There's a terrific article with this title by Wade Roush in the July/August issue of Technology Review which describes a mind-expanding but imagined mash-up between (e.g.) Second Life and (e.g.) Google Earth -- to something called a metaverse. I've long thought that Second Life and its cousins were a natural place for visual storytelling, and particularly for educational applications. This makes it irresistible.
Update 5 July 2007:
Also see Andrea L. Foster's, Virtual Worlds as Social-Science Labs. Link: Chronicle of Higher Education. --Dennis