Is SecondLife a pre-cursor to a new version of the world wide web ? Let us take a close look at how SecondLife is very similar ( or dissimilar ) to the web in general.
The web is one of the many applications ( like chat, smtp-mail, ftp ) that runs on the IP infrastructure of the internet. Of course it is the most popular application. SL is also another application complete with a client and a server.
The web consists of websites ( or groups of websites ) that individuals build and hope to draw traffic to. SL consists of islands, regions and individual 'properties' that people build and hope to draw traffic to.
On a website, you can do various things .. make it 'beautiful', both visually as well as with music etc, to increase its attractiveness. You can also enable your website to hold chat sessions, or enable it with eCommerce to transact business.
Properties and regions on SL can also traverse the same path. They can initially be simply 'beautiful' places to be in .. but they can be (and are being ) enhanced to support commercial transactions.
Going forward, I forsee a vast variety of regions, some simply beautiful, some for fun, some for education and some for commerce ... that I can visit through the SL client.
Is this not similar to the America Online Service ( precursor to the web ) where you could use a proprietory browser to access a range of services ?
Which brings me to the point of dis-similarity of the with the web. The web is based on an open architecture. You can use ANY browser to access a website created by ANY individual, on ANY server ... as long as both adhere to the http protocol.
On SL you have to use ONLY the SL client ( the SL 'browser') to browse regions created ONLY on the SL server, and that too ONLY by SL subscribers.
Perhaps this is how things start ... if we use AOL as an analogy, but going forward is it possible to define an open architecture of a generic MMORPG client that can access any MMORPG server using some other yet to be defined protocal ( similar to http ).