Curiosity, pioneer spirit drive hypergridders

Simple curiosity and the pioneering spirit are driving the growth in hypergridding, despite technical challenges.

According to data from The Hypergates, the total number of travelers using their teleport gate system has more than tripled from 133 a month in May of 2009 to 471 last month – and these numbers do not include people who hypergrid teleport by using other gate systems, by typing hypergrid addresses directly, or by creating their own gates.

(Data courtesy The Hypergates.)

Meanwhile, the total number of jumps performed has grown from 795 in May of 2009 to 4,018 last month – a five-fold increase, a sign that not only are more people using The Hypergates network, but they are also using it more frequently.

(Data courtesy The Hypergates.)

Pioneering spirit

For many OpenSim users, the hypergrid is a new frontier both of exploration, and of technology.

“We are on the threshold of a major change in human civilization,” said Erik Gordon Bainbridge, an educator at Tamalpais Union High School District in Callifornia’s Marin County. “Virtual worlds are leading the way. We’ve barely seen the start.”

Bainbridge – who is also known as “Apollo Manga” – covers Second Life for Examiner.com and is the editor at Avatar Planet.

“I am using Opensim and the hypergrid for reasons similar to why I was a beta tester for the virtual world There in 2003 and why I was creating websites in the early 1990s — excitement about the potential of a new technology that I believe will change how we live, how we interact, and how we think about the world,” he said, during a discussion about hypergridding at the Hypergrid Adventurers Club. “I do it for the same reasons that if I had been alive in 1905 and had the means, I would have owned a car even though a horse and carriage made a lot more sense.”

Hypergrid travellers arrive on a foreign OpenSim grid. The gate pictured is part of The Hypergates network. (Image courtesy John Lester, via Flickr.)

The Hypergrid Adventurers Club was founded by John Lester, director of community development at ReactionGrid. Lester — also known as “Pathfinder Lester” — was formerly lead evangelist at Second Life. The Club has conducted more than 40 different hypergrid trips since last October, visiting such destinations as a virtual recreation of Pic du Midi de Bigorre astronomical observatory on NewWorldGrid, FrancoGrid‘s China Town, and the the 1939 New York World’s Fair on ReactionGrid.

The virtual worlds are the new frontier of civilization, but there is one big difference though between being a pioneer today and being a pioneer during the days of the American frontier, said Bainbridge.

“You couldn’t be both settling the frontier and enjoying the salons of Paris and London,” he said. “It was one or the other.”

Today’s pioneers don’t have to make the choice.

“With the click of a mouse, we can switch from exploring the wild frontier of alpha virtual world software to the stability and established civilization of Second Life,” he said.

Bainbridge isn’t the only one who sees the hypergrid as a frontier.

“At times, I feel like a frontier explorer and I look forward to the day when the exploration glitches will be considered just growing pains,” said Sally Cherry, a consultant and instructor at the Cherry Consulting Network, based in Maryland.

Cherry is also known as “SarVana Cherry” on OSGrid and JokaydiaGrid.

“I see hypergrid jumpers as ‘testers for future travelers’ or ‘frontier scouts’ who will enhance the experiences of future jumpers,” she added. “Thus the main reason for my real life and virtual-based excitement and interest in OpenSim exploration including hypergrid jumping.”

John Lester's hypergate, located on the Pathlandia region of JokaydiaGrid, is also known as a "blamgate" because it immediately teleports anyone who walks through it.

Spirit of curiosity

Other hypergrid travelers are driven by their sense of curiosity to find out what’s happening on other grids.

That includes meeting people who live there, said Peter Miller, a microbiologist at the University of Liverpool, also known as “Graham Mills” in Second Life. For example, the Hypergrid Adventurers Club has visited social events on the New World Grid and music events on FrancoGrid, including a performance of the Rennes opera.

Organizations like the Hypergrid Adventurers Club are critical to raise awareness of the existence of other grids, he said.

“Beyond that there is a major need for resource discovery that goes beyond the fortuitous, not least in the education community,” he added.

For another view of an educator’s pespective on OpenSim, check out Miller’s recent slide presentation, which includes images from a number of grids accessible via hypergrid teleport.

Miller is not alone in appreciating what the hypergrid has to offer.

“It’s so much more creative and full of possibility when you’re crossing boundaries,” said Jonathon Richter, director of the Center for Learning in Virtual Environments at the University of Oregon.

According to Richter, hypergridders are risk tolerant because they’re motivated to explore.

“Why would any sane individual choose to sit on top of a Saturn 5 rocket on a launchpad, or venture into uncharted waters beyond the edges of mapped realms?” asked fellow hypergrid traveler Matt Poole, director of online education at Virginia’s National College.

But it is the explorers who push back the boundaries of what is known, he added.

“As an early adopter, I take personal enjoyment out of discovery and exploration,” confirmed James Lloyd, president of e-learning consulting firm Lloud LLC.

But Lloyd – who is also known as “Lloud Laffer” in-world – said that he’s also interested in exploring the fact that OpenSim grids are based on open source technology.

“As corporations eat away at individual privacy, we can at the same time eat away at proprietary knowledge,” he said. “While organizations like Second Life are great innovators, the things they keep secret to maintain a competitive advantage seem to harm the community more than support it.”

Trials and tribulations

But hypergrid travel doesn’t come without its challenges – hypergrid teleports fail when the destination is too far away, or uses a different version of OpenSim, or is not hypergrid-enabled, viewers are not designed for hypergrid travel, and occasionally inventory items fail to make the journey between grids.

Some of these problems could be addressed if there was a group or committee working to ensure that virtual worlds viewers met a set of standards for connecting to the hypergrid, Lloyd told Hypergrid Business.

“In general, I see improvements in the interchange of objects between grids,” he added, “and the practitioners are working diligently to keep in mind the exchange of textures, objects and scripts.”

Until then, hypergrid travelers routinely face hiccups on their journeys.

“We are the pioneers, like car owners in 1905,” said Avatar Planet’s Baingridge. “They faced unpaved roads, breakdowns, and running out of gas and had to deal with it all on their own. It was foolish by most people’s standards. But the persistence of those early drivers changed how we live. Our exploring today could lead to changes of even greater magnitude.”

A hypergate on the Festa 24H region on OSGrid, part of the Oliveira Grid Portal network.

How to hypergrid

To do a hypergrid jump from one OpenSim grid to another, start on a hypergrid-enabled grid such as OSGrid or ReactionGrid.

Then choose a destination that’s close enough for a jump, and running on the same version of OpenSim.

From ReactionGrid, for example, people often go to JokaydiaGrid, which focuses on education. Start on a hypergrid-enabled region like “Core1” or “HG Gateway 1” then hit CTRL-M to bring up the map and paste your destination address – “jokaydia.metaverseworlds.com:9000:scooter” (no quotation marks) into the search field. Hit Search, then Teleport.

Once you’re done checking out the freebie store on Scooter, visit John Lester’s “Pathlandia region”, also on JokaydiaGrid, by local teleport, home of the Hypergrid Adventurers Club.

OSGrid residents have a larger choice of destinations because the grid is running on the latest version of OpenSim. Start on any region – the entire grid is hypergrid-enabled, and go to GermanGrid at “login.germangrid.de:8002” or MetaverseSailing at “metaversesailing.com:9000”.

You can also hypergrid teleport by using a hypergate. A list of OSGrid regions with a hypergate from The Hypergates network is here.

More information on how to hypergrid teleport is here.

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miriam.pia@hypergridbusiness.com'

Miriam Pia

Miriam Pia is a freelance business and technology writer based in Dörverden, Germany.