Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, along with worldwide giant IBM have announced today a partnership among them to spur the development of 3D virtual worlds. Their goal is to create new tools and "methodologies" based on open standards, encouraging virtual environments that allow people to really "traverse" the internet.
While the idea of having to "login" as a virtual person to walk around from website to website seems very odd to me, it is an idea that IBM sees as huge with a lot of practical application, in all aspects of the Internet:
IBM and Linden Labs today announced they will work with a broad community of partners to drive open standards and interoperability to enable avatars – the online persona of visitors to these online worlds – to move from one virtual world to another with ease, much like you can move from one website to another on the Internet today.
They have established a list of particular things they want to offer as standard, such as "universal" avatars to travel between servers, which would retain information like identity information and "digital assets" (hint: DRM). They also are looking for tight integration with existing businesses and their websites, and a set of open protocols that many people can use.
It's definitely a huge undertaking. I can't really picture donning goggles, wandering around a virtual park to visit a virtual company and have a virtual lunch with a virtual sales rep, but obviously other people can. Who knows, it might just be fun. You can read more about the endeavor in the full press release at IBM's site.