The Architects of the Open Source Metaverse at Virtual Worlds 2008

Fri, Apr 11, 2008


Screen shot from realXtend’s wickedly cool avatar tech demo (see video here).

Some people may have walked away from Virtual Worlds 2008, NYC, thinking the vision of the metaverse has boiled down to two notions: 1) every toy should have its own own virtual world and 2) may a thousand walled gardens flourish. But, if you did come away thinking that, you missed out on another important current at the conference – the rapid growth of the open metaverse and the excitement of developers, architects and visionaries who are exploring its potential.

The discussion at the Open Source Virtual Worlds Round Table included so many of the key players, including Philip Rosedale, and covered such a big chunk of issues that that I have transcribed it and published it at the end of this post – the audio is here. The audio quality is poor (except for the round table facilitators from OpenSim, Sun’s Project Wonderland, Qwaq and myself as we were sitting right on top of my ipod!) So, I hope the transcription of the discussion will be useful to all those involved in pioneering the open source metaverse.

The dichotomy of visions – an open metaverse or a thousand walled gardens – present at VW 2008 did not escape the very savvy virtual world writer Wagner James Au (Hamlet Au in Second Life) who narrates this tale of two conferences on GigaOm, here and here. Hamlet, author of The Making of Second Life, and part of metaversal thinking from the early days is in unique position to understand the accomplishments and vagaries of its prodigal children.

The inadequacies of the short term constrained visions that held the main stage at Virtual Worlds 2008 were also commented on by Cory Ondrejka, one of the founders and former CTO of Linden Lab who wrote on his blog:

Is this really the Metaverse? Is this even the 3D internet? Isn’t this the same week that we saw Congressional testimony on virtual worlds, on their potential impact on education, community, business, and communication? Technology is just enabling us to take incredibly bold steps, to connect people in entirely new ways. From 3D camera technology to spatialized voice to novel interfaces to mobile to augmented reality, we should be ready to embark on the next exponential curve, building on everything learned from Second Life over the last 8 years.

Not game over by a long shot – the party has just started!

The young guns are working with the open source and reverse engineered derivatives of Second Life to explore the full potential of avatar presence in a 3D, interactive, dynamic, networked environment. And this is just the very beginning.



On 3rd of April the OpenSim platform was load tested with the amazing Antigone (top image), who sang live in OpenSim in an event sponsored by the Sine Wave Company (boardwalk leading to the stage in OpenSim above).

And, if you were thinking that Philip Rosedale stepping down as CEO of Linden Lab was a sign that Philip was giving up a leadership role in the future of the open metaverse, think again. Philip’s continuing deep engagement with the technical and business challenges of the Open Metaverse was quite clear when he showed up and sparked off an intense discussion at the Open Source Virtual Worlds Round Table.


In this picture, Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab, Zafka Zhang of HiPiHi, Wagner James Au (author of The Making of Second Life), Tess Linden, Eilif Trondsen of SRI Consulting Business Intelligence are just some of the metarati at the round table.

Also very visible at Virtual Worlds 2008 was Cory Ondrejka. And while Cory is now consulting on a wide range of entrepreneurial, technology, and innovation projects, he has a tremendous amount of domain knowledge about the design, architecture, and scaling challenges of virtual worlds. And, as I saw Cory chatting with the new kids on the block, I found myself thinking, how interesting it was that his experience was actually on the open market at this critical juncture for open source virtual worlds. (But Cory did hint to me that he may not be as free to consult in the near future.)


Cory noted in a brief chat after the conference that there are a lot of potential stumbling blocks for Second Life competitors and the aspirant architects of the Open Metaverse face challenges linked to design (repeating failures from the late ’90s), architecture (given target market and use, are you picking the correct technologies?), and scaling (do any aspects of your design require vertical scaling? what are the choke points?). Cory will be writing up more of his thoughts about some of this on his blog, I think.

What is the architecture of the Open Metaverse?


Picture from Nicole Yankelovich of Sun Microsystems Wonderland blog post – from left to right, Remy Malan, Qwaq, Nicole, me, Jani Pirkola, realXtend, Adam Frisby OpenSim, Adam Johnson, Genkii.

The power of virtual worlds for business collaboration was the emphasis of Sun and Qwaq’s presentation during the Open Source Virtual Worlds round table. Nicole Yankelovich demoed Project Wonderland’s multiple group voice chat that cleverly simulates “watercooler chitchat” that real-world office spaces provide and impressive telephony that allows users to communicate in or out of the virtual world space by phone (See Nicole’s blog and Hamlet’s write up on GigaOm here for more). But the discussion centered on the open metaverse as something akin to the next generation internet where business, consumers, communities and the individuals and organizations of public life have the possibility to interconnect and interact as well as stay behind firewalls. And the voices for this vision came from the open source initiatives with their roots in the Linden Lab Second Life technology.

Topics discussed were:

What is the business model for Linden Lab in the open metaverse? (Philip gave the most clear and convincing explanation of this I have heard.)

How will forking not become an issue and break up the open metaverse before it has begun?

Will the open metaverse have a virtual currency?

How can truly wicked avatars using blended animation and inverse kinematics be deployed without choking performance?

How will IP be protected and will obfustication be employed?

How will asset/content development flourish in the open metaverse?

The latter question included a discussion about different models of content production and content monetization in virtual worlds including new ideas like the open source content project of Clever Zebra. For info on their upcoming vBusiness expo see here.


I relayed a couple of questions from Peter Quirk, EMC, who unfortunately couldn’t attend the conference. Peter’s questions produced some excellent discussion and responses.

1) Is the lack of useful assets to populate a world, whether it’s OpenSim, Croquet or Wonderland the number one business issue?

2) Instead of driving to a complete implementation of LSL, has OpenSim gone off in open source fragmentation land inventing their own scripting extensions which are guaranteed to cause problems going in the other direction?

If you are interested in any of these questions you may want to study this transcript that includes lengthy comments from Philip Rosedale (Linden Lab), Adam Frisby (OpenSim), David Levine (IBM) – Zha Ewry in Second Life, Jani Pirkola (realXtend), Christian Westbrook of WelloHorld, and several other key architects of the open metaverse.

What’s New?
Enterprise Applications in Open Source Virtual Worlds?


I moderated two enterprise round tables at Virtual Worlds 2008, one on Open Source Virtual Worlds and one on Enterprise Applications and the discussion at both was driven by key innovators in these areas.

The Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo in Fall 2008 will have a full on enterprise track Chris Sherman says. But the “knights of the enterprise round table” gave us taste last week of what is to come.

It was fascinating to hear Michael Osias from IBM and Oliver Goh from Eolus and who are pioneering enterprise command and control centers for building automation, green data centers, energy and facility management debate with Mark Phillips from the Simulation Business Unit of MASA Group Inc.

“What’s new?” about these enterprise applications on OpenSim, asked Mark Philips who works at the very highest end of business simulation. It is true, from the perspective of the lofty budgets that high end business simulation is accustomed to, command and control centers in 3D environments are nothing new. But Michael and Mark who have worked together in the past did come to agree that never before has this kind of software been accessible for cheap and rapid protoyping/development/and deployment in this way and with the potential to be used both inside and outside of firewalls in both in secure and massively networked environments.

Virtual worlds for children maybe a marketers utopia/cornucopia but the open metaverse is still the most exciting social and technical paradigm shift since the mass adoption of the internet.

A New Era of Business Tools and Business Process Modeling

Melanie Swan from MS Futures, one of the facilitators of the Enterprise Applications round table described how open source data visualization tools will open a new era for business tools that have given us little that is new in recent years.

And Ben Lindquist of Green Phosphor described how virtual worlds will be more than collaborative spaces they will become where business processes are modeled on an ongoing basis within the enterprise.

What I see happening is knowledge workers, analysts, middle management, spending time in a virtual space modeling the actual business that they do and doing that on a continual basis.

Imagine a network of pipes and other objects that actually represents your business processes, your organizational model, your supply chain; and you can see your people working on it in the virtual world. They’ll be able to perform “what if” scenarios – answering questions such as “what if we combine these two offices – what does it do to responsiveness”, and then when a change works well in the model, it can be implemented in the real world through integration with the ERP system.

IBM’s big news at the conference was that they would be working with Second Life behind their firewall. But with 6000 plus IBMers in Second Life and a working interest in interoperability issues, it is common knowledge that IBM gets the open metaverse and its potential. Perhaps what is more surprising than the news of Second Life being experimented with on IBM blade servers is that this collaboration hadn’t happened sooner. For more insights on what the IBM behind the firewall project is about read David Levine’s (Zha Ewry in Second Life) post here.

Transcript of Discussion at the Open Source Virtual Worlds Round Table

Philip Rosedale (LL): Blended animation and IK (Inverse Kinematics) is a really cool thing it’s also a really hard problem, I would love to see progress on that. Its got to be one of thing to make the world really ??. We wanted to do that from the very beginning. Its a daunting problem of course. You’re simultaneously having to use the animation in-world as a kind of a mechanical guide to move what is supposed to be a mechanical hand, and the problem is there’s a lot of corner cases where trying to do that with an animation kind of won’t work. In the same way that say break your arm you can’t put it anywhere, you run into this interesting problem. But I have to say that I think that is a great piece of work. It is one of the things that in my personal opinion it’s one of the key elements of believability that the avatar lacks today that we essentially have this odd situation where we have a little bit of physics going on the avatar bumping into things and getting up on a table and then all the animations are happening without any respect for the kinetics of the environment so its a very hard problem and I’d love to see some work being done on it.

We love to work on it! But it is a question of having the people..

(for more click on “read entire post” for the rest of this transcript)

Ben Goertzel (Novamente): One of the things we’re doing is trying to use AI to control avatars in a broad sense. We run up constantly against the lameness of having just having a fixed set of animations… you know what I mean? We’d rather for AI take a more robotics type approach, so you can learn to grab something with your fingers in different ways depending on what the shape of the object is rather than having a grab animation or even a grab-1, grab-2, and grab-3 animation.

Jani Pirkola (realXtend): Right. Actually we could do it in a way that …?? knows the animation that should be played.

Philip Rosedale: Of course the other challenge you have to face and it’s true of a number of the other features discussed here today is that they may run into sever complex computational problems without really sophisticated solutions around level of detail. The problem with blended animation that I raised is that the computational cost generally is doing that for even a single avatar historically is noticeable a significant amount of ….. So if you had 30 avatars break dancing and bumping into each other it’s not computationally attractive……

David Levine (IBM): When you bring the physics simulation onto the client you are asking the question how much of that world am I transferring down the ?? boxes…..

Philip Rosedale: Even if you have a finite model well established in the client and then you try to bump the avatars into each other you’re done.

David Levine: Even worse cos you can’t just do that you also have to have regular physics model ……..

Ben Goertzel: We’ve used the IK library of the University of Pennsylvania which is Inverse Kinematic IK it’s just for an arm, right?And just solving all those non-linear differential equations just for the arm is significant and when you get a bunch of guys with a bunch of arms you’re assuming that there is a powerful CPU on their client machine.

Philip Rosedale: It’ll be done though, it’ll be done. I mean it’s solvable by breaking it down into a finite method or a lattice method or something. There’s a bunch of smart thinking about it, I’m just saying it is a great thing to work on.

Jani Pirkola: Yes, It’s a big challenge for us and I’m not saying that we will solve it once and for all but we’ll take the first step here.

Ben Goertzel: We’re an AI company (Novamente) doing AI for virtual worlds. We’re starting out with virtual pets in Multiverse.

Yesha Sivan (Metaverse Labs): My name’s Yesha Sivan, I’m working on a long term more official standardization project out of Europe a … question for the OpenSim guys what are we doing with money of any kind?

Adam Frisby (Open Sim): Well this question keeps coming up. And this is, perhaps, a good question to come up because effectively a lot of these virtual worlds you want to make money out of them you want to be the Amazon where you can sell this this and this. The problem is the money shouldn’t be part of the protocol itself, if you look at it on a fundamental level on the web today, you do not have something in there that handles just Visa transactions so we could put visa transactions in the http specification and then suddenly everyone’s going to use visa for every transaction. And the same thing applies to virtual worlds, there’s no reason to imbed a payment processing method into the protocol itself. You can make sure the protocol’s extensible so you can do things on top of it, but I think it’s fundamental that you allow people like PayPal to spring up and satisfy the niche and allow competition to occur because if you standardize these things too strictly then you’re going to run into edge cases where you won’t be able to do this or this without running up to walls. We are not too keen on developing a money standard for virtual worlds, what we’re keen to do is develop a virtual world server that handles a 3D simulation and has a very finite goal. I think a lot of problems with virtual worlds is they try to do everything. You want to do this this this and this. The fact is you don’t need to do everything. You can solve just what need to be done to allow other people to solve every other problem. So my answer is we’re not going to touch money, We’ve got support in the server software for adding a currency module if you want to. So you can write a module to extend and do that. But we won’t do it ourselves.

Yesha Sivan: Let us move it a bit further, it’s not just the money order that pay pal is receiving it has to do with permissions, it has to do with obfustication of the object so that you cannot copy it…..

Adam Frisby: I’m going to get onto this one and say that any obfustication of an object is rubbish because at some point you’ve got to have displayed it on the viewer. All the viewers that we work with at the moment are open source. And if you’re going to have obfustication someone can just look at the viewer code and say hey this is how it’s being obfusticated or they could grab it off of the video card where it has to be decoded, there is no way you can display an encrypted or obfusticated object on a video card. There’s no way you can do it.

David Levine: On the video card it’s acceptable and if the rendering is done in open source client it’s acceptable. However, that said, marking intent, making the creators intent, and supporting that is of the essence. So from a mutual operability point of view, we’ve got to be able to say this object was created by so and so, they’ve attached these creative comments or permanent licensing terms to it, and if you violate them you are on notice for stealing their item. We can’t technically stop them, there are limits there.

Philip Rosedale: You know, a couple of high level points about this topic – money, permissions, inventory, interchange. One of the reasons why we, I think it’s somewhat mystifying sometimes why we at Linden been so proactive. People who understand that acknowledge that people are indiscriminate. People who understand less about how virtual worlds work are such an empty example of how .. why would we at Linden so aggressively tried to open-source all our code and participate so actively with open-source projects when it means that if we succeed we would lose the ability to make money in business at all in the presence of a lot of open-source products. Well that’s the answer actually. Because there’s going to be enough people, not everybody, not every simulator wants to have these capabilities nor normally need it. But yeah if you’re going to sell a virtual pet in a virtual world, and you want to take it somewhere or you want to have it be able to pay for it at all, you’re going to have to use some single global mechanism for that because otherwise it’ll just become .. you don’t have to use one but it’ll become inconvenient for you to say move money around different worlds. So I agree that money should be separate from the system, and it’s an interesting point cause this is one of the ways that we as a company have been smart in thinking about the strategy here and realizing that there will be reasonable ways for us to charge fees for things like money systems, and inventory permissions, and of course it’s not just obfustication, it’s simply the marking that this was made by Amee Weber. You’ll only trust that the cloths you’re wearing were made by Amee Weber, if you care, if there’s some sort of common naming scheme that says Amee Weber. And, what our hope as a company is is to provide those types of global services and make money on them or at least some money in the market place.

And we’re so sure having thought about it that we can reasonably do that it has allowed us to take the mission and principal position which we’re very happy with that we as a company can do that which will move virtual worlds forward for everyone fastest which is to allow basically protocols, code and everything else to be out in the open (inaudible) ???. And we’ll still make money. Hopefully a lot of it! We’re making a lot of money today as a company. We’ve done well thus far, admittedly it’s been by hosting these services.

David Levine: I think this is of the essence part of that success comes from having the content created by users, and respecting their desires to do that in an economically satisfying way. And one of the things that I try to take in these interoperability discussions is how do we do interoperability in a way so that at the end of the day the people who are creating the content that makes this a special world in some ways thats one of the things that Second Life is visually unique by are feeling safe and whole and protected. That they can market their content and they have some reason to believe it’s not all being leaked out into the world instantaneously because they’re technically an open source work. That’s a really challenging work. The fact is as Adam pointed out there’s nothing we can do to prevent the client from seeing the textures. Once you give the texture to somebody they put it on your shirt, your shirt’s in world, it’s going on to somebody’s client and they’re (inaudible)???(33:03.375).

Philip Rosedale: But one point though that’s also important to make about this is has a really big website. Can somebody here just copy that Amazon thing and put it on your laptop and inaudible ???(33:13.750). No! You know why not? Because that Amazon stuff is connected to a bunch of back-end code that you can’t just ???(33:22.906). There’s always protection. This is the way the world works. The stack of intellectual property protection moves upward, hopefully at the speed at which horizontal ubiquity make it necessary to have uniqueness there. And people start building property at higher levels. Animals, Ben’s working on these animals in Second Life do you think you can just rip one of those off by pulling it out of the frame buffer?

Ben Goertzel: That case would be an example of behaviour the ability to learn and yet to steal a certain number of units of server time for pet learning and intelligence (inaudible) ???(34:04.844) you have to go to …

Philip Rosedale: You guys don’t have to, it’s your choice. You don’t have to expose the code that is behind these pets, either as scripts or as back-end technology. It’s elective as to whether you expose that code.

Ben Goertzel: We’re not quite sure to what extent we will. And even that (exposing the code) I don’t believe is fatal to our business model whatsoever. Most of the value is in the knowledge. It’s taught to the virtual pets and AI rather than in the source code itself anyway. The knowledge of what people have taught to the AI which is in the knowledge base on the AI server rather than the AI source code.

Adam Frisby: I dare to make a point here on this though. Some things will be ripable. Take for instance looking at the web today. If you upload a script to your web host, your web host has a copy of that script. They can rip it. Likewise if you have sell something like Vbulletin thats a forum software that’s used on world web sites. If you sell that software to someone, then you’re giving them the code and the moment you give them the code then it’s out of bounds. The solution to that to protect something exclusively, that relies on a server back-end component is to host it yourself and provide it as software as a service model. If you build the object and you allow it to be transferred from one server to another then at that point the people who it’s being transferred to can copy it. And this is just a fundamental thing. If someone is going to copy something they can make another copy.

Tish Shute: Also another question from Peter Quirk of EMC, his question is also part of the discussion we just had here about assets, and working with this wonderful artistic situation..and storhouse that’s developed in Second Life that hopefully is going to be interoperable with OpenSim. Peter’s question to OpenSim is what is your plan to make sure you stay interoperable and that you remain compatible, and are you not forking? He actually is quite specific, he felt OpenSim LSL is already forking from the Second Life LSL.

Adam Frisby: That’s actually probably a good point. I mean we have extended LSL. We’ve got something and we’ve actually renamed it from LSL to OSSL. And the reason for that was we started adding new things. We’ve added some ??? commands. Then we started changing the syntax adding things like switch statements etc. that people have been requesting for years. We still are compatible with LSL though. If you take any LSL script on the grid, it should compile under OpenSim. Some of the backend functions, LSL’s got about 327 functions, I think we’ve implemented about 118 of those. So as long as you use those 118 then they’ll run just fine. Once we’ve finished the rest of them then yes, we’re compatible with LSL 2.0. On the other hand if you use OSSL then that’s not backwards compatible with LSL you can’t take an OSSL script and push it back into Second Life. In most cases I think some of them will be, cause OSSL is a superset of LSL.

Philip Rosedale: Are you going to continue to use Mono?

Adam Frisby: We will.

David Levine: Absolutely.

David Levine: I know Babbage is already having some fairly rich discussions with OpenSim developers on things like should we share some of the mono libraries.

Yani Pirkola: OK. I just wanted to say something about content and realXtend. We at real realXtend see in the future or we hope and see that there are going to be many realXtend servers around the world, like today there are Apache servers. And each of those worlds needs content on them so that’s a problem. Where are we going to get initial content to populate the world to make it look like something. We have started donating all our content that we do in the project for public use, in this CC license, attribution only, corresponds to the BSD license on the code side. So you can take and use it. I haven’t yet seen any, at least I don’t know any good open source project around open content.

Adam Frisby: It’s an interesting point. There is the Google warehouse. That would be a fantastic thing to integrate so you can grab drag and drop items from there and they’re all in collada. There’s also commercial services. Turbo squid is a fantastic one and I know there’s some guys from them hanging around this conference. But I think there are big libraries available. The key is using standard format, using Collada, or using some common mesh format ???

David Levine: There are groups now in Second Life like Clever Zebra doing open content intentionally for open use.

Philip Rosedale: We made a statistical assessment of ratio of free to not free content. It was very interesting, I can’t remember the number. But there is a double digit percentage of items in Second Life that appear to be fully promiscuous in effect of permissions. People were OK with them being copied and so it’s be interesting to note what mass of content that is within a given sort of ???(43:28.781) of users.

You’re going to have an equilibrium point according to how much stuff people are fine giving away and how much stuff they want to take and monetize. You can do both things in Second Life. So it is interesting to take a look at how that number meshed out. You know the total volume I think of content is a significant driver of experiences even behind the firewall experience. You know the stuff we’re doing with IBM is because we strongly believe that you really still want to be to get content from the main grid must be somewhere quite easily even if you’re just use do private business conferencing on a sim???(43:58.889)

There’s no question… I mean no business right now is going to want to start from …. and build up a nice business conf. in Second Life. They’re going to have to get content from somewhere so whether it’s from a system or not it’s .. the sheer size of the content base is interesting for comparatives. About a billion assets at this point about a hundred terabytes of data. So it’s a considerable amount of data probably makes .. … the google warehouse probably wouldn’t be measurable at this point so it’s so .. this is a big issue. A lot of the experiences in Second Life, the reason they’re cool is because they have all the content that you probably haven’t seen before. And that’s the way it’s going to be and its not just visual content it’s got to be interactive content. It’s everything the most important content is actually living.

David Levine: Actually the point that you’re on there about that even though it’s behind the firewall experiences is exactly spot on. Nobody wants A) to have 500 avatars interact with 499 other companies. and that’s not going to do it the MIM gets sheared at about 5. and B) nobody wants to have to go recreate the 500 conference rooms that people seem to insist on creating though why thay don’t want to sit by a lake and enjoy the view I don’t know. Not always the same place but a waterfall and trees .. the point being that you don’t want to create these little corporate walled gardens which are empty, you want to create corporate walled gardens which are lively, and be able to say to people of this part of the corporate walled garden not only is lively but is quasi public. And those kinds of discussions are why it’s not a simple standard like http. It is not we’d be throwing content over the walls and forgetting about it.

Philip Rosedale: About a third of those billion objects by the way, as far as we can tell, are scripted.

Round table participant:
Going back to the original question about things remaining compatible. Because OpenSim is an open source project there is always someone around who can come along and say revision have gone to far and it would be valuable to bring any forks back together.

Adam Frisby: There’s a lot of commercial interest in making sure things are compatible. I’m sure that when there’s lots of installations around say if it’s a version that 3Di does which is Ginsei or it’s the realXtend server, the point is people are going to want to go from one to the other and the one that drifts too far apart and you can’t do that anymore, is going to be shunned a little bit until that’s fixed. And, there’s a commercial incentive for people to have a compatible standard here. I think that’s probably the reason or driver behind why there are so many organizations now looking to standardize virtual world technologies.

Question (inaudible) Christian Westbrook I think!

Adam Frisby: That depends entirely on the content creators whether they’re willing to license their things to go outside the walled garden or not. If they are then fantastic, that’s great.

David Levine: It depends also on getting to a model of the protocol where we can mark whether or not the end point is an end point we trust. One of the challenges is going to be the trust model. Because we want to be able to say to somebody you can mark your content always stay on Linden’s grid because that’s the agreement you want, or on any trusted grid where there’s a legal relationship that the DMCA requested and will be honored. or I don’t care, I think it’s a cool object, anyone can have it. we want to be able to get all those gradations. and again we can’t enforce them in the sense that yes some of this stuff is going to bleed. but we want to be able to know the intent was conveyed all the way to the end point ..

Adam Frisby: Interesting point here however that I think there’s a good commercial incentive for things to be more permissible. Take say someone’s avatar, someone’s got a nice furry avatar that they go from one sim to another. Now if you teleport from one region to another server that isn’t trusted your avatar’s going to disappear and you’re going to be pissed off at the creator of that. And say Hey, why can’t you let me take my avatar with me, that’s part of me. So I think that we’ll see that there will be an incentive for people to start marking their items as transferrable because the customers are going to demand it. It gives value to your item, and to your end user so that they can use it.

Rountabler?: Wouldn’t it be an incentive for the landowners to have a certificate allowing that content on his land?

Adam Frisby: There will be models all over the place. I fully expect people to show up and say -

David Levine: Practically there will be an open ecosystem where we explore all these relationships within the essential, not just interesting, the essential. find out this model really drives people to your concept, this model drives people away. And I don’t predict which one it’ll be, I’ve got some guesses, but let the market tell us. Let people explore what happens when I create a wide open sim, do I get a ton of user created content and it’s cool? Or does it turn into a real wasteland? And I think predicting that is not only sort of -

Prokofy Neva: I want to ask a philosophical question about the relationship of the average consumer to the developer in OpenSim. From here it sounds like you you are making virtuality but not virtual worlds – a world. (very hard to hear here) They may all be interoperable with an open source that they share but they are all (inaudible) … and what that sets the developer up to do is that he has to endlessly create professional content that the consumer burns through.

Adam Frisby: Sounds like the internet today doesn’t it?

Prokofy Neva: No sounds like World of Warcraft…

Adam Frisby: There isn’t going to be a single..

Prokofy Neva: ….(inaudible) how do people get the motivation….I mean three people have three things to do either play house, play store, or play war…..

Adam Frisby: Each single one of those is a use case in this thing. There’s also the corporate ones where you’ve got people who want to work the case is that you have people conglomerate their regions into some sort of federation of sites. So you’ll have web site equivelants where you’ll have big portals set up that link website A to website B to website C. And that happens on the internet today people conglomerate in certain locations so if for instance the virtual world would potentially be huge it would be giant it would be a mass collection of subsites which formed something. Also you would have things like Second Life. Second Life is just one such use case for this environment. Second life is a big virtual world where you’ve got people involved and they all exist. The key here is that you can not just go to Second Life though, you can go from Second Life to and back again. Yes some of the experience will change, some environments will decide to be consistent in their visual scheme or other types of simularities and yet other regions will group together based on simularities I expect that to happen. But like the web today, there’s nothing linking say one site to another. If they choose to make a link then great but there’s nothing linking every single site on the net to every single other site on the net.

Prokofy Neva: Sound inaudible

Adam Frisby: One of the reasons it doesn’t work is because I would say the browsers at the moment aren’t really set up to allow you to browse from one site to another. In Second Life the browser is extremely limiting, you can’t type in a URL and teleport from one area to another. You have to load up a SLURL which is a pain in the ass. Or you need to open up the world map and find where you’re going and teleport to it. Or you need to fly to it. There’s nothing that gives you a convenient A to B link.

Discussion – sound inaudible…….

David Levine: I think one of the things we talked of as a concern about like a thousand simulators sort of flower is that we’ll get a thousand simulators sort of half empty and not interesting. I think the reality is that’s not going to happen because simulators are going to end being either run or not run based on whether or not people actually come there and play. People are going to come and play because we create compelling spaces. You look at virtual worlds that die and they’re plenty of them out there which are half dead and they’re half dead because the users don’t have a reason to hang around. And yeh there are some people who draw up a simulator in their garage because they think it’s cool. And they’ll play with it and a dozen people wander in and out and it’ll be like that web page you put up because you were bored one Tuesday and you wanted to put a picture of your nephew up. And it’ll die. Eventually somebody forgets to pay their domain service or registration and they go away. I think what’s going to happen is there’ll be self grouping. We’re going to have large clusters of people who have a similar philosophy on content, and they’re going to find ways to interoperate.And a lot of them at least in the early days are going to hang off Second Life as an appropriate place to socialize and a place to get some large shopping. Situations happen. A lot of things are going to gradually coalesce and we have no good prediction what that’s going to look like. Just like we didn’t know which of the ISP’s which were going to look promising in 1985, whether it’s the AOL or Compuserve, or Prodigy extensions you go to media if you want date yourself thoroughly. Bits of those models are still here with us today. you can get an email address but, lots of those went by the wayside when their content models stopped being relevant. And we’ll figure that out over time.

Inaudible question……

Adam Frisby: I think that you’ll find ther’ll be a very tiered relationship. For instance say one webhost allows you to use scripts, and allows your scripts to consume 100% of the processor time. That’s going to be an expensive web host. Likewise you’re going to have environments which are very cheap. They’re not going to let you run scripts. They’re going to let you have this many objects. They’re going to let you use this many resources on things. You’ll pay for more resources. Say you’ve got one world where every single blade of grass in the environment is physically simulated, that’s going to happen on the server and you’re going to have to pay an expense for that. You’re going to find that all these web hosts are going to show up, and they’re going to offer different competing feature sets. They’re going to say well I’ll give you a really rich experience for end users but you’re going to pay out the nose for it. Or you’ll have people who do the discount web host. and to a degree this happens on the internet today. you pay for the extra database access, you pay for scripting access, you pay (YOU PAY FOR RELIABILITY) yeah you pay for reliability of services.

Roundtabler?: And there are low prim sims.

David Levine: And the other piece that I think you’re going to see is you’re going to find sims that say everybody on this sim is private, we’re not going to identify you. You’re going to find other ones where there’s going to be a OpenID requirement to login, and every range of that. And that evolution I think it began, it’s essential like the internet, we will toss out thousands of models over the next ten years in virtual worlds and just like we suddenly discovered point cast didn’t work. and why it didn’t work, (to pick on another old technology). Some of it’ll fall by the wayside and some of it’ll take off and the exciting thing is having an ecosystem where we can afford that.


categories: 3D internet, digital public space, free software, interoperability of virtual worlds, Linden Lab, Metarati, Metaverse, open metaverse, open source, privacy in virtual worlds, Second Life, Virtual Citizenship, virtual communities, virtual economy, virtual world standards, Virtual Worlds, Web 2.0, Web 3D, Web3.D, World 2.0

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Gijah Says:

    I suggest all readers glance over at the “newsite”-

    Look to the IMVU and DIsney VMK threads to understand how the majority of these pundit metarati have no clue of the reality of business and human relations. They are a room of PT Barnums whom have convinced others that they actually have any knowledge of what they are talking about.

    Only in retrospect, does ARDEN’s failure “teach” the obvious about game design, only after is, IMVU is “found out” to be as mistaken as in finding a balance between content makers and tool makers. Today, greed and ego creates a world were tool makers cant be happy anymore to make and sell tools, but now they must keep failing as they sell us the service of using the tool. Please see ADOBE latest apologies about its TOS to understand this issue.

    The Arts will no longer be held hostage to these Coders greed fed by a press that is paid for by the said companies and worse is incapable of investigating the truth behind the lies spoken.

    Technology tool makers that work in this VC /all or nothing myth that is prevelant at all these conferences will alway fail. If bloggers were journalists theyd used the technology to research this decade long truth.

    These conferences are expensive press releases for invited companies only. They attempt to suggest a new media for all. But only if they own it all.


  2. Prokofy Neva Says:

    That’s a very interesting post, Gijah. I agree that the tech press is bought by the companies that feel the need to keep hyping this opensource myth as a business model. I’d like to understand more about what you’re saying, because I think ultimately, if tool-makers think that you can’t obfuscate to hide texture information like UUIDs or whatever and “can’t” stop copyright theft for “technical reasons,” in the same way, you can’t keep obfuscating the knowledge about the use and even creation of tools. People keep hacking and finding this out, so the concept of obfuscating tool-making and tool use by making it hard, or making it complex to customize, is probably a broken model — hoisting by your own petard and all that.

    I will try to find time to listen to the tape and transcribe it and/or recreate what I said in this meeting, which was basically this:

    People come on these worlds to play store, play house, or play war. Even play school is more of a variant of play house, basically or one of the other two. They do this play even if tethered to a real life thing. The virtual world isn’t a game, but it is play. Play in the sense of freedom from constraints, freedom to be innovative and create. But it still basically amounts to play house, play store, play war.

    You can’t get them to stick and stay and keep hanging out if you can’t enable one or all or two of those three functions. A world that is merely a tool-makers sandbox with no featurse turned on to play house, play store, or play war is not a world, but a massively multiplayer PhotoShop, which is what Eric Rice calls it.

  3. Gijah Says:

    Play, are you a child?

    This is not about play.. play is fine in toys and entertainment items. People should be allowed to make such items, but I am talking about all creative thought and expressions beyond the old useless written blog media. No one under 20 reads your blog and long winded hyberbole words. They will wait for the you tube movie- or the 3d rpg game/world to immerse in.

    But all this Virtual IP property- which is very real value- and the only Property you Americans still OWN in your own country today. Under the increasing TOS Ownership of those who in reality only make the PENCILS and PAPER. –to use youre media of choice- the expressions of those who speak in media are now threatened into slavery.
    Even the blog isnt yours…. at a flick of a switch you lose your publication ability via the TOS of the company you enslaved youre blog too.

    Just a few years ago youd pay a ISP and pubish what you want and own it with no issues.. ISP were not “collating and reselling your work to google adsword” or being exit planned to Google.

    Get off your comfortable butt, and realize that VR worlds are not going to be used for play in a few years, but will BE the WORLD for many, and that “expressions” are the ONLY property of value on an Internet that keeps growing because it is not “really” physical and has no real borders or space. This conference is not about making access more open and cheaper to the world artist or people, it’s about the opposite. Only a child who plays can’t see that. Youre congress asks the stupid questions about the virtual worlds the same week. This rountable looks like the same old music buisness you say cant adapt but it’s worse. It dont want to adapt to the new reality the internet offered years ago to us. Cheap access for our ideas and properties on the network that we can use to make us a fair life style. You all want to be Linden’s, or Google. You all want to own it all and are making the Internet into youre old TV networks.

    The ideas the IP Property offers is more important than any server hosting service for “free” or ‘ 3d widget publisher for Facebook” again-seemingly “free” to use, but only to help sell advertising keywords or membership signup numbers for a private company that has no stake in you or your ideas or property.

    Massive Photoshop? that is what Adobe has sneaked into existance last month, but flickr/ youtube, and your Linden Labs has already done so.

    Only years later do I see a few artists realizing that they dont own the work the created for profit sakes. I see many of regular people who enjoyed and invested time and money and creative soul now crying over Disney ending their community. Fools, it was never your community, always it was part of Disney Corporation and a loss leader for tax purposes. None of you ever owned Mickey Mouse , or any avatar you made to look like his cousin in VMK. As pay for a play you have gotten what you payed for. But you are not happy? why? because you never understood what virtual worlds are for these companies. You write poems and create stories for them, but you must see you own nothing you can do with outside of their rules.

    The internet was open and has been kept open so far. Two massive media bubbles have failed to close it. That was due to publishing tools NOT being the same as the medium that host the content systems. But all I can see in this VR worlds conference group and those who Play at Landlord/ world gods in Second Life is the desire to control peoples ideas and their expressions using the same old media ways.

    Horrible Feudal system of tool makers and rich server/land owners!

    I neither need or want IBM or LL or any of YOU to make money off MY work. I create because I want to. I sell it because I want to. I will pay you fair money for the paper /paint and pencils. BUT that does not mean you OWN my efforts and my property of value.

    Soon this will be the voice of the many YOUR false vision has made USER GENERATORS.