Five Thoughts as Google Turns 20

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The original Google logo from 1998

Google was incorporated on Sept. 4th, 1998 in the garage of Susan Wojcicki (who is now the CEO of Google subsidiary YouTube), with an initial US$100,000 investment by Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim.

It’s hard to believe that this happened only twenty years ago. In those 20 years, Google (now known as Alphabet) has transformed society. The way we look for information. The way we ask for directions. The way we consume the news.

What lessons can we learn from the astonishing growth of Google?

First, those things which might seem unimportant at the time can have great impact. Larry Page’s PageRank algorithm, which relied on the links between web pages to determine the ranking of search results, was a simple idea that became very, very powerful. In fact, it spawned the whole industry of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is basically figuring out ways to improve your Google search ranking!

Second, never underestimate the power of networks. As the World Wide Web grew (and I remember a time when it was still called that!), the Google search engine only became more accurate and useful over time. The power of networks acts as an amplifier (you need no further proof of that than Donald Trump’s Twitter account).

Third, that being an early entry into a marketplace positions you for growth (call it “the Microsoft effect”). It’s not always true, but often enough, being first is better than being best when it comes to the Internet. As some entrepreneurs like to say: “ready, fire, aim”—it’s better to launch something early, then make constant adjustments to your course as you go along and learn from your mistakes. The fatal mistake is to wait until everything is perfect before taking action. Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t wait.

Fourth, that a lot can happen in a short period of time. We tend to underestimate just how quickly things can change in today’s society. The pace of technology is accelerating. Think ahead to 20 years from today—Sept. 8th, 2038. It might seem far away. But every day, it comes a step closer. Who will you be in that world, on that day? If I am still alive, I will be 74 years old and retired, perhaps feeling insecure and afraid in my old age as civilization charges ahead without me. What will I have seen in those twenty years? What will I regret doing? What will I regret not doing? What should I have been paying attention to, while I was busy doing something else? What will I have learned?

Finally, remember that the actions of individual people do make a difference in this world. Sergey Brin and Larry Page had an idea, and that idea changed the world. Philip Rosedale had a dream, and his dream became a daily reality for millions of people on dozens of metaverse platforms. Never doubt for one second that you are not capable of that same miraculous feat, in countless different ways, every single day.

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The Google logo today
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High Fidelity Sets a New Avatar Capacity Record: 356 Avatars in a Single Domain!

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I have to say this: I am really quite impressed with the level of innovation recently coming out of Philip Rosedale’s metaverse company High Fidelity. (It might be the result of all that new venture capital money they are spending!) Yesterday they had their third in a series of monthly stress tests of the virtual world platform, and they officially beat their old record by quite a margin: 356 avatars in a single HiFi domain!

They started off with a half-hour trivia game, where you had to stand on one of four coloured squares (A, B< C, or D) corresponding to what you thought was the correct answer to a posted trivia question. Each wrong answer teleported the losers automatically off the playing field (to watch from a raised platform on the sidelines) until there was only one winner left standing! There were a few glitches to the system, but overall it worked fairly well, and it was a fun way to start off the event!

The following picture of me standing in front of the main stage at The Spot with the official avatar counter in the background was taken by Andrew, who is the very hard-working producer and video editor of my upcoming pre-taped show, Metaverse Newscast. (High Fidelity hired him to be the official photographer at yesterday’s event!)

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We already have two taped segments of the first episode of Metaverse Newscast, and we hope to add a third segment and release the program to viewers sometime this fall. We’ll be interviewing the personalities behind social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse on various platforms, including High Fidelity in the future!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: A Fifteen-Minute Female Avatar Makeover for Free!

Time for another fifteen-minute Second Life avatar makeover!

Here’s the before (the starter Maria avatar; not bad, but definitely looking a bit dated):

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And here’s the after (now she’s all set for a night on the town!):

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Here’s a rear view to show you the lovely detail on the back of this daring little metallic minidress:

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This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Avatar Head and Body: Altamura Jenny (free from the Freebie Megastore in London City)

Hair: Leah hair in ash by Zalea (free gift); the HUD has 36 colour choices!

Dress: Faith gold metallic minidress by Justice (free group gift if you join the SL Frees & Offers group for free); the Maitreya Lara version of this dress fits the Altamura Jenny body well. The dress comes in three colours—gold, copper, and rose gold.

Shoes: gold Olivia heels (free gift from Ello); the Altamura Jenny body has Slink-compatible feet

Animation Override: Lucky Girl AO Basic Bento Mocap by Tuty (free)

Ankle Lock: by Baby Monkey (freebie from the blue bag on the reception desk)

TOTAL COST OF THIS AVATAR: FREE!

Hulk Hogan on Staramba Spaces

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Staramba Spaces (Remember them? The blockchain-based virtual world where you can be neighbours with Paris Hilton?) has been busy uploading promo videos to Vimeo. Among the celebrities called upon to shill for Staramba Spaces is Hulk Hogan:

“Come train with Hulk Hogan! Come hang out on the beach with Hulk Hogan! Come surf on a tiger shark with Hulk Hogan!”

Uhhh… gimme a sec to think about this… how about…

NO. 

As I have said before:

How much interaction with real celebrities will you actually get, with all this talk of “lifelike scans” of celebrities and soccer stars? Why would you want to hang out with a 3D scan of a famous person in the first place?

I would dearly love to see the market research that shows people are willing to spend money hanging out with a 3D scanned likeness of Hulk Hogan, for any reason.

As far as I can tell, all that Staramba seems to have at this point, that its competitors do not, is a large and growing collection of 3D celebrity scans that they can (possibly) animate. How exactly does that translate into a virtual world platform that people will want to visit? How will people interact with Paris Hilton and Hulk Hogan? It sounds like Staramba Spaces is creating a version of Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. “Get closer to the stars!”

I just don’t think this idea is going to fly. (Sorry, Hulk!)