Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

DURHAM, N.C. – Long before there was a “Second Life” virtual world on the web, Dr. Julian Lombardi built a first life, if you will, with his company called VIOS in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, VIOS was ahead of its time. However, Dr. Lombardi never gave up on his vision of online virtual worlds, became a pioneer in the field and now teaches about them at Duke while pursing other leading-edge technology.

“I’m an entrepreneur,” he also proclaims. So there is a new business somewhere in his future.

On Wednesday, the good doctor shared his vision of the rapidly approaching 3-D driven Internet and web – what is being called the “Immersive Internet” or “Immernet,” as coined by another Duke professor Dr. Tony O’Driscoll.

Local Tech Wire, which put on the “Executive Exchange” event, asked attendees to share their takeaways from the event. Virtually [there’s that world again] all participated. Some of their thoughts follow. They are intriguing and interesting and show how some of their views about the future of the web, how we interact and how we do business will be affected by the next big thing. (, too, by’s Beth Lavin and Sabrina Wood.)

Value Proposition

• The value proposition of the 3-D world is creating relationships and community similar to those we now can only experience in the physical world

• Customer relationships can start in virtual [world] and spill over into the real

• The opportunities are not obvious, but they are there

• The “webvolution”:

1. Web 1.0 – Access/find

2. Web 2.0 – Connect through

3. Web. 3.0 – The Immernet, connect with

Context, Context, Context

• It’s all about context

• It’s not just content – it’s context

• Context = social plus information

• Can context be monetized?

• The web doesn’t provide context; Immernet does

Reimagining Interaction

• A web singularity is coming

• 3-D [web] enables synchronous learning opportunities

• The potential for 3-D technologies is not in reinventing the desktop, but in reimagining the way we interact with other people through the computer.

• The Immernet someday will become our standard “reality”

• It’s the next frontier of the web

• To some people, the virtual is even more real than reality – amazing fact/idea; must use caution

• For 30 years we have been stuck with a “page” metaphor

Spending Time vs. Saving Time

• The [forthcoming] metamedium contains all others [data, video, audio, more …]

• Will there be a direct brain interface?

• Spend time [Second Life] vs. save time [the traditional business approach]

• Entrepreneurial opportunities will come from the delivery of content into new medium

• Today’s interfaces [with the web] are stuck

• The interface hasn’t changed much since the 70s [after seeing a comparison of screen shots from Xerox to Mac to Windows]. 3-D is changing that.

• Second Life is a place to go to spend time, not a place to go to save time

Virtual Worlds’ New Currency

• The Immernet is physical and virtual

• Information is the new currency

• The Immernet creates context in virtual space

• [There will be] a singularity of the web

• [The Immernet] enables co-creation

• The direction of the game industry [where is it leading the web?]

Think “iWeb”

• The “iWeb” is about context; it combines the social with the informational

• The “iWeb” combines the virtual with the physical, [leading to] co-creation [and] a participatory culture

• Rethink [Internet] infrastructure – Peer-to-peer technology rather than servers

• The Immernet will be non-commercial – access for all

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