ICC Metaverse Project
Vol.1 HAMANO Satoshi Architecture of the Metaverse Interviewer:
HAMANO Satoshi
For the first study session, we invited HAMANO Satoshi, a researcher of information society theory, and the author of "Architecture no Seitaikei [Ecosystem of Architecture]" (NTT Publishing), which came out last year. As he wrote in his book, he discussed with us the current state and the issues of Second Life-like Metaverse services and its future prospects. *

Launched in 2007, the Japanese version of Second Life has received a fair amount of corporate attention, but never succeeded in attracting general users. In contrast, a Japanese video sharing website "Nico Nico Douga," which was launched around the same time, has rapidly gained an enthusiastic audience.

The contrast in popularity is due to their structural differences. In sites such as Second Life, users must access the virtual world in real-time to communicate with each other. At Nico Nico Douga, comments posted by the users are synchronized to the timeline of each video, and they scroll across the frame when the video is played. This system creates a sense of a gathering place among the users. Although each user visits the site separately at any given point in time, comments can be exchanged and the viewing experience is shared with others.

One method to realize this illusion of synchronism in a 3-D virtual world may be like this: walking through a specific path, a user posts a comment at a certain location there, and when somebody else reaches the point, the person will hear the comment. Another idea is to adopt a system that links the Metaverse to the real world: something similar to the concept of "pilgrimage" (visiting real life locations of anime that is set in actual places) for eager anime fans.

Many web services are still very much content-oriented, and few focus on communication. However, general users are more drawn to the aspect of communication than to the artistic quality of websites. They are interested in the log data that others leave behind. Rather than ready-made contents, communication generated by these log data may have a greater prospect in the future of the Internet.