disparate links to military, commercial and educational sites. And then it takes another 15 or 20 years to get to the point where an average PC user can easily get connected and Do Something Useful on the Internet.

    Since the usefulness of networks is directly related to the number of users connected to them, it makes sense that eventually these isolated corporate worlds will set up interconnections, bridges, tunnels, whatever to let people wander back and forth. And eventually there will be public interfaces, and inter-world-networks.

    I see Sun + IBM's work on this and Second Life and World of Warcraft and all the other current worlds as something akin to old information services like CompuServe or GEnie or Delphi. Eventually they'll come to their senses and allow greater interconnectivity, and once the protocols get standardized, they'll end up selling different add-ons or levels of service or GUIs for your metaverse experience. WoW may be selling awesome fantasy-style avatars and Blizzard goodies for PvE/PvP games, and IBM may be selling four- or five-nines reliability and excellent customer service.

    Of course, I'll be 65 years old by then and will *still* get my butt kicked by random 13-year-olds in deathmatches. :)
  • Isnt This just another word for...... a LAN?
  • Somewhat sadly, after a moment of thinking about company metaverse-meetings, I pictured a conference table surrounded by WoW, EQ2, Anarchy Online, and SL avatars.

    And you just know that some people would show up with opposite-sex avatars too.
  • Will the metaverse actually be thousands of gated community metaverses?


    To a certain extent, of course it will. Just like "the world wide web" itself has lots of "gated communities" of various types. Really, "the metaverse" is a lot like "the web" with a different UI metaphor.
  • I was going to post something like this on an internal company mailing list as an April Fools joke - I didn't know it already existed. Guess I must be new here.

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