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Hive 7, An Ajaxian Virtual World

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Max Skibinsky knows javascript. He knows it so well, that he was working on applications in what he “double-channel javascript.” Thank god, that didn’t catch on and instead we ended up with a more friendly Ajax acronym. Anyway the end result is pretty much the same – a more nimble, faster, easier and better web.

It worked out for Skibinsky as well, who failed to raise money for his proposed online multiplayer game. Instead, he ended up starting Hive7, with angel funding from Naval Ravikant (CEO of and Gaurav Dhillon, who has started Informatica. Hive7 has developed an AJAX-based virtual online community that has many of the elements you normally find in an immersive environment like Linden Labs’ Second Life.

Robert Scoble made the argument that Second Life is an OS, while others nodded their head in agreement. That might be the case, but increasingly, I believe that this will give way to a more web-based virtual world. It happened with AOL, and now its going to happen in multi-user environments.

Update: And Scoble, thanks to his sudden and new found love of Second Life, refuses to see the possibilities of Hive, complaining about its not really 3D. Dude, SL has had 7 years, these guys have been at it for about eight months. Clearly, the Microsoft mindset where, desktop is the empire at work! John Hartman explains quite eloquently why Second Life is not an OS.

Web is the ultimate platform, and I think in the end it wins. Hive 7 is just the first example of the next generation web possibilities. It was nearly two years ago when I met the Linden Labs founder Philip Rosedale and understood his vision of the virtual spaces. For nearly half its life, Linden was kept going by angels, and before it got the money from professional investors.

I think, Hive7 is in the same place. It will be sometime before the world catches on to its true potential. Skibinsky says that his big breakthrough was in 2004, when he realized that “instead of building a closed online game it’s possible to do the reverse.” In other words, he had an epiphany that web is the ultimate API. He put together a virtual universe which has rooms where folks can meet, meet, chat, exchange resources and items. What got me excited about Hive7 was that it allows anyone to customize the whole experience. You can take the code, and tweak it.

Looking at what Hive7 has built, I have just realized that the web has now gone 3D. Virtual worlds have a new meaning, and collaboration just got easier. I would let you figure it out for yourself, but I think this is the first step in realizing Ajax’s full potential. (I have some screen shots in the extended entry. Check out the one where Max and I are doing collaborative browsing. A browser inside a browser – now that’s cool!)

11 Responses to “Hive 7, An Ajaxian Virtual World”

  1. Good grief, why do we insist on harping on the technology as the means to an end? My cell phone, Xbox, in-car DVD player, XM, iPod (podcasting for that matter) and such are not web things. Neither is my camera phone (funny how much read-write-publish behavior is starting to not really deal with the web, I should know, it’s my job).

    Web sites and blogs are web things. Others are internet-worked things.

    Hive and SL might have similarities, virtual spaces and such, 2D and 3D is relative to what you do. It’s like people arguing about whether audio or video is better. Or if sports cars are better than trucks.

    Remember, it doesn’t matter how long something has been around (Oh this has been around since 1924, it’s nothing new! /smacks forehead). When the people, repeat THE PEOPLE, the MARKET, the CONVERSATIONS are ready for it— that’s when it matters.

  2. If only I had been able to browse all my applications like Leisure Suit Larry for the last 12 years… I would have gotten so much more done.

    Why do people link to this moron?

  3. I am not into video gaming or virtual world but i guess its technically impossible to bring the responsiveness and richness of a desktop client to browser. Also i dont see a user need for a AJAX virtual world either?…

    Said all this i can see the hardwork and technical prowse that went into creating this!.

  4. Hey there are two Matts!

    But I agree with myself (sorta) I think OS is to strong a word for what we’re seeing here. Its a platform.

    Plus I saw similar type plays back in the days web1.0 of dialup with virtual 3d worlds – not in a web browser – but this is just that plus javascript! I’m not sure robert got this one right!

    by that measure RoR is the new assembly :)

  5. Matt,

    XBox Live is a closed environment where you play inside Xbox. this is plain old browser. and hence “web has gone 3D” and it is because it is all javascript. it is going to get interesting. I think play with this a little, then it all makes sense.

  6. Yeah, but will Hive7 involve and invite the sex-positive community? I’ve noticed that a lot of social internet plays lately are rather prudish, and we all know that sex drives media and interactive technology.

    I had a long talk with an old friend who’s a game designer, and she opined that the web is great for connecting traditional data (having been built on an academic foundation), but was a bit skeptical about its capacity to achieve “The Metaverse,” at least in the realistic short-term.

    I enjoy Second Life, even though I don’t have the hardware to really hang out. But I’m inclined to believe my friend’s interpretation. It’s all got a kinda weird cult element to it. Wouldn’t be the first time in the Bay Area that trans-normative technology inspired easily exploited spiritual fervor.