- Over at Futurelab's Business & Games blog, Ilya Vedrashko has been discussing Mattel's brand-new virtual world, Barbie Girls, explaining that it "will allow children to create their own virtual characters, design their own room and try on clothes at a cyber mall."

He cites an Associated Press piece on the site, which just launched, and notes: "I barely squeezed in for a moment (the site was so overcrowded it wasn't accepting new people all morning). The experience is pretty straightforward; it's somewhere in the neighborhood of Kaneva, Coke Studios and Virtual Laguna Beach but more pink."

Oh yeah, and here's the really scary bit (devices pictured above!), from a Reuters piece: "On Thursday, Mattel unveiled Barbie Girls, four-and-a-half-inch tall MP3 players designed to look like dolls. The devices turn into live characters at BarbieGirls.com, a new Web site where girls can interact with one other in a manner reminiscent of Second Life, the virtual world for adults." So though they're not compulsory to play on BarbieGirls.com, looks like having the MP3 players will get you special unlocks in-world, etc.Wow.