Here we go again. Google is, apparently, terraforming Google Earth, its 3-D flythrough of the planet, into a virtual world. Rumored for more than a year, particularly since the acquisition of 3-D modeler Sketchup, confirmation of Google's new "My World" comes in the form of a beta-testing questionnaire circulated among Arizona State University students asking, on behalf of a major Internet company, whether they were into games and social networking, and already had an avatar and a Gmail account. If anyone can pull off a virtual world that's actually interesting, it's Google. But this is like prospecting in the old West. Everyone from Sony to Linden Lab on down is attempting to cash in on the hot new "virtual world" frontier. Eventually, they'll figure out that it's dry, dusty, and mined out. It's just a question of how long that will take.