WebCrawler is now a footnote in web search tool history, although the current developers would likely argue my assessment.
At the MLA 2008 Tech Trends panel an audience member wondered why we didn't discuss Second Life.
In effect, SL is the WebCrawler for virtual environments. Other platforms will soon be appearing which will change the virtual world landscape. Wallace McLendon alluded to this when he mentioned the Croquet project in response to the question. SL was first to market and will likely become a footnote in virtual environment history.
Croquet is very interesting since it is an open source virtual environment platform which allows an organization to create a custom virtual environment and designed it to best meet the needs of its customers. Here is Marshall Breeding on Croquet:
""It's exciting to get an early glimpse of an emerging technology from another branch of the evolutionary tree. That's how I would characterize the Open Croquet Project, the most innovative-and most difficult to describe-technology I've seen all year."
I certainly encourage libraries/librarians to learn from playing around in the SL sandbox. Experiment. Understanding WebCrawler helped librarians understand the potential of Google. Understanding SL will help librarians understand other virtual environment platforms. However, open source efforts like Croquet are the real technology trend.
It is highly likely that Croquet will be discussed at a future panel once the platform matures and more institutions begin creating educational/instructional modules/worlds with it.
For a tour of Croquet:
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