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Another New Virtual World.... There

Boot Camp feature for Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Another new tool for socializing on the net. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Email, instant messaging and chat rooms are how millions of people interact with each other these days. For the last four years a company called There, Incorporated... with its roots at Stanford University... has been developing a new communication application. VP for strategic initiatives Robert Gehorsam...

"There is really the first online getaway where people can play and talk in a very, very natural way and do really fun things together. If you look at what has happened in the online world and you look at how people actually use the Internet, what's really striking is they use it for communication."

There envisions online worlds where people are represented by onscreen characters or avatars. This kind of thing has been tried before without attracting a lot of takers. But says Gehorsam...

"Part of the four years that we have spent in this stealthy development has been really refining the expressiveness of our avatars. A lot of times in other 3D games and worlds people run around as almost stick figures in terms of their expression. Ours are very emotive and there's a lot of nuance to the facial expressions, the body language. When a group of people are together, in the world, it really feels like you're there."

Will There get anywhere? I'm skeptical. Virtual worlds have vanished before. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.