Google's New Dimension: Museums, Social Networking?

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-05-18 Print this article Print

When Google first introduced its 3D Warehouse in late April, the company said it was only trying to bring 3-D to the masses.

What it specifically wasn't doing was creating a MySpace-Sims-like virtual world/game, no siree, representatives said at the time of the warehouse's debut.

Yet, one encounters a lot of the raw materials for just such a social feature during a tour of the hundred or so 3-D images uploaded to the warehouse in the few weeks since it was introduced in late April. There's also the feeling of visiting a kind of virtual graphics museum.

Take a look at Super Mario Brothers World for a rough idea of where the Sims-like feel comes from.

Any theory that Google's going to launch a Google-branded virtual world through Google Maps seems laughable, especially given how the only thing Google's really doing here is distributing the means to make graphics for its satellite maps feature, and providing a showcase for people to give them away. For now, and going forward, that's the goal of the project, Google says.

There's no "world," a Google rep says.

Yet, consider that Google's got the seeds of a network in place to wrangle all this stuff together.

It's called the 3D Warehouse link, which is a means for finding and downloading geo-referenced models that have been placed onto Google Earth by others.

For instance, the Google Maps image of the Golden Gate Bridge is now accompanied by a rendition of a C3 Patton Starship battleship and the bridge itself, thanks to the link.

It's just a tiny thread of a community, but sometimes that's all you need to start. Google's also motivated to create more of this "social search" kind of project given that's now a major focus of Yahoo, the No. 2 search engine operator and a chief Google rival.

Aside from the Sims-in-the-making sentiment, flipping through the pages of the warehouse also generates the feeling one's visiting a graphics museum.

From the Andy Warhol Wing, we have Smiley Face, the remote control and this one of a gun, a "work in progress," writes the artist.

There's also the modernists, like Assaulted Desert Home, which would look good hanging near this profile of bullets. "An excellent door, but sadly no pool" seems to skewer the feudal nature of the real estate boom, does it not?

Cartoons? There's Huge Head Guy. Presumably you stick him on Google Earth map and sell advertising on his forehead?

Tell me you haven't seen this at some postmodernist show.

A cry for help? "I have no clue what it is," reads the caption to this one.

Mainly, there's lots of buildings, which makes a lot of sense given this is supposedly a place to find things to decorate Google Maps satellite imagery.

Consider this rendering of the Columbia Center in Seattle. Someone's also designed a house done in the Cubist style.

What doesn't make sense is why people are uploading detailed versions of the layout of their own homes. Some are exquisite, but wouldn't a robber want to know exactly where the windows in the bedroom are too? |

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