Last week at SC06 - the annual Supercomputing conference held this year in Tampa - IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano pledged to invest $100 million dollars over the next two years in business ideas emerging from IBM's recent "InnovationJam" brainstorming initiative.
According to IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger (link), the number one idea to emerge from InnovationJam was 3D Internet: “partnering with others to take the best of virtual worlds and gaming environments to build a seamless, standards-based, 3D Internet - the next platform for global commerce and day-to-day business operations."
For anyone who has read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, the concept of a fully-functional metaverse is particularly exciting, especially one that has built-in systems for security, entitlement management ("who can come into the Black Sun?"), extensibility and above all, reliability. If anyone can do it, it's IBM. Who cares if they're doing it for commercial reasons - sure, they're setting out to build the Street so they can sell real estate - but I'd argue that if you're going to charge admission to the Cathedral, you're going to let people wander for free in the Bazaar.