Hive 7, An Ajaxian Virtual World

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 Vast.com) 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!)

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