Monday, February 16, 2009


Standards for virtual worlds

In June 2007, PC World published an item asking whether virtual worlds need standards:

As the number of virtual environments increases, standards and vendor collaboration will help make teleporting between different worlds a smooth experience, ensuring, for instance, that your avatar arrives in a new world still wearing the clothes it donned in your home world.
The article outlines a conversation with Bob Sutor, IBM Software Group vice president (open source and Linux), in which he talks about standards issues in the virtual world environment, and plugs an event that IBM and Linden Lab had at MIT back then.

The consideration of standards for virtual worlds has now come to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). My IBM colleague David Levine, along with people from Linden Lab and other companies, have been doing the prep work for standards in this field, and they’ve requested a BOF session at the upcoming IETF meeting in late March to discuss it and to see if the IETF has the interest and workers to do it.

The BOF (MMOX — Massively Multi-Player Games and Applications) has been approved, and I will be co-chairing the session with Linden’s Meadhbh Hamrick (that’s pronounced “Maeve”, for those who don’t do Irish spellings). Meadhbh and her colleagues at Linden Research have written an Internet Draft detailing Linden Lab Structured Data to start things off.

The point will be to develop standards that will address the issues that Bob talks about in the article, allowing interoperability between virtual worlds and virtual-world components. Having standardized mechanisms and representations for this can really open up the field.

The BOF session is currently scheduled on Tuesday afternoon (24 March) from 3:20 to 5:00.

The other session I’ll be chairing at the San Francisco meeting is the DKIM Working Group, currently scheduled for Wednesday morning (25 March). We thought the DKIM group wouldn’t need to convene at this meeting, but discussion has perked up of late.

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