Tony Walsh at Clickable Culture has passed on some neat info about virtual world There, which used to be the 'big 2' competitor with Second Life before they both kinda blew their first round of venture funding - at which point, There converted to 'serious game' firm Forterra but spun off the social/consumer bit, which is now making a bit of a comeback. Complicated!

Some pretty interesting stuff in there: "* "We are still larger than 'that other place' and will continue to be." [Wilson presumably refers to direct competitor Second Life] "Free There lowered the barrier and got us more people into the funnel and into the world.".. * ThereIM, an avatar-based chat system interoperable with There, AIM and YIM, will be available in 2007..."

Also, all this virtual world tech is getting a bit, uhh, old, hence: "We are actually going to be building a brand-new terrain engine for the product… we're actually working with the guys at Forterra [former There-makers] to build a new terrain engine from scratch… One important objective I gave them was 'Make the competition lie awake at night.' They are being paid to deliver it by the first quarter of 2007. The terrain engine we have today is just bad. They are going to rebuild it from the ground up."