Wimbledon's net wonders

For tennis fans, one of the less obvious attractions of the internet has been highlighted this week - it never rains in cyberspace. And during the many and prolonged rain breaks of the past fortnight, tennis junkies have been turning in their millions to the official Wimbledon website for their fix, which for two weeks of the year becomes one of the hottest - and driest - destinations on the web. How does getting on for six and a half million unique users, and nearly 200m page views, sound?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

And no wonder - along with the dear old BBC site, wimbledon.org is a great example of how to organise, enable and deliver a huge amount of enormously varied content in a genuinely engaging way. This year's online highlights include streaming video and the amazing ball tracking and position graphics generated by Hawk-Eye.

But far and away the most geek-tastic Wimbledon experience yet is delivered courtesy of the tournament's top tech-meisters at IBM; tennis has made it to the Metaverse. Yes, all you Second Lifers out there in MT land can log on, boot up your Avatars and mosey on down to watch a few sets in the online parallel world that is Second Life. The on-court action will be faithfully - if clunkily - reproduced, as the information used to generate the virtual play is the same real-world data you see on TV graphics or the Wimbledon website. Undeniably impressive, if just a mite pointless.

If you do drop by, be sure to say hello to your IBM host, a dangerous-looking dude with the torso of Robocop and the legs (complete with tights) of Nureyev. He goes by the name of Mr e-predator potato. Or Ian, as his real-world mates call him. It's the future alright, but what on earth would Dan Maskell have made of it all?

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