Yes, it does have mass appeal

I’m tired of naysayers complaining that Second Life — and, by extension, OpenSim — has no mass appeal.

That it’s too hard to use.

That regions take too long to load.

That there’s never anybody there.

Or if they’re there, they’re rude and annoying.

That it’s all sex and gambling. Or, these days, sex and vampires.

That it’s for “broken people.” For nerds, loners and losers. For people who don’t have a first life.

That you can’t find anything.

That, when you log in, there’s nothing to do.

That there’s too much stuff to learn.

That there’s no point to it.

That it has no place in business.

That schools waste their time when they experiment with it.

That you can’t make any money there.

That it costs too much.

That it’s too commercial.

That there’s too much free stuff.

That there’s too much piracy.

You know what? None of that means a thing.

It doesn’t.

Because if it did, we wouldn’t have the Web.

Remember the early days?

You needed a dial-up modem. You needed to install the modem. You needed to install special software to access the Internet. You needed to pay exhorbitant, by-the-minute rates.

And you always got a busy signal.

Websites took so long to load… one … word… at … a… time.

It was so bad, you turned off the graphics because it would take forever to load a single picture.

Remember those days?

It was so insecure that if someone tried selling something on a website, they would ask you to call them on the phone to give them your credit card number.

And you couldn’t find anything. It was all junk.

And perverts and weirdos were everywhere.

And people worried about “Internet addiction.”

There were business executives who wouldn’t even check their own email — their secretaries would print them out for them.

Remember when no real companies were on the Internet? It was just crazies and the occasional college professor posting a course schedule.

Some people even thought it was a fad.

Remember this guy? I love that guy. I keep coming back to him. He was saying — in 1995 even! — that the Internet wasn’t going to go anywhere, when a lot of people were already getting excited about it. A year earlier, probably everyone would have agreed with him. Heck, most people probably agreed with him when the article ran.

The fact that it was slow didn’t stop the Internet, and it won’t stop the adoption of virtual worlds.  But, on the positive side, it will get faster — our computers will get faster, and our Internet connections will get faster, and we’ll look back at these days with nostalgia.

The fact that it’s difficult doesn’t matter. The Internet only got easy enough for my mother-in-law to use just now, when we got her a Kindle Fire. (An iPad would probably have also worked.) And the kids have to help her use it. Before, if she needed something only available online, she’d have one of us do it. And the Web is 20 years old. Virtual environments will also get easier to use. It will come. In time.

The fact that it’s expensive doesn’t matter. Prices will drop. It’s inevitable. On the OpenSim side, prices are dropping like a rock. But in the end, if it’s something people want, they will pay for it.

Piracy and security won’t matter. The security will improve and piracy — well, piracy hasn’t slowed down the growth of the Internet any. I’m not condoning piracy. I’m just saying that the fact that there’s free stuff on the Net doesn’t exactly make people stay away. It might make the record companies and movie companies stay away — but their records and movies are still going to end up online. Fortunately, they’re starting to figure it out, with iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, and all the rest. Hopefully, it won’t take 3D content providers twenty years to learn the same lessons.

Sex and gambling don’t matter. People certainly don’t stay away from those things! Sure, they’ll complain about it in public. With all that complaining, it’s a wonder why all the seedy places are so crowded. But somehow, they are.

The social stigma doesn’t matter. The stigma will go away once everyone is doing it. And then the guys who were doing it first, back when they were branded loners and losers and “broken people” suddenly become heroes, innovators, role models and trendsetters. Funny how that happens.

So what does matter?

What made the Web grow? Other technologies come and go, but the Internet stuck around.

Here’s what I think.

The Internet made it possible for people to express themselves in a way that they couldn’t do before.  Folks who previously couldn’t get heard could put up a Website and invite the world to come visit. Or they could go troll the forums and discussion groups.

Today, platforms like Second Life and OpenSim allow people to be creative in a brand new way, and to connect to people in a way not possible in any other medium.

I cannot think of any creative medium that has died out. Even the caveman staple of painting on walls, that is still with us today.

Creating immersive environments is a brand-new medium, an exciting and social one, in its own way. Maybe it’s not for everybody, but then, neither is running a Website.

The Internet made it possible for people to connect with other people, in a way not possible previously. A gay kid in Kansas — or China, or Saudia Arabia — could find a supportive community online. Football fans could find others for their fantasy leagues. Desperate yet picky singles could find that one person they could connect with — even if that person was across the country or across the world.

Immersive environments take connecting to a new level, combing the reach of Web-based communication with the immediately of face-to-face contact.

We are social animals. Anything that improves our ability to connect with others is going to be significant — posted letters, the telephone, email. Text messaging. These technologies allow us to stay connected to people even when we’re apart, and to connect to new people who may currently be beyond our physical reach.

People kept finding new things they could use the Internet for. To distribute newsletters. To find suppliers. To catch up with old friends from high school. To distribute videos. To distribute books. To do video calls. To access enterprise applications. To put funny captions on pictures of cats.

People are already finding things they can use virtual environments for. Corporate training and simulations. Machinima. High school drama classes. 3D modeling and data visualization. Sales training. Rapid prototyping of machinery, buildings, retail layouts, and office remodeling. Role playing games and virtual dating. Therapy and counseling. Even weight loss.

As technology improves, we’ll continue to see new uses for virtual environments emerge.

People will start arriving in-world. Maybe out of curiosity, to see what all the hype is about. Maybe because of a successful marketing campaign. But mostly because there will be something they have to do there.

At first, they may be reluctant, and put it off, or ask someone to take them through it. But, at some point, they will attend their first virtual meeting. Or a virtual book reading. Or a virtual concert. Or go on a virtual date. Or walk into a virtual store. Or get virtual training. Or virtual therapy. Or attend a virtual class reunion.

Then there will be something else that they need to do in-world. And something else. And pretty soon, they’ll be old hands at it and wonder how they ever did without it.

It will become ubiquitous. Where was I twenty years ago when Tim Berners-Lee was inventing the Web? I was 22. (Don’t do the math.) Just out of college. I was reporting for The Chicago Tribune, which involved a lot of driving around and attending school council meetings. Filing a story electronically meant dialing into the newspaper’s computer system and uploading my files.

There was a page of instructions that had to be followed exactly — a keystroke out of place, and the process would fail.

I was familiar with Internet Relay Chat and Usenet news groups, but they were only accessible to people with university computer accounts — usually only engineering and computer science majors. Logging in meant using a terminal to access a mainframe.

Today, I live on the Internet. And I’m not alone – there are folks in the emerging world who get smart phones before they get anything else.

It’s not just a geek thing anymore.

My day is probably typical. I work a desk job, so I spend most of my time on the computer. My computer is connected to the Internet — I’m never more than a mouse-click away from my email, Twitter feed, Facebook page, Google search screen, weather report, or Castleville game. (I got hooked over Christmas — it’s my first casual game addiction.)

In the evening, I relax by reading — sometimes paper books but, lately, more often than not, ebooks on my iPhone. I watch TV online — Neflix, Hulu, Crackle — we finally cancelled our cable subscription because we don’t watch live TV anymore.

There’s always a laptop or smartphone within reach, to check email, look up a recipe, add something to a shopping list, check the calendar. To fall asleep, I read or play Sudoku on my iPhone — and the same phone wakes me up in the morning.

I’m not too dependent on technology. That would be like saying that… I’m too dependent on my shoes. Or my microwave.

The Internet is useful. It’s ubiquitous because of its usefulness. Because it’s engaging, because its social.

Twenty years in the future

If virtual environments progress the way the Internet did, where will we be?

I’ll still be working then, and since I like having co-workers, there will probably an office involved of some kind. But I also like living close to my kids, who’ll probably have children by then.

So the morning meeting will probably take place in a virtual office. My avatar will reflect my facial expressions and gestures, but won’t reveal the fact that haven’t brushed my hair yet. If I’m a sim-com millionaire — due to the fact that Hyperica goes public — I’ll probably have meetings for much of the day. Budget discussions. Personnel issues. Dealing with investors and media. Planning a new marketing strategy with the ad guys to try to keep Google from eating our lunch. Meeting with a therapist, to deal with the stress.

You know, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Maybe I’ll be following my other dream, of becoming a successful novelist.

I’ll be sitting, writing on a beach at sunrise. Writers get to live wherever they want — I can live near a tropical beach. After I do my bit of writing for the day, and have a swim to cool off, I’ll attend a virtual meeting with my writing group to get their feedback on a new character. Then I’ll meet with my agent — virtually, of course — to discuss movie rights. After a nice dinner at the local seafood restaurant, I’ll take my grandkids on a tour of a virtual science museum while their parents cook dinner half a continent away. And maybe I’ll squeeze in a date with my sweetheart, who’s travelling on business — being a sim-com millionaire is hard work. Better them than me! We’ll stroll hand-in-hand on a virtual beach, under a virtual summer moon, and watch the dolphins gambol in the waves. On Saturday, I’ll have a virtual book reading at a popular virtual bookstore. And that night I’ll be at a virtual coffeehouse, hanging out with my friends, listening to live music, and waiting for my sweetheart to wrap up for the day and join us.

Or maybe I’ll find a new dream. I might become a designer of interactive experiences, a world creator. My team and I will create rich imaginary worlds, populated with complex characters, where visitors will face challenging quests, solve mysteries, make lifelong friends, and discover things about themselves that they had never known before.

I don’t think the Web will go away — it’s just too efficient a mechanism for distributing information. And we’ll still have movies, and writing, and music, and art, and every other medium we have today. Though maybe transformed a bit by new technology.

Who will own the metaverse?

I believe that the open source genie is out of the bottle.  Any critical new technology will either be based on common open source platforms, or be compatible with them.

It will be decentralized — anybody will be able to have a virtual world. It will be as cheap as websites are today — hosting providers will offer unlimited land as part of the deal, the way they now offer unlimited storage, even though they used to charge by the page or by the byte.

It will be interconnected.

It will be photo realistic.

Environments will load quickly — but not enough to be perfect. That’s because whenever the technology improves, the environments get richer, the graphics get better, the animations get smoother, the scripts get more involved, so there’s more stuff to load.

Museums will hold virtual exhibits — including of all the stuff that they normally keep in storage because there’s no space.

Musicians will tour virtually to build up audiences between live appearances. Retailers will have virtual stores staffed with automated agents as well as with live people.

Companies will be able to cut back on most of their corporate office space, allowing workers to telecommute to virtual offices. The job market will get more efficient, as workers will no longer be limited by geography when looking for work. And the environment will benefit as well, with fewer people driving.

New industry segments will appear. There will be jobs we can’t imagine today.

But before we get to that point, we will have a boom. Probably after a decent viewer is released. There will be an influx of venture capital, and suddenly everyone will have a virtual business plan.

But none of them will make money, and there will be a crash. And survivors will emerge from that crash, stronger than before, and the world will never be the same.

 

 

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Museum Mundi

    Empirically, Second Life has no mass appeal. The number of monthly repeat logins stalled at around a million or so, and has stayed there for years. Starting in 2003, Linden Lab ran their experiment, and the results are in.

    (The experiment isn’t “over”. Linden Lab is still making money, but almost all the original employees have moved on to more exciting things.)

    • There are a lot of reasons why something isn’t selling. It could simply be a lack of investment in marketing and advertising.

      I just gotta go back to AOL on this — I’m not particularly fond of the company, and have never been a customer, and don’t agree with all of their tactics, but they made sure everyone knew that what “going online” was and to put a disk in the hands of anyone who might conceivably be thinking of going online. Plus everyone else, as well.

      What would happen if Second Life:

      1. Came up with a better name. Something generic yet descriptive, like America OnLine. 

      2. Spend the kind of bucks AOL did on marketing and advertising.

      3. Got their viewer into every new computer before it shipped. And on every new iPhone and Android tablet.  Whether folks wanted it or not.

      Hopefully, it would be better prepared to handle the influx of users — I recall AOL had a lot of problems.

      Yes, the first few hours are hard. So were folks’ first few hours online. We forget that, now that the Internet is easy and ubiquitous.

      But if you give up, when everything is screaming at you from all directions “go online! go online!” you might think to yourself — “Maybe I’m missing something. Let me try it again.” 

      Yes, it would be nice if there was immediately something useful or fun for people to do. As I recall (from helping friends try to close their AOL accounts) their home page was filled with news and games and what have you. Email, forums, stuff like that. They front-loaded the fun.

      Is Second Life front-loading the fun? No. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have mass appeal. 

      I actually think there’s a bigger problem at stake here.

      AOL saw itself as the future. Everyone was going to be online, and everyone was going to be on AOL.

      In the beginning, Linden Lab had a similar vision — everyone was going to be in-world and that world was going to be Second Life. 

      AOL’s vision turned out to be false — everyone went online allright, but they went on the Web, and AOL became just another portal among many.

      Second Life had the potential to be more than AOL was — to also become the PayPal (with L$), the Yahoo (with their search and directories), the AOL IM (well, okay, AOL did have that one), the Gmail (instead of email boxes, giving out avatar inventory storage). Linden Lab doesn’t have to wait for all this stuff to appear organically out in the metaverse. It could take its own platform and extend it everywhere (like Google is doing now).

      I believe Linden Lab gave up on that vision. Second Life is now just another game, just another product. It’s not a path to the future, but just another thing a company does to get money out of customers.

      That’s not a failure of appeal. That’s a failure of mission.

      • Here are more details:

        http://www.quora.com/AOL-History/How-much-did-it-cost-AOL-to-distribute-all-those-CDs-back-in-the-1990s 

        The average “life” of an AOL customer was 25 months. AOL made about $350 total from each customer. A lot of the press they were getting was negative. (“America On Hold”) But their marketing and advertising steamrolled right over that.

        (They spent over $300 million total on acquiring them.)

        Is Linden Lab spending that kind of dough on marketing?

        Is it spending anything on marketing?

        I’m a prime customer for Second Life — I have a computer, and I have money. (Really, what else is needed?) I can’t remember the last time I saw an SL ad. In fact, I can’t remember ever seeing an ad for SL. No, wait… I have a vague memory of seeing a vampire in a sidebar somewhere — but it was probably IMVU.

        • Museum Mundi

          When Steve Jobs gave the keynote in which he introduced the iPad, he first talked about netbooks and noted that netbooks *aren’t better than anything.*

          What can you do with SL or OpenSim that can’t be done better in some other way?

          (The list of answers isn’t empty, as about a million people find a recurring use for SL & OpenSim, but the list doesn’t include anything mass-market, as far as I can tell. If you think you know a mass-market use case, then why aren’t you developing a business around it?)

          • Well you could sell clothes maybee? And shoes. Ppl can create an avie with the same measures as irl and try them on. Walk around and try them out. Its a lot easier to see how they fit you and more fun to do this in a 3D environment than on a website.

            House models also maybee and try out furnitures in your own appartment/house built in 3D. Im sure there is a lot of more areas like this where we could have commersial use of the metaverse.

            We just need for the common populace to be technically mature enough to understand this. And we need to help them understand by PR and information.

          • First, I am developing a business around it. Hypergrid Business right now sees around 10,000 visitors a month. Small potatoes — hardly enough to make it worthfile for advertisers. Once the hypergrid goes big, however, I’m hoping that people will turn here first, because whatever they’ll be searching for — we’ll have been writing about for years. 

            Second, I’m developing Hyperica, which — maybe! — will turn out to be the next Yahoo. Okay, not much to aspire to — but folks NEED hierarchical, moderated directories at the beginning. There aren’t enough hyperlinks yet for an engine like Google’s to work. Google needs to work with millions or billions of inbound links in order to be accurate. the more links, the better. But, right now, the biggest source of hyperlinks on the hypergrid is The Hypergates network — and that’s as if everysite had the same exact blogroll in its sidebar. Those sites will rank high — every other one will rank low. I recall early Web search engines tried to rank destinations by traffic (and SL still does, I believe) but that is a system way too easy to game.

          • And for something you can do in-world that you can’t do elsewhere:

            Anything which requires a sense of presence in an environment, a sense of “being with” another person or group of people, and that can’t be done (or done easily) face-to-face.

            Say I’m Oprah. I have my book club. Right now, the book club authors can go on book signings, but there’s only so many cities that they can hit. Most of my audience will never be able to meet them.

            So I have a virtual book signing by the author. The author reads a bit, answers some questions, signs some books. (Maybe by a lottery, if the audience is really large?) Everyone there feels they’ve personally met the guy.

            And meeting authors is important. I met Ray Bradbury once in Illinois and still have fond memories of that meeting. I also met Samuel Delaney and didn’t get a good impression of him at all, and stopped reading (and recommending) his books. So okay, there’s a risk!

            Another area which has mass appeal — and might in fact be a killer app — is weight loss.

            It’s hard to get to a gym. It’s too cold — or too hot — outside to go for a run. Etc… etc… Many of us need support groups to get in shape. (Including me!) Club One in Second Life (I’ve written about them before) held a couple of 12-week programs in Second Life — with parallel programs in a real gym — and people lost more weight in the Second Life one, attended more meetings, and made more permanent lifestyle changes.

            I would pay money to be back in that program. Unfortunately, Club One had a problem marketing it, and now works mostly with corporate clients.

            Now here is something that most people have never heard of — virtual weight loss! You’ve got to be kidding! Or if they heard of, they don’t believe it. But say they did hear of it, and did believe it. What would the market potential be then? 

            All it would take is for one celebrity to lose weight in the program, and the ball would start rolling.

            And there are TONS of examples like this. Examples that only need a little marketing push. A little interface redesign.

            That’s why I believe it will happen. There are too many ways for it to happen. Too many people working on it. 

            Meanwhile, the major affordance today — the one that keeps it growing — is the ability to express yourself in the form of building virtual environments. Virtual landscaping, if you will. Virtual architecture. Virtual gardening. Virtual art. People love doing that stuff, and having friends visit and see it. It’s only possible in SL/OpenSim. And that’s why I believe OpenSim is growing so fast — people want to do it. They want to do at as low as cost as possible (and who doesn’t?) but they want to do it. And each time a person does it, they show it to someone else, and a certain percentage of those someone elses want to do it too. So it grows. 

            And while Second Life might not be making it easier for folks, some of the OpenSim providers are bending over backwards to create welcoming experiences. 

            Kitely makes it super easy and super cheap (free!) to get a region — and other hosting providers are starting to follow suit. (Big news coming soon!)

            Island Oasis has mentors that personally give newcomers a tour of their grid and introduce them to people. Sure, they’re a small residential grid — but their members can teleport out to events and shopping malls on other grids. So they get the benefit of a close, small community — while having access to everything the hypergrid offers.

            How many mom-and-pop grids are out there like Island Oasis? A handful today. More tomorrow — what a wonderful business it is, to run a small cozy grid! Who wouldn’t want to be in that business?

            I believe we’re going to see an explosion of such grids, just as we had an explosion in mom-and-pop Webhosting providers and ISPs at the dawn of the Web.

            Finally, go back and reread that “Internet? Bah!” piece. Clifford Stoll was saying that the Web was useless — in 1995! That people were never going to read newspapers online. Or read e-books at the beach. Or learn with their computers. Well, we’re not even at 1995 yet when it comes to the hypergrid. We’re… somewhere around 1992, I think. 

            So we’ll have three more years, or more, of folks saying the hypergrid is useless. 

            Giving the rest of us time to plan our businesses, start our marketing campaigns, and be ready for the opportunities when they arrive.

  • Joe Nickence

    “I believe that the open source genie is out of the bottle.”  Amen to that!  It’s what the internet has been needing.  I’m so tired of walled gardens.  I give Facebook about ten years before they go down AOL’s path.

    You mentioned something that I’ve always believed in, but you’ve visualized it well beyond what my limited thinking could comprehend until today: “The job market will get more efficient, as workers will no longer be limited by geography when looking for work.”  The word here is Geography.  I’ve been so quietly bothered by the concept that jobs have gone across to Asia, I never really payed much attention that, yeah, jobs ARE available, globally.  It’s a tsunami effect in play.  The big wave took everything out of America, and landed it in the Asian markets.  But now the tide is pulling back, and the distribution of jobs is littered globally.  They’re still there, still available.  People just have to look globally, instead of locally!  And people don’t have to even leave where they live to get a piece of the action.  It’s time we start thinking world-wide-web.

    You know, 2012 might just be a great year, after all!!!  Happy New Year, Maria!

    • Joe —

      Thanks! And you make a good point — folks in the rest of the world would love to hire American consultants to work on copywriting, marketing, programming, project development. Our people have more experience, work more efficiently, and are more customer focused. And we’ve got more management skills.

      Especially companies that want to sell stuff to US and Europe — they need people here who know the market, know the customers. And as those countries get richer, their local salaries are going up — so Americans are no longer too expensive to hire by comparison. 

      But how many of us are able to travel to industry fairs in China to meet with the companies who would be desperate to hire us if they knew about us?

      I can’t wait for virtual industry fairs to really kick in. And think of all the jobs for builders that would be created! Putting together all those booths… dressing all those virtual booth babes! Making 3D versions of all the products… 

  • Anonymous

    Great post, very inspirational and full of fantastic talking points I shall use in the new year to convert the uninitiated.

  • Great post!! *applause*

  • Museum Mundi

    If something has mass appeal, people tell their friends, and those people tell their friends, and the thing takes off on its own. I don’t remember seeing any ads for Facebook or Vuze (the popular BitTorrent client). If something has mass appeal, ads aren’t necessary.

    You can keep looking for scapegoats (e.g. “Linden Lab isn’t doing enough advertising!”) or you can admit to reality: nobody has found a use case with mass appeal, and the prospects are looking increasingly dim.

    You’re a good reporter and editor. You deserve a bigger audience than 10,000 per month. You could cut your losses and move to a niche with greater interest, like cloud computing, mobile development, adaptive educational software, EPUB 3, or automation in the workplace. I’ll follow you!

    • I guess it depends on your definition of “mass appeal.” You seem to be talking about viral adoption — that works if the adoption process is very very easy. Like with Facebook. I’ve never heard of Vuze. 🙂

      If there’s any kind of hurdle involved — money, learning curve, anything like that — there needs to be advertising. Even things which are addictive — Diet Coke, McDonald’s hamburgers — are still heavily advertised.

      Meanwhile, I do cover the things you mentioned. I regularly write about cloud computing and network security and enterprise technology of all kinds. I write for Computerworld and InfoWorld and Network World. It does pay well, and it does provide a very large audience. 

      I’ve been a technology reporter for a long, long time. Here, with the hypergrid, I am covering the future. It’s like covering the Web in the early 90s — everyone’s a naysayer, there are no readers, no money is being made. But you get to watch history being made.

      I’m watching history being made right now. And it’s exciting. I’m having a lot of fun doing this. 

      I watched history being made when I ran a business news bureau in Shanghai for five years. I watched history being made when I was covering the after shocks of the Soviet Union’s collapse in the mid 1990s.

      I’m watching history being made here. It’s a huge story — and I’m pretty much the only reporter on it. You can’t beat that. 

      • We can’t equate Facebook to virtual worlds. Facebook isn’t in real time. You can go there and be brain dead. Second Life takes some brain activity. 

  • No, it doesn’t have mass appeal.

     

    It is too hard to use.

    The regions take too long to load.

    There is a ghost town feeling to most places.

    There are plenty of immature residents that make the
    experience unpleasant.

     

    The list goes on.  And
    these issues have real impact.

     

    This is exactly why the good work of so many enthusiasts
    addressing these issues is very important and will continue to be important for
    the foreseeable future.  Without
    acknowledging the weaknesses of a technology it cannot improve.  The issues must be worked through, not
    skipped over.

     

    Comparing virtual worlds to the Internet doesn’t make
    sense.  The Internet is the infrastructure;
    so, for example, comparing the growth of Time Warner cable to the wiring system
    of cities would not be the right comparison, although the two often go hand in
    hand.

     

    Comparing virtual worlds to the Web creates a false
    dichotomy.  Virtual worlds currently work
    alongside the Web since they use the Internet but are not yet generally
    accessed through browsers.  This is being
    worked on and there are already some fledgling developments.  At this rate, virtual worlds will eventually
    become part of the Web, but not a replacement. 

     

    Much Web content will continue to be superior in a
    “2D” format.  What will be
    interesting is how a more immersive approach will be applied in specific areas
    or industries.  I think about our actual
    world transportation systems.  We have
    many different technologies depending on the distance being traveled.  We do not jump on a 747 to go to the market
    and we do not drive from New York to Paris in a Smart Car.  Using an immersive environment makes a lot of
    sense in education but far less in looking up a favorite restaurant or visiting
    a corporate website for information and support.  

     

    Personally, I love the virtual world environment
    paradigm.  However, the extremes of
    discussion about this technology seem exaggerated.  It’s too powerful and interesting a technology
    to go away and it is actually growing everywhere.  The only real decline has been in the large
    mass-appeal projects, except for Second Life, which has found its niche in
    virtual consumerism and socializing. 
    Each month OpenSim regions start up and the future looks promising, if still
    slow in coming to fruition.  On the other
    hand a world transformed by OpenSim seems aggrandized, while comparison to other
    technologies doesn’t lead to meaningful conclusions.  The 3D immersive world is too distinct a
    technology to be defined by anything other than it’s own history and trajectory
    in the context of an ever-changing world.

  • Andrew Hughes

    This is one of the most compelling arguments I have heard in a very long time. Everyone give Maria a round of applause for being a fighter in our industry. Thank you for what you do for Virtual Worlds Maria and keep up the great work!

  • John Lester

    If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood,
    divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the
    vast and endless sea.

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said those words.  And I think all of us involved in virtual worlds need to take those words to heart.

    Keep inventing better tools for virtual worlds.  Keep inventing easier interfaces.  Keep inspiring people about the future of virtual worlds.  Keep them yearning.

    Thanks for reminding us about all this, Maria.