An open letter to the Lindens

Dear Linden Lab board of directors:

I just heard that CEO Rod Humble is stepping down. I guess you guys will be looking for a new chief?

I’d like to suggest some questions to ask yourselves as you decide the future direction of the company.

Now, you might think that I’m no fan of Second Life, writing as I do about OpenSim all the time. But I’m actually a huge fan. I created my Second Life avatar in 2005, and was inspired by its founding vision of a three-dimensional, immersive metaverse. I don’t want Second Life to fail.

Is Second Life a platform or a social game?

For many people, the promise of Second Life was as a platform, a stepping stone to the metaverse, a technological embodiment of Neal Stephenson’s visionary novel Snow Crash.

There was the release of its viewer code as open source in 2007. That famed teleport between OpenSim and Second Life back in 2008. The release of Second Life Enterprise in 2009. For a while, it seemed that the Second Life grid would be just one piece of a large, interconnected metaverse.

But work on interconnectivity with OpenSim quickly stopped, and Second Life Enterprise, which allowed companies to host their own version of Second Life behind their firewalls, was discontinued in 2010, as were discounts for educators and non-profits. In 2013, Second Life eliminated viewer support for OpenSim and forced creators to give up more of their intellectual property rights. (But it did bring back the educator discounts.)

It seemed that Second Life was doubling down on being a social game. Features were rolled out that enhanced the player experience and strengthened Linden Lab as a game company but turned its back on the broader metaverse.

Obviously, creating a platform is much more difficult than creating a game. There is usually only one successful platform, but there can be any number of successful games. Being a platform requires almost universal adoption, while building a profitable game just requires enough users to break even.

But there are some significant advantages to being a platform:

  • Platforms typically have a longer lifespan than individual products.
  • Platforms aren’t dependent on the success or failure of any one product.
  • Platform creators have a wide variety of ways to make money from their platforms, and, as new products evolve, so do new revenue streams.
  • With a successful platform for the metaverse, Linden Lab can help create the future, instead of just being a  footnote on the road to the metaverse.

Does Second Life have the right business model?

Today, Second Life primarily makes its money from sales of land, premium memberships, and virtual currency. Land revenues are estimated to be about two-thirds of the total, and are dropping by around $1,000 per day.

Second Life land is currently significantly overpriced — comparable land on OpenSim goes for about a tenth the price, without steep setup fees.

It seems that today, Second Life is desperately trying to hang on to a shrinking share of the pie. It could, instead — and I realize that I’m stretching the pie metaphor to its limit here — reposition itself to grab an entire horizontal layer of the pie, such as the buttery crust of metaverse infrastructure, and benefit from the growth of the pie as a whole.

Redefining Linden Lab as a platform for virtual environments would open up the business possibilities dramatically. Plus, it would position Linden Lab better for the new age of immersive environments that is being ushered in by the Oculus Rift and similar devices — instead of being just another Oculus Rift game among many, Second Life could become a platform for all social, educational, business and other non-gaming uses of virtual environments.

Some revenue possibilities that emerge from seeing yourself as a platform. Keep in mind that these will be small at the beginning, and may even cut into existing revenues. But existing revenues are falling anyway, so a bold move to embrace the future before the future crushes you might be just what’s needed.

  • Linden Lab doesn’t have to sell only Second Life land, it can sell OpenSim land as well, and offer customers low, low prices. Sure, there are already OpenSim vendors offering dirt-cheap rates, but have neither the brand-name recognition nor the scale of Linden Lab. Larger enterprises, in particular, like to do business with larger vendors.
  • And Linden Lab doesn’t have to be the only company to sell Second Life land. I’m not talking about in-world land barons here, but actual third-party hosting companies. A revamped, more functional, and lower-priced Second Life Enterprise server could become a proprietary, supported alternative to OpenSim, the way the Windows Server is a more expensive, proprietary alternative to Apache. The Lindens will need to add OAR and IAR support and hypergrid connectivity to make it comparable, and offer sweetheart deals to hosting companies to get them to offer it as an alternative to OpenSim. Many hosting companies already support multiple servers — OpenSim, AuroraSim, RealXtend — depending what their customers prefer. A premium Linden server option may appeal to some high-end customers.
  • The Second Life Marketplace doesn’t need to be limited to Second Life. Right now, there is no viable multi-grid content marketplace for OpenSim, though Kitely Market is expected to open up to other grids in the next few weeks. But even if it does, the Second Life Marketplace would still overshadow it in terms of the amount of content available, even if only a fraction of merchants opt to enable the multi-grid delivery.
  • The hypergrid isn’t a dirty word. Opening up to the hypergrid would allow users to have their homes on cheap OpenSim grids while teleporting to Second Life for shopping and events. Simply create a fourth “export” permission — which is already present in the latest OpenSim viewers — set all existing content to “no export” by default, and allow merchants to sell exportable goods for customers who want to take their purchases to other grids. Kitely is already doing this, and Avination is expected to do the same soon, as well. All these residents will need new stuff to outfit their new homes, school and companies will need content to furnish their facilities.
  • Linden dollars don’t have to be limited to Second Life either. Although the OMC virtual currency from Virwox has been gaining ground recently in OpenSim, and a competing currency is in the works, it’s still very early days for hypergrid commerce. Linden Lab has the opportunity to become the PayPal of the metaverse. Plus, this would encourage customers to rent their OpenSim land from Linden Lab, since the payments could be instantaneous and seamless, like they are in Second Life, instead of having to go through a second Web-based confirmation step for security, as they would have to when on grids operated by third parties.

Imagine if AOL had embraced the Web sooner than it did. AOL would have had the chance to become Yahoo!, to become Amazon, to become Google, to become PayPal, to become eBay, to become Hotmail and Geocities and Blogger. Not saying that it would have, but it at least would have had the chance.

But I guess AOL didn’t think that the Web would grow the way it did, or that it provided a more compelling experience. And, sure, AOL did have a lot of stuff all in one place — it had shopping, search, email, instant messaging, forums, news, sports. No one other site comes close, not even today. By thinking of itself as a product, and comparing itself to individual alternatives, AOL missed the opportunity.

Today, no single OpenSim grid comes anywhere near close to matching the community and content of Second Life. But that’s not the correct metric. Look at it as an ecosystem of public grids, private grids, home-based mini-grids, hosting companies, currency exchanges, and other third-party service providers. That’s where the growth is, and that’s where the opportunity lies.

Is Linden Lab prepared for new kinds of competitors?

The ecosystem surrounding the Oculus Rift and similar devices is expanding dramatically, with millions in venture capital financing, record-breaking Kickstarters and CES Best-of-Show awards. Valve just announced an Oculus Rift-compatible virtual reality mode for its popular Steam video game platform, and Utherverse, best known for its adult-only virtual world, announced plans to release a Rift-compable virtual world platform this summer.

The non-gaming applications for the Oculus Rift are expanding as well. Ford uses it for automotive design, NASA to control a robot arm and to let people take a virtual walk on Mars. The U.S. Navy is using it for Project BlueShark. ArchVirtual uses it to preview architectural projects. There are numerous medical and psychological applications of this technology as well, including for vision therapy, treating PTSD, virtual simulations for training health care practitioners, treating phobias, and training amputees to use prosthetics.

Right now, most of these applications are built on top of Unity and other professional 3D development engines, probably because right now, only development kit versions of the Oculus Rift are available. As the Oculus Rift gets into consumer hands and as prices drop and competitors appear, the technology will become more mainstream and more people will be interested in creating their own virtual environments, both for personal and business use.

The company or group first out of the gate stands a good chance of becoming the de-facto standard for virtual worlds. It could be Apple or Microsoft with a proprietary platform, or Google with an open one, or an out-of-left-field startup with something else entirely.

By teaming up with OpenSim, Linden Lab has the opportunity to make its approach to the metaverse the dominant one. A choice of viewers, multiple hosting options at all price levels, free do-it-yourself software, brand-name recognition, both proprietary and open source server software and a ready-made universe of worlds to explore would make the Second Life-OpenSim metaverse a tough combo to beat.

And Linden Lab, as the leading company in the space, a force to be reckoned with.

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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.

  • Excellent article!!! I agree, Linden Lab could so be a pivotal hub for the metaverse at large. They still don’t realize how much influence they hold among 3D communities and individuals.

  • Interesting post! I have no idea what the future of virtual worlds will be, but it’s unlikely that it will revolve around a proprietary closed system. That said, I don’t know whether Second Life’s existing architecture and technology can support the kind of vision you shared.

    • SL’s existing architecture and technology needs a major revamping anyway. With the advent of the Oculus Rift, expect to see more demand for more realistic environments, and more people in the same space. SL’s architecture is difficult to scale, while OpenSim’s more distributed approach can scale up indefinitely — much like the Web can scale to billions of websites, while AOL had famous problems dealing with growth.

      By moving to a distributed environment — where some grids run the Second Life server software, some grids run the OpenSim server software, some grids run Aurora-Sim, etc… — the Lindens can create a heterogenous platform that can scale indefinitely.

      Assuming they want to, of course.

      • One of the things that High Fidelity is working on is distributing the computing currently done by central servers across many more computers (including idle home computers).

        Linden Lab is one of the investors in High Fidelity; maybe some High Fidelity tech will make its way back into SL?

  • webspelunker

    Great article! Hits all the issues on the head! No mention of a new CEO. This is not a good sign.

  • hmm, if that is legit, i guess no one is aquiring LL since an intact CEO is typically part of those things (my company has aquired 5 companies in the last few years and my company was just aquired by a really big company)

    wonder what prompted his departure – oh well, a great many highly passionate and deeply vested peeps have pleaded weith LL to listen to their residents and i suspect your well crafted letter will fall upon the same blocked ears

  • If you go back and re-listen to some early interviews with Philip Rosedale, he often spoke of how Linden Lab would someday be one of many SL hosting providers, just like there are many WordPress hosting providers. Philip also said that Linden Lab would be the *best* SL hosting provider.

    In other words, Linden Lab would become to SL like Automattic is to WordPress.

    The SL client code went open source in early 2007. Linden Lab and others began work on the “Open Grid Protocol”, which was designed to become an open standard (based on the SL protocol). Everything seemed to be moving along nicely according to plan. And then something happened.

    Sometime in 2007 or 2008, Linden Lab changed its plans.

    The SL server code never went open source. Work on the Open Grid Protocol quietly died in 2008. Linden Lab CTO Cory Ondrejka was fired in December, 2007; I don’t know why, maybe that was just a coincidence.

    Philip left Linden Lab and is now working on a new virtual world startup (High Fidelity). It it a bunch of nifty proprietary technical experiments, or is it laying the foundations for a new open metaverse platform? Who knows?

    Will Valve build something metaverse-like? It seems like something they might do, and they could too. They already have a game engine and run virtual-goods marketplaces.

  • some guy

    I think it’s kinda funny saying land in SL is overpriced when OpenSim ripped off their architecture.

    • The back-end architecture of OpenSim is significantly different from that of Second Life. Where the two overlap is in LibOpenMetaverse — the set of messages sent between the viewer and the server. This allows Second Life viewers to access OpenSim grids.

      It’s like of like… the way England and the U.S. both speak English, but one has a monarchy and Parliament and the other has a president and Congress.

      From what I understand, the OpenSim architecture is more modular in nature, allowing more back-end flexibility for grid and hosting companies and corporate users to operate it the way they need it. For example, you can move your asset server to the cloud if you need to scale it up, or use multiple servers to run a single region if there are too many people on it for one server to support.

  • I’d go back to SL if they would drop the price for renting a sim and quit crapping all over their residents.

  • Gordon

    In the past I would have agreed with the ideas from this article here. But as a long-time SL users and with a glance to the development of many OpenSim grids, I don’t want a combination of both platforms today. Technically SL is now light years ahead of OpenSim and I am completely satisfied with the development.

    “Second Life land is currently significantly overpriced — comparable land on OpenSim goes for about a tenth the price, without steep setup fees.”

    Overpriced > yes
    Comparable land > That’s a good joke! If OpenSim would be comparable with Second Life, then the number of users of all OpenSim grids together would not be so insignificantly small compared to SL.

    SL is where the people are!

    • youareuninformed

      Just out of curiosity – what about SL is “light years” ahead? Aside from physics, I don’t see anything at all ahead about SL at all. And in some cases some Opensim grids have physics that are equal to SL.

    • MMOAxis

      “SL is where the people are!”

      It is?!?!?…. They must have been hiding when I checked in after 12 months away from SL today… The contrast compared to my last visit made it clear the slippery slope of declining visitor numbers in SL seems to be steeper than ever! Even Sims that had been institutions for years are virtual wastelands now…. Very sad to see, however not in the least bit surprising unfortunately.

      I believe OpenSim is now +33000 sims steadily climbing while SL has less than 26000 sims declining by the month…

      • SL does have SIGNIFICANTLY more people than OpenSim. SL is quite a bit head of OpenSim in community and content.

        However, in technical functionality, I’d say that OpenSim already has the edge. Features such as OAR and IAR exports and imports, megaregions, and, of course, hypergrid connectivity are of significant benefit to many users, especially businesses and educators. OpenSim regions can hold hundreds of thousands of prims, can be scaled up using cloud hosting or with the Distributed Scene Graph to hold from 100 to 1,000 simultaneous avatars, and grid owners can plug in different physics engines, including the latest, BulletSim.

        In addition, OpenSim offers more server-side scripting functionality, modules, and other technologies of particular interest to large corporate and research users.

      • The number of active OpenSim users is something like 20,000 per month. It’s actually smaller than the number of OpenSim servers.

        The number of active SL users is something like 500,000 per month.

        (If you have more accurate numbers, please post them. I’m just giving a rough estimate. My point is that the numbers differ by an order of magnitude.)

        • I just put out the latest numbers a couple of weeks ago… but it sounds about right. Second Life is where the users are.

          Unfortunately, unless those users are buying land, then they’re just costing Second Life money. Merchants are moving to the marketplace, schools and non-profits to OpenSim, role playing groups are setting up their own grids where they can have basically unlimited land to play with. So the land area of Second Life is dropping fast, and users are declining slowly.

          Meanwhile, OpenSim land is growing fast, and usage is growing slowly.

          Not a great combination for Second Life. And, at some point, the number of people, and the amount of content in OpenSim will start becoming sizable enough that it will start to snowball. Unless, of course, someone comes out with an even better platform. Which could happen tomorrow. There’s a lot of kids programming away in college dorm rooms and parent basements.

          • Samantha Atkins

            I disagree they are just costing SL money. They are adding to the actual value of the property in what they do and bring and even in just being there in such numbers. I don’t agree with a model that says participants are only of value to the degree that they spend money directly.

          • Samantha —

            I agree that free users add value to a platform. Even on freemium games, free users aren’t “freeloaders.” They help create the community, the excitement, that makes the games valuable for the paying customers.

            And they add value to Second Life as well. If the Lindens did away with free memberships, the company would disappear over night, since the land-buying club owners would have nobody coming to the clubs, the store-owning creators would have nobody to buy their products — and the people who buy fancy clothes would have nobody to show them off to.

            It is, in fact, the value that these masses of users bring that make some folks willing to pay $300 a month per region.

            However, the average daily user numbers have been steadily slipping as well:

            http://www.gridsurvey.com/charts/econ76.png

            From a peak of over 60,000 in 2009-2010, down to 40,000 or lower.

            So you have an erosion of land, and an erosion of people — and the two trends exacerbate one another. As popular destinations shut down, people stop logging. As fewer people log in, more destinations shut down.

            It will take a major reimagining of the platform to reverse this trend.

          • Hannah

            Actually, that’s not exactly correct. People can (and do) buy Lindens and use those lindens on the marketplace, as well as spending them on tips, fees, etc inworld; there’s no need to own land to do any of that.

            Linden Lab’s primary business is selling virtual land, but it’s not the only way that they make money.

          • You’re right — as I mentioned in the article above, only two-thirds of Linden Lab revenues comes from land. The rest comes from currency trading, marketplace commissions, and premium memberships. My point is that even users who don’t spend money in-world and don’t buy premium members offer value to the platform, though maybe not in a direct financial sense.

        • Samantha Atkins

          There is only one way to change this. Move more activities, meetings, venues, organizations to opensim – at least as a branch.

      • Joe Builder

        Lets not forget the most important 30k/40k residents vs 1k at any given time, You figure out where those numbers belong.

  • Talla Adam

    Good letter but naive if I’m honest. Linden Lab didn’t miss any opportunities in my view. It is clear they never wanted more than what they have regardless of all the lofty ideas Philip Rosedale once spoke about. I am sure Opensim would be dead in the water if LL open sourced their server code and third party developers would very quickly introduce Opensim features like Hypergrid and variable regions. But what about the fake security of a closed grid? Gone! So what about the content makers so tied into their cosy illusions? Panic! What about the land Barons who LL depends on for a safe part of their revenue? Would they want to struggle with hosting solutions in stead? What about the LL draconian TOS? Would the LL financiers be happy to see it change to something more acceptable to users and residents?

    Linden Lab dropped Hypergrid like a hot stone when they realized it would kill their lucrative business model. They had raised prices as high as they could get away with and they will never kill their golden cow in my view. No, they have proved beyond question they are milking it for all it’s worth until the day it dies.

    In the article, Maria pitted AOL, a corporate media giant against the open Internet and the Internet won the day because it gave people freedom to do what they do without necessarily a high price tag. Linden Lab put a high price tag on their platform and the decline is evident but Opensim gives people freedom without the high price so you can bet it will continue to evolve and advance and it will be there long after the Lab is a shadow of it’s former self if not dead anyway.

    • Hmmm.. open sourcing SL server code… it would probably take a significant rewriting, since right now, Second Life operates on the assumption that both the regions and the central servers are run by a single operation, and a lot of stuff unique to Second Life is hard-coded in. In addition, there are the architecture issues I’ve mentioned above. Plus, why bother when there’s already OpenSim? Sure, the open source community might contribute patches and fixes to the server code — as they do now for the viewer — but it takes a great deal of effort to re-integrate these things back into the commercial version.

      Meanwhile… image if Microsoft, when they released their Windows Server, didn’t support HTML and the World Wide Web, but a totally different standard, the MS Web, say. Since the Web was already out there, and with a massive head start, it would have been really hard for Microsoft to gain adherents to its own, incompatible system. Not impossible, but a really really big struggle.

      For an example, look at what Microsoft is trying to do in the mobile space, trying to get people onto its own, proprietary platform — and barely eking out a 3% market share as a result. Of course, it’s not really practical for Microsoft to try to adopt the Android operating system, since it’s an operating system company! Although I guess it could get into the hardware business and start manufacturing Android-powered handsets… it does make the Xbox, after all…

      Linden Lab, however, isn’t in the server software business. It’s in the hosting business and the community infrastructure business, and can use OpenSim as well as its own server software — the same way the Microsoft Windows server uses the World Wide Web protocols, and in the places were Microsoft is in the hosting business — its Azure cloud service — it supports Linux deployments.

      • Samantha Atkins

        I haven’t seen the SL server code. However, from what I hear it is a monolithic monster compared to opensim. So why would anyone want it? I certainly would not prefer to run it. Many of my opensim regions in Kitely, my own regions hooked into osgrid and so on run with better fps and as or more dependably than I ever experience in SL.

        The only compelling reason I am still in SL is the richly built out ecosystem including the number of people and friends there. For the rest I prefer opensim.

        This is not to say I am a huge fan of opensim server code either. It needs some serious work in my not full immersed in it opinion.

    • You wrote: “They had raised prices as high as they could get away with and they will never kill their golden cow in my view. No, they have proved beyond question they are milking it for all it’s worth until the day it dies.”

      Yes, that’s probably about right.

      But it *is* fun to imagine alternative futures!

  • Alex Ferraris

    I dont want to be the negative one here but SL has and created a virtual world platform and they do not need Open Sim. They can use their platform. Also there is in existance SecondLife Beta right now. I dont really know what it is for but its there.
    All SL has to do is lower their prices significantly and OFFSET the revenue loss with ads like facebook and youtube do. By being alot cheaper and keeping SL own platform the traffic will increase significantly.
    If SL lowers its prices and also offers low priced hosting for their own platform it would be no need for open sim anymore basicaly.
    Well I dont know really but it would be something that could happen.
    All I know is that SL s current prices cannot be jutified anylonger. They need to do something fast.
    Maybe also open up travel between worlds…offer their own version of open sim with havoc engine which they could do. Many possibilities.
    Im willing to take on their CEO position anytime. I have said that in my twitter account. Call me Linden Labs! Ferraris to the rescue!
    I have experience in both the business aspect and social economics plus in building community.
    I have owned more than 31 regions in SL and have developed and ran AviWorlds. Although it has been closed and opened 3 TIMES; all 3 times I have managed to place AviWorlds among the 10 most popul as r grids in the metaverse in a months time plus getting into the second place in the grids survey. Firt places in 3 categories.
    It was a shame I had to shut it down due to my lifes curent situation but I m proud of what I managed to achiev e all 3 times.

    • Joe Builder

      Prices in SL are fine, The only thing needed to do is adjust there TOS to something more user friendly. Like anything else in the World prices have to rise some call it inflation. Like cigarettes in New York are $10 usd a pack people still buy them. So if SL is to rise in business maybe a more TOS friendly place will keep them afloat. No need to drop the prices being the land baron days are over.

      • Alex Ferraris

        Hi Joe I think u are wrong on this subject because if SL or linden labs think that.they are competition free it is the biggest mistake of their careers. Its like having an airline and not lowering the tickets prices when their competitor did. Look what happened to the Concord? More adbanced? Yes. But wayyyyy more expensive than other airlines that took twice as much time to get from ny to england or.france.
        It went bankrupt. People went for the cheapest even when it would take them 6 HOURS longer to arrive in their destination.
        Being that said if SL does not lower its prices significantly; just like the concord it took sometime but it did catch on eventually and the concord operation closed down. So will be SL s time.
        Any company that does not recognise its competitors is in big trouble.
        Alex Ferraris

        • Joe Builder

          As far as Virtual worlds with all the bells and whistles SL has the monopoly on that. Not to say opensims is not a virtual world, Only SL has a economy that works and the population to support it. Remember can’t fight or compete with big business. Almost like the rent in New York where you live having them drop the prices 🙂 isn’t gonna happen.

          • AviWorlds

            Yeah sorry to disagree Joe. SL’s biggest competitor is Open Sim. economy or not. People see virtual worlds as virtual worlds. If I were to go to SL for its economy I would have to at least spend 1000 or more in order to create anything significantly there plus all the ads I would have to create in order to be seen in there.
            Either they lower their prices or SL will be done sooner than everyone thinks.
            Cant have monopoly when your next door competitor has the same product (virtual world) for free. And some even have more people per SQM of land than SL.
            Anyway I guess lets wait and see what happens….SL has many cards on its hand and they need to know how to deal them properly.

          • Joe Builder

            Ok Alex one more time for you, SL is a triple threat, I will explain to you one more time being you don’t know. # 1 Superior Physics Engine and scripting. #2 A large robust Economy, #3 1000’s of online visitors everyday (community). Yes Land barons days are over, That job is taken, So you have options spends 1000’s of dollars like the young lady in above comment has stated or be a creator worth a damn. Now if you do not want to be either in SL than its only a place to visit and be around people. Prices for land are High, People still pay, There TOS is horrible a few have left. There is changes going on everyday there. So being a backseat quarterback on SL’s future is hilarious at best. You or any one else is clueless what’s in store for SL’s future why bother to assume. Again I say it like I see it Opensims is 20 steps backwards from SL reason is, Money makes the world go around. Remember like I told you many a time, Virtual people are hard bugs to figure out, How many Try’s in Avworlds/Aviworlds have you tried, How many different approach’s did you take. Tough out there its made to be free 🙂

          • Alex Ferraris

            Joe the reason aviworlds was shut 3 times we purely due to other types of failures.
            Let me give u a good example.
            How many Ferraris cars so u see around compared to a regular toyota sedan car? I would say toyota wins. Even when The Ferrari being a superior car it does not mean the. Majority of the public will by only a Ferrari.
            What open sim failed so far in my opinion is the lack of a community which is really spread into thousands of grids and regions due to open sims current hypergrid structure.
            In my opinion open sim has functions far superior than SL already. In many ways.

          • Joe Builder

            Simple answer hope this covers your massive confusion. SL was built for a community and economy. Opensims was built for a world of no restrictions and no economy, Which in fact creates small numbers of residents. Its been like that from day 1 till now. In comparison to SL. If a grid in opensims is lucky it may make enough money to pay for half of there hosting service. Again I know many who throw rocks at SL had a bad experience there, isn’t that right alex? 🙂 Lastly never compare to much RL with Virtual fantasy land, At the end of the day its just a role playing game for creators and such.

  • Lani Global

    $L

    $L

    The Linden Dollar. $L

    Why on earth hasn’t the $L and its exchange been carved out of SL and spun off from Linden Labs already?

    $L could be the coin of the realm for all virtual worlds if Linden Labs were to get a tiny bit of vision.

    • AviWorlds

      I agree.
      The greed will probably be SLs last days on Real Life. There is an expression. If you cant win against them join them……
      I have offered them my help and knowledge plus experience lets see if they call me.
      Alex Ferraris

  • Jason Dozier

    Good article.

    I agree that SL seems to be declining fairly rapidly. They either need to really change their pricing/business model if they want to stay competitive or, take their business in a totally different direction and not compete directly with the rest of the Opensim ecosystem.

    They could easily dominate the market if they could get their pricing down. The main reason I left was because I simply could not afford the land to build anything I wanted to. I miss the population density of SL and the availability of high quality content. If I could afford to be there, I probably still would be.

    I do think some that viable alternatives are out there (Kitely, Metropolis, Inworldz, etc). But they have a ways to go before they will have the community and content to compare with SL. That being said, Opensim is growing and beginning to offer some real competition to SL. Those alternatives have been steadily growing and becoming more and more attractive options.

    Of course, Linden Labs is in a tough spot. Any change they make will end up upsetting some chunk of their current customer base. And with the number of unpopular changes they’ve implemented in the last couple of years more drastic changes might be viewed as them thrashing around rather than following a plan. But I think it is clear they have to do something.

  • On Twitter, Will Burns just asked about the business practicality of what I’m proposing: https://twitter.com/darianknight/status/427576702152491009

    I’m currently finishing up a big feature article on open source software in the enterprise for Network World, for which I talked to a wide array of open source leaders and IT managers.

    When choosing a platform for future development, enterprises are much more likely to pick a platform that has BOTH a significant proprietary vendor AND an open source option.

    With the open source option, you’re not locked into any vendor — you can get your software and support from a wide variety of places, or just install it and do it yourself and use the open source community for help. But, in case you do need it, you have a big vendor to turn to who’s more likely to be around for a while, and who can handle large-scale, mission-critical projects.

    There are many, many examples of this out there today.

    IBM, for example, supports a great number of open source projects, including the Linux operating system popular on corporate servers, to the Hadoop database popular with Big Data projects.

    And, speaking of Linux, you’ve got Red Hat Linux and SUSE Linux and Ubuntu’s Canonical.

    On the web, there is no one single dominant vendor, though Microsoft probably comes closest, with Microsoft Windows Server, even though it only has a fraction of the market. Apache, the open source server, has more than 60% of the market.

    Another example is content management systems. The three leading ones are all open source — WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. WordPress and Drupal both have big vendors behind them — Automattic and Acquilla, respectively. Joomla doesn’t have an equally big vendor, and I’ve heard that it has hurt it when it comes to corporate adoption.

    In another example, Microsoft has traditionally been an opponent of open source software, because it directly hits at its bottom line. Why pay for Windows when Linux is free? Corporations, for example, typically use Linux to run their print and Web servers as well as enterprise clouds. But in 2012, Microsoft added Linux support to its Azure cloud platform — giving customers a choice. After all, if they’re going to be using Linux anyway, might as well make some money out of it.

  • Cisop Sixpence

    Maria, you have said very well what I’ve been rambling about for several years. Wanna be Linden Lab’s next CEO? You certainly have vision for the future.

  • Cam

    I cant believe you are still tugging at the apron strings of Linden Labs.
    Firstly what you seem to be doing here is suggesting that LL abandon its current business model (mega million dollar operation) for some reason. They make business decisions every day based on multiple layers of data and years of experience but you think they should change it.

    Think about this for a sec, it would mean sacking everyone at LL, rewriting their business charter, and recoding their product. you would have to be insane to even think they would for consider this one second. And for what result? To share the profits, and share the customer base, it just gets sillier by the line.
    They have a reputation for completely ignoring the pleas of their own user base, what makes you think they would listen to anything you or I (their competition) may have to say.
    When Philip Rosedale stepped away from the helm he took the progressive thinking and innovative attitudes with him, LL turned into a corporate machine with the sole purpose of keeping Second LIfe going, not making it better, not making it friendlier, not making it cheaper or any of those things that we might want, but keeping it alive, and certainly not changing it from what is seen to be a successful formula irrespective of your opinion or questionable data.

    Second Life has ALWAYS been overpriced and that hasnt affected the sales, what is causing the recent downturn is boredom, people are just over it, you can only walk around and sit in empty clubs for so long before you’ve “done that”.
    I am sure every single person reading this has felt that feeling by now.

    Facebook came after Second Life and its already showing signs that everyone has had enough and arent as excited anymore by something that once kept us entertained for hours at a time. Now logging off in droves. These things only have a limited life span. SL has just about reached its age and unfortunately there too goes OpenSim.

    No Alex you are not the negative one here, I am and here’s why…

    OpenSim is the unwanted bastard child of Linden Labs and they just wish it would go away, also you speak of “What OpenSim has now”
    Opensim has everything that is wrong with Second LIfe and then some, it depends on 10 year old technology that simply doesnt scale well, which in this fast paced obsolete-by-the-minute world is absolutely archaic, and it still isnt out of Alpha, still full of bugs, development is hampered by constant infighting lack of common direction, selfishness and the occasional sabotage.
    Dont get me wrong I love OpenSIm, I have hosted several grids and community projects and I have fallen flat on my face several times and got up again, just like most other grid owners and for the same reason, no users, nobody is interested, the only people that are interested are in SL., the only people left that are interested in OpenSim are developers, coders, and enthusiasts, there are NO users, zero players, (well very few) they moved on, we didnt.

    Here is the bad news that you all know but nobody wants to face, the only thing that stands between OpenSIm and extinction is the possibility that someone somewhere develops a code that allows OpenSim to run in a web-browser.
    If this were to happen then suddenly instead of having some pointless virtual world where nothing ever happens, and there’s nothing to do, we would instantly have the most advanced 3d websites in the world, it would be a game changer because people could just float into your grid from ebay or facebook, then it would take off (I personally dont think it can be done but still await results from pixieviewer in case Sunny pulls a rabbit out of his hat)

    I did a 3 year study into the commercial uptake of OpenSIm and here is a summary of the results. Commerce wont use any software that is in Alpha development stage because of the attrition rate of alpha software and business cant afford to take risks in a tight economy, so while OpenSim languishes in alpha, opportunities float by and the code gets older. The other thing that stops commerce from using anything is lack of security, and we have an abundance of that, in fact if there is one thing that OpenSim is famous for it is lack of security still after all these years. So for commercial use it is rotting on the vine.

    So lets talk about social and recreational use, Do a google trends analysis starting with “Opensim” ok some result there even if you allow for the slow fade after 2009, now add the term “virtual worlds” and notice how Opensim is dwarfed by this, it means that Opensim is not the main choice for virtual worlds. Now add the term Second Life and see how Opensim fades to almost flatline in comparison, now for the reality shock add the term “Minecraft” and you begin to see what we’re up against. I could go on about why Minecraft is killing OS and SL but that another story, (and dont say “because Minecraft is a game” because people are also using it as a virtual world) lets just say when Philip Rosedale combines the best of SL with the best of Minecraft, and uses the latest and best of tech, then HI-Fi is going to do to Minecraft what minecraft did to SL, and this argument will be moot. That will be your platform, global adoption, open source, scalable, and most importantly, new. What will I do?
    I will stop flogging what appears to be a dead horse and move on,
    sorry.

    • Talla Adam

      @Cam.
      I agree with some of what you said – you said so much! But not all you said. What I do agree with is that Pixie Viewer if it ever gets released or some other webGL that can stream an Opensim scene to a web page could be a game changer. Just being able to take a first look at some Opensim world without downloading a viewer could make the difference. In my view it doesn’t need much in the way of tools even. The lower the learning curve the better. Just being able to move about, put on clothes, chat, IM and search should be enough. Building can be left to a full viewer for those who want to do all that. For the average user a simple to use 3D web site like Cloud Party but built on Opensim would be so easy to start using. And better still if VR glasses like Oculus Rift could be used with it too straight off a web page.

    • Hannah

      “OpenSim is the unwanted bastard child of Linden Labs and they just
      wish it would go away, also you speak of “What OpenSim has now”
      Opensim has everything that is wrong with Second LIfe and then some, it depends on 10 year old technology that simply doesnt scale well, which in this fast paced obsolete-by-the-minute world is absolutely archaic, and it still isnt out of Alpha, still full of bugs, development is hampered by constant infighting lack of common direction, selfishness and the occasional sabotage. ”

      YES! YES! YES!

      You GET it! Everyone sees this (tho no one admits it), but if we admitted the truth of what you’re saying, we’d have to give up our commerical pretenses.

      “Dont get me wrong I love OpenSIm, I have hosted
      several grids and community projects and I have fallen flat on my face
      several times and got up again, just like most other grid owners and for
      the same reason, no users, nobody is interested, the only people that
      are interested are in SL., the only people left that are interested in
      OpenSim are developers, coders, and enthusiasts, there are NO users,
      zero players, (well very few) they moved on, we didnt.”

      Again -yes! This is in part because desktop computing has fallen out of fashion (and been replaced by tablets).

      It’s not 2006 any more -the world has moved on, and we have not. You are correct.

      “Here is the bad news that you all know but nobody wants to face, the
      only thing that stands between OpenSIm and extinction is the possibility
      that someone somewhere develops a code that allows OpenSim to run in a web-browser.”

      Close -so very close! But not quite. Someone, somewhere is investing cash-money into the development of opensim for their own profit, which will end up having nothing -zip, zero, zilch- to do with what we “enthusiasts” use. Good? Bad? Idk -it is what it is.

      “I will stop flogging what appears to be a dead horse and move on, ”
      That’s more than most of us will do –thank you for an excellent, articulate and insightful post.

      • Joe Builder

        Exactly right, The sad truth many fail to realize that, Many live in the state of denial on this subject.

        • Talla Adam

          Really?

          But Opensim is still widely used regardless of all the naysayers that just love to lash out on this column while proclaiming their love for the platform in the same breath. No, truth be known the naysayers are mostly people that have failed in Second Life, moved on to Opensim and failed with that too. Some are just whiners who can’t afford to do much else but use a laggy home pc and find fault with the software. Goodness me! Opensim is open source and open source is by it’s very nature alpha pretty much indefinitely. That is the nature of the beast. Want it to be better then learn to code and send in your patches but don’t go rubbishing the exceptional work of those who have spent thousands of hours doing it for you for free.

          And far from being out of date or the “bastard child of Linden lab” (frankly, a supreme insult to the developers) Opensim was never Linden code, ever. Opensim shares the protocols but none of the code and if anyone thinks Opensim is buggy then Second Life is just as buggy if not worse. Second Life has only recently got any better but then Opensim has been advancing brilliantly in the past two years as well so the naysayers need to get real because even they still think it’s worth using. Hell, why are they still bothering if they think it so bad? Just get out and flog some other dead horse if that’s what you think of it but don’t go crabbing on about everyone else being in a state of denial. Speak for yourselves!

          So now lets take a look at traffic and to hell with Google trends. Opensim is not Facebook or Minecraft of Second Life come to that. It has it’s own character and appeals to a broad spectrum of silent users (the dark Metaverse) while the visible tip of usage can be evenly divided between commercial grids trying to mimic the SL business model and mostly failing and the Hypergrid users that collectively make up the greater part of what is visible. In SL you can see on the map vast numbers of little used regions while activity is mostly concentrated on particular sites. The Opensim Metaverse is smaller but very similar in many ways with a lot of little used mini grids while most of the activity is concentrated on particular grids. It is these concentration areas in both Second Life and Opensim where the real communities gather so, if you trouble to go looking or Hypergrid traveling, you will find plenty of community in Opensim as well creativity.

          Too many people have tried to get rich on Opensim and failed – the antics of AviWorlds is a good example but money is being made by hosting companies anyway. And plenty of it! Why? because there are so many people paying for hosting and not relying on slow home connections and laggy home Pc’s. Lani Global with her sci-fi sims in OSgrid has been very successful and on G+ Opensim Virtual we learn of mini grids like Nara’s Nook that appeals to writers. Nara puts in the time and effort to make her little grid a welcoming site but these are just a few. Travel and you will find plenty more on Metropolis, Craft and OSgrid to name a few. But beyond all that I don’t see Opensim grid owners spending money on advertising while Linden lab dose even though they are well known anyway, and so does IMVU and Minecraft and all the others. So for all the whiners who moan there are no people in Opensim grids don’t judge every grid by your own failures. Opening a grid is one thing but getting people through the door takes hard work, a good theme or service and spending some serious money on advertising very often. Otherwise it’s just pot luck and getting known any way you can which is what a lot of people in Opensim spend time doing. They get involved with others across the Hypergrid worlds which is why we set up G+ Opensim Virtual to help that along. But if you are going to sit in your delightful Never Never land dreaming about how Minecraft made it and then blaming everyone else for your failure then sure, your flogging a dead horse I would agree.

          • Joe Builder

            Without getting to long explanation on this, I for the most part look at residents online at any given day. SL around 30k/ to 40k and opensims combined 1k. The problem here is EXTREMELY simple, We can not use SL and Opensims in the same sentence they are so different in every aspect. Like RLC and IMVU. Opensims is a free World as SL is a Economy. Take note to the couple grids in opensims now, they want to copy the SL ways. Many here like them both, SL and Opensims, but we are wise and know there is a difference. Some don’t want to accept that.

          • Talla Adam

            Of course we know they are different, Joe but I don’t think anyone is living in a state of denial. We are all trying to make the best of Opensim while others with no interest n it come here to bash us and everything we work for. Sadly, even people on the inside can’t help themselves but pull the house down – mainly because they themselves failed with it!

          • Hannah

            Your post is long on claims, and short on tangible proof.
            Let’s see some cold, hard numbers.

          • Talla Adam

            I say it like it is and you know it. Try proving that Opensim code is taken from Linden Lab since you supported that fallacy.

          • Hannah

            I have never, ever stated that -any time that I have been in a conversation about the origin of opensim, I have stated that it is a re-implementation. To say that I have said otherwise is a deliberate fabrication.

            I know you make a lot of assertions and you very rarely back them up -this conversation demonstrates that aptly.

          • Talla Adam

            Just re-read what you said “YES! YES! YES!” to in quoting @Cam’s post then back up your words with real facts.

            Opensim was created from scratch borrowing only the SL protocols and designed to use an LL viewer. Cam asserted the code originally came from LL and you agreed with that.

            The Opensim code is the work of the Opensim developers who were not even allowed to work on viewer development.

          • Hannah

            Here’s a break-down of what I replied to.
            “OpenSim is the unwanted bastard child of Linden Labs and they just wish it would go away, ”
            This statement says nothing about code, and is wholly applicible to the fact that opensim is reproduced by the protocol.

            Yes, Talla, my friend, that does make opensim “a bastard child.” -one parent is the protocol, the other parent is the libsecondlife project. The Opensim project is a quite literal bastard project.

            “also you speak of ‘What OpenSim has now’
            Opensim has everything that is wrong with Second LIfe and then some, ”
            Again, this is true; ignoring the opensim-specific bugs (the “and then some”) there are many technical arguments that can be made against the platform, a couple of important ones
            1)It uses huge amounts of bandwidth
            2)It uses assets ineffeciently compared to other games/platforms

            “it depends
            on 10 year old technology that simply doesnt scale well, ”
            Another argument which is absolutely true; while the secondlife protocol is not entirely ten years old, it’s essentially unchanged from what it was, adding only some assets and minor features.

            The protocol is 12 years old, and showing its’ age -particularly now that everyone has moved to tablets.

            “which in this
            fast paced obsolete-by-the-minute world is absolutely archaic,”
            absolutely true.

            Now, the post addresses opensim:
            “and [opensim]
            still isnt out of Alpha, [opensim is] still full of bugs, [opensim] development is hampered by
            constant infighting[,] lack of common direction, selfishness and the
            occasional sabotage. ”

            All of which are laughably (as in “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”) true -as anyone with even a superficial knowledge of the project’s recent history is all too aware of.

          • Talla Adam

            Okay, if you must bore us with a re-write to try and prove your point I throw up my hands and say this…

            For a long time you have taken every opportunity to rubbish Opensim from within while siding with those attacking from without.

            Some of us care about Opensim enough to put in the time and effort (and money) to make it work. We have built community across many grids despite all the crowing about no concurrency.

            Today a topic on Opensim Virtual showed we are doing just fine http://www.tanglemagazine.com/2014/01/the-happiness-in-the-community/

            You carry on your way @Hanna. Tear it all up but you can’t destroy what is good. I have nothing further to say to you.

          • Hannah

            “You carry on your way @Hanna. Tear it all up but you can’t destroy what is good. I have nothing further to say to you.”

            That’s just tough, because as long as you insist on dragging MY name through the mud, I won’t be done -not by a far stretch.

            “For a long time you have taken every opportunity to rubbish Opensim from within while siding with those attacking from without. ”

            First off I have spent years advocating FOR opensim across multiple forums, both arguing for how it’s useful to end users, how it saves money AND also giving hard technical support.

            I have talked many, many people through opensim setup, both on forums and in person.

            I have started communities and a couple of them -“all the worlds” and “arcadia all around”, are still around.

            I have helped to bring the works of Arcadia Asylum into opensim, and have two shops -both hypergrid enabled showcasing her content. I was also instrumental to bringing her works to Inworldz as well.

            I have contributed free regions which I have built and content, so you can get off your high horse about that as well.

            So I’ve put my own time and effort into “making it work” for everyone’s benefit, even for egotastic rotters who are so hidebound that they take any dissent as a full-out assault.

            We can’t grow unless we criticise ourselves, Talla, you’re old enough to know that by now.

          • lmpierce

            Hi Hannah and Talla,

            I’m jumping in here to comment as moderator. You’re both making some valid points, but they’re being overshadowed by the personal attacks. Please dial it back or take the discussion to another forum.

          • Hannah

            I’m sorry for taking the bait as much as I have. I’ve tried to dance around the personal slurs as much as I’m able to, and stick to the meat of the discussion.

            The dilemma I face is this; if something is repeated often enough, people will begin to believe it, regardless of whether it is true or not. For that reason, I felt the need to defend my reputation against Talla’s repeated ms-characterisation of the role I’ve played in the opensim community.

            Thank you for your patience, and again -I apologize for making your job more difficult.

          • Talla Adam

            Apologies @Impierce. Unfortunately, Han still manages to turn an apology into yet another attempt to provoke drama by twisting everything round. This is how it’s done in SLU and Han is well aquainted with the tactic. All I can say in passing though is that I see HB has become a target for Opensim haters but I guess the more haters there are must be saying Opensim is succeeding.

          • Hannah

            “All I can say in passing though is that I see HB has become a target for
            Opensim haters but I guess the more haters there are must be saying
            Opensim is succeeding.”
            Actually, there’s no reason for you to say anything of the sort in an apology -unless you’re trying to imply that a specific someone involved in the discussion is a “hater”.

            If that’s what you’re doing -it’s pretty clear who you would mean -and that would constitute a personal attack, albeit of the passive-aggressive variety.

          • Talla Adam

            Ditto. Now will you do as @Impierce requested and drop it.

          • Hannah

            For exactly as long as you do.

          • 1. OpenSim was not unwanted by Linden Lab – at least at first. Linden Lab was cooperating with IBM and other OpenSim developers.

            2. There are many infrastructural, behind-the-scenes issues with Second Life that OpenSim does not have. It is a more modular, scalable infrastructure framework.

            3. OpenSim isn’t even in the ballpark with Second Life when it comes to user activity. Nobody is arguing about this.

            4. OpenSim has a number of features that Second Life doesn’t have, very important features, some of which are must-have for enterprise users, schools, and non-profits.

            5. OpenSim allows users full control of their environment. For business and schools, for example, that means full control of their grids. For creators, it means full control of their mini-grids and the content they create on it (content which they typically upload and sell in Second Life, or in commercial grids like InWorldz).

            6. As a result of the features that OpenSim DOES have, certain categories of users — the kind of users that need land and control — those users are moving or expanding to Opensim. The pace of this isn’t slowing. Second Life is losing land, and OpenSim is gaining it.

            7. Some communities are also moving over to OpenSim, for the same reasons — more land, more control, more freedom.

            8. There will come a time when the migration will reach a critical mass, and there will be enough stuff to do in OpenSim for everybody.

            9. Yes, OpenSim development is messy — it’s what you get when you have volunteers working on a project this massive. But, again, the pace of development here seems to be accelerating, and becoming more user-focused, with individual grid and hosting companies contributing code and bug fixes, and major users like Intel and the US military dedicating programmers to work on OpenSim.

            Will OpenSim eventually BECOME the metaverse? Maybe. Or maybe something else will come along. Right now, it’s the most developed platform and ecosystem out there. That’s not to say that Microsoft, Google or Yahoo won’t come out with something else and leapfrog over it.

            I believe that an alliance between Linden Lab and OpenSim will strengthen our approach to the metaverse, and help ward off a proprietary alternative.

            I don’t want to live in a metaverse owned by, say, Microsoft or Google — overpriced, in the first case and riddled with advertising and tracking in the second!

          • Hannah

            In other words, stop changing the topic (opensim concurrency -> opensim history) and get us some hard concurrency numbers.

          • Talla Adam

            @Hanna. I’m not changing the subject. I am answering you and Joe. I am taking my lead from you so stay on track yourself and if you really have a problem with Opensim then get out why don’t you?

          • Hannah

            I’ve got no beef with opensim -I’ve got a beef with deception and misrepresentation.

            I’m so very fond of opensim because I believe EXACTLY that it can stand on its’ own merits without blatantly transparent misrepresentations.

          • Talla Adam

            @Hanna. And you’re the Judge of what is deception and misrepresentation, eh? Try looking at your own.

            Some of us want to work for better things in Opensim and would rather not pull the house down because it is not going the way you want it. I’m done here.

          • Hannah

            Alight, Talla, you can run on out of here if that’s what you’re so inclined to do.

            You just make sure you that you pick up your ad-hominems and classless, vague accusations and you take them on out of here.

          • Talla Adam

            No. I never run away from sensible debate but I wont be drawn into one of your grubby dramas you like to provoke where ever you go. Your last comment was an insult and clearly intended to wind me up. You don’t deserve my time.

          • Joe Builder

            Myself I don’t really bash opensims, I think its a great place but when compared to SL’s functions there we have a problem. Everyone has preferences one can’t be pushed to accept one over the other, Myself for today enjoy Opensims, I don’t even visit SL anymore. Some go back and forth which is fine. I do see a problem, Seems many want a SL experience in opensims that’s where the problem is. Enjoy opensims for what it is, Not what you wish it to be. There is a small reason I tend to defend SL, If it wasn’t for SL where would I and you be today?

          • Talla Adam

            @Joe. I’ve always wanted to see Opensim take a different course to Second Life. I have argued we need a viewer designed for Opensim with grid search and Opensim-only features. That’s why I have hopes for Pixie Viewer.

            “Where would I be today if it wasn’t for SL?”

            Many thousands of dollars better off!

  • ciaranlaval

    Very good article indeed and there was definitely a time when Linden Lab were considering these options but the boat does seem to have sailed somewhat.

  • Herbert E.

    Now this is a very delusional piece of text.

    All I get here as a message is this: Opensim is a failure, we envy Second Life for its big asset store, so pretty please Linden Lab won’t cha help us grow a little bit?

    Ridiculous.

  • Tragic Lyric

    I like the idea as I too do not wish for Second Life to fall. However I wonder how Linden Labs would be able to keep itself safe. If it becomes the framework for which all of these other third party metaverses are connected does it than become liable for the crimes committed by those other metaverses or the players on them. We can see the precedent beginning to emerge in legislation such as SOPPA and PIPA. Or in court cases such as the ones being lodged against Pirate Bay, or other file sharing sites.

    With a game like SL the laws that could potentially be broken by it’s users or other grids using it’s framework are boundless and LL’s reach can only go so far. This fact alone I think might explain LL’s hesitance to move forward on these once lofty ideas it once had.

    • Hannah

      You’re asking if Linden Lab can somehow share legal liability for what happens in OpenSim?

      If that’s what you’re asking, the unequivocal answer is: No, they cannot.

      Opensim was not created by Linden Lab, Linden Lab is not active in any with opensim development or with opensim-based grids.

      They don’t share a “framework”, that word doesn’t even have any real meaning in this context.

    • Tragic — I like to point to the Web as an example. Microsoft Servers and (open source) Apache Servers both run websites within the same “framework” of the World Wide Web. But Microsoft in no way shape or form bears responsibility for content hosted on Apache servers. In fact, it bears no responsibility for content hosting on Windows Servers, either! Just like it bears no responsibility for ransom notes written in Microsoft Word.

      Now, if Microsoft provides hosting as well as software – as it does on the Azure cloud, the degree of legal responsibility is limited by the DMCA. As long as Microsoft takes down illegal websites when notified, the company itself is in the clear.

      I don’t think legal liability is what’s holding Linden Lab back. It’s more likely to be fear of eroding the current business model combined with the lack of vision for the future.

      It’s a common failing of humans in general that we cannot predict disruptive changes. We default to the idea that if something has been happening in the past, it will always happen in the future. So they tweak business models slightly, or add new features, or try to cut back on expenses — rational, sane business management strategies for companies in mature, steady-state industries.

      It’s hard to blame them. For every Steve Jobs-like visionary who helped create the future, then are probably 10 or 100 others who bet th house on bold moves and lost big time.

  • Frank Marchall

    ……

  • Frank Marchall

    Opensim is not out of the box ready, it might work but also doesn’t work, with that said having now a certain version from opensim and the map working but teleport seems to fail then next version (Fix) and the out of the box version did fix the teleport issue but now the map doesn’t work, database corruption, slow in certain things and that go’s on and on over the years. In other words there is no bug free release to go into production. To connect a version like that to the grid from Linden Labs would be a security problem and in random simulators with other version numbers and thus with different issues, and i do not see that ending. Opensim isn’t a competition for Linden Labs and then why would Linden Labs hook up to a unstable platform? Or should i say multiple platforms. Way back in 1970 up to 2000 i think, in the time where they used modems and from point to point transfers there was a protocol called ZModem by Chuck Forsberg this protocol was out of the box ready reliable and fast for that time, it could be used over long distance phone lines and networks as well on any OS Platform mainly Unix. But that doesn’t talk right? Its today money that does, yes make a business, programs get huge in size (while they can be smaller) i think you get my drift. People also do not work together as it should, in the time there where mailers and fidonet these people did work together real close but today internet turns out into a chaos and one person knows it better as another one while some do not even know how many bits fit in one letter such as the letter A. Then virtual worlds can be nice but they also can create an issue in real life, for example the husband logs into a virtual world for 12 hours a day and his wife gets enough and leaves him, there are muliple example to give, is it just an escape from real life? Yes it is. I did try to start a grid with 8 regions, i pay about 100 euro’s / month but indeed you see nobody well 3 users a week to look quickly and on top i have the one issue after another with opensim, the servers are fast enough and the up and download speed is over the 1 Gbit per second, Hypergate isn’t stable nor is the simulator itself. As i said i did not see that change yet. So Linden Lab made their decision right not to hook up to opensim, maybe they will if it would be out of the box stable and a production product, but as for now its just a hobby.

    • You should have come to the OpenSim Community Conference! Hundreds of people attended over the course of a long weekend and yes, there were technical problems — but not a single one was OpenSim-related! Instead, there were problems with Skype, problems with ustream — both successful, commercial projects.

      I spend a lot of time on both OpenSim and Second Life and, frankly, I have a lot of technical issues with Second Life. I make a point of logging in at least half an hour early for each event in case there’s a problem with my appearance, my voice, or there’s a new viewer update that I have to install.

      Of course, that doesn’t help you with your installation of OpenSim. One problem is that you seem to be confusing OpenSim with an end-user-facing product — something like, say, Microsoft Office, which you install and it just works. OpenSim is a server-side product, more like a Web server than anything else. And Web servers have to be configured — in fact, there’s quite a great deal of configuration that’s involved. Back in the early days of the Web, companies had full-time webmasters just to keep their websites going.

      The same is true for OpenSim. You need to keep it updated, patched, properly configured, tuned for your particular use case, protected from attacks, from weird scripts and bad attachments — all the stuff that goes into protecting a web server, multiplied by a factor to account for the larger number of moving parts.

      There are hosting providers out there — you know who you are! — who blame the customer or who blame OpenSim when something goes wrong. Of course, sometimes the problem IS OpenSim. If you want to have 5000 people on a region — well, that won’t work. Or a web-based client — we don’t have that yet.

      But if you’re looking for basic functionality and your hosting provider can’t offer that, upgrade to a better hosting provider.

      And if you’re looking for users — just because you build something, doesn’t mean that people will come. It doesn’t matter whether you’re putting up a website, a club in Second Life, or a grid in OpenSim, you have to market it and promote it. You have to organize events and bring in merchants and celebrities and find your unique niche. If you’re offering the same stuff as all the other grids, but on a smaller scale — why would anyone bother visiting?

      • Frank Marchall

        Yes there are problems with Second Life and thats why they use the Beta Grid to improve things ; but lets say i am searching for the most stable release of Opensim, in the Github area there are just to many and the released once such as 0.8.0.3 doesn’t work right, it has problems with Hypergate and such. Back in the early days(thats where i come from” we had also projects like D’Bridge or Frontdoor but they where stable, and did what they needed to do, on top people did look for a reliable way to transfer data over regular phone lines. For example they did not aim at the fastest way but the most reliable way to get that data over the line, these days its all TCP based and in some cases streams are going over UDP hence no error control. We control the software, the software doesn’t control us, It took Chuck Forsberg 8 years to come up with ZedZap and ZedZip thats a ZModem based protocol and still in use over large networks i am not confusing OpenSim with an end-user-facing product, I think if you talking about “a” release like 0.8.0.1, 0.2 or 0.3 in case of Opensim you would think that it is at least stable enough to serve the user 24/7 it is not a question like “blame the customer or blame OpenSim” if we know the issues with Opensim there is no blame to the customer because we know its an Opensim issue only never “fixed” I run Robust and one simulator on two servers from IBM, i did check the configuration files twice and still i keep having certain issues, with 8.1 other issues as with 8.3 “should that not be have fixed?” The servers are located in a computer center on a extreme fast backbone (thats why i pay 100 euro / month) you said “why would anyone bother visiting?” thats correct but the same counts for Grids with more regions and so on, it seems that the most like to goto SL not Opensim and there is a reason as you know and indeed organize events and bring in merchants and celebrities and find your unique niche. If you’re offering the same stuff as SL but then with 50% of the price they might come, but not with a system what gets a upgrade & patch every 8 days because some issue was never fixed. Reminds me on Microsoft they also start to build in things while some issues have never been fixed, at this moment i am working on a project called “Trapgate” and even in Alpha stage it offers that what it needs to do, maybe its me but i think the same should be the case with Opensim and SL because they never fixed or replaced the IM Group Chat. So i am suggesting to fix first before adding new ideas.And at least not at last me going to the OpenSim Community Conference what for good will that do? I had several ideas but nobody seems to bother, from the OpenSim Community, then at last they say with Opensim they do not want to clone SL: but in fact they do.

        All the best,

        Frans Lupschen

        DreamScape Products

  • bagman

    Second Life is a dead whale on the beach. It smells. You can’t get around it. Eventually the tide will wash it away. The reason why Second Life can’t embrace in-world commerce with the metaverse is simple: As long as I am running my own sim, with my own mysql database, I can take ownership of anything in my inventory by simply rezzing it on my land and updating the corresponding table entry. The question of ownership is a little deeper than simply adding another export permission. Object ownership has to be intimately associated with the object, and not contained in any plain-text and readily updateable back-end. Off-hand, I don’t know how this will be implemented but it will be done; it will require a corresponding simulator and viewer modification, and it will finally open up the metaverse to in-world commerce.