As the Virtual Worlds conference kicked off in Silicon Valley yesterday, IBM announced a partnership with Linden Lab, makers of Second Life, to create portable avatars that you can bring with you to any virtual world. But how? IBM and Linden Lab say they are developing open data formats, or a "universal character creation system," that will let people use their Second Life avatars anywhere. The problem is that most virtual world companies like Blizzard, which owns World of Warcraft, have very strict rules about what your avatar can look like. Same goes for things like the Barbie virtual world. You can't just bring your trippy Burning Man avatar from Second Life into a WOW campaign and slay dragons with your powers of fashion and relating deeply to other people. And I doubt the Barbie world people will welcome your naked sex god avatar.

Universal avatars bestride worlds [via BBC]