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Quick Hits: Google Gets Lively


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Compiling every imaginable scrap of information into a searchable online database. Using satellites to make every point on earth visible through your browser window. Digitizing millions of books into a jaw-droppingly extensive virtual library.

You'd think Google (GOOG) might rest on its laurels for a minute or two.

But no: On Tuesday, the Internet giant furthered its plans for world takeover with the release of a virtual reality website. The online world, called Lively, allows users to navigate a digitized version of "real life" via avatars infinitely more attractive than themselves.

Avatars can be molded to the gender, species, style and mood of your choice (a depressed female hipster marmot, for example) and shoved into any number of virtual rooms, many of them user-created. Existing rooms include the Dragon Tower, Fight Club, Margaritaville and the Super Hideout.

Like Second Life, Lively is sort of like a social-networking site gone 3-D - and more than a little creepy. Unlike the Linden Lab creation that preceded it, however, Lively is free, and can be accessed through other sites (including Facebook, that much-beloved productivity killer).

Sounds like there's room for everyone - except users under age 13, though the age requirement may be hard to enforce. Luckily for teenagers -- but not so much for their parents -- they're allowed to wander freely through Lively's virtual world.

Even into the Sex School, which is helpfully captioned "Learn how to do it."

Google: Keeping it educational.

For more on Facebook, check out Hoofy and Boo's always astute report:

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