"If we think about the synthetic environment of Second Life as a metaphor for the web, where are we at today? In the early days of the web, only universities and advanced scientific laboratories had websites. I remember - as a kid - buying an issue of Scientific American that came with a map of the whole web, all 100 or so websites on a foldout poster. The web then proceeded to become popular with the rollout of Netscape, but really gained mainstream status through the development of _America Online_ (AOL). Now, I?m well aware just how awful America Online is; I?m not sure how many people continue to use it as ISP?s and web hosts began to dramatically multiply and offer alternative services.
"I would argue that we are currently at the 'AOL' stage of synthetic world development; beyond the stage of university and military applications but mostly dominated by one or a few corporations (think: AOL or Compuserve as roughly parallel to Linden Labs, Blizzard)."
This article comes in three parts: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3