Why Anyone Who Cares About the Metaverse Needs to Move Beyond Second Life; Now, Not Later

tl;dr:  If we want to see the metaverse happen in our lifetime, we need to invest our time, money, creativity, and resources into making it happen.  It isn’t going to come from Second Life or Linden Lab, and the metaverse can’t wait.

Five or six years ago, you could not have found a more enthusiastic and engaged supporter of the Second Life platform than me. Like many, I was inspired by the technology itself and especially by the vision of a company who promised us a new world built from our imaginations. Back then, the leadership of Second Life actually said things like “I’m not building a game. I’m building a new country.” (I love that Gwyn keeps that quote from Philip Rosedale in her sig line.) While I was always skeptical about that “new country” bit, I was completely and passionately in love with the idea that we were creating a new world – a new KIND of world – that exploded with possibilities and opportunities for those who were open to learning how to use them.

I’d read Snow Crash too, of course, and it wasn’t just the idea of Second Life itself that excited me, but rather the idea that Second Life was a seed, a prototype, a very rough but crucially important first step towards the creation of an open metaverse. Even back then, my imagination supplied me with a thrilling vision of what the metaverse could become. I could see it in my mind’s eye, this online incredibly complex 3D universe of people, places, and things, of not just one new world, but many new worlds, connected to one another, traversable with our digital bodies, varied and wonderful and full of commerce, educational opportunities, entertainment, creativity, and all the magical things that we could collectively unleash from our imaginations. The metaverse would be the next iteration of the net and the web, moving from flat, mostly static, two dimensional pages to dynamic, live, and action oriented 3D online places.

Most exciting to me, this digital variation of our physical universe would not be limited by so many things that constrain us in the physical world – lack of capital, limits on consumable resources, the difficulties of physical distance, and the incredibly stale and inflexible institutions and legal structures that are cracking and groaning and failing to adapt even to the exigencies of the real world, forget being able to address the digital world.  It wouldn’t take millions of dollars to build a company headquarters in the metaverse, no need for lumber and concrete either – pixels are limitless. And it wouldn’t matter if your colleagues lived in Dubai or Dublin or Dallas, you could still work together side by side in a virtual space and collaborate on a shared design in real time, in some ways better even than you could in the real world. And maybe, just maybe, all that plasticity and the ability to visualize things in new ways would help us discover new angles to solving intractable old real world problems, too.

I became absolutely convinced that those of us pioneering these new digital worlds would have the opportunity to do better in the virtual worlds we create than has been done in the real world we inherited, and that we could learn from our experiences in virtual worlds to make the real world a better place, too.

And in those early days, forget the technology or the company or the leadership at the helm, the most wonderful thing about Second Life back then is that I kept meeting people who were thinking the same thing. Logging into Second Life was like mainlining a drug, everywhere you teleported, you might just bump into someone brilliant, thoughtful, someone as excited about the possibilities as you were. Everywhere you looked were fascinating projects: scientists playing with visualizing data, artists creating experiences that were just not possible in real life, regular everyday people starting new businesses and finding financial success, professors and educators holding classes in the clouds and building a community of practice that made even the most isolated innovator in some corner of the physical world feel like they had finally found the colleagues and collaborators of their dreams.

Everywhere you looked was innovation.
Everyone you met was experimenting, trying new things, pushing new boundaries.
Anything seemed possible.  Maybe even probable.

I became so inspired, so excited by the possibilities that it quite literally changed my life. Trying to understand this prototype of the metaverse, and figuring out how to achieve those goals became the focus of my career.  I was travelling all over the US speaking about Second Life and the metaverse at conferences and lectures, and I was deeply engaged in my own projects in-world, too. Learning not just how to twist a pile of prims into something beautiful, but how that pile of prims could be used to facilitate a community like Chilbo, a classroom at my university, or bring people together for a conference like SLBPE or SLCC. The more I learned, the more sure I became that great things were possible because this rough little prototype of the metaverse had already enriched and changed my life for the better – I was quite certain it could change other people’s lives for the better, too.

I had a vision of the future and I worked very damned hard to help bring it to life, not in isolation, but with thousands of other people who were working hard to do the same thing. And the most wonderful part was that we had found each other, from all corners of the physical world, we discovered in each other a passion for making the metaverse a reality.

It was an exciting, heady time. I miss those days. And if you were one of those people, I bet you do, too.

That Was Then, This is Now

The road from there to here has been an interesting one. I was incredibly lucky that my personal circumstances and the university where I work gave me the space, time, and resources to dive deep into the topic. I spent the next several years fully engaged in the work, the space, the people, the projects, the platforms. I’ve read hundreds of academic articles, thousands of blog posts and news stories and editorials. I’ve had the opportunity to work on so many fantastically interesting projects, I’ve organized conferences and participated in scores of events to bring people who share this passion together in real life and virtually, and I’ve explored as many worlds and spaces as time has allowed to see what others are doing too.

And while there will always be someone more technically gifted than me, more knowledgeable, more connected.. I think it is fair to say I’ve developed some expertise in this topic, some genuine experience in understanding how and when a virtual world application makes sense and when it doesn’t, what the challenges and opportunities are, and some inklings of what the future may hold now that I’m not just wide-eyed with wonder, but seasoned by the trials and tribulations of not just starting projects in the fledgling metaverse, but leading them, staffing them, maintaining them, supporting them, marketing them, and finishing them. To be sure, some of my youthful naivete has departed, but I’d like to think it’s left some wisdom in its place, and here is what the view looks like to me now.

It would be fair to say that no single company or single platform could ever have lived up to the kinds of expectations that I described in the beginning of this post. Linden Lab and Second Life could never be all things to all people, and I give them credit for even trying to address the needs of so many diverse use cases and such a passionately vocal and creative userbase. And I do believe that they tried. For a very long time, I think they did try, sincerely and genuinely, to help bring the visions of Second Life’s residents to life. I personally worked with many folks from the Lab who were as passionate and committed as I was, and who tried their best to facilitate the projects and events that I worked on.

And while they were of course always working for Linden Lab and had to keep the company’s interests in mind, there were hints that some of the folks at Linden Lab also shared our passion for the metaverse itself, beyond Second Life. For a time, there seemed to be at least the possibility that Linden Lab might grow into a larger role, not just serving as a provider of a world called Second Life, but maybe they could become a steward of that burgeoning metaverse, sharing their technology with others in service of that broader goal in a “rising tide lifts all boats” kind of way. Before so many brilliant engineers and thinkers left the Lab, they took concrete steps in that direction, even – they open sourced the viewer code, they participated in research with IBM to test inter-world teleports, and when Philip spoke to us, the residents, he painted that kind of picture. This was not a game. This was about changing the world, real and virtual.

That was Linden Lab then. That is not Linden Lab now.

The Metaverse Will Not Come From Linden Lab or Second Life

I still see the Second Life platform as that first crucial step towards the metaverse, but anyone with two eyes in her head can see that it’s been many years and many changes in management since there was even a hope that Second Life itself would be anything but one world whose sole purpose is to make one company a profit. Linden Lab isn’t even a publicly traded company, for that matter, so we who have invested countless hours, poured thousands and thousands of dollars, staked our reputations and careers, and devoted our creativity and passions to the Second Life platform – we who made Second Life what it is – we can’t even see into the black box a tiny little bit. In truth, we don’t own even a tiny piece of this thing that we helped create.

It has always been that way, of course, even back in the beginning. But back then I also had some.. let’s call it faith, that the people in charge at Linden Lab shared at least some small part of the same vision that I had. Even if they went about it differently than I would do, or chose to prioritize different things than I would have chosen, I had some faith that both we the residents and Linden Lab the company were in some way working in concert with one another. At times it was discordant, and cacophonous, and certainly chaotic, but what complicated and pioneering endeavor isn’t?

And don’t forget, I was seeing these people, in person, at events and conferences all over the country.  I could look into their eyes and see my own passions reflected in them, and that sustained me even when I disagreed, sometimes vehemently, with their decisions and choices. They were good people making a good faith effort to do something good, and I was willing to endure all manner of inconveniences, indignities, and even embarrassingly horrible failures in the middle of important-to-my-career presentations, all because I felt that good faith effort deserved my patience and my loyalty.

I do not feel that way anymore. You shouldn’t either. It’s not because Linden Lab has become Evil or something silly like that (though I’ve long and often thought the dictionary definition of “mismanagement” should include their company logo), but simply because their priorities are no longer our priorities – not even close. If there was any question, the recent announcement about adding Second Life to Steam should put that doubt to rest. Linden Lab is pivoting, as they like to say in start-up land, and they’re pivoting to gamers. They’re no more interested in expanding or creating the metaverse than EA or Blizzard is, the only world changing thing they are aiming for now is better monetization of the entertainment and virtual goods sector.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with gaming – I am a gamer myself, and unlike Prokofy, I don’t think all gamers are idiots or griefers. I have a Steam account and play lots of games on there, and right this moment, I’m anxiously anticipating this weekend’s release of Guild Wars 2 like I haven’t looked forward to a new game in a long time (I’m going to start a guild if I can’t find one, come join me!). And a bit ironically given my last professional experience with Linden Lab, I actually like what I’ve seen of Rod Humble the person; he seems genuine and thoughtful and deeply knowledgeable about the game industry. I look forward to seeing what the newly re-focused Linden Lab comes up with, and I hope it is entertaining and interesting and successful. I’ll even hope that it continues to push the envelope technologically.

But game worlds are not the metaverse. They don’t want to be the metaverse, or participate in the metaverse, or have anything to do with an online universe where people can travel freely, create freely, start their own companies, or do their own thing. Game worlds are about sucking us into someone else’s world, where they endeavor to create an entertainment experience that is so enthralling that we willingly fork over cash to keep experiencing it. Which is great, sometimes really great, and fun and addicting and all that good stuff. But any game experience, no matter how thrilling, pales in comparison to what we who have lived in the fledgling metaverse know is possible, what we know could be possible if the kinds of resources, talent, technology, and effort that currently gets invested in game worlds were to be invested in the metaverse instead.

The thing is, once you’ve made your own world, you can never go back to being satisfied only playing in other people’s worlds. Or at least that’s the way it is for me.

Now someone out there is going to argue that it’s not like Linden Lab is going to turn Second Life into WoW or something, that they are at least trying to pivot to something of a hybrid between game worlds and virtual worlds. That seems to be what Gwyn thinks, and I’ll agree that there’s truth to that, but it’s important to remember that virtual worlds are not the metaverse either. Virtual worlds are some step before the metaverse, before we figure out how to connect everything up. It’s another intermediary step, and while we’re working on learning how do that, we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Whatever hybrid Linden Lab intends to make, they’ve signaled very strongly that they are simply not interested in having their virtual world participate in any of this metaverse stuff at all.

Which means for those of us who want to see the metaverse become a reality in our lifetimes, their goals are not our goals. Their priorities are not our priorities. The metaverse is not going to grow out of Linden Lab or Second Life, it’s that simple.

But I Can’t Leave My Inventory!  And My Friends!  And My Awesome Builds!

Does this mean you have to leave Second Life? No of course not, even I haven’t done that. I still have projects for work in Second Life and though Chilbo has changed to a mostly private landowner model, we’re still there and I still have a strong connection to my friends, colleagues, and communities in Second Life.

But I have tiered down, way down, and I have begun to invest my time and money largely elsewhere – in Opensim, in Unity, in exploring other nascent platforms and technologies that might be a step in the metaverse direction. I think if you care at all about making the metaverse a reality, that’s what you should do, too, and there are several reasons why:

The first reason is that Second Life is not a safe place or a good place to store your work. At some point, maybe not this year, maybe not even next year, but at some point you will have the epiphany that you have poured your creativity into a very, very fragile jar that is held by someone who does not give one hoot that they hold your most precious efforts in their hands. Worse, you will also realize that you have paid a ridiculously high price to have your creativity held in a jar owned by someone else. Worse still, it will break your heart when they drop the jar and all your effort shatters into a million pieces that you can’t easily pick up, if at all. (Ask the educational community, they will tell you.)

Imagine you are writing that novel you’ve always dreamed of writing, the novel that will change the world. And it’s early on in the development of software for writing novels, so there are only one or two platforms that allow you to even do it. One of the downsides of these early platforms is, you can only ever work on your novel on their servers, and the only copy that exists of your novel only exists on their servers. But hey, there aren’t any other good options out there, so you dive in, pouring your heart and soul into writing the best novel you can.

The more you add to your novel, as the years pass, the more attached you become, until one day something terrible happens. You lose your job, or you get sick, or the stock market crashes, whatever the reason, suddenly you can’t afford to pay for access to your novel. And just like that, all that work, all that effort, gone in a blink. Or one day the company changes its mind and decides it doesn’t even want to host novels anymore, novels are not their target market now, who needs these novel writing people! And just like that, all that work, all that effort, gone in a blink.

How many writers would choose to write their novel on a platform like that? None. NO ONE. Only someone insane would choose to do that. Only someone deluded would choose to do that and pay through the nose for the privilege once there were other options available.

Unfortunately, you sometimes pay a really high price for being an early adopter. Back then, Second Life was the only virtual world game in town, and you didn’t have any choices. That is no longer the case.  Linden Lab should allow you to make a copy of your work, but they don’t. And to continue the analogy, they don’t want to give you a copy of your novel because they need you to keep paying the hostage fees to access it.

My advice is: Stop being a hostage. Or at least stop being blind to it. And think about what it means for Linden Lab to decide for you, for us, whether we can have a copy of our own stories.

The second reason you need to shift your focus elsewhere is because other platforms need your passion and your creativity and your help. We all benefit when there are choices, when there are options, and when there is a healthy ecosystem of competition. Five years ago I would have guessed there would be many platform choices by now, but there aren’t, and it’s my fault. And your fault. We’ve remained so focused on one platform that we’ve allowed the virtual world ecosystem to atrophy to the point where you could hardly even say there is an ecosystem at all. And that’s bad – for businesses, for educators, for artists, it’s bad for virtual worlds, and it’s bad for the metaverse to come.

We need there to be a million laboratories and experiments happening, we need to have different options for different use cases, and we need to continue to grow the virtual worlds and metaverse “space” even if it isn’t the hot media darling it once was. In fact, we need to do it especially because it is not the hot media darling it once was. All those VCs and angel investors looking to drop a few million bucks on the hot new thing are so wrapped up in mobile and tablets and whatnot that the metaverse doesn’t stand a chance in hell of getting attention from anyone but the people who passionately believe in it. That’s us.

And what we lack in monetary capital we make up for in intellectual capital and the patience and perseverance to click through fifty bazillion checkboxes if that’s what it takes to figure out how to do something. We are not deterred by horrible user interfaces and inconvenient re-starts, by constant patching and broken viewers. We have put up with more trials and tribulations to make our visions a reality in Second Life than obviously most sane people were willing to do – so what is holding us back from moving beyond Second Life to continue to grow the space? I can’t believe it’s because it’s too hard, SECOND LIFE IS TOO HARD, for god’s sake.  Still!  After all these years, it still takes a ridiculous amount of effort to do anything in Second Life. So I don’t buy the difficulty argument, or the lack of features argument. That’s baloney.

No, other things are holding us back, and mostly I think it is that we’ve forgotten the vision. Well, remember it. Think back, remember what you hoped for, and let that sustain you as you move beyond Second Life to explore and help create new worlds that desperately need people like us to invest our time and talents into growing the virtual worlds and metaverse of tomorrow.

My advice: The single easiest thing for you to do is to begin with Opensim. Forget what you’ve heard or read about Opensim, forget all the frothing over content theft and copybots, and forget whatever experience you had with Opensim a few years ago. Opensim (and by extension OSGrid)  is the closest thing to what Second Life should have become, could have become if the Cory Ondrejka’s of the Lab hadn’t left. The only thing it doesn’t have is the monetary capital that Linden Lab has squandered in bad management and bad decisions, and the intellectual capital required to hit that tipping point of adoption necessary for there to be “enough” people using it to find the collaborators, content, and creativity that you need for your projects.

I’ll save a big treatise on Opensim for another day. It isn’t perfect, and it has its own set of issues, but it is actually more stable and more feature rich than Second Life in many ways, and any excuses that it’s too hard or too confusing fall upon my deaf ears. It isn’t. Stop making excuses. If you care about virtual worlds and the metaverse, you need to be taking at least some portion of your time, money, and efforts from Second Life and investing it in Opensim instead. You’ll be able to put all the years you’ve spent learning Second Life to good use, since it’s not like learning a completely different platform from the ground up, and you’ll be contributing to a community of people who deeply care about the future of the metaverse. Heck, you need to get into Opensim if for no other reason than you will learn more about Second Life than you ever have in all your years on the main grid.

Most importantly, Opensim’s whole raison d’etre is about growing the virtual worlds and metaverse space. Unlike Linden Lab, who have chosen to keep their one world for their profit, Opensim is all about your world, your imagination – quite literally, you can run your own world. (And you should, even as just a learning exercise. I’ll help you personally if you want to try, and if you haven’t, go visit my little personal world FleepGrid.)  I think you might be amazed at what you find, especially in the open hypergrid personal worlds rather than the InWorldz and SpotOn3D closed worlds, who, just like Second Life, want to be one world for their own profit*. Skip those and seek out the smaller grids and open grids and find your passion for the metaverse rekindled.

(* I can already hear Prokofy’s rebuttal ringing in my ears. I am not saying that for-profit projects or motivations are bad, in fact I think they can be good, and they are definitely necessary. I’m merely pointing out that some people are motivated by things other than profit, and I’m primarily addressing the audience of readers who, like me, are in that group. Call us naive do-gooders, or copyleft crazies, but we also contribute many good and meaningful things to the space and have a right to seek out like-minded projects and people.)

The third, and most important reason, you need to move beyond Second Life is because we’re getting old, and the metaverse can’t wait. Some time ago I came across an interview with Philip Rosedale where he said something about how he’d spent his 30’s doing Second Life and it was time to move on. It struck me because, while I’m a little younger than he is, I’ve now spent the majority of my 30’s working in this space, too, and in that time I’ve developed both a better understanding of just how long it can take for a technology to mature and just how intractable some of the technical and social barriers we face are.  Making the Metaverse might not be rocket science, but it isn’t easy either, and we still have a ton of work to do.  We have a lot of technical problems to solve, for sure, but we also have a lot of cultural work to do, and in my opinion, the cultural and social stuff is actually harder.  I can teach anyone how to click through a menu, it’s much more difficult to teach them why they should want to.

It’s going on 20 years since I discovered this thing called the internet, and from those very early days, I’ve always felt my personal talents lie in the ability to bridge gaps between different groups of technology users – to play the role of a translator.  Back in the 90’s when my role was primarily tech-support, I translated programmers’ intentions to end-users, and end-users’ needs to programmers.  Then in the early 2000’s when I was teaching workshops about using technology in education, I translated Gen-X/Y students’ behaviors for Baby Boomer faculty, and vice-versa.  These days, I find myself trying to translate to those living with today’s technology what we who have lived with tomorrow’s technology have learned, and at times it’s an immensely frustrating experience.  But equally frustrating is the stagnation I see even among those I admire and respect, who seem to have lost a little bit of that edge, that desire, to see more, much more, than mesh, and pathfinding, and whatever new shiny thing Linden Lab has bolted onto the same old broken chassis.

When I think back to where I started, I would have predicted we’d be much, much further along the road to the metaverse today than we actually are.  I’d have expected not just incremental improvements in tools, but whole new revolutions in how we translate our visions into pixels.  That hasn’t happened as much as I’d have liked.  I’d have thought that culturally, more people would be able to see and appreciate the benefits that virtual reality provides and would have embraced the opportunity to take advantage of it.  Surprisingly, people’s imaginations are more limited than I’d have guessed (including my own), and while we have seen things like Facebook and Twitter adopted more broadly, those are still flat, largely textual pages, not places to explore and experience together.  They are just iterations of the first webpage I saw back in the early 90s, not the revolution that Second Life once was, not the revolution that the metaverse needs to be.

Which brings me back to the whole game thing.  Back when Philip ran the Lab, Second Life was not a game. Under Rod’s leadership, a game is exactly what he’s trying to turn it into.

My advice is:  If you want to see the metaverse we imagined, then stop playing the perpetual hoping and waiting game that Second Life is.  Because if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that the metaverse won’t spring forth from hoping and waiting.


Update:  I had a super busy week at work, so I’m still stewing and thinking about all of the comments.  In the meantime, I wanted to add links to the various responses and side discussions that were posted elsewhere both for myself and for other interested readers.  Many thanks to all for the food for thought!  (Please let me know if I missed any, too!)


  1. Fleep, you are dead on.
    The metaverse/multiverse/omniverse/hypergrid/whatever is what we will build it into.

    Prok, your posts show you don’t really “get” OpenSim.
    I wanted to do a point by point rebuttal, but I’m not interested in a bootless argument with someone who won’t see anything except their preconceived notions.

    I am posting here to let anyone else who sees this thread know that you’re wrong in practically every possible respect and no one should take your word for how OpenSim/OSgrid/hypergrid is, or works.

    Anyone reading this should come to OSgrid themselves and talk to the real users (even me if you can find me in a good mood) and make up their own mind, rather than put any weight in the assertions of someone who hasn’t been there or tried it.

    And yes, Wayfinder, agreed that its been a bumpy road – but less bumpy than SL has been. I’ve been in both SL and OpenSim since they each began, and can tell you it’s been smoother on OpenSim.

    Skylar, my kids are in the same boat regarding gamification – but its easy to implement in OpenSim.
    Myriad Lite includes that with the concept of character building and improvement not seen in many SL roleplay/combat meters. But all sorts of gamification are possible – I have used a variety of unlocked rewards for my kids on their sims. As they “level up” in virtual world skills they get new tools, scripts and freebies. LL is slowing coming around to that with their premium goodies, and improved gaming focus. They lost it originally when they dropped the reputation system.

    Overall, I see the biggest challenge to OpenSim is that when the hypergrid lost the Central Committee (LL) laying out the Five Year Plan (what they planned to inflict on us next) – they threw region owners into the role of each designing their own goals – and most region owners haven’t figured that out and stepped up… yet. But the winds of change are already blowing – some regions have a solid reason WHY they exist and are steadily building the community and content that will attract the real usage. But maybe a part of the problem is that I know who those are, most people don’t.

  2. When I left Second Life I left behind my friends, my land, my inventory and even my name.

    It was the best thing I did.

    I have new friends and I have ALL of my inventory on an offline OpenSim SoaS standalone. Nothing gets lost or deleted unless I choose to delete it. I do my building offline and import those into the commercial grids where I have accounts, also under this name. When I go to hang out with others, I gridhop to wherever they are, or they ‘hop over to where I am. I enjoy the capitalist ventures as well as the communist.

    The point here is that there is both capitalism and communism in the OpenSim metaverse. The true beauty of this metaverse is that a person can find or make a place that suits THEM, not be stuck with someone else’s concept of what others want.

    Despite its flaws, OpenSim IS developing and advancing. Second Life is not. Getting listed on Steam is not an advancement. It is joining a herd. They want to tap into the fandom and advertising that comes with being listed on Steam. They become “just another game”. And games have a limited lifespan, despite adding updates and new adventures, people get tired of the same old.

    Cutting off TPVs from logging in to other grids is another form of self limitation. Linden Lab has made sure it is “Us or Them”. Dropping the development of inter-grid travel was another step on that road. Rather than becoming the model and benchmark for development and interaction, SL is now going down the path to shiny gaming.

    While some cry out against the “communism” of OpenSim like jaded McCarthy-ists, keep in mind that another word that grew out of the root for communism is community. And whetehr you live in a village, town or city, that, too, is a community.

    When it comes to leadership and governance, that comes from the OpenSim community itself. It is a true democracy where everyone does have an equal say and everyone can agree or not. Nobody gets stifled because they can’t afford to pay some fee or something. Nobody has to jump through hoops defined by a set of rules and regulations. Just post a blog or a comment and you have a voice.

    Each of us makes our own choice on whether to join with others or not. And nobody can try to push their “vision” on anyone else. That is what democracy is all about, the right to choose and the right to make something that is our own.

    That is what OpenSim and the metaverse does.

  3. Great post, great comments.
    I’m just going to be blunt and to the point about an angle that I don’t see represented here. I’m a musician. I joined SL to perform. I truly believe in the future of online performance. It is a venue that has changed my life, for the better, and forever. The fact that the platform is run by LL means little to me. The fact that all the tools to put on a credible virtual performance, and that there is an available way of networking to the already existing millions of users means everything. And when I say credible I mean good enough graphics, avatars, environments, animations etc to actually allow me and the audience to immerse into the venue. At this point SL is just getting there, nothing else is even close. As for networking, socializing, finding people .. SL is like the internet itself, it’s the hub of 3D worlds. It’s the only thing relevant if you’re looking for people to share your music, art, thoughts, builds or whatever with. I’m not down on OSGrid or Kitely or InWorldz .. I’ve joined them all. I just don’t see it happening. Not yet, and possibly not ever.

    I really want that bigger world that many of you have dreamed of. But I can’t help you build it, and I’m cynical about the feasibility of the concept based on many of the issues addressed in comments above. As Wizard said so eloquently, the new thing won’t be lame, I hope it also won’t be a Facebook app or a sterilized corporate platform. But that may well be where we end up. Sadly, Facebook is pretty much the only place that could immediately draw enough new users to populate the live shows and cause musicians to change venues. And that would suck. SL is musician/artist friendly. It’s full of freaks. We feel cozy here.

    I think I can speak for a lot of SL musicians in saying; Show us the world, we will come. We have tried what’s available and only SL gives us the venue to make virtual performance a reality. Build a ‘whatevaverse’, just make it not lame and not sterile or a threat to the privacy of the users who we invite to our shows.

    Oh and one other thing .. it’s gotta be a freakshow, with all the broken bells and rusted whistles. 😉

  4. Fluke I was so enjoying your article and feeling a sense of comfort as you eloquently described what I’ve felt about SL for so long. Somehow it didn’t quite feel as real until I read it described so clearly here, and at such a fitting time as I’ve begun the difficult process of moving away from SL and to other grids. But then you had to go and ruin it by trashing Inworldz/for profit grids!
    Why is it not ok for a company to work harder and profit from it? What is it that makes many Open Sim residents so annoyed by that? I have to say that I’ve noticed the ones proselytizing about open sims are profitting greatly – be it with educational institutions, writing in blogs about it, writing books about it. Yet you try to lure content creators to come there and expect them to work for free!
    I’m sorry but I don’t have time to do that – I have to work for a living. I have an illness. I have to pay bills. What is up with all these people running around grids with all this time on their hands? Are they living in moms basement, or are their kids dirty and uncared for, their spouses neglected….do their homes look like something from Hoarders?
    And every time there has been some rollout of a new grid or aspect of it, or someone is showcasing their new sim (as, Maria, you described one of your rollouts in your post above), it has been more a rollout of Lilith Hearts copybotted plants.
    I get it…the DESIRE for a community not so corrupted by excessive commercialism, but you are taking away the freedom of people that need money to pay bills and earn a living by labeling them as somehow ‘wrong’. If you lovers of open sims really are free then you would respect those who want to create and be compensated for their efforts at the same time. You do not however – you label us as greedy while you roll out our stolen copybotted creations. I’m sick of all these opensim people trying to get me over there to suck everything they can from me without giving anything in return. And I’m sick of getting reports from people saying they saw this or that of mine copybotted over in open sims. If this is what free is then I don’t want it.
    I am mostly in Inworldz these days, and will be more in SponOn3D soon too, and I’m making a lot of money in both places as I continue to explore and love nature, and try to create my learning as best I can.
    If I’m wrong, someone prove it to me please – call me over there and give me some work and pay me! Lets have a true exchange of energy like the world should be…THAT is freedom.

  5. @Luna


    You know that is the oldest argument in the book that the open grids are full of copybotted stuff like none of us are capable of making quality content. We have been labeled as thieves all along by Second Lifers and yet SL itself is teaming with copybotted stuff being handed around from one to another. And the commercial grids are not short on copybotted stuff themselves since where ever it is possible to upload stuff then you can not prevent the pirated stuff getting onto the grid. People have to file a report and get it removed but I guess it’s easier to label the open Metaverse a copy botters haven than actually speak the truth. It too easy!

    Then, in contradiction we get the other bunch who delight in informing us there is no quality content in the open grids so is all this copybotted stuff just a load of rubbish?

    Which way do you want it? Tell me something I can believe please!

    Personally, I am perfectly happy with the commercial side of the Metaverse and I think merchants like you will do just fine once HG2 gives you the power to decide if your stuff leaves a grid or not.

    Lets face it the content security of SL, Inworldz, Avination or anywhere elase is pretty crude and really boils down to blocking stuff from leaving the grid and then applying the permisions within the grid. That is basically how it will be in HG2 ecept you, the creator, get to decide just like it was a forth perm. If you want to give stuff away then that is fine too. Just open all the perms and the stuff can go anywhere.

    It will be a bigger market at least as secure as any commercial grid. Is that not what you want?

  6. Wow.. it’s like you pulled the words out of my head on so many fronts, but said them so much better than I ever could.

    And you’ve managed to refresh for me what I miss most from SL, it was that vision back in the day that brought me and kept me in SL, inspired me. And while I’ve known it’s been gone for quite some time I guess I’ve just been holding onto hope it would come back. In the meantime I would continue to do what I can to help the end user… Thank you for pulling me back to reality… that vision IS dead in Second Life.

    You’ve re-inspired me… I think I’ll go visit OSGrid again….

  7. @ Gaga

    You seem to be speaking from your experiences with others rather than addressing what I have specifically said here.
    I NEVER said that people in Open Sim don’t know how to create good content – there is no way for me to even know that because I don’t go there. (But wait, I remember a friend showing me pics of some underwater Steampunk thing on Reaction Grid or somewhere she created that was phenomenal).

    What I AM saying is that there is a lot of stolen content there – and there is a philosophy that everyone should contribute for free there. When this philosophy is pushed on everyone it causes many to think that individuals rights (regarding how they wish to share their creations) should not be respected.
    And yes..there is plenty of stolen content on SL and other for-profit grids too. In fact part of the reason my post had such an angry ranting tone is that I just had to deal with someone stealing a layout from one of my prefab sims in SL and using it in IW (Ahh I wanted IW to be a Utopia, but there is none, but somehow I knew that).

    I remember reading a blog related to Open Sim once where Lilith’s plants were discussed…and there was no concern from the Open Sim people for all the time she spent honing her craft, or her need to support herself and her family, for her as a SEPARATE PERSON. In fact she was put down terribly, and some guy popped up and said he’d make plants just as good and give them to everyone. And the Kitely guy was so …’oh yes, contact me’. He had no concern for Lilith at all – no concept that she had been violated. The philosophy there EXPECTS that we all contribute without any compensation.

    This philosophy of Open Sim – it seems almost like a cult to me, one that dismisses individual choices and boundaries, and frankly rooted in total fantasy.
    And strangely enough, if anyone would be a candidate for some parts of the philosophy of Open Sim it would be me – I was trained in Reiki, really do believe the Western world has become too individualized and that we should become more like animals in some ways..lol…focus more on the group and help each other rather than the excessive competition so prevalent today. Yes I believe in ‘ohhhhhhhm’ and what it can do.
    I have created a lot for charities in SL, and when my health was better I did more – for now I just rez my prefab sims for some events.
    But please, if you want to have a Metaverse lets have some boundaries! From my experience of Open Sim I get the feeling it’s like that sci-fi Borg thing, only I think they get fed better, or maybe they don’t need to eat.

    This HG2 SOUNDS good, but STILL there is that philosophy that Open Sim is based on – I don’t trust it. Once they have lots of content and people involved the majority of ‘better world’ people could just vote to remove the protections.
    Maybe someone can elaborate more on this ‘better world’ philosophy as it applies to Open Sim. I truthfully do not know the story of Open Sim and how it has evolved. Is it kind of like the Law Of Attraction…what you think you attract…and if you think it you will create it? I do believe that’s maybe possible…but in a long long long long LONG while.

    However, for now, in the real world, or the real virtual world, I think I’d rather create my Magical Fairylands on sims I create in places where I pay people for security rather than particpate in a grid/system that is headed by a Fairyland philosophy.

  8. Ahhh Democracy is such a wild, cruel flower filled with bumble bees.

    Taking in what yall said made me realize how much yall want an “organic” digiverse. A place to plant, grow, harvest, get dirty etc. Versus those who see it as a construction of the human animal, one that needs to be smarter, grow rich, dominate…

    Alas “yes” the capitalism model is poisoned on its quest to always post a “better quarter than the last one”. Anything less is a modern failure.

    Albeit the freedom lovers expect it all to be cheap, free, easily available like some unoccupied new found territory.

    Do I believe that an online world can be designed that is a platform for creativity? I sure do.

    Do I believe that an online world can make money doing this? I sure do.

    Do I believe there are people out there who can make this happen? I sure do.

    I only know that you won’t get there taking the ‘easy’ route.

    Speak out, communicate BUT work together and you’ll make it happen.



    P.S. Tomorrow, I am finally going to clean out my SL account.

  9. @Luna

    I don’t know where you get your ideas that it is some official policy of the Opensim founders or the owners of OSgrid that they follow some communist ideology. Perhaps you have read Profoky a little too often or perhaps it’s just the propaganda that gets banded about on closed grids. The fact is some people believe in sharing but the vast majority would like there to be content security so they can do business or at least not have all their stuff copied. I’m not against your views on making some money. We still have to pay for stuff even if Opensim costs a fraction of Second Life.

    OSgrid is like a HUB for the hypergrid and a test grid for Opensim developers so yes, it has a fraternity of members with untopianist ideas – which is their right in a free society. They are not thieves and many of them contribute a huge amount for quality content which is given away free. But, plenty others like me who have sims on OSgrid and a hypergrid standalone believe the open Metaverse should be open to both commercial and none-profit alike. Fact is that vast majority are on their own grids and hypergrid standalones anyway and most of those guys can’t wait for HG2 so they can start trading.

    Yes, we want an open Metaverse with some security and rich in all aspects of human interest. Just imagine for a moment you have a hypergrid standalone which serves as you workshop and store front. HG2 will make it possible for customers to drop in from all over the Metaverse to see what you have to sell. Now, with HG2 you get to decide where your stuff can go so decide in advance what grids you will trust, The customer wants to take your stuff to Kitely grid for example and you know Kitely respects HG2 perms so your stuff would be safe. So the customer buys the item and it is available to try on while they are on your grid but they know the rules and they ask you or your assistant to deliver a copy to them in Kitely grid. This is exactly how Total Avatar shop operates even now.

    Yes, it means a little extra work but it’s really good customer relations and you can bet you will get that customer back for more business. How many people get personal service in Second Life?

    The open Metaverse merchants must develop new ways to build their business within the constraints of the security such that it is. It will be vital to work with it and understand it but the potential of a far greater market than any one single walled garden grid is huge. Bigger even than Second Life in time.

    Luna. Please have faith.

    BTW, that business with Maria and the copied Lilies. Maria didn’t know they were copied and removed them right away as soon as she was told. She also made an apology to the creator.

    Good luck with your business!

  10. Bravo, Fleep! You deserve a standing ovation for that manifesto 🙂

    I was almost ashamed and embarrassed for still logging in to SL. Sure, I tend to log in to OpenSim as often, but… for different reasons.

    There is a fundamental point with which I agree with you. Around late 2006/early 2007, when the hype was still on (but already on the decline), Linden Lab made a lot of awesome strategic decisions. The first was to open source the viewer. libopenmetaverse was already around, and soon OpenSim was built on top of that. Then Linden Lab, instead of fighting against OpenSim, launched what would later be known as the VWRAP initiative, strongly influenced by IBM. Soon we could teleport from Second Life into OpenSim. It was a major achievement, and one that finally, finally got the real first building block of the Metaverse. Two years later, and according to a little bird, people at Linden Lab were still discussing if they shouldn’t stop developing their own server software and just embrace OpenSim like all the other grids out there.

    It seemed that they really shared “our” vision: a vast virtual world of interconnected grids. Second Life would just be the first, and possibly a major player in shaping the upcoming Metaverse. While the first TPVs were coming out, people still believed that much of the code would be backported into the “official” viewers — and, similarly, concepts starting to appear on OpenSim were expected to come to SL soon: simple things like saving Windlight settings and sharing them; content backup; meshes; megaprims; megaregions. OpenSim already had that (even if only experimentally) and SL would get them “soon” as well. So we hoped.

    Then… LL changed CEO, changed vision, changed everything. But here is where I fundamentally also disagree with you. And yes, I know I’m contradicting myself — after 4 or 5 years, I finally moved from being a “careful optimist” to a “moderate pessimist”, but not in the sense of losing faith with Second Life or OpenSim. Instead, I lost faith in the Metaverse. Let me try to explain why.

    First, there is this idea that Linden Lab is “greedy”, and to keep them filthy rich, they need to squeeze blood out of rocks. This is not quite true. Linden Lab has a model based on tier because it made sense to set themselves up as a “3D content hosting provider”. The problem is that they have a working force of 200+ and have to develop both the viewer and the server plus give tech support to all that. If one really starts to do the math, one will see that the prices per region are not really very expensive — or rather, LL’s margin is not great. It enables them to make a profit, sure, but not gazillions of money out of a “quasi-monopoly”.

    But wait! I hear you saying. OpenSim is cheap! Even the commercial operators are much cheaper! So clearly LL is robbing us while OpenSim commercial grid operators are being fair, rights?

    Well, not quite. It’s easy to launch a new commercial OpenSim grid. Grab a handful of techs — you just need a system administrator and possibly someone to handle tech support, plus a content creator or two to get it starting. Buy a handful of servers — at the beginning, you’ll have few customers, so you won’t need many. Software is free: Linux, OpenSim, SL Viewer. All free, all supported by friendly programmers with nothing else to do with their time (the main SL Viewer is developed by LL for free — what could be best?). So, while the investment money lasts, do price dumping. People will come.

    And come. And come.

    Then there is a problem. OpenSim is very good to do quick demos, temporary setups, simple environments to test. When it becomes serious, it requires as much hardware and bandwidth as Second Life. Long gone are the days when people could claim that “OpenSim is far more efficient than LL’s own server”. I hardly know who can truthfully compare them — unless they still have a copy of the old SL Enterprise — but let’s be honest: yes, you can squeeze ten thousand regions in an old, battered PC with 2 GB of RAM. It will work. But start logging on to it, and you’ll quickly see why LL likes the “one CPU core per region” approach. OpenSim consumes plenty of resources and memory, even on empty regions. So commercial grid operators will have to invest seriously in hardware. Perhaps not as much as LL does, but, still, it’s not that easy as people might think it is.

    Commercial grid operators need to figure out how to keep their customers around. And at some point in time it’s clear that the route that TPV and OpenSim core developers might be taking are not aligned with their own goals of security, stability, and features — which is what their customers (mostly exlies from SL) demand. So this means starting to hire developers, and starting to bring the OpenSim core code up to standards. This takes time, but, more important, it takes money. And all of a sudden they realise that if they have to run thousands of islands, support their own software, support a community of users, well… the prices have to go up, too. So much, indeed, that ReactionGrid had to give up on individual customers when they finally realised that it would cost as much as what LL charges to keep up with all the costs to maintain good service.

    Yes, OpenSim has grown. Maria Korolov tracks it down, and I remember her writing an article that the landmass of the grids being tracked down is now bigger than LL’s own, and growing. That’s fantastic! But there are two catches. The first, of course, is that there are little more than 30,000 active users for all those 30,000 sims. That’s 30-40 times less than SL. No wonder LL is not worried. But to make matters worse… it would be nice if it meant, indeed, a “metaverse” of 30,000 regions to visit. Instead, it’s a “meta-mess” of hundreds of independent operators, some with just a handful of regions, but the worst thing is that the biggest operators, those with the largest landmass, are commercial — and closed. They’re isolated from the rest. I’m well aware that OSgrid is also large enough and still open, and it’s a welcome exception. The truth is, the “better” an OpenSim operator becomes, the more work it pours into OpenSim development to make their customers happy, the more staff they bring in to handle support, do maintenance, and add new features… the more expensive they are, close to what LL charges, and the more closed they are. Some require even their “own” viewer!

    So… this is the state-of-the-art of 2012. We still have a huge giant, which is deemed prohibitively expensive, but actually is just barely covering their costs — Linden Lab’s Second Life. Then we have a handful of large commercial grid operators, all having a tiny fraction of the market, all closed, all with even more proprietary things than LL and harsher ToS — and raising prices all the time to be able to keep up with the costs. The most clever one among those is Kitely with their pay-on-demand business model, which means being able to keep costs low — an unused region is not being charged to them by Amazon, so they don’t need to charge it to their clients. Long-term, I believe this is a model that makes sense.

    Then we have all the university campus grids. These have a huge advantage over the commercial grids: labour is for free. And they have very highly sophisticated techs working at universities which can provide the highly skilled labour needed to keep OpenSim up and running. They might be short on hardware… but skillful techs will be able to reuse old hardware, join it together, build their own cloud with them, I don’t know — you have infinite solutions at your disposal when your time is unlimited 🙂 Bandwidth may be a problem to the outside world in some cases, but at least students will be able to connect inside the campus.

    Not all educators are able to “persuade” their board to “invest” in OpenSim, though. But a few can. This number will grow. The trouble is when it comes from moving from one campus grid to another: will HyperGrid be allowed? Yes or no? Should campus resources be “free to the world” or not? Different universities deal with the question differently. The main issue is often that if you open up your campus grid, you will never know who pops by, and in some cases that is an unacceptable policy for campus sysadmins: only students and teachers ought to be allowed. But there is not yet an unified, federated authentication protocol for OpenSim. Not yet. So, even university campuses are fragmented.

    And then there is OSgrid and its “free-for-all” model. That attracts a special kind of person. But it attract little else. So, yes, I can believe that the “thousands” that were once enthusiastic about Second Life becoming “the hub of the Metaverse” might migrate to OSgrid one day. But… they’re just thousands. There aren’t more. The millions are elsewhere — and, in general, they don’t care about virtual worlds. If they do, they join Second Life — in spite of everything, it’s where things are still happening.

    So how will this develop further in the future? Thousands — but not millions — will come to one or the other OpenSim grid. HyperGrid 2.0 promises more safety, and grids like Kitely will allow outgoing requests, but not incoming ones — to protect their investment, of course. They cannot afford to have non-paying visitors dropping by: resources consumed by non-paying customers are not negligible, i.e. it’s not like the Web! So I can imagine that a few more thousands will come to OpenSim in the next few years, and that most commercial grids will allow some sort of outgoing teleporting — but will remain open to “customers only”, who have to register their own avatars with their grid. This will mean that most OpenSim users — and there will not be that many! — will stick to the grid they started with, and, very occasionally, hyperjump to some place else — which will be a “free” grid, with few resources, unstable and shaky, and with a horrible experience. They’ll safely return to “their” home grid.

    That’s hardly a Metaverse.

    Now of course we cannot “persuade” everybody on OpenSim — specially commercial grid operators and university campuses — to interconnect themselves. There is no commercial interest in that. And, as such, it’s just a handful of generous volunteers who are willing to spend some extra money in bandwidth and resources for visitors to drop by. Within limits. Of course, home-run grids on fiber should have acceptable performance — for a handful of visitors. And, of course, using nice technologies like the one Intel developed for OpenSim, you can have hundreds, if not thousands, of avatars on the same region — provided you have the resources and the money to pay for them, and are willing to generously give that all for others to visit you.

    I’m afraid there is not an easy way to side-step the economic equation of the problem. I believe the World-Wide Web was able to run on university campus because it didn’t demand much resources (specially when it was text-only!). Comparatively speaking, even today, a web server doesn’t really consume so many resources. It’s the sheer size of the world’s Internet population that makes Web traffic so intense, and multimedia content — like videos — grab a huge share of that traffic. But that’s an evolution that came along with business interests: have a website with lots of traffic and you can sell ads on it.

    The Metaverse-based-on-OpenSim (and I’m sorry, I don’t believe that “alternative technologies” will be much different) is not a “more sophisticated” Web with low resources. A handful of users on OpenSim will bring a low-end server down. I already see people talking about servers with 16 cores and 192 GB of RAM handling a few dozens of sims, to make sure every user gets enough performance for a smooth experience. Not even LL’s servers have that amount of raw power!

    My point here is that OpenSim — and whatever comes next (which I seriously suspect to be nothing else) — is not as cheap as it looks like. I understand that the argument of being “too difficult” is really easy to dispell; I agree, SL/OpenSim users are not afraid of “complicated” things. But there is no magic that will bring resources down. You simply cannot expect your home computer to run hundreds of thousands of regions and support thousands or tes of thousands of visitors. By contrast, you can do that with the Web protocols! A well-tuned server with 2 cores and 6 or 8 GB of RAM can definitely serve hundreds of Web requests simultaneously, for hundreds of sites, even on a 2 MBps ADSL line. But the same setup barely manages to handle a dozen or two of regions, and a handful of visitors. That’s the big difference: the Metaverse is not the World-Wide Web.

    OpenSim is great for “projects” — to do “experiments”, to do “proofs of concepts”. It’s great to allow builders to build in peace and then upload their content to, say, Second Life. It’s great to do demos, to do presentations (never trust SL to be available!… run your presentation on OpenSim on your own laptop 🙂 ). It’s good for very-low-budget projects which do not expect to be visited by anyone except the builders. It’s great for building machinima scenarios! It has a lot of potential uses, that’s true, and for an unbeatable price — zero! — so that means that I can imagine that more and more people will give up paying LL to do that on SL and just run OpenSim instead.

    But for “replicating” the complex community, society, culture, environment, and economy of Second Life… well, it takes at least a commercial OpenSim grid operator, and years and years of growth. And they are growing indeed! Just, well, not as much as they should.

    It’s not by moving out of Second Life that OpenSim will become “the new Metaverse”. Unless someone comes up with some magic allowing an old, battered server to flawlessly serve dozens of thousands of simultanous users on a 2 MBps link… then, yes, I might believe that OpenSim would be “cheap” enough to start a real revolution. But if that magic technology will become possible one day, where will it be employed first? Well, at the spot where the most money is put into development: at Linden Lab. They would surely love to have it. They’re not Evil, or Greedy — they just don’t know how to run a virtual world with the characteristics that Second Life has in a cheaper way. But neither does OpenSim. And I seriously suspect that nothing that requires serving hundreds of millions of textures for billions of objects for avatars with dozens of thousands of polygons (basic mesh + all attachments) will ever be able to be “dramatically cheaper” — and if that technology pops along, it will be LL deploying it first.

    Note how so many VWs have popped up after SL lead the way. They can basically be divided in two subgroups. The first are the successful, long-lived ones: all are much simpler than SL (see IMVU!). Even There.com is making a comeback — one of the founders even published how much it costs to run a cartoonish-looking. limited VW, for a few thousands of users. It’s obviously far less than SL costs to LL, but definitely not something you can “run at home”.

    The second subgroup are the “wishful thinkers”. They drop all the technology they can afford to create something looking much better than SL. While there are few people around, the technology works, burning venture capital fast. As soon as it reaches a threshold, the owners have to start doing their math. They quickly figure out that there is no way to expand their technology forever and still remain cheap — in fact, soon it becomes clear that LL is the cheapest operator around, when one trades off the features that SL affords. It’s at that point when wannabe VW developers hit the wall of reality, and succumb to their naivety.

    There are obviously ways to marginally beat LL at their own game. LL managed to support millions of users with a fraction of the workforce they have now — and co-opting volunteer Mentors was a way to keep customer support cheap, for instance. There are ways to tweak OpenSim to perform better, consume less resources, and still provide a reasonable experience — but not order of magnitudes cheaper than SL. Just marginally cheaper. And that’s simply not enough.

    Of course, one might claim that “sooner or later something better will come along”. Yes, like, say… Unix. For 43 years, Unix sysadmins have grumbled about the limitations of their “favourite” operating system. I remember that when Linux came along, people were happy that they could try a version of Unix for free which was unencumbered with licenses — until Richard Stallmann finished his work on GNU Hurd, which was supposed to be “the operating system to kill all operating systems”. It eventually was released on 2001 or so but failed to make any impact whatsoever — it just came too late. As its website states, “The GNU Hurd is under active development. Because of that, there is no stable version.” Eleven years later and we’re still waiting for a “stable version” of GNU Hurd! Obviously, Unix fans have long stuck to whatever Linux distro they prefer — or keep using FreeBSD — and gave up on waiting for “the next best thing”. The “next best thing” is just an interation — an evolution, not a revolution — of what we have now. Unix will probably be still around in 50 years, under whatever form (or brand!) it’s labeled. It will continue to be flexible enough to run on mobile phones (Android), routers and embedded devices like Network Attached Storage (like Iomega), fancy computers (Mac OS X), and, of course, supercomputers, cloud storage, and virtual worlds like Second Life or OpenSim. It just evolves and evolves, and refuses to be replaced by anything else, simply because it’s flexible enough to adapt.

    I predict the same to happen to both Second Life and OpenSim. Every time a new VW wannabe pops up and comes up with a new idea, developers both at LL and at the OpenSim core team will say, “hey, what a cool idea, let’s implement that!”. I can imagine that a few TPV developers are now planning how to turn their viewer UI into a mobile-phone-clone just like Cloud Party 🙂 Others will be working with ways of displaying non-human skeletons on avatars, which might be possible on OpenSim “one day”, and on SL not much later… when LL co-opts some more work 🙂 So this is pretty much what the Metaverse is right now: a relatively large grid operator — LL — uniting most content, content developers, socialisers, artists, and so forth — and a marginal group of “rogue” individuals who are experimenting with new things that LL won’t implement but that OpenSim will — even if they have to fork the code first.

    Forking OpenSim will also become more commonplace. There is already a major fork: Aurora Sim, which is not even database-compatible with OpenSim any longer. Commercial OpenSim grid operators also use their own code, and most of it is proprietary and a closely guarded secret. What I predict that will happen is that more and more “OpenSim-compatible” worlds — in the sense that it will look and feel like OpenSim, but actually be a proprietary fork — will launch, and they will be as closed as Second Life. Unlike SL, they will fail, sooner or later, until the next grid operator pops along. This will go on for a long while and really never have a solution.

    On the other extreme of the spectrum, there will always be an OSgrid or something equivalent. It will never become mainstream — not even in the sense that SL is somehow mainstream-ish (because it isn’t) — because there are simply not enough resources to be generously volunteered to create something as big as SL, for free.

    A few people are thinking about ways to federate authentication across OpenSim. This would go a long way to bridge the gap and deal with the problems that educators face to be unwilling to allow “anyone” to visit their grids except for other educators and their students. It wouldn’t be perfect — most people would be excluded. The major problem is that federation requires a “centralising” organisation — even if authentication is not centralised (thus the point in federation!), “someone” will have to develop a protocol to allow federation, and “someone” will have to “force” educator grids to use that protocol. The first “someone” can just be a rich university — at some point, however, we expected that to come from Linden Lab, and, later, from the VWRAP group at the IETF. The second “someone” means at least “government” — or at least a sufficiently powerful group that can “enforce” things.

    Yes, the Internet grew out of four nodes on university campuses in 1969 to the behemoth it is today. But we cannot forget that the Internet was “mostly forgotten” from 1969-1990 — two decades! It was only in 1990, when the US government made a decision to outsource the academic network to companies — which would, in turn, be fully allowed to connect their own customers to that network — that the Internet got a real boost. The real sign that people in the whole world started to believe that the Internet based on TCP/IP as we know today was THE ‘net of the future was when “authorities” started to point at it and say, “this is it. Join or be forgotten.” and put the money where their mouth is.

    Obviously all Internet protocols are open source. Obviously academic researchers, during those 20 years, were not asleep: they were developing code. Unix, also born in 1969, is a child of the Internet: while it was open source, it allowed new nodes to be quickly added, since it implemented all protocols required for a new node. So there was a lot of “preparation” work until the gates were opened to the flood of Internet usage, and all that happened while everything was pretty much for free — or, rather, Government-sponsored.

    If we want to “see” a real Metaverse, I’m afraid it won’t be a “grassroots” effort. That effort made hundreds of developers show the potential that the technology has. We can create a bit more than “demos” on OpenSim — we can replicate almost everything in Second Life. If Second Life never left the beta stage, OpenSim never left the alpha stage — but both technologies have proven the test of time. That was thanks to the thousands who have worked to make it what it is now.

    But we need another two decades at least. This decade just showed that the Metaverse is viable — i.e. we have the technology, we know how it works. The next decade will need to consolidate it — and that means government. Working with corporations, sure, but government. They will need to “force” academics to interconnect their grids, use a common authentication mechanism, and, in return, they will get sponsored to have enough resources to run a grid. Then it will require a similar effort on several different countries, using the same principle. These will need to agree to some simple rules: get funded, keep your grid open to visitors, interconnect with others with the same mindset.

    When that starts rolling, in a few years, even Linden Lab will have no choice but to “open up”. But it will take another decade to “replicate” the success of the rollout of the Web.

    And I’m not sure that —
    1) Current politicians have the same vision they had in 1990;
    2) People would submit to have governments rolling out the Metaverse, because sooner or later it will brew trouble (look what’s happening today to the Internet!)

    Thus my “moderate pessimism”. I don’t think that even if all visionaries in SL would move to OpenSim and never look back that would make a difference; in fact, I pretty much think that most already have made the move!

    And the result? My own grid is open to the public. I seldom get any visitors. Except griefers: they have destroyed so much content that I had to wall out a section of the grid for people to be able to work in peace. Upgrading a grid to the latest version usually takes me a whole week. But I still persist: it used to take me longer, and the features are getting better and better, so it’s worth all the pain.

  11. BTW, I forgot to add a comment to @Thadicus — we do have a “banking system” for OpenSim: VirVox. It works across a lot of small grids, and on SL as well. On April this year, they had over 50,000 registered users and had exchanged over 14 Billion L$ across all grids where they have a presence.

    Of course, it doesn’t work with any of the larger grid operators — they have their own currency exchange… and they screen grids before they allow them to connect. It’s not a free-for-all.

  12. @Gwyneth

    Wow Gwyneth I don’t see you as moderately pessimistic. I see you as totally pessimistic. You almost left me depressed after reading that.

    Have I really wasted years of work and thousands of dollars for my belief that one day we will have an inter-connected Metaverse?

    I’m not even looking for a 3D web if you are likening it to the 2D web. I am looking for the exact opposite of everything you appear to think it should be. I believe passionately in a grass roots Metaverse and I think that is how it is taking shape even now.

    Every month new standalones and grids open. Maria’s list is growing every month and I am absolutely certain there are many others already out there preferring to remain private and off the radar presently. By contrast, Second Life is loosing like a 100 sims a week now. And I don’t buy your argument that Linden Labs is not making money.


    $1000 to set up a sim that I can set up in Opensim in 10 minutes. if it takes longer than LL is employing loafers and layabouts!

    $300 a month for a full sim when I have a Q4 16 gig ram server for $120 including win server 2008 R2 which will run at the very least 4 powerful regions. Or I can go to Dreamland hosting, Inworldz and many others for top quality servers running sims for me at between $40 and $60. Forget the cheap stuff and home PCs – useless most of it!

    $150 to move a region! Like it’s little more than changing cords. No, no, no. That is profiteering on a grand scale.

    Apologize for Linden Labs if you must Gwyneth. Invoke all the academic arguments about how long it took to build the 2d web, or that some foundation is needed by clever glogs and bureaucrats that will probably just muddy the waters grow a tax on it.

    I can see you arguing a case for slavery in ancient Rome and the need to maintain a strong centralized state on which the aristocracy need be able to generate wealth for the benefit of all *coughs* the one percent anyway.

    No, I’m not a communist BTW.

    The Metaverse I see building is growing out of open source and the work of lots of small people – many of which bought into Linden Labs once and helped shape it. Education will go it’s own way and so will the military and government no doubt. The rest up us, the people that gave a fortune to Linden Labs to pursue out dreams and busyness’ have woken up to the incompetence, the underhandedness and the greed. Yes, greed! Believe it or not some of us do have a clear understanding of what we want and what we are aiming for and the technology is moving ahead with us. I am supremely confident the people will get their virtual worlds and build a great connected community upon it.

    Sorry if you don’t share that view. History will be the judge.

  13. Caliburn Susanto

    Lordy, I think Llewelyn finally has competition for verbosity. Both always educational, though. I’m not reading every single comment before posting because I am responding to the OP, not the comments; however, if I am redundant, my apologies.

    “Forget what you’ve heard or read about Opensim, forget all the frothing over content theft and copybots.”

    ORLY? Never gonna happen. OpenSim is populated with what our resident curmudgeon refers to as “techno-communists” or people who think everything should be free, even if they have to STEAL it to make it so. I’ve seen so much stolen intellectual property in OS I lost count. Communism is a proven failure; only the motivation of personal profit moves society (any society) forward.

    Everything you create in a virtual world immediately becomes the potential property of the grid owners/administrators and their administration-enabled friends and co-workers — full permission, change-of-ownership (to them) property. From that point they can reconfigure, “mix-and-match” components, or whatever else they want to do with it (I’ve witnessed it personally). The question will always be “Do I want to champion some fantasy of universal brotherhood of avatar community — giving over all my efforts to unseen and unknown parties for ‘the cause’ — or do I want to be financially rewarded for my efforts and able to litigate compensation swiftly when I am ripped off?”

    I’m a steadfast fan of Second Life because I use the platform solely for entertainment, amusement, or escapism and SL is vast, established, and endlessly entertaining. It’s a grand place to wander and explore and ooo and ahhh while it lasts, and that’s all I’m after. But it’s also a good place to turn a buck, because it’s closed, has a modicum of protection for the creators, and has a functioning economy (despite the plethora of freeloaders). Until the greater “metaverse” (which does not exist anywhere except in science fiction stories) has firm theft regulation it will always be the haven of the talentless and the thieving (and as Gwyneth points out above, the griefing) and usually in greater numbers than the visionary and the innovative. I have seen the digital common man and he ain’t pretty (or special).

    Alas, as I’ve said before, I think the fantasy of a so-called metaverse will only come from “the-powers-that-be” (whether government or corporate [as if there was any longer a difference]) because they have the financial wherewithal to make it happen and the clout to regulate it. Of course, all of the bad stuff will go along with that, including surveillance, data mining, taxes, et al. Until then Avatarians will be choosing platforms that support their personal philosophy of economics or taking sides with whatever current flame wars are in progress.

    Now I’m going back to Second Life to enjoy sailing the seas and rewarding the content creators with some cash. Good luck with your vision, it will be interesting.

  14. Gaga: “The metaverse is already here.”

    Actually, I’ll concede that point. It may not be the original “vision” Philip often mentioned and it may not be where a lot of folks wanted it to go, but you’re right: it’s evident some form of metaverse is already taking place.

    The original “dream” (at least as I understand it) is that 3D virtual reality would eventually replace the current 2D world wide web. I still hold that is unlikely to happen in our lifetime. But the metaverse you mention… which consists of SL, Inworldz, OSgrid, Hypergrid, (Other)grids and Opensim as a whole is very much here. They are viable virtual 3D universes and they do work (more or less).

    So good point, well made.

  15. @ Caliburn

    Please don’t apologize for anything. God forbid!

    Such arrogance and bold unproven statements. I felt the hatred in every word. Go be with the thieves of Second Life who take free content from Opensim grids and sell it over there. Make out with Profoky and the other paranoids who see reds everywhere threatening to steal their shoe laces.

    You Opensimphobics are running scared because you can see the decline of SL accelerating – what was the loss this past month? 400 sims! – and you have no arguments worth a light so it is no surprise to me you can only spit out your venom and slander.

    Your not worth the words really and I am sure there are more self center retards like you to dish out more of the same drivel.

    Enjoy your sailing in an expensive pond. Your ship is sinking anyway. Mind you don’t go down with it.

  16. @Gaga That kind of rhetoric isn’t appreciated here. Please help keep the conversation civil and respectful.

    I’m still reading and digesting all of the comments and posts, but that reminder applies to anyone who comments on my site. We don’t all have to agree, but I do require civility if you want to participate in the discussion.


  17. @Wayfinder

    Thank you for that and it’s nice to know you agreed with me on that point.


  18. Gwyneth: “. The first, of course, is that there are little more than 30,000 active users for all those 30,000 sims. That’s 30-40 times less than SL. No wonder LL is not worried.”

    Well yes, but let’s analyze that further.

    Opensim users tend to own sims, not rent land. So the vast majority of those users are sim owners.

    Comparatively, Linden Lab of course has many, many more users, equally loyal and active. However those users are divided into:

    * 95,000 paid “Premium” users
    * 750,000 (or so) “freebie” users
    * Far fewer than 30,000 sim owners (we don’t know much more than that because LL hides their demographics)

    The very fact that LL hides their demographics indicates those stats aren’t so hot.

    So the difference between Second Life and OS-based grids is far less statistically than one might imagine if viewed from the standpoint of what their members are doing… and how many of them actually own sims.

    I did an analysis of their actual user count and discovered that on an average Second Life has about 1.5 users per sim online at any one time.

    Comparatively, Inworldz itself has approximately .5 users per sim online at any one time. However considering how long Inworldz has had to boost its membership… that .5 is significant (3 years compared to LL’s 9 years). And Inworldz hasn’t even started promoting its grid yet because they’re working on foundation coding. When they start promotions, LL can indeed start sweating.

    The question is this: Inworldz does its own dev work. They have paid coders. They are set up basically the same as Linden Lab as far as concept (far fewer employees of course). So if Inworldz can charge $75 a sim, offer 45,000 prims and still make a profit… why should we believe Linden Lab has to charge $295 for 1/3 the prim count?

    OSgrid has some 10,000 regions (last stats I read. I imagine it’s far more than that now). No telling how many of those regions are active or their user stats, but at last count I came to the conclusion that based on sim-owner stats alone, Opensim grids are quickly catching up to Second Life.

    The profitability of Linden Lab has long been debated. Have they refused to produce demographics and P&L because they’re ashamed of their low income… or to hide ludicrous windfall income? No one knows. I do know the company pulls down at least $5 to $7 million *per month*. So it’s not difficult for a business analyst to approximate their overhead and figure out a tentative P&L. The figures are rather shocking. I’ll let others put the pencil to it and see what they come up with.

    Bottom line: Imo Linden Lab has always been cocky, self-serving and profit-first. That will likely be their ultimate downfall. I am reminded of the story of David and Goliath… and how arrogant Goliath was before David took him out. Goliath thought, “How can this little guy possible pose any threat to me?” I’m sure Linden Lab pretty much feels the same way.

    All I know is this: my group was suffocating on Second Life, unable to grow and dying out. We moved to Inworldz… where we now have more than 40 regions (far more beautiful than anything we ever built on SL) and we’re thriving. That says more to me about the future of Second Life than any stats or membership figures. Goliath was the biggest and the baddest and fell in just a few moments to a guy nowhere near his size or strength. What is that saying? “Pride goeth before the fall.”

    The tell-tale sign: Second Life hasn’t grown in four years. In fact, people have left it by the tens of thousands. Where does LL think those customers are going?

  19. Sure Fleep. I give respect where it is due but I didn’t think Caliburn Susanto above was particularly pleasant in his rhetoric either. It isn’t nice when people like that call us all thieves.

    However, you named me and not him so I will respected that. My apologies.

  20. That cyberspace (or whatever you fancy calling it) had to be decentralised/distributed/p2p was already known in 2000 (or earlier):

    See this first of 7 articles on the subject:


    Mapping the Future of Multiplayer Games
    Cyberspace and The Twelve Monkeys
    Foundations I
    Foundations II
    Scalability With a Big ‘S’
    Stability Before Security
    Security is Relative

    The first stumbling block to overcome in a distributed system is participant identity/reputation (for the computers as well as the denizen virtual entities), which I introduce here: http://digitalproductions.co.uk/index.php?id=69

  21. Charlie hite (@CharHite)

    I can’t speak to what Rod’s vision is or where they’re heading.
    I can say that the idea of making Second Life more hospitable to game makers was an idea I talked about when I joined, and started to map out early on. Others at the company were of like minds and we merged them into a strategy. It wasn’t even remotely about making SL a game, but about adding pipelines and functionality to allow creative people a way to build experiences that would be compelling to people who’s expectations were set by video games of the past few years. Mesh was an obvious piece of it which was already underway (although lost in the weeds at the time) The work that we did on Linden Realms was an experiment down that road. The pitch was that if SL could serve as an environment to build games on par with general commercial games we could court small game companies who would pull their players into SL. We’d then have a chance to introduce those players to the larger world of SL. My feeling was that the functionality could also be used to build awesome retail spaces, art spaces, and -most importantly- things we had not yet imagined.
    Almost everyone originally involved in that plan were either laid off or subsequently left, so I don’t know if that plan is still being acted on, but I’ve heard the creator tools were being rolled out and pathfinding is on it’s way as well, which I suppose is a positive indication.
    The Steam thing had been around before I got there as an idea that “hell, there are people on steam, maybe they’ll use SL if they see it on steam”. I always thought that any resources spent on that would be better spent on other things until such time as SL would be more welcoming to non-virtual-world consumers. I don’t think it’s actually indicative of any new pivoting beyond the older announcements that LL was working on other software and bought some storytelling company. LL could very well build a portfolio consisting of some games AND SL without turning SL into a game.
    What is it about Second Life that can keep me interested, even though I haven’t even been on in about 4 months? The damn thing just gets under your skin.

  22. Sarge: LL hasn’t prevented TPVs from connecting to other grids *unless* they have the Havok library in their viewer. It is for that exact reason that there will be two versions of Firestorm, one with and one without the Havok library; the one without will fully support OpenSim going forward.

    And, as a TPV developer, I’m seriously annoyed that InWorldz is deliberately breaking compatibility with Second Life *and* with existing OpenSim grids. I think it’s safe to say that Firestorm will not make the changes needed to be compatible with them as long as they do so. (Although the team hasn’t formally decided yet, I’d be surprised if we agreed to do that: that way lies massive code profusion when every grid operator decides to “improve” the protocols differently.)

    And, Gaga, I’m sorry, but while I don’t think all OpenSim users are thieves by a long way, you can’t seriously argue that there’s not a contingent of “everything should be free, and it’s all just bits anyway!” in the OpenSim world. OpenSim just isn’t a place where a content creator can take their content and expect not to have it stolen.

    And no, I don’t condone people taking copybotted stuff fromOpenSim back to Second Life, either. On the other hand, when OpenSim is totally insecure, why should a content creator take their stuff from SL there, if it’s so ridiculously simple to steal it, take it back, and sell it?

  23. Well all i can say is this:
    All,the content i found ty be copy boot on Second Life, is still there being sold, years and years after being reported!
    On OSG all the content i created i, by my own choice,amde it fully avaiable to all!
    So for once STOP daying all in OSgrid is stollen, by far much more is being stollen every single second in Second Life!
    And yes, I’m a communist, on a grid that feels all must and shoud be free and to be shared!
    But that does not make me go to SL and use stolen content, make me instead go there, spent a few money, and create if and offering, my own content, for free and also tell that i choose to do so!
    And ill not tell you about the stolen content that i found on market street, being sold, even after being reported by the original creator, years and years!
    And about LL ignoring all, till they discover OSG and start moving!
    I don’t go to OSG all days, but i still host my regions, 1 cpu and 512k ram for each, 24h open!
    But when i go there, i found the spirit i love, growing stronger!
    And if We saw more more new faces on OSG (yesterday, the Maritime was crowded on the live concert at 10pm gmt sunday’s)
    I see also more and more good news, soon the last brick will go pufff!
    As Bullets physics is coming to final stage, the only thing that makes, Users like Me, be in SL, the fact that we can ride, sail, fly, across thousands of sims, will be a reality on a much wider, much bigger and much more wecolme space!
    And if you think Im a OSG lover and Sl hater, why do i spent all my time in SL?
    Cause i still believe, that the spirit that made it unique, still exists, despite All the bad management and that SL is not a product of a country but of the all World and if on that country, profit seems the only reason to exist, SL is used by far more from other countries that still understand a MAN like Louis Armstrong, not the cheater that rides bycles but the 1 that was the 1st to walk on the Moon!

  24. Hello…I am not nearly as -up- on all this metaverse happenings as all the above commenters, but, I do have some thoughts on the matter.

    I am also not a long time vw user, nor anybody important at all, I am just a common user who reads a few things and follows a few links. So, I don’t know much…lol

    But I do like to think I see a bigger picture here. My feeling is that the greater metaverse will be seeing much change in the near future. All we have to do is look at how quickly the net-at-large has evolved to understand that the model that sl brought forward has likely seen its day.

    Critical to this evolution is as stated above…standardized protocols.

    ICANN http://www.icann.org/ might be an org that can help with this..I don’t really know, this is for much more involved ppl than I.

    As well, one must always keep in mind that vws are really only a small part of the net-at-large. Most ppl have not even heard of them.

    So, as more and more ppl learn of them, and their potentials, organizations will take note and standardization will come, in all due time.

    Personally, I like the idea of a ‘larger’ metaverse. Closed grids inherently have serious issues in, as stated above, the simple fact that if something is NOT on your harddrive, IT IS NOT YOURS. And neither is your account.

    If you get on the wrong side of any grid owner…it can be all gone, in the blink of an eye. There are few to no laws governing them at present.

    I like the idea of a connected metaverse…a 3D environment where we can all travel freely. How we get there is something evolving NOW. I think it is a wonderful thing to behold.

  25. And i guess there is a bit of confusion about what is the word content creator!
    For me content creator is some that creates!
    The reasons for doing so, can be several, the joy to see others enjoying it, to earn a legit profit while doing so, just to male RL a bit easy and so on!
    By far there is much more reasons to stolen some work on SL, where any can try to make a profit of it, then on Osg where any can be GOD and turn all in full perms on their own hosted regions and money and all the hassle, just does not exist!

  26. @Tonya

    I have never denied that so-called techno-communits exist in the open Metaverse but they are not in the majority even if they are well represented on grids like OSgrid. I am not one of them.

    Let me state that again: I am not a Techno-Communist.

    Neither am I a thief that Copybot’s and sells other people’s creations on the open grids and I don’t honestly know anyone who is although I wont deny they exist. ZZpearbottom stated the fact that there is more stolen content floating around in Second Life than has ever been dumped on the open Metaverse. I would totally agree with that for I am a long time resident of Second Life and still am. I have seen first hand the stolen stuff being offered around. Fact is you can make more money out of SL dealing in stolen stuff and peddling porn, cybersex, voice & cam sex, and illegal gambling than you can out of the open grids and reason is simple. Second Life has more traffic. Three years ago Second Life Adult regions amounted to less than 5% of the grid and children were not allowed on it. Today, 12% of the grid is given over to Adult themes and children are now allowed on the grid. I personally have noticed an increase in avatar names that look like this “Daddy” – go figure.

    It’s absurd to label the open grids as havens for stolen content because it’s economy is tiny and patchy and rather limited to the closed grids at the present time. The people who toss accusations at the open Metaverse are just peddling cheap propaganda because they have no real arguments that hold up to scrutiny.

    If you care to look at my blog you will see I have pages promoting legitimate web sites and content sellers from objects to textures. I i found that any one of them was dealing in stolen content you wouldn’t see the going of them for dust.

    Opensim needs security. We need HG2 urgently and for it allows both sharing and trading across the hypergrid while we remain free to travel and enjoy the connected Metaverse that already exisits.

  27. I’ve been thinking about this idea of the Metaverse, Fleep, and I’m glad you wrote this article. I don’t know why I didn’t consider it in more detail before now – I guess I’ve been living under a virtual rock, or a plant, a tree 🙂 I love to create content and that has kept me busy, though I remember as a child being so fascinated by walkie-talkies, and some trick on the phone where you could enable lots of people to talk all at once. I loved libraries where the world was at your fingertips, and when the internet developed I was in heaven.

    And I apologize, Maria, if I offended you. I know you would not deliberatly steal, and I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog. However I shudder every time some new opensim grid or project is rolled out – I started to feel like this was an easier way to see what Lilith had been up to with her beautiful plants rather than talk with her directly or visit her store. Those who want to liberate content are vicious and mean, I’ve met them and read their words on blogs – they exist and in great numbers in all worlds, and no doubt if they read this blog they will really come after me.

    So we need some kind of policing in this Metaverse. What you described as a solution, Gaga, I just can’t see working. It sounds good – to have a store that reaches the entire Metaverse, connected by the Hypergrid, with the choice of which grids I allow my content to go to. But if each little grid out there has the choice over what permissions my content has once it comes to their grid the chance for abuse is just too great. What if say, the Kitely guy is annoyed that I’ve critcized him (as I have on this blog, for not acknowledging the theft of Liliths plants was wrong) and so decides to ‘pay me back’? People are like that you know – you criticize them or affect them in some other way they dislike, and the result is that they feel justified in doing anything they want to you.
    Integrity is a rare thing (choosing what’s right) – everyone compromises their integrity more or less along the path of getting what they need in life. You can’t totally trust anyone sadly, though you can trust some people more than others. Why not? Because we all have needs – and that’s what money is really (the representation of needs, the way for humans to get their needs met with each other – a way to exchange energy in life). Money, per se is not evil despite the old saying that claims it’s the root of all evil. It’s how we respond to what we need in life that can make us more or less ‘evil’. The pursuit of profit is not bad – it’s what we do to get that profit that can make it bad.

    That’s why, Fleep, I don’t understand why you trashed for-profit grids and would not include it as a desirable place in the Metaverse. Did you feel burned by the grid owners of LL as they increasingly put their interest in profit above our needs, and so fear that happening again – or do you believe a Metaverse without governance is safe? Sadly I believe there is no safe place – any organized group can become corrupt and place profit before people, but I believe these smaller for-profit grids offer more protection than the Metaverse at large. “Out there’..in the vast Metaverse lies much greater danger if you are a content creator. It is perfectly safe for an educational institution however, as they continue to put the squeeze on content creators by trying to make them work cheaply or for free.

    I remember how happy I felt when I found my new career in life – my niche – working with landscapes in SL, exploring and loving nature. I began selling in SL and suddenly I had all the time I needed to create since my time wasn’t taken up with a RL job.
    It feels like your conception of the Metaverse wants to take all this away.

  28. Hi Luna…and you know I do adore you, as well as your work.

    But I did read on the inworldz forums of your issues there with somebody copying your sim build.

    I just can’t stop myself from pointing out that theft will happen anywhere. Closed grids offer little protection either. As well, you don’t own anything in them. If you ever get banned from a closed grid, you will see this very clearly.

    [I’m not meaning -you- but -anyone-] lol

  29. TY Minethere 🙂

    Well…I see what you mean..that one could get banned from a private for-profit grid too, or have content stolen the same as on an Opensim grid…BUT..at least on the private grid there is someone you can appeal to and a process like DMCA or some other such system any grid would devise (for stolen stuff anyway). It really is safer on a private grid, at least at this point in time – just make sure you back up all your creations. It’s harder to back up a sim design I know, but it can be done even without OAR files.

    But the banning thing…yeah it’s hard to deal with if you are the one banned and at the mercy of the grid owners with no judge and jury to help you out. However I explore carefully before joining a grid, and while knowing that no judge is perfect I would have some confidence that most bannings would probably be justified. After all, the grid owners do have the ability to see chat logs and sort it all out, but sure, mistakes could happen. No system of justice is perfect, no grid owner or anyone in the world (even a RL trained judge) has perfect objectivity. And yes some judges in all worlds side with their friends and/or money over Truth. But I would rather have laws where mistakes are sometimes made than no law at all…no governance or law whatsoever equals chaos and is a breeding ground for abusers to take root.

    Like I said before…everyone compromises their integrity more or less on the way to getting what they want in life. I wish I could be like the Braveheart guy, who would even sacrifice his very life for the capital T….Truth….I don’t remember what he was screaming as he chose death over compromise..was it ‘freedom’ or was it ‘truth’?
    Fortunately I hope none of us has to experience anything that extreme in our lives, however I think many do have to go through something perhaps equally as intense and important when, after all the problems in the world, they choose ‘love’ over ‘hate’.

    But back to for-profit grids and how much you can trust them – say you were a grid owner resolving a dispute between 2 residents, and you could see that the resident with 2000 sims and paying you lots of money each month was clearly wrong and would leave, taking a big chunk or nearly all of your income if you accused them of wrongdoing – yet this one little resident who didn’t even have a sim was clearly right in the dispute……who would you side with as a grid owner? Would you choose to not compromise your integrity and go along with the Truth though you would lose all your money and not be able to support your family and all that? Could you blame a grid owner for not siding with the Truth, or how much would you blame them..would it mitigate your blame at least some?
    Sadly I don’t think we can totally trust anyone, because everyone has needs, nobody is perfect. But you can examine grids and people before you ever go there and choose owners that at least have a concept of justice.
    But then there was the golden boy during the bright dawning of SL, I know, it’s all so very complicated.

    Tonya: “And, as a TPV developer, I’m seriously annoyed that InWorldz is deliberately breaking compatibility with Second Life *and* with existing OpenSim grids. I think it’s safe to say that Firestorm will not make the changes needed to be compatible with them as long as they do so.”

    I’m equally upset with that Tonya, but for a totally different reason. I’m upset because I see Inworldz actually improving their code and significantly stabilizing their grid while Second Life has remained seriously broken and laggy for years.

    I’ll ask forgiveness in advance for being blunt. I mean no offense. OpenSim is (imho) a mess of really bad coding, lack of prioritization, lack of professional management and failure of coders to cooperate. It’s seems to be a case of a whole bunch of leaders and no followers. That hurts the project tremendously.

    I’m pleased OpenSim allows people to own sims who otherwise may never be able to do so. I applaud the openly-free and generous nature of creators there (the ones who actually create rather than copybot). I’m not however, pleased with the lack of progress in OpenSim coding and project development.

    Inworldz is progressive; I don’t see that same progress in OpenSim. So why should Inworldz hold itself back and fail to progress in order to retain compatibility with two systems that have historically failed to grow properly? I fully agree with their decision to leave SL and Opensim behind and go their own way. They pretty much *have* to in order to fulfill their goals.

    If I may be honest (again, with no intent of offense– just making observations)… Inworldz doesn’t “need” Firestorm… or any other viewer that doesn’t want to cooperate with their grid. It would be nice if the viewers worked to maintain compatibility with Inworldz, but they have their own viewer and while it’s not perfect (what viewer is?)… it’s powerful and does allow people to use Inworldz. They’re covered on the viewer end.

    I’ll be honest: I don’t understand the motives of TPV devs; there’s no profit in it I can understand and it’s a whole, whole lot of work…. for what? You do have the thanks of a lot of people (myself included– I admire your efforts no end)… but if Firestorm decides to not support Inworldz, that’s surely your right of decision and no one should really get upset at that. Your call. It’s your project, just as Inworldz is theirs.

    I just wanted to point out that there is a reason Inworldz isn’t following the Opensim goose-step: it’s because Opensim doesn’t come anywhere close to working as well as Inworldz. It doesn’t come close to Inworldz performance and stability. Inworldz is putting the time and money and sweat and hassle into developing top-quality code. For Inworldz to retain compatibility with OpenSim they’d have to downgrade the quality of their system. They’d have to scrap Phlox and put PhysX on the chopping block. I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of Inworldz users have no desire at all for that to happen. In short… they’ll give up Firestorm and all things Opensim-related before they give up Inworldz stability, power and growth.

    I respect you folks a bunch and sympathize with your desire to retain compatibility. I’m sure Inworldz wishes that had been possible. But when they tried to get the OpenSim community to cooperate all they got in return was drama and fighting, coder egos and poo-pooing for-profit grids. Frankly, had I been Inworldz I’d have decided to leave OpenSim behind myself.

    Minethere: “I just can’t stop myself from pointing out that theft will happen anywhere. Closed grids offer little protection either. As well, you don’t own anything in them.”


    Something perhaps everyone should realize is there is no such thing as “safety” in this world (and I mean RL). The same is the case in VR, whether it is SL, other “for profit” grids, or OpenSim grids. They’re security nightmares, one and all.

    I have stated OSgrid is a copybot haven. I wasn’t singling it out; Second Life is the same. I’ve seen theft on Inworldz as well. It’s a pox that invades ALL grids. Blame Linden Lab for that. They’re the twits that refused to stop copybot in its infancy and that set their viewer code open-source despite numerous and severe warnings from experienced customers. Their arrogance and “we-say-so” attitude has created a virtual environment with little if any “security”.

    I do empathize with those who make their living on VR. I can understand they feel threatened… and rightly so. Linden Lab created an economy-based grid without governance / policing in place to enforce rules and punish criminal acts

    OSgrid is to be commended for offering merchandise freely. I would have loved to see that the case on Second Life from day one. But with LL it was always about money, money, money (often to the harm of their customers).

    The reality to merchants: get ready for an upheaval of your current life. Change happens and sometimes that change isn’t beneficial. Look at what’s happening to the price of things in RL. Look at the number of people out of work and with failed mortgages. Look at the price of CORN and its resultant influence on the entire food market. Then realize Second Life is far, far less stable. Don’t get too comfy with your SL businesses. I’d recommend people start seeking alternatives *now*.

    Zzpeal: “And about LL ignoring all, till they discover OSG and start moving!”

    That does seem a bit hypocritical doesn’t it? No, nothing wrong with Copybot, feel free to back up your full-perm items… this is your world… then oh no! OpenSim! Let’s try to sew up the bag before the rest of the cats get out!

    Minethere: “If you ever get banned from a closed grid, you will see this very clearly.”

    Luna: “But the banning thing…yeah it’s hard to deal with if you are the one banned and at the mercy of the grid owners with no judge and jury to help you out. However I explore carefully before joining a grid, and while knowing that no judge is perfect I would have some confidence that most bannings would probably be justified… I would rather have laws where mistakes are sometimes made than no law at all…no governance or law whatsoever equals chaos and is a breeding ground for abusers to take root.”

    You both make valid points. Unfortunately, “you can’t sue the King” very much applies to virtual grids. What to do about that? I don’t have an answer. I’m not pleased with the “we say so” bend that most for-profit grids have, nor am I pleased with the almost total anarchy of OSgrid. One thing I will say for Inworldz: I regularly see the founders on their forums discussing things with the users. That takes time and effort. While I’m not always pleased with the decisions, I do at least see them considering our feedback.

    That said, nothing is perfect and problems do occur. To expect worlds without problems is unrealistic and Utopian. The key there: find the grid you love and cooperate with the owners as fully as possible. Appreciate the good things, tolerate the bad things, help it improve. Beyond that… there is no such thing as an ideal world… VR or RL.

    Luna: ” It really is safer on a private grid, at least at this point in time – just make sure you back up all your creations. It’s harder to back up a sim design I know, but it can be done even without OAR files.”

    Well, dunno about that. Yes, we can back up our builds and that’s great. But I’ve tried backing up an entire region; it’s durn near impossible. I’ve spoken with Inworldz about that and did not receive a satisfactory answer or policy. I’m not giving up and am still working on it, but if there’s one major flaw that I’ve seen in every grid on the planet other than OSgrid: failure to allow full backups of regions and avatars.

    In that, all for-profit grids are in the age of the dinosaurs and are totally ignoring computer systems protocol for archiving of important data. To me, that’s just inexcusable.

  31. […] Why Anyone Who Cares About the Metaverse Needs to Move Beyond Second Life; Now, Not Later – by Chris Collins (Fleep in Second Life) […]

  32. Thanks, Chris, for a heartfelt response to what has happened.

    I built my “SLifeboat” a while back, in Jokaydia Grid. It worked well enough for a recent class and offers hypergrid access.

    As for SL? I’ll stick around out of purely venal interests in writing academic articles about the failed promises of a failed utopian idea. Whatever Hamlet Au said about your misunderstandings of SL’s purpose, Rosedale’s words are hard to ignore.

    He did want to build a utopia. Pity that we were gullible enough to believe it.

  33. As I understand and have heard from several ppl…many are doing their own private grid and building on them….bringing them into profit grids, then cashing out.

    And not caring much else what happens in them. I see an exodus and I still think there will be ‘something’ new come along rather soon.

    As to profit grids and any protections…I see it as a lot of words and no actual substance or reality. I do not know what lays ahead, but it seems to me the era of sl knockoffs and that business model will slowly but surely go away.

    As fleep said somewhere…something to the effect that ppl need to wake up. I totally agree, and even more, I think they need to start seeing more reality . I mean, ppl pay good money for software use that in any other product would be grounds to be sued…buggy and incomplete data…where else would anybody do that?

    And customer service? What is that? lol

  34. @Luna

    I respect your choices and you have to do what you believe best for your business but I agree with Wayfinder, no grid is totally secure, not the open grids, nor the closed grids and not Second Life either. With that said I would point out a few more things you might be missing. Kitely for example allows backup OARs and – this should impress you – their system wont allow the copying of stuff that don’t have full perms so no one could make a back-up of your creations in an OAR file on the Kitely grid. The good new also is that Kitely have submitted that software to Opensim core.

    You said you don’t feel safe with the open grids which is fair enough given they don’t yet have HG2 which should improve their security but Kitely and Avination and a fair few other grids are closed worlds that presently rely on similar restrictions that both Inworldz has and Second Life. However, Avination and Kitely and other grids that are closed worlds presently have said they will open up to hypergrid once HG2 arrives and has been evaluated.

    Now, it may be the case that OSgrid, under pressure from it so-called techo-communist element will resist the imposition of improving security measures. I can’t say this will or wont happen because I really don’t know who these guys are supposed to be and I am acquainted with enough people there and in other grids to have some idea. I really don’t and I think Profoky and others that choose to level this charge are just out to do harm to OSgrid and the open Metaverse in general. But, whatever, you also have to remember that most of the regions of OSgrid are on privately owned servers so it’s a mixed bag and I certainly wont be making stuff of mine available outside of my own hypergrid standalone regions.

    But would I let my stuff go to Kitely or Avination?

    Well, I believe they have reputations to safeguard and in my view I think the founders are intelligent business people. They are professionals with a serious investment just like the founders of Inworldz who also have a reputation – a good one I might add – to maintain. It really is not in the interests of grids managers to be petty and arbitrary in the way they deal with their customers. There is also feedback that can destroy a grid in the blink of an eye if bad stuff turns out to be true. Meta7 learnt that to their cost and the grid has long gone.

    I said in an earlier post here that Merchants will have to learn how best to use HG2 once it’s here and I suggested the same business methods as Total Avatar Shop. They will deliver to any grid but I am saying do your home work and look into the grid’s history, it’s feedback and check them for their level of transparency. Do that for all the grids you want to do business on. Then decide which grids you will trust before you deliver to customers there, and do make this know in your store so the customers know what the deal is. But remember this, under HG2 it is fully expected that the perms you set for your goods will apply on any grid that runs the HG2 software (this will all be evaluated once we have it).

    In any event, if a grid is running HG2 your stuff, no matter who you deliver it to shouldn’t be able to copy it or take it off that grid even if it’s clothes they are wearing when they travel because the stuff is never downloaded anywhere else. It is called from the home grid while travelling.

    The open Metaverse is bigger than any single grid even now and it is growing steadily. Grids that fully open up to hypergrid when HG2 arrives will start to enjoy increased trade in a growing market and I am sure of that. OSgrid may loose it’s favorable position as HUB of the hypergrid if the so-called techno-communists and Utopianist have their way ( I’m not really convinced they exist in any organized sense but whatever). Maybe the open Metaverse will split into commercial HG2 clusters and die-hard Utopianists in another cluster where they can practice the sharing ethic. Who knows but I, myself, will never go with a totally communistic or Utopian creed. For me it has to embrace both commercial and sharing.

  35. I left Second Life over a month ago, and my store of 3 years… dumped my 1/4 mainland (1/2 for awhile), done…over… Due to a severe inventory loss that just took the steam out of my Second Life and made me realize what I’d invested in for all those years. I wrote about this on my website for my store (linked here). I’ll never invest that kind of money in something I can’t tangibly own, or short of that, company that guarantees copies of your items safely returned, or being paid for the loss. They did not care that I left. They told me you play second life at my own risk. Fine. I will never give them another cent. I also just stop going into SL, other than a few times to visit a dear friend. Beyond that, I just have to be “done with it.”

  36. ‘Kitely for example allows backup OARs and – this should impress you – their system wont allow the copying of stuff that don’t have full perms so no one could make a back-up of your creations in an OAR file on the Kitely grid. The good new also is that Kitely have submitted that software to Opensim core.’

    I hope you don’t mind my comments on your post,since they prefaced to luna…

    I will be making an acct on Kitely…i am very curious how they are allowing OAR files and how they are doing this for their customers. You got my interest!! tyvm!!

    I should add tho, in the interest of fully fleshing out this all…Inworldz DOES have the ability to do OARS…they just don’t offer it to the regular folks…as I am sure sl does also. It’s all a matter of what is important to grid owners, isn’t it? And of course, who their favorites are.

    ‘Well, I believe they have reputations to safeguard and in my view I think the founders are intelligent business people. They are professionals with a serious investment just like the founders of Inworldz who also have a reputation – a good one I might add – to maintain. It really is not in the interests of grids managers to be petty and arbitrary in the way they deal with their customers. There is also feedback that can destroy a grid in the blink of an eye if bad stuff turns out to be true. Meta7 learnt that to their cost and the grid has long gone.’

    Well, I must say, and i prefer to be careful here, as I do not wish to be banned. Grid owners are simply human beings. The have their friends, their own personal interests, their favorites, their brown nosers and their bootlickers. As well as their own needs. I think that to believe grid owners are somehow intelligent is disingenuous. Why would anybody really think that? It is a simple matter to make a grid, get your friends in, spread the word, talk the talk..it is not rocket science by any means. To believe that somehow a grid owner is above reproach, and thus less human, is interesting to me. Grid owners are most certainly capable of being petty and arbitrary..why wouldn’t they be? There are tons of ppl on these vws who can and have been removed and nothing is ever heard from them again. As well, if one reads enough, one can see horror stories aplenty of the petty and arbitrary decisions grid owners have made to ppl who have contributed greatly to their grids..but fell in disfavor with the owners.

    It’s really simply being human.

  37. I don’t have a lot to contribute here, but I am a longtime SL and OpenSim user. And as I’ve gotten older with the platform I’ve found that a virtual world EXHAUSTS me. It tires me out to log in and DO things after work, when I mostly just want to do nothing at all. And I have lots of little OpenSim projects I am working on, and should be interested in. But I wonder if this exhaustion at the idea of a virtual world is something that holds the metaverse, such as it is, back.

    Maybe most people don’t want a metaverse. Maybe it’s too much effort. And if that’s the case, why build something for which there is little to no audience?

    How’s that for pessimism?

  38. @CMoney

    *smiles* I think you need to put your feet up and have a nice cup of tea while the rest of us get on with the work.


    Point taken on the matter of trusting grid owners but I did advise…

    “but I am saying do your home work and look into the grid’s history, it’s feedback and check them for their level of transparency. Do that for all the grids you want to do business on. Then decide which grids you will trust before you deliver to customers there”

    I agree someone can start up a grid easy enough so I don’t for a moment say you trust a new one. The established grids will have a track record and a little Googling should find any complaints and negative activity.

    Business is involves risk and that applies to the Metaverse just as much. You just have to read stuff and take in what goes on. Then you have to take some chances or you might as well do you day job and put your money in the bank.

    What, Banks?

    *faint scream trailing off into the distance*

  39. ‘Business is involves risk and that applies to the Metaverse just as much. You just have to read stuff and take in what goes on. Then you have to take some chances or you might as well do you day job and put your money in the bank.

    What, Banks?

    *faint scream trailing off into the distance*’

    lol…funny one!!! but, what day job??? lol

    I think I will take a few minutes and explore your new ‘Total Avatar Island’ inworldz….its yours, right? Or am I reading incorrectly? It is late for me.

    Yes, google can do wonders, but they do not reach everywhere…lol..yet. And the many silent ppl who have had issues with vws will not not succumb to google. *wink.

    But, to the OP….I have to just say that whatever ppl say in these comments, coming from your everyday average nobody user of vws [who does enjoy them for various reasons]…me…I totally think you are spoton!! The rest of these few ppl who do vws will figure it out eventually, and will, of course, not give you any credit…lol

  40. Masami Kuramoto

    I find it amusing, almost comical in fact, when people accuse OSGrid of being run by (tele)communists. That’s so utterly absurd, so wrong on many levels, it makes me laugh every time.

    In fact Linden Lab’s grid resembles the old Soviet empire more than anything else. It has a non-democratic government that doesn’t listen to its citizens. It is a walled garden with iron curtain borders. It has a planned (Ponzi-)economy. You can “buy” things there, but you can’t own them. Imagine a clothing store where you buy a dress, and then you’re only allowed to wear the dress inside that store. That’s how Second Life works. Your land and your entire inventory are property of Linden Lab, as you will quickly find out the moment SL gets shut down.

    OSGrid is not communist, it’s libertarian. You own your land and your inventory. You can back them up. You can move them to another server and another grid if you want. You can choose your government. You can even create your own grid and declare yourself independent. You can make your own terms of service. And of course you are responsible for anything that’s going on in your grid, whether it’s good or bad, legal or illegal. OpenSim grid operators are bound by the DMCA (or their local equivalent, depending on the country) just like Linden Lab is. How could anyone confuse this kind of freedom with communism? It makes no sense at all. People who associate OSGrid with communism have no clue about either.

  41. Let Me be clear for once!
    LL TOS states that as soon as anything is imported in world it belongs to Them!
    I wonder how many really think about this, about what they grant as their creations, that will be utterly useless outside Sl!
    Hosting My own´grid on OSgrid allows me to make all I create, Mine!
    Its Mine on OSgrid,l on a private grid, on Kitely oj whatever i choose to upload!
    Its mind to share with others, being offering the oars to any to upload or whatever!
    So im still being seen as a communist???
    And i see so many speaking about copyboot, i wonder how many really tried it?
    I didn’t, don’t even want to figure how to do that and the reason is as simple, I trust MY coincept of morality and my judgment and it jjust says this:
    Stealing, no matter for what reason is not worth the loss of honor!

  42. Masami Kuramoto

    @ Tonya
    “you can’t seriously argue that there’s not a contingent of “everything should be free, and it’s all just bits anyway!” in the OpenSim world.”

    Sure we can. In fact we can easily argue that the number one virtual world platform for content theft is not OpenSim but Second Life, because that’s where stolen goods can be turned into real money easily. There are virtually tons of ripped textures, sounds and meshes all over Linden Lab’s grid and marketplace, far more than on all OpenSim grids combined. Second Life’s own economy and redeemable currency provide a powerful incentive to steal, and the platform’s digital rights management system does nothing to prevent it. The only deterrent is the law, but as the Curio vs. Hush example shows, even the DMCA doesn’t always protect the creator. This whole idea that content on LL’s grid is safer than on OpenSim is a myth. There is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.

  43. Gaga: ” Kitely for example allows backup OARs and – this should impress you – their system wont allow the copying of stuff that don’t have full perms so no one could make a back-up of your creations in an OAR file on the Kitely grid.”

    That’s exactly the kind of concept we’ve been discussing as needed. Good for Kitely. Now… the same concept is needed for Avatar inventory.

    Cmoney: “Maybe most people don’t want a metaverse. Maybe it’s too much effort. And if that’s the case, why build something for which there is little to no audience?”

    Because it’s there. Pioneering and mountain climbing isn’t for everyone. Deep sea sailing and exploration of outer space is not for the timid or “what’s in it for me?” We’re explorers and creators who do things because we can… and because relatively few people have. We do it because when someone in RL asks me what I do, I tell them, “I design 3D computer worlds.” That’s a nice reply to be able to make. We don’t do this for some vast audience; we do it because we can. I remember reading of the man who invented the laser. A comment that was made, “Well this is the most awesome totally useless device to ever be invented.” They didn’t know why they worked on it; they just did. Can you imagine today’s society without lasers? No CDs, no DVD or BluRay, no modern medical technology, no fast-as-light communications, no pointers in boardrooms, no laser art. Usually one has to explore and pioneer before the value becomes apparent. : )

    To everyone: “Communism… socialism… etc etc ad nauseum”…
    A guaranteed way to bring out emotion in a blog: use the words “Communist”, “socialist” or “Hitler”. I’m surprised we haven’t seent the word “homophobic” rear its ugly head. Seriously, I haven’t seen anything in these worlds that qualifies as communist, socialist or Nazi activities. There may be resemblances but really, when folks start pulling out these words to bandy about I have to believe it’s because they’re missing the main point, or perhaps think they’re “losing the debate” so have to go to their store of emotionalistic ammo. Honestly. Now while I feel it fully appropriate to lable Second Life an “Iron Curtain” grid– even that has failures of analogy (they certainly don’t prevent anyone from leaving. They just prevent them from taking their work with them.)

    So maybe a few less labels and a few more valid points would serve here. That is unless anyone here thinks Prok is a hero and wishes to join her tirade against virtual socialism. If so… I’ll be waaay over HERE. ; )

    That said, I really, really enjoyed Masami’s comment because it’s so accurate:
    “In fact Linden Lab’s grid resembles the old Soviet empire more than anything else. It has a non-democratic government that doesn’t listen to its citizens. It is a walled garden with iron curtain borders. It has a planned (Ponzi-)economy. You can “buy” things there, but you can’t own them. Imagine a clothing store where you buy a dress, and then you’re only allowed to wear the dress inside that store. That’s how Second Life works. Your land and your entire inventory are property of Linden Lab, as you will quickly find out the moment SL gets shut down.”

    Okay… so maybe SL *is* socialist in structure. Gah… the implications that Prok might be right… Bwahahahahahaaa

    Masami: “People who associate OSGrid with communism have no clue about either.”
    I have to agree. OSGrid is as you say libertarian… even including the faults of libertarian activities (ie. if you don’t agree with their libertarian concepts you are scum of the earth). They’re libertarian to the point of anarchy, and anyone who doesn’t enjoy the chaos is beneath their contempt. I’d like to see that general attitude disappear… while they continue with their overall goals. Frankly I like OSGrid. I just don’t like the performance and shoddy tech work.

    Minethere: “I totally think you are spoton!! The rest of these few ppl who do vws will figure it out eventually.”

    Have to agree Minethere. I’ve long been of the opinion that the SL-type of virtual world building is not the one that will usher in the era of the 3D web. It’s too clunky, too resource-heavy, too complex, to high a learning curve. Who but us creators would put up with such poorly-designed and implemented software?

    I warned LL a very long time ago that their worst threat is another company coming along out of nowhere, having workedon a secret project for years, and blowing them out of the water. I still think that’s quite possible. What it would take though is someone who thinks like people think, who understands the ins and outs and difficulty of 3D world design… along with the absolute necessity of customer-triggered backup and restore. The current VR worlds while immensely interesting, are very unlikely answers to the 3D web, no matter how much the hypergrid is praised. It’s a hypergrid for a flawed concept.

    Zzpearl: “I wonder how many really think about this, about what they grant as their creations, that will be utterly useless outside SL!”

    And that’s the point there. That’s part of why my group left SL, and why this blog is so timely. Long ago I blogged that Second Life is one of the worst investments in time and money anyone could make. I still hold that to be true. If one examines the handful of “successful” merchants on SL compared to those who have met utter disaster– usually because Linden Lab itself dropped a bolder on their business– the figures would be pretty shocking. One thing that has amazed me beyond believe is that over the last 9 years LL hasn’t been repeatedly sued to bankruptcy or that some class action criminal suit hasn’t taken out the company entirely. I credit that to the fact that SL customers can’t seem to get past their internal drama long enough to form an organized front; otherwise LL would have been toast long ago (at least as a result of the Openspace sim bait-and-switch fiasco).

    Tonya: “Sure we can. In fact we can easily argue that the number one virtual world platform for content theft is not OpenSim but Second Life, because that’s where stolen goods can be turned into real money easily. There are virtually tons of ripped textures, sounds and meshes all over Linden Lab’s grid and marketplace, far more than on all OpenSim grids combined… This whole idea that content on LL’s grid is safer than on OpenSim is a myth. There is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.”

    A very valid statement. Well said. LL and SL are indeed the source of the plague. However there is one difference: a sim owner on SL can’t blatantly steal the car you’re driving on his region by exercising God powers. That is something to consider… and is one reason I don’t create or import anything into OSgrid. That stated however I fully agree with you: if one wishes to find the central hive of Copybotting on the planet… Second Life would be the place.

  44. Follow-up… a prominent example of LL totally failing to secure their grid is in the aspect of TEXTURE perms.

    Long ago I strongly recommended to them to add a fourth permissions protocol: RETAIL.

    This protocol would be applied to things like textures. A builder could buy a texture from a texture merchant, build with it and even sell that build. But the texture itself could not be re-sold or given away.

    Linden Lab refused to implement this. Their argument: there are other ways to steal textures. They can be copied off the screen etc etc blah blah blah.

    Hey, a thief can bust a window or kick in a door too. That doesn’t mean we ignore the need for latching windows and door locks. At the very least there would be evidence the texture was actually stolen as opposed to someone forgetting and giving away a FULL PERM item… and then later LL stating “You can’t export this because you’re not the original creator of those textures” bleh bleh blabbity blab…

    It’s that general attitude of LL that has done so much to destroy the loyalty of SL users. There are less than a quarter million supposedly active SL users. How many millions and millions have left the system as a lost cause? How many merchants have been put out of business because of suddenly changing permissions or copybot issues?

    Sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle. That’s why I think OSgrids free-enterprise concept makes sense. Perms aren’t really necessary when things are given away for free. (Yet we still see the paranoia of creators there making things “no transfer”… as if offering full perms in a free society is going to create a grid meltdown…)

  45. On the matter of textures. It seems to me there could be a way to code in –properties– for pictures just as is done in rl. Right click a jpg on your computer and you can see all sorts of protections that can be done. As well, tho I do not recall the details, there is metadata embedded in pictures that can be used.

    Seems to me, if vws were really actually concerned about this particular issue, it could have been done, could be done, or should have been done long ago.

    hmmm, I think this is it on a quick google: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exchangeable_image_file_format

  46. I agree there is no point waiting for Linden to create a virtual sit down and immerse for hours on end type metaverse with the creative freedom of SL – ie, make SL work properly.

    I think they wont do this because they have already tried for many years to get this to work, its an extremely difficult task and there are many trends which indicate market behaviour with technology is moving away from this interaction model.

    SL, and virtual worlds in general, are amazing things, but I think the concept of an overarching entirely separate from reality metaverse which becomes the future of technological interaction – is a brilliant sci fi concept, but is perhaps not a great goal.

    I think attempting to take on the challenge which Linden did and perhaps failed at may be dangerous. By that I mean creating an alterative copy of SL. I think its dangerous not only because its proven to be incredibly hard, even for a very well funded startup, but also because even if it worked perfectly, it doesn’t address a shift in attitude in the use of technology between 2002 and 2012.

    I think the reality of the future unfolds in unexpected ways which are very rarely a literal incarnation of ideas from the past.

    So, I’m excited to see how the concepts of the metaverse, and indeed virtual worlds, including SL, can evolve and become entwined in different concepts which are also informed by the other technology and interaction which is going on today.

  47. @Minethere

    You said…
    I think I will take a few minutes and explore your new ‘Total Avatar Island’ inworldz….its yours, right? Or am I reading incorrectly? It is late for me.

    No actually, I am not the owner of Total Avatar Shop and I just mentioned it as a good example of how we might have to do business after HG2 arrives in the Open Metaverse.

    Total Avatar Shop is owned by Sunny Whitfield and she has stores on several grids including Inworldz, OSgrid, Kitely and Avination. Probably a few others too. She also has a web site at…


    I aim to write a blog post about doing business in a future hypergrid Metaverse and discuss other aspects of it including Grid Search and the need for a fully supportive Opensim viewer. Stay tuned for that and the blog address is…


    Finally, I want to say Masami Kuramoto was spot on in describing the true state of OSgrid and where the real copy botting and content theft is going on. Yep, Second Life because that is where the most people are and the money.

  48. I think the only thing we really have to worry about is “platform nationalism.” That’s divisive, and causes conflict. I think that at the heart of “platform nationalism” is the fear that this wonderful virtual experience will go away.

    It’s not going to go away. We’ve just got to work together, and that might take some time.

    When we are ready for the Metaverse, the Metaverse will appear.

  49. The metaverse: where is it?

    Thank you for the article. I can feel for some of your arguments, but I am not convinced by them. Another try to get people to move away from sl towards something else.. and what is that else or better: where is it?
    The fact is that despite sl being small compared to world of war craft or eve on line or lineage, it is still a lot bigger then all the open sims combined. For any artist, maker of clothes, or anyone else there is were the audience is, the buyers are and the people live.
    Then the hostage argument.. I make stories in sl with machinima and pictures. I don’t feel really taken hostage. I can’t imagine how. If sl dies tomorrow I go and move to another place and film there. Film is not dependent on this one platform.. you can film anywhere. So what is it that they use to hold me hostage with? My prim builts?
    I got friends who write stories.. they write stories in waves or dashes in sl. If sl dies tomorrow they go and write someplace else. Sl is neat but not a requirement.
    I got a friend who makes clothing and such. She makes them outside sl and imports them. With mesh she can now import them to other platforms.. she keeps an eye on cloud party and other possibilities.. I do the same. I play around with other platforms. I even have been to inworldz..It has litte to offer me. No shadows, directed lighting, I can’t get half the things I get for free in SL. I try to build a lot of my own things for movie already.. if i have to built more in Inworldz I think I never get around to movie making.
    Of course there are people with vested interests and money. Perhaps they should leave… but where would they go? To the open sims?. But who will buy their clothes, come to their events, rent their lands? It lacks people.
    I agree with you on this one thing though: linden seems to try and court the gaming community.. they are dazzled by the 30 million steam users. They think: if only 10% will join we have 3 million people.. wow.
    Lol. Steam users..It is hilarious: gaming is now mostly the area of adolescents. Those that come, have a look, then think: what a boring place I go do some call of duty 5 and they leave within a week.. if not earlier.
    But then.. what else can they do? Perhaps if just 1% stays this is still a huge amount of people, so why not give it a try?
    Linden is a company.. it exists by not making a loss and preferably making a profit. Linden can’t afford to not try to grow and needs to at least maintain it’s user base. The open sims are lagging behind in technology, people and anything else.. perhaps if they forge ahead in those area’s people will go there, but I wouldn’t be surprised that you will find people go to some other commercially run virtual world when sl will go belly up.