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ExitReality Review

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ExitReality is a new browsing and social networking system that allows you to navigate any existing website in 3 dimensions. I watched the video and was impressed enough to download the required plugin (Windows-only, 3.5MB).

Getting started couldn't be easier. As soon as I'd found a suitably bald avatar I was wandering around my own websites in 3-D.

The possibilities looked amazing - for example, I could make a custom 3-D version of MediaCollege.com with big screen TVs showing videos in different rooms. I could make the website into an apartment, gallery, airplane or alien landscape.

Unfortunately things soon started going wrong. I was running Firefox 3 and IE7 on a pretty grunty quad-core PC with 4MB RAM, but after about 10 minutes the ExitReality application began faltering. At one stage my point of view fell upside down and I couldn't get the right way up again. Eventually it all fell over and a restart was required.

Still keen, I started trying to customize one of my websites. This wasn't as easy or as much fun as I'd hoped. The help files aren't very comprehensive and I found myself struggling to get anything interesting happening. About 1/3 of the themes I tried didn't work at all.

I started wondering about how committed I was to this experiment. I decided to have a bit more of a general surf using ExitReality and see what other sites were offering. The answer: Not much. There are two types of websites in ExitReality:
(1) Sites that have been customized to work with ExitReality. These look promising but of course there aren't many available yet.
(2) Sites that have not been customized and appear using the default 3-D layout. Frankly, although the first impression is good, all you get is a slower and more difficult way to navigate.

Of course there's the social aspect but I'm dubious. If I want to be social there are much better ways to do it.

ExitReality is brand new - I was trying it within a couple of hours of launch - so it would be unfair to expect a lot of content or socializing. However there's a real chicken-and-egg problem: As an end user there's nothing for me to see, and as a web publisher there's no incentive for me to make a big effort providing content when there's no audience.

And that's the central problem - if web designers don't get on board, the whole idea is a flop. There needs to be more incentive for website owners - perhaps some promotional opportunities or prizes.

As I often do, I'll sit back and wait for the market to pronounce judgment before I have another go at ExitReality. I think this service has an uphill battle ahead of it and I lack the motivation to help them fight it.
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