Weblin is back (again)


Re-re-launched weblin in order to alleviate the corona crisis induced "stayathome" pains. If you want to meet people but you are not allowed to go outside, then use weblin to meet people on the web. You are using the web anyway. You are there. Other people are there. Take weblin and meet them. They are reading the same as you are. They are watching the same youtube videos. See them, meet them, make new friends wherever you go.

Now for all browsers.

If you are an author and you had to cancel your book reading tour: invite your readers to a youtube-lifestream with weblins.

If you have a regular table and that's just not possible right now: meet on a web page and feel the community.

If your business is trade shows and they have beend canceled like all the other big events: online fair with weblins and live streams is your thing. Real sales people meet real visitors on your content. Better than simple chat, easier than VR. Weblin is as close as you can get to real trade shows online.


Weblin is back

Relaunched Weblin started test operation in October. Now, a month later it moved to a new server cluster. There are about 3500 active users, which is far from the 170 k of 2 year ago. Most users are returning users which re-activated their old weblin accounts.


BigDoor buys OneTrueFan

OneTrueFan is one of the latest Web Checkin startups. Visitors of web pages see who visited the same page. Recently the buzz said about OneTrueFan: "OneTrueFan is the Foursquare for Websites".

Now, OneTrueFan has been bought by Bigdoor, a gamification company. BigDoor CEO and co-founder Keith Smith believes it’s the first big acquisition in the gamification space. I believe this is also the first acquisition in the virtual presence space.



The Japanese company KLab launched Cheerz before. They now re-launch a lite version which does not draw as heavy on the browser as the earlier version. It rather starts and runs very smoothly. Cheerz has a web page check-in, stick man figures with Twitter/Facebook-images as heads, and chat in chat balloons. It allows you to rate ("cheer") web pages. A billboard shows messages of people who commented the page earlier.

The system is built on XMPP with small extensions. It is a browser add-on for Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer (!). The addon communicates with the Cheerz XMPP server, joins and leaves XMPP chat rooms as the user enters and leaves pages.



Following a month after Meebo, here comes the second Web Check-In. OneTrueFan lets you tell your friends which web pages you visit.

It allows registration via Twitter account, which is cool, automatically assigns an icon and fits well with the current pseudo-realtime-still-asyncronous trend. Google SideWiki is basically the same. You leave notes on Web pages, so lets count OneTrueFan ans the #3 Web Check-In. The race is on.

The buzz says, OneTrueFan is the Foursquare for Websites. OneTrueFan says:

"In its current form, the Web is a largely uninhabited world, where people can only see each others' artifacts and the vast majority of us never leave an imprint on our favorite sites.
OneTrueFan was born out of two ideas: 1) experiences are better when shared and 2) changing human behavior is next to impossible. Our first service enables people to automatically show up on the pages they visit. Other people can then discover them and interesting new content.
OneTrueFan is not a social network in the traditional sense, in that social networks attempt to localize an experience and/or lock users into a single social graph. OneTrueFan is the anti-network, bringing to light the communities that already exist at your favorite sites, with no additional effort on your part."

OneTrueFan is a browser add-on (which will work on any web site) and a Javascript code which web sites can embed into their HTML (which will probably work for all users even if they did not install the add-on).

OneTrueFan appears to be funded with $1.2M. The company was founded July, 2010.


Cheerz at IVS


The Japanese company KLab announced Cheerz, a system for avatars on web pages as browser bar at the Infinity Ventures Summit Kyoto 2010. The system was presented by CEO Tetsuya Sanada (真田 哲弥) at the Launch Pad event during the summit.

The system is scheduled to launch in a few months.

It seems as if the virtual-presence, layered-virtual-world, check-in-to-web-sites topic is heating up.

Googlin - a Weblin clone


Googlin (beta) launched a desktop client which shows avatars on web pages. Googlin has many features including file transfer, a backpack of media, scalable avatar size, an avatar configurator, a round menu, a buddy list, and a HTML version similar to weblin.lite, and probably much more. 

Googlin uses the XMPP protocol and Adobe AIR.

It seems as if the Googlin people learned a lot from Weblin. Googlin started development shortly before Weblin ceased operation. There are not many users yet, but they just started the beta. Googlin seems to be supported by a former Weblin investor, the Swiss Mountain Partners Group.

Meebo Web Check-In


Meebo will launch a “first of its kind” check-in system for the Web , using a new browser bar extension called the Meebo MiniBar. Users will be able to “share” their location by checking in through Meebo when they visit a particular Website. Meebo users will have the option to build up a Meebo social graph by friending and following other users.

Meebo started as a browser based multi instant messaging system. They got millions of users quickly, expanded to mobile and position also as a social network. Meebo currently reaches 180 million unique users monthly. They just closed another $25M funding, "as content sharing gets hotter" as they say.

Of course, there have been other "check-in systems for the web". Every system listed here checks or checked in users on web sites where they meet other users. But this is the first company to launch a browser bar web check-in at this scale.

Facebook Open Graph vs. Browser Overlays


A comparison of social graphs with virtual presence. Both enhance the social experience while browsing the web. The author argues, that web sites keep more control over the user experience using a social graph API. Browser overlays like RocketOn and Yoowalk distract from the web site and might turn into a poor user experience because of a steeper learning curve.


Weblin reactivated


Members of the weblin community reactivated basic weblin services. Weblins can continue to meet and chat on web pages. Some members found out about the login process and created a simple but effective way to log in. Others provided web space and are running XMPP chat components on private servers.

Apparently weblin was offline for only a few days, when the community effort kicked in. Weblin can now be downloaded and installed again from Avatar customization is only rudimentary available. But there are guidelines to create your own avatar.


Google Sidewiki


Google launched its new Sidewiki feature. Sidewiki opens an annotation sidebar on every Web page. Sidewiki is a Google Toolbar feature. You can leave notes (annotations) on every Web page and see notes of other people. The annotations appear is a sidebar. This is not the browser sidebar, but an extension driven page element. The feature looks quite advanced. It has rating system integrated, crowd driven spam identification, you can choose to see only annotations in your language. While posting an annotation you can send the same text also to your blogs. Of course, it is integrated with your Google profile so that people reading your contributions can learn more about you.

The toolbar sends every Web page URL to Google's annotations server. This is a technical requirement. Google informs you about it before you activate Sidewiki. Still, sending all URLs to one company is a severe privacy issue. Maybe not so much in the case of Google, because Google tracks our movement anyway through Analytics and the History feature. Anyone who runs the Toolbar with Siterank display already sends the URL stream to Google.

The protocol is a simple unencrypted HTTP Query/POST combination.

Sidewiki is NOT real virtual presence, as you do not see the people who are on the page at the same time. Sidewiki is also not a new concept. Annotations have been here before, as early as 1999. But Sidewiki it is important for virtual presence, because it shows, that a major player is moving closer. A big advantage of annotations compared to virtual presence is the fact, that contributions persist. Chats on a Web page are transient. They are gone after you leave. Annotations stay for some time. You can leave your mark in the world.

Important for virtual presence is, that Google invests in the notion, that Web pages are places. They are not just an anchor for places, like in Lively. The plain Web page identified by it's URL is a place. Can't wait for the next step.



Weblin offline


Weblin went offline early this morning. The shutdown has been announced earlier.


Weblings launch


The "layered reality" game Weblings by today launches officially. Read more at VentureBeat


Weblin Closes


Layered virtual world Weblin is ceasing operations. A newsletter sent to all subscribers advertises the 3D chat system ClubCooee as a possibility for weblin users to keep contact after the shutdown of weblin. But from the point of view of virtual presence systems they could also advertise Second Life or IMVU instead of ClubCooee. ClubCooee is not a layered virtual world or virtual presence system. There is now only system that would count as a replacement: RocketOn.




WebWars comes out of stealth and announces Weblings, a "layered reality game” on the web.

"Weblings introduces a strange and beautiful world hidden within the internet, where players can collect, trade and show off their fantastic creatures while surfing their favorite websites."

It looks like Weblings is another free to play layered virtual world on the web like RocketOn and weblin. I bet this is not the last newcomer. The web is a huge virtual world and it is largely untapped. There is so much content and once people start be be present on web pages, there will be big opportunities. Especially browser game companies, which already feel the competition of many other brower games will soon start to see the virtual world on the web as the next frontier.

Closed beta has started. But there are no details available, yet.

This seems to be the same company (at least the same domain address) as the company, which announced WebWars: EVE. WebWars: EVE was supposed to use the EVE-Online IP to create an impressive SciFi game play on the web. They seem to have dropped or pushed back the SciFi theme in favour of a fantasy look and feel.


Adding Gameplay to


An intresting review of virtual presence systems


VPTN-3 submitted to IETF MMOX

VPTN-3 has been submitted to the emerging IETF working group MMOX for consideration as MMOX data protocol:

The protocol is proposed as input to the MMOX BoF and WG which is currently being chartered. It shows, that the main point of interoperability, namely the instantiation of avatars can be achieved with a very simple yet powerful protocol. It shall serve as a working showcase of light weight interoperation and as a reference point for the discussion.

The protocol is Web/HTTP based, actually the transport is HTTP, the container format is XML and avatar data can use any MIME type. The architecture is inherently distributed by using basically XML to organize asset URLs.

The protocol has been used for 2 years with 3 Mio. users and 25.000 concurrent clients. The primary purpose of the protocol is to enable "simulators" to instantiate ("rez") avatars of users they meet in a virtual world. The protocol has been designed for interoperability, specifically to be able to use avatars from closed virtual worlds on the Web. But it is equally suited to bridge from one world to another. Actually, the Web is regarded as just one virtual world with many regions, which are commonly called Web sites.

The protocol also offers a solution for the "foreign updates" problem, where the avatar changes in one world and the change should be displayed instantly in another world. Say your WoW avatar walks in SL and an effect times out. That should be visible in SL with minimum delay but also without maintaining long lists of subscriptions. The protocol has a lean way to communicate changes.

The protocol addresses the "the low hanging fruit" of simulator interoperability. But it is easily extensible, e.g. to virtual goods ("dragon heads"). It supports variants of avatar models if multiple formats are required. It provides trust using XML Signature (not specified here, but in use). OAuth is the canonical choice for access authentication and selective disclosure of identity data.

I hope that the task of the MMOX WG will be restricted to interoperability between simulators and asset services, and that it will not include the communication between display and simulator. There are so many different models how worlds structure their communication between display and simulator. In some systems the world simulation runs in the client. In many 3D worlds the simulator is regarded as a "server" which forwards scene changes to the display. Games like WoW do much more simulation in the client than Second Life. In the near future there will be simulation including rendering in the cloud with only thin displays. For this reason the MMOX WG should only work on simulator interoperability and keep the display- simulator communication out of the scope.


RocketOn goes beta


RocketOn reaches the next level. The company now enters the public beta with its avatars-and-virtual-goods-on-web-pages service. Web surfers can find and buy virtual goods everywhere on the Web. Shops and random loot will appear on many Web pages, not just the RocketOn Web site. Within the next months RocketOn plans to announce partnerships with brands to sell branded items.




PMOG is a Firefox/Flock extension which lets you play an MMOG on the Web. Web pages are treated as virtual places. You can put items, like mines, treasure chests, watch dogs on web pages. Other people will find them. You can create quests for other people, do your own quests, earn virtual currency, and level up.

The hot news is, that PMOG just added chat to the game application. The chat is a separate window. There are no avatars on the page, yet. But anywhere you go (on the Web) you can join the PMOG chat channel of the page. PMOG uses IRC. A good choice, because IRC is a very mature chat system. Proven server software, lots of clients, simple protocol, and thanks to years of attacks on IRC networks very stable and evolved.

The chat channel name seems to be derived from the web server domain name omitting "www". But i's not just the second level of the DNS name. PMOG can also cope with SLDs. So, there is a bit more sophistication behind than just the server name. The effective mapping is very similar to the default URL mapping with the exception, that rooms are of course IRC rooms.


IOSurf v3.0


Everything is now run from the toolbar. You can see who is at a website, or who was recently at a website, view their profile, add comments, send messages, etc.

Moving everything from the sidebar to the toolbar greatly improves the usefulness of the application. Also, iosurf has moved from a synchronous to an asynchronous presence system. So, instead of two people having to be at the same website at the exact same time to see each other, now two users can see each other if they've both been to the same website within two weeks. This helps in the visibility of other iosurfers while surfing the web.

3.0 will only be available for firefox for the near future. But it may be ported to IE when it's feature set is more defined.

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