Skip to Main Content
Today's social virtual worlds (SVW) are beginning to realize Stephenson's vision of the metaverse: a future massive network of interconnected digital worlds. Tens of millions of people already use these kinds of environments to communicate, collaborate, and do business. Big companies are also moving into these digital realms. Thus, in a context in which the Web is becoming increasingly social, we believe that SVWs are beginning to shape the knowledge-based and glo balized societies and economies of tomorrow. Obviously, an urgent need exists to further understand SVWs and their implications for theory and practice. This article constitutes a first attempt to bring researchers into some of the business, social, technical, legal, and ethical issues related to SVWs. We anticipate that researchers will need to build new theories and concepts for SVWs, to explore the frontiers between reality and virtuality.
Date of Publication: Jan.-Feb. 2008