You've heard jokes about "empty islands" - and granted that is true for some in Second Life, while at the other end of the spectrum it's difficult to give a presentation with more than 30 people in attendance given the design of the SL system. And if Gartner's new report, Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2008 is right, we're in trough on the virtual worlds front.
Now comes Just Leap In a newcomer from Canada which, at first blush, sounds like none of the others and could beat Google's Lively in everything except name recognition. The first clue? You don't have to search through Google's annoying database-like setup of questions and answers to figure out how to move around. That alone makes Just Leap In worth a second look.
Obviously multitudes of people and organizations seem ready to leap in and ride a coming wave that follows a downturn in new technology, ways of working, or clamor about the latest shiny thing.
When it comes to virtual spaces, the question that naturally comes up is who will be THERE to interact with? Will Second Life and WOW be the places to be just because - in spite of glitches and things we wish were different - we can overlook the flaws because of what they allow us to do? Will they thrive, like twitter because that's where the people we know ARE?
Or do we care? Will it be something else that lures us to use a virtual space?
How about future virtual worlds as a conduit to interact with ideas, information, entertainment and things we create or bring in from elsewhere on the web?
As an option for education, presentations, networking and meeting with colleagues and friends from around the globe without conferences, travel, time and expense, it's my feeling that virtual worlds will continue to shine. And that's the least of the potential.