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Jun 27 2008   8:42AM GMT

Have you got your avatar yet? Gartner says you will.

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

lara-croft.jpgIt’s 2008. Do you know where your avatar is?

Only three years to get your avatar unless you want to be lumped in with the bottom 20% — by 2011, Gartner says that the vast majority of Internet users will have avatars to represent them online in various gaming and non-game virtual environments. Which, I guess, are expected to proliferate. The clock’s ticking — Gartner predicted that last year at their Symposium/ITxpo 2007 Emerging Trends.

And they aren’t talking about the 2D image that pops up beside your posts in forums. I mean, even I have one of those. And she’s cute, if a little on the flat side. But she’s no Lara Croft — her ass-kicking ability is extremely limited. And I can’t see the world from her perspective, in a 3-D immersive world.

I have friends in virtual worlds, have had invitations extended — but so far, I haven’t wandered into one. I completely understand the appeal. Wow — talk about a rich fantasy life! My stock response, though, is that I don’t have time for my first life, let alone a second one.

I guess I’m going to have to make time. According to Gartner and near-futurists such as Gerri Sinclair, more and more of our online activities will move to virtual environments and our interactions will be conducted by 3D representatives with all the capabilities we and others possess in the real world — and then some. Sinclair is executive director of the master’s degree program for digital media at the Great Northern Way Campus in Vancouver and her students are creating a parallel virtual university.

gerri-sinclair.jpg Here’s an interview on MSDN’s Channel 10.

Apparently, the future of online interaction is going to be pretty much conducted by avatars, in 3-D surround everything. I was thinking about that — my worklife avatar would be plunked in front of a computer looking at a computer screen and my online leisure time avatar would best represent me by sitting around chatting in book store cafes. But then, I guess, “I” could wander over to the shelves and find something to read or go get some sprinkles on my latte…

Maybe it’s just a failure of imagination on my part. In a 3-D immersive world I can be and do — virtually — anything… Hmmm… Well, it looks like I’m going to get sprinkles on my latte. Then… on the way to the counter I feel inspired to… do a triple backflip. Hey! Perfectly executed — and not a drop spilled! Now I’m going to drink my coffee. For real.

~ Ivy Wigmore

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