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GNN adds new dimension to cyberspace

Global Network Navigator entered the virtual reality world with the launch of the Virtual Places Web community.

America Online's Net access division, Global Network Navigator, today joined the virtual reality bandwagon with the launch of the Virtual Places Web community.

Virtual Places allows users to travel through cyberspace represented by 3D figures known as avatars that depict the user's movement and simple activities in the 3D environment. Using the avatars, GNN subscribers will be able to participate in live chats, live events, and interactive guided tours of the Web.

"After choosing an avatar, you can create a tour bus and invite others to hop on," a GNN spokeswoman said. "You can control where your bus goes on the Web and take your passengers on a tour while sites pop up on their screen."

Virtual Places users can also have conversations with each other by using VDOnet's VDOPhone technology, licensed today by AOL. Voice capabilities will be available to Virtual Places users this quarter, according to AOL.

Other Virtual Places programs include Tubetime Theatre, where users discuss their favorite television programs, and Ballot Boxers, a weekly political debate hosted by a Democrat and a Republican.

GNN, which counts more than 100,000 subscribers, also announced today that it is working with AOL and the Ms. Foundation to raise awareness of the fourth annual "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," which kicks off tomorrow. GNN will host a site dedicated to the program and will include links to interviews with successful women, tools to create Web pages, background information on the program, and an interview with noted feminist Gloria Steinem.