Posted July 8, 2008 5:43 pm by with 22 comments

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A little under two years ago, I sat down with Google’s Niniane Wang and had a very interesting "off the record" conversation. Despite the secrecy, she wouldn’t tell me much about the secret social media project she was working on. Fast forward to today, and she’s announcing Google’s new

A while ago, I looked around the social web and wished that it could be less static. Sure, you can leave a comment on a blog or write a text blurb on your social networking profile. But what if you want to express yourself in a more fun way, with 3D graphics and real-time avatar interactions? I started asking this question as a 20% project, and I’m excited to announce today’s release of Lively by Google – a 3D virtual experience that is the newest addition to Google Labs.

Lively is still very much a "beta"–actually a Google Labs project–so you shouldn’t expect much from it. What you will find is a chat room with some cute 3D graphics that feels a lot like what you’d expect if Second Life and Zwinky had a child.

If it weren’t for the genius of Niniane, I’d place Lively in the same consignment bin as Orkut. Instead, you can tell me if you think Lively rocks or sucks. This video might help:

P.S. Remember that double-secret Arizona State University social networking project, we reported on last year? Yeah, Google was behind it, and Lively is the result.

  • I wanted to try it but I get “Server login error.”

  • PS3

    I’m not sure why I am embarrassed to say it but the video looks cool. Any inside info on a public release date?

  • @PS3 – I believe it’s live.

  • It doesn’t look too bad, I’m not sure if it will compare well to second life.

  • Looks sweet. I wonder if Second Life users will convert? Likely not, might take awhile to get it mainstream.

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  • Doubtful if it’s going to take over secondlife, but I always like to see a company in my portfolio trying to expand their reach into profitable realms. 🙂

    Oh and it’s live, you can sign up by following the link. Wonder if they’ll integrate my avatar with all other google products and let me merge it into my Mii?

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  • Cue the non-technorati making some throwaway reference to people needing a life let alone a second one…

    Despite being a technophile I can’t really see this being a profitable venture or a viable competitor to second life, it seems like a fun side project for Google but nothing more. I suppose they have the disposable income to throw at frivolities like this…

  • exis

    the cuteness really lured me in..but as i found out this is more a revamped habbo rather than second life. chat, animations, make a room, invite your friends to do the same. that’s about the extent it. i’m pretty baffled as to why it is constantly being referred to a threat to sl – this is not user created content.

    p.s. chris: add to your login name. i spent a good ten minutes waiting for the nonexistent “server error” to be repaired 🙂

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  • Google goes Gamer? Is there anything these guys won’t try?

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  • wow cool
    Now they are going to dominate in this field too.
    Monopoly everywhere 😀

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  • This is going to be huge for people that have time! :o)

  • Nick – exactly. Not for me, no thanks. I think that they are already too late.

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  • the disclamer of “Server login error” appears any time I am trying it

  • I signed up and I thought it was cutre but obiously still in early beta. I did not really like the overly cartoonish graphics and they have a very long way to go to make it a true social site and not just another cute gadget.

    I always kinda chuckle when people say that those in SecondLife or in my case need to get a real life or have too much time on their hands (in my case it is true – lol). The Internet is changing and Web 3D will eventually replace the 2D we have now as well as the text only feature on Cell Phones. Many companies use these 3D chat or Virtual World programs to effectively use viral branding and marketing at a fraction of the cost of traditional Internet advertising. Google will need to really look at what already works and what does not in the growing 3D Chat Arena.
    Peace and Love

  • Yes I agree that it looks good. See how G making money through games world.

  • Anything to do with the web and there Google is. Everything they touch does well. Video does look good, might try it out.

  • Yeah, maybe I can do something different like “not eating,” so I can join the fun.

  • Inspired by The Second Life…

  • Growth at second life is going slow. Will it have affect on this ?

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  • Lively doesn’t feel to me like they really copied Second Life. There are many other 3D chats that are more similar to Lively (There, IMVU, etc.). But one thing I find Google did that makes it stand out from the rest is the ability to embed your chat room in your own website. But I’m sure it won’t be long until many other 3D chats give you this option. Lively also is lacking any type of “world,” right now it’s just a bunch of chat rooms with no connection except you can find them listed on

  • Doesn’t look like it copied second life to me.