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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Mar 15th 2009 10:25AM (Unverified) said

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Isnt that exactly what the Grid is about, Linden providing RL companies solutions to build there own worlds and environments with the Grid?

First, I think yes, we already have multiple worlds; mainland, private islands and the Grid technology.

Second, all private islands and clusters of islands can be seen as worlds because the owner can decide whatever he/she wants this world can be.

Ami

Posted: Mar 15th 2009 10:33AM (Unverified) said

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However, these things have nearly no differentiation as products. There's a slight difference, true, but nothing really significant.
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Posted: Mar 16th 2009 10:52AM (Unverified) said

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The thing is, all the different "worlds" Second Life conatins as private islands and estates, even with thier own covenants and rules, still fall under the corporate jurisdiction of Linden Lab.

There is only one internet, one world wide web, but it is not owned by a single company.

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Posted: Mar 15th 2009 10:32AM (Unverified) said

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Sounds alot like what the OpenSim community is doing! http://reactiongrid.com/Default/BlogZone/FarSide.aspx

Great article!

Posted: Mar 15th 2009 10:42AM (Unverified) said

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I am not sure that I understand how you define "world". if there are many "worlds" but with possibility to teleport between them (with all your assets, name and L$) then how is that different from present private islands, each with it's own rules and settings. Yes, we could use more control over land, but basicaly, that's it. And if we add OpenSims and independent Linden's grids (which they are ready to provide) with the same possibilities.....

It sounds like one world to me. Which is fine... we don't have corporate, teen, entertainment... web. Just one to fit us all.

Posted: Mar 15th 2009 12:05PM (Unverified) said

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One of the big things about having separate grids is it would allow LL to do one of the things they've been trying to do for some time. Attract more big business to the grid in a place they feel comfortable in. Sure, they can buy an island and set up security and all that on the main grid. But to someone who isn't that familiar with the ins and outs of SL they still see it as being all part of one mass.

I've been a proponent of a separate grid for people who want to set up space for educational or business meeting space for some time. They can have their space without worry of a strip club going up next door, or someone showing up naked at an IBM business meeting. Just set the world up so those things are not permitted and enforce it. Then those who want to use the main grid as it is can do so. Everyone goes home happy.

Instead, LL seems intent to take back the control over content they intentionally didn't want to deal with in the beginning. Originally, SL was a place where you could do and be whatever you wanted as long as you had the imagination and skill to create it, or find someone who created it for you.

Originally SL was like art space. LL provided the place, but left it up to the users to create the content. Now they realize that big money can be made by catering to businesses, so they're trying to push and contain the artists so that their business clients have a nice, clean, sterile environment to play in.

As Tat said, multiple separate worlds is a great way for LL to have their cake and eat it too. Businesses and educational facilities can have their clean environments, and the old school users can have the Grid they've come to know and love. You don't even really need inter-world transportation, just create new avatars on the new grid if you want to visit someplace else. It would be nice if you could, but it would also be a lot easier to maintain control and separation if you can't.

Posted: Mar 15th 2009 5:53PM (Unverified) said

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And just to add a flippant footnote, wouldn't it be good to see all griefers transported to a penal grid consisting only of people like them? What divine justice!

Posted: Mar 16th 2009 5:34AM (Unverified) said

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I don't agree with you Tateru. I single inventory/asset/L$/transaction system is needed in virtual world. And as long as no other grids can garantee the copyrigth issue and the US$ L$ convertion there will be no grid-connections.
What we need is a central authority (goverment) who garanty this and a more flexible simulator (world). And this is the main idea of private island. LindenLab should continu to offer more flexibility in provate island hosting and configuration, that's all.

Posted: Mar 16th 2009 5:53AM (Unverified) said

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None of those issues arise in the case of multiple first-party grids.
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Posted: Mar 16th 2009 9:47AM (Unverified) said

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"If inter-grid teleportation is all that it promises to be, this could be the perfect solution to many of their policy woes."
Inter-grid teleportation is still an utopy. It's only loggin of from on grid and login back on another grid without restarting your viewer, you lose inventory and currency.
Ok last week I closed SL viewer and start WoW. Should I claim I made the very first inter-MMOG teleport ? I don't think so.

The best solution to me is to separate central authority (account/logins/inventory/assets/L$/transactions) from the land regulation. LindenLab will still operate the mainland but third party could run they own SIM (I mean having a computer, configuring it and paying LindenLab for traffic on the central authority)

Posted: Mar 16th 2009 10:03AM (Unverified) said

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I am indeed suggesting that Linden Lab should retain its central platform authority (accounts/logins/inventory/assets/L$/transactions) across those grids, but that they should remain first-party grids.

Third-party simulators mixed with first-party services essentially destroy the permissions and economic models. There's no way to make it work unless every third-party operator was both incorruptible and unimpeachable.

Besides, we want that third-party effort in parallel out there on other software-bases don't we? Otherwise the whole thing becomes monolithic and loses momentum.
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Posted: Mar 16th 2009 12:13PM (Unverified) said

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3rd party grid with central authority could work. It only required an copyrigth and economic agreement. The SIMs owner assume he won't abuse copyrigth and monetary. If he did the central authority could simply kick it off the grid, wich mean death off all business. The central authority must also agree it provide a stable technical and economic infrastructure and wont kick sims arbitrary.

Also SIMs prices are to high to be able to create added-vallue and have a 3rd-party viable world over SL.

Actualy I belive there are 3 reasons why LindenLab didn't switch to this model:
* the server code is proprietary and closed, this MAY change with the rising of opensim and interop but it will take time
* only 1 other grid (as far as I know) as it's own money (RL convertible) and no grid can be trust on copyrigth
* the economic model is biased, creating an account is free even if it cost RL money (inventory & asset storage, account data & security), having land is very expensive (even a sim with almost 0 traffic and bandwidth cost 300 US$ a month)

This economic model was very good to drive new customers to SL but will be very hard to sustain. Also the prim count limit is totally irrelevant, prims don't cost money to linenlab, only storage and bandwidth (a complex avatar * texture size equation).
I hope the rising of opensim, interop and open source will help for this. Having a fullsim with 45 000 prims for 150 US$/month can really change LindenLab model and make them fork central server and sims but I really doubt any other grid will overcome SL.

Posted: Mar 21st 2009 12:51PM (Unverified) said

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Before Second Life can be a success on a spreadsheet, it has to be a success as a society - otherwise why bother connecting to a grid at all?

The problem phrase here is "mass market".

The corporate devolution of America's creative engine is a failure. Their mass market fled to YouTube - which is having it's own problems trying to monetize that business plan. Linden Labs is following the YouTube model - unverified, unpaid clicks. Without Google paying the power bills, YouTube would go dark. The simple fact is, no matter how massive your audience, if nobody gets paid, it's not a "market".

Second Life is evolving from get the hell off my land, to get the hell off my sim, to get the hell off my island. Open Sim will give us the option of saying get the hell off my world. Isaac Asimov gave us the conclusion of that business model in his book "The Naked Sun" - isolated humans surrounded by bots. Those worlds died of stagnation.

The Linden gods made two mistakes. Second Life was created with almost perfect tools to enable self choice. By allowing a subset of demigods to override those tools, they broke the matrix of a great social experiment.

The other mistake was not putting enough effort into protecting the energies and output of the content creators. Innovation takes time and effort. Unless that output can be exchanged for goods and services, innovation has to redeploy that time and effort into something that will pay - like bean counting.

That option falls eventually fails as well because, without a constant flow of innovation, there aren't any new beans to count. Wall Street tried to solve this dilemma by creating virtual beans - but we see where that got us.

Perhaps Linden Labs would better serve themselves and Second Life users by moving the focus from mass audience to paying market. The most Energy Efficient way - as in "we're choking on our own waste" energy, would be to monetize vanity and charge by ARC (avatar rendering costs). Avatars with an ARC under 50 could wander around free. Alts could remain unlimited in number as now, but with an escalating default ARC for each additional alt.

That business model could solve 90% of our "problems" and mint money at the same time.

Posted: Mar 21st 2009 9:12PM (Unverified) said

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Second Life is already a success on the spreadsheet actually. One of the bigger success stories in the industry.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2009 11:49PM (Unverified) said

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Gosh, I'm astonished at the wild ranting on the comments :) For decency's sake, I'll skip commenting on the comments and focus on your article, Tats.

I'm not sure if I agree with "multiple worlds with a central authority". Let me give you a typical example. The most successful RL businesses in SL *in 2009* (as opposed to the millions spent during the 2006/7 "I have no clue about SL but have millions to waste" days) are pushing low-cost solutions that introduce *community sponsoring* — be it live music or sponsoring conferences like Orange is doing for years. "Most successful" in this case doesn't mean "more traffic" or "in-world sales" — but clearly defined metrics by the company that comes to SL, which these days know pretty much what they expect and what their return on the investment will be. Sometimes all they wish is profiling data and get people volunteering their RL info (like phone numbers and email addresses) in exchange for a few L$ — a quick, easy, legal, and inexpensive way to create a marketing database.

To do that, these companies will wish to be inside a *vibrant* Second Life, full of activities, with all kinds of users, coming from all parts of the world. A "business grid" would make little sense to them.

The ones experimenting with private meeting areas, however, might welcome their own, separate, closed environment. I wonder what stops them to create closed estates (invisible from the mainland) — Sun and IBM and even Xerox have done that for ages, and they have little problems with that. So I don't see that as a *huge* advantage for *most* companies, althoug certainly a few would probably like that.

Remember, the ones that are most vocal about extreme "edge cases" are tiny minorities. You won't see Orange begging for a "closed business grid" ;)

So the rest of your argument falls on "zoning" issues: e.g. mature vs. adult vs. teen. Well, if LL's technology for blocking adult access works like I think it works — a variant of the "graying out" when you mute an object or an avatar — zoning can be effectively implemented by having a special setting on an upcoming SL client. So this might simply mean that all types and styles of content might be effectively controlled with client settings. LL might even specify rules based on the location you connect from: e.g. non-Nevada US residents might not be able to "see" casinos, for instance, but if you live in Las Vegas or on an Indian Reservation (or, well, in most of the western world) you'd have no problem. After all, filtering content by country of origin is quite popular on several video hosting sites.

And finally, beyond "zoning", there is specific content for a very specific target. What I cannot understand is why having a role-playing island in the same world as a community of artists and a concert hall for live music is so "bad". Sure, there are quite different people for each of those "styles" of enjoying SL. Sure, some will never leave island X or Y, depending on their tastes. However — and here is the huge advantage of the "single world" model — you can teleport from one to another without any fuss. This means that if you are an artist keen on role-playing and enjoy live music, you don't need to switch worlds for that. Everything's just a teleport away. Just like on the Web: I can jump from Massively to a fashion e-zine by clicking on an URL, I don't need to enter a different World-Wide Web.

I think that what you are inferring is something slightly different: that estate owners might be allowed to go a step further and define their own Terms of Service for their space. This would turn LL into something like a "co-location facility for 3D content", and less as a "hosting provider". Now with that I agree. My European ToS for my corporation will certainly be quite different from the ToS of a casino operator in Las Vegas or Monte Carlo; so I understand that it would be *nice* that LL allowed that. As a matter of fact, we have something "similar" to it: it's called a Covenant :) But, alas, the Covenant cannot override LL's ToS... not yet, at least.

So... to recap... we don't need separate grids or fragmented worlds. What might instead be interesting is to get Linden Lab out of the notion of Second Life itself as a "content providing service", and become merely a value-added co-location facility. Legally, this would be a nightmare to implement — since LL would have to waive all liability on what happens inside the grid. But it's not impossible. After all... telephone companies operate that way. But would residents like this option? Remember, it would mean zero technical support (except for server management calls), no DMCA (not that it does any difference), and no protection from griefers or scammers (not that LL bothers that much, at least about the latter). It's questionable if that would interest a vast majority of residents.

I'll decline to comment on the wild notions about what OpenSim can do or not, what kind of people are behind those operations, or that LL's prices are "too high" — I've written more than enough on all those subjects with plenty of references to several sources :) I can only say that the commenters here are a bit naive and/or deluded about reality :) And that should be enough from me...

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