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At Roadmap, delve into virtual world design with Philip Rosedale

When Second Life launched in 2003, it was the future. Now it is the past, with its once-hyped virtual storefronts and social centers empty (or nearly empty, as 1 million people still log on each month).

It’s possible that it came 10 years too early. Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life, will take the stage at the Gigaom Roadmap next week to talk over his latest venture: High Fidelity, a virtual world that looks beyond our computer screens to the coming generation of virtual reality headsets.

“The problem with computers is if we are using a system like Skype … there is so much delay and there is so much broken about how we are able to communicate (with gestures and facial cues) that it feels really isolated and alien,” Rosedale explained to me in a conversation. “One of the things we’re trying to do is fix that.”

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High Fidelity reads your facial expressions and plasters them onto your avatar. And it’s all first-person, so it becomes much more akin to how we have a conversation in real life. It’s more real, and that could be the design ingredient that propels High Fidelity to be the true virtual world that Second Life was expected to be.

That’s a big idea, and High Fidelity expects that it will take more than one small startup to make it happen. Just as the internet is an open platform for the rich culture we have built there, High Fidelity can be a space for many companies, organizations and people to build upon.

Want to know what that entails and how he’s carefully designing this new world? It’s not too late to get your ticket to see me interview Rosedale on stage. He will be joined by other Roadmap speakers like Medium’s Evan Williams and Pinterest’s Mia Blume. See you next week.