You heard it here, first.
(Well, unless you were in Germany when Cory Linden announced it.)
But big news, because of the possibilities.
Forum discussion here.
p.s. Also announced - mono byte-coding for Linden Scripting Language planned for first quarter 2006 for testing, which means 100x faster code, according to Babbage Linden.
You heard it here, first.
Restore US Credibility!
The much talked about "Impeach Bush" signs all over SL come to a surprise to many SL residents, but it doesn't even cause other folks like me to so much as bat an eyelash.
Because the Internet is full of advertisements of all kinds.
Back when Anshe Chung started plopping down ads on her for-sale land, people made a stink, but pretty much piped down when they realized that her land moves pretty quickly, and it's only a temporary eye-sore. But even before this, long ago in the days of Beta, Linden Lab was acknowledging that in-world advertising could be disruptive.
So we know two things now:
1. Advertising is to be expected on the Internet.
2. Residents and developers of SL don't want advertising to run rampant.
Skirting the TOS
It's a difficult issue because when people put ads up on their own land, they aren't really don't anything explicitly banned. A simple rationale for Second Life is, "Landowners should be able to do pretty much what they want on the server space that they pay for." Truly, it's the main principle behind my thoughts on Point to Point Teleporting. There are rules restricting certain behavior on land, but these are largely things like:
- Don't put M-rated material on PG-rated land.
- Don't block off your neighbor's access to their land on more than 50% of their border.
- Don't send out swarms of temp-on-rez stealth land scanners without permission of residents.
The only thing that the Terms of Service or the Community Standards of SL really covers is when you are specifically harassing a neighbor with your build, or if it's just plain despicable. In the Impeach Bush case, it's been ruled as freedom of political expression.
And regardless of the rules, SL is growing too rapidly to have any sort of "land cops" be a viable, scalable option. We need a better solution.
The Internet Lacks Locality
We have trouble coming up with a good rule that would curb excessive advertising and yet preserve Free Speech. I believe the reason is because that SL has an aspect that the Internet simply lacks: locality. We are forging a world with new metals, and we need to experiment with new techniques to be able to shape our world to be flexible and not brittle.
Problem? Wrong Audience
So what really is the problem with these ads? The audience. These persistent signs continue to target the neighbors of the land as the primary audience. The neighbors will see them far more often than folks simply passing by the land, who are the intended audience.
Ideally, we need technical solutions to problems. Laws and rules will always have loopholes where griefers and exploiters can reside. The only real solution to a problem is a hard-coded fix.
Say No to a Box Society
A landowner shouldn't have to waste primitives creating a virtual wall along their border to block the view of a disruptive build. An ugly one? Perhaps, but I side with Gwyneth in that SL should not become a boxed up set of environments.
Gwyn's distubing vision: Don't let SL become the Borg!
Hard-Coded Solutions: More Land Tools
I see two solutions to this issue, and they both involve adding tools to SL. I believe both are things that are ultimately necessary in SL, and together they would virtually erase a neighbor's ability to grief.
Solution 1: Improve Ignore
Residents should be able to right-click objects and have "ignore" directly from the pie menu, which not only affects a person's chat, but the ignored person's objects, as well. After all, what good is ignore when someone can smack you around with a giant sized dildo attachment?
Solution 2: Improve Ban
Along with improving "ignore", as just stated, the same ability should be linked to a user's land's banning capability. Banning an avatar from your land should ban their objects, and make their objects invisible to anyone on your land.
The Good News
On a positive note, Linden Lab has hinted that these are both things that they would like to add to the SL interface.
Demand Your Rights!
On the down side, with all LL has slated to improve, no one, including LL, really knows when the heck these will be implemented.
You need to demand the right not to be griefed. Demand these solutions from LL, and make it known that these are a priority to you!
This is a piece I recently submitted as an article to Flack Attack, an online wiki-zine run by The Port.
Autonomy and Working Together
by: Hiro Pendragon
Autonomy is the process at which cooperation of individuals empower all members of the community. While working with others may seem contradictory to the notion of autonomy, the potential for all people in the group to improve their own means and capabilities arises as a symbiotic process of needs. As needs arise, people cooperate to meet these needs. These needs, being met, enables additional avenues of growth, which in turn bring about more need for cooperation.
It may at first seem ironic to approach the idea of autonomy, when thinking in the scope of a global virtual community such as Second Life. When the whole basis of an online world is to provide a place for to interact in common space. It is difficult to go anywhere in Second Life without running into an influence of another person, whether it be direct contact with the person, or indirect contact with them through something that they have constructed and/or placed in the world. Even without these elements, the world in which we exist virtually is, by nature, collaborative. A resident in Second Life is working with Linden Lab's creation, and indirectly, from all the suggestions from other residents that have influenced the development of the online world. This realization leads to another conclusion: that there is no "true autonomy" in its most explicit sense.
History of Autonomy
The notion that there is no "true autonomy" as it is defined has been around nearly a century. To say that one is "autonomous", it implies the state of being alone, or separate. In a classical sense, science and theological thinking have both separated humankind from its environment. Religious figures considered man and woman to be a divine creation that exists in, but not part of nature. Until Darwin, scientists have largely agreed. Evolution sparked a radical philosophical notion: that man is part of his environment. That shock wave in philosophical thought reverberates even today, as we can read about Kentucky's move toward creationism, masked as questioning of evolutionary theory, and euphamismed as "Intelligent Design".
Originally this used to be the prevailing thought because it is in our DNA. Humans seemed to have evolved capable of providing their own needs: food, shelter, safety. Or did they? In a biological sense, all of these needs are simply means to a genetic imperative - that of bearing offspring. As these needs began to be met by the evolution of technology, more needs arise. One can think to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a psychological understanding of this notion. Advances in civilization such as farming, trading and commerce, government, religion, and countless other things remove the requirement for a single person to provide for all of their own needs.
Now think to today, where many needs are met by society. Food is provided in stores, water piped into homes build by construction companies, and safety provided by police and military services. Even higher needs are provided for us through indirect means of commerce or taxation: basic education, the ability to be healed of serious wounds, sanitation, transportation, and countless other services. For a long time, society has been providing the access to solutions to more and more needs. And so, we depend on others to meet our needs, which is contrary to the idea of "true autonomy". But it was not until the 20th century that our philosophy has finally caught up to this notion.
The turning point in our philosophy when "true autonomy" became impossible was when science completely separated its ties to the notion of a separate duality of human and nature. This occurred with the advent of modern physics. Dr. Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle shattered the notion that science could ever be purely objective. The impact of this principle shook the philosophical world. If there is no real separation between observer and subject of observation, then all things are interrelated. The Internet, world economies, and truly, online massive multi-user persistent worlds are a natural result of this interrelation of the human race.
What we are left with as an idea of autonomy is not a state of separation from our environment, but a distinction from it while still existing in it. That distinction is choice, and it is not a diametric "Do I have choice or do I not?" sort of value, but more of a qualitative one. In other words, since no one can distinguish themselves as a completely isolated entity from their environment, they instead describe how they are different.
This difference from the environment is not that straightforward, either. When considering what makes us autonomous, it should be noted that we are considering the deviation from the natural flow of events; we are considering how one's choices and will guides the person's life. Plainly stated, autonomy is how a person makes choices that are truly his or her own, and not merely "going with the flow".
This redefinition makes it difficult to measure, because often times a person's choice may be to go with the conditions around him or her because they are the most ideal. What makes autonomy even more difficult to examine is that these decisions may be conscious or subconscious. We get into the question, "Is a person really aware of their choices that they are making?" The conclusion that arises is that autonomy can not be conventionally measured simply by looking at what a person is doing.
How To Promote Autonomy
As to not descending too far down a philosophical tangent, let me simply state that while we can't always determine whether a person is acting autonomously by choice, we can promote it. When supporting autonomy, we can focus on two aspects: increasing the number of choices available, and providing resources to meet needs of different choices. Both of these methods improves a person's ability to make choices that they want, because their needs for making a choice are better met.
In a virtual environment like Second Life, needs can be filled in a variety of ways. The first way is monetary, whether real or virtual currency. Another avenue of supporting needs is providing material resources. This could be an office in the real world or a new computer, or access to health care. Needs can be met with non-material resources as well, such as software tools or virtual space in Second Life. Finally, a significant way to meet needs is having a human resource. Another person cooperating on tasks can provide expertise in different areas as the person in question, may have different resources available, or may simply speed up the timeline of achieving goals. This last resource is an interesting because this is an autonomous choice of the person helping.
All of the methods and examples mentioned enable a person to better do what they want to do on their own. This is what I mean by having a qualitative measurement of autonomy; the person who is aided by the resources now has more autonomy than they did before. They may still make the same choice of actions, but they can accomplish their goals more efficiently. As all these goals are accomplished, the results wind up meeting needs of other individuals looking for greater autonomy. It is here that we see how autonomy is really a symbiotic process.
Autonomy as Symbiosis
As individuals interact, they are meeting each others needs. As these needs are met, more choices are available to them, and the ability to follow through on a choice becomes less difficult. Accomplishments from work on a choice provide more interaction with others, and the process repeats. With each iteration, the individuals involved see their ability to be autonomous increase.
It is ironic that such interaction and cooperation improve autonomy. Autonomy is "supposed" to be making ones own choices, but its clear that availability to make autonomous choices is improved through having needs met by others. Autonomy is not a single-person idea, as the thesis first stated, but instead the cooperation of more than one person to accomplish many peoples' goals.
Improving Autonomy in Second Life
Autonomy is an ideal greatly supported by virtual worlds. We have an opportunity to interact with people across the globe. This opportunity creates the greatest set of cooperation that we can currently achieve. As people interested in increasing autonomy, we need to examine how we can support people in Second Life today. Let's skip back to the areas of support that I mentioned in "How To Promote Autonomy".
Those who have financial resources should look to ways to spread it in the community. This does not mean charity, per se, this means investing in individuals and groups who are making autonomous choices and who in turn are helping others be autonomous. How do we know which individuals and groups are doing this? They are people who are able to provide the other three areas of support.
2. Material and Non-material Resources
"If you build it, they will come." is how the saying goes. People need offices, supplies, transportation, food, health care, legal support, Internet access, and a whole host of other things to work on what they want. We need to look at ways to provide easy access to these things.
This effort could come in the form of something ambitious, like a Second Life Small Business Group that negotiates a health care package for members. This could come in the form of donating used office furniture to other Second Life developers. This could be something very simple, like allowing new residents to Second Life build on parts of your land; people don't necessarily like to commit to buy their own land while they are still deciding whether to commit to Second Life as a development platform.
Regardless of how big or small the task, we have the access to communicate with people around the world; we should use it.
3. Human Resources
The bottom line is that collaboration leads to innovation. People together exchange ideas that lead to new thoughts. Larger projects require more than one person. Really large-scale projects require interaction of several organizations.
As working relationships become larger and more complex, we need to investigate tools to make it easier. Second Life lacks and really needs some robust tools focused on promoting collaboration. Public forums, employment boards, texture libraries, good search engines, building and scripting education, and trade associations are all sorely lacking.
Autonomy is a concept that requires the collaboration of people. By working together, we improve each other's ability to make choices of goals and accomplish them. We live in a world community greatly interconnected, and the idea of us as individuals surviving on our own has been outdated for centuries. In Second Life, there are a variety of community needs that need to be filled, and our goals going into 2006 and beyond need to be on how to best organize, identify those needs, and provide solutions for them.
I'm Soooo FIC
Last week I was hanging out with Mark Wallace (aka Walker Spaight), Jerry Paffendorf (aka SNOOPYbrown Zamboni), and Jerry's roommate (anonymous), and got teased for suggesting that giving landowners the ability to restrict teleporting was an "FIC" idea. To paraphrase my bud SNOOPY:
"Dude, new users are like ... okay, I teleported here, and now it's all laggy and rezzing? And where is the place I wanted to go? And what is that red marker? Why can't I just go there?"
Teleporting into someone's kitchen
I'm all for P2P, but I think I was pretty clear that I wanted it done right. P2P has been out a week now, and here's what happened on teleport #2 for me:
You got it. That's me teleported directly into someone's kitchen at random, just as FlipperPA Peregrine predicted. We're still lacking the ability to block "offer teleport" as landowners, but the rumor mill is that is coming.
Anyway, I was thinking that we ought to really improve teleporting, and do so for when we really need it most: when trying to teleport out of a laggy mess.
SL GUI = Lagfest
The problem is that the whole damn GUI in SL will lag up. This makes very little sense, since that part is rendered by the client on your computer. It's like the client waits for data from the sim before asking the video card to draw. Meanwhile, no matter how much lag there is, the GUI should always work 100% speed. I base this on my law of reverse compatibility:
For Second Life to become mainstream, it needs to mimic Internet behaviors and be operated in ways similar to standard web browsers.
I mean, set aside the fact that we really should have a customizable GUI that we can make look like anything we want, customize menus, and create user-friendly software tailored for all sorts of people. Yes, just put that aside, because we can't even rely on our browser to SL to not lock up if there's a heavy load.
Imagine if IE or Mozilla Had This Problem!
Just imagine ... a site is loading, and your whole browser locks up. Connection error? Sorry, you don't get to do anything with your browser. Don't bother to open another tab or window and surf somewhere else in the meantime; you're just plain stuck. If this were the 'Net, it'd be a giant mess!
So SL's GUI performs back-asswards to how it needs to: independent of lag. Wait. Let me say it again in bold, italic, and ALL-CAPS text so you don't miss it.
THE SECOND LIFE GUI NEEDS TO WORK INDEPENDENT OF LAG
*phew* That wasn't so hard to understand, was it? :)
Oh, yeah, back to teleporting.
So we need teleporting to work the same way. If some place is all lagged up, or crashing, or your client has been lost because some rump-hat person has knocked your avatar clear across five sims faster than servers could hand you off, you need some way of teleporting the heck out of there and back to somewhere that your computer and network connection can catch up.
I can't describe the frustration of porting to an event, finding it's a lag-fest because the owner of the land decided it was necessary to plop the club next to a casino / mall / poseball den / particle spammer and I just want to pick up my things and scram out of there. On top of that, I can't even click the teleport button - it's more of a prolonged effort to open the map, click anywhere to get away, hold the mouse button down to secure the map icon in the lag, and then do the same slow-holding-down click on the "teleport" button to leave. Then to add insult to injury, the teleport takes ten times as long because for some reason the browser can't just drop it's current downloads and LEAVE.
I'm a seasoned SL resident. Now explain that situation to a new player. I have tried, in Live Help. It's not pretty. Users should not have to go through this grueling experience when all they expect is something that behaves somewhat like a web browser for the Internet.
IMs Need Priority over Lag, Too
Also the superseding of lag should also be given to IMs. If I'm in a laggy area, there's no reason a dedicated amount of bandwidth couldn't be reserved to chat with people. IM system has nothing to do with the sim servers, so why is it lagging with everything else?
It started as an April Fool's Day joke.
I don't think Bub Linden realized his joke would be soon coming to fruition not more than half a year later! (The book pictured was on the SL homepage on April 1, 2005.)
At Second Life Community Convention 2005, it was leaked that O'Reilly was interested in doing a resident-contributed book about SL. This was in addition to the discussion by SL Herald writer Mark Wallace discussing O'Reilly publishing his joint book with co-Heralder Pete Ludlow. (Which also was covered at SL Future Salon, by the way.) As a reader and fan of O'Reilly's software-oriented instructional books, I got excited that such a big, notable meatspace tech company was interested in SL.
Then a friend of mine, who reads Make at his office, e-mailed me that Make had been interested in SL. I got right on the case here.
Cyberlebrity in our midst
Last night at the latest SL Future Salon, Make magazine editor Phillip Torrone was the featured guest. Aside from presenting what Make does to attendees, he spoke about the upcoming SL Hacks book project. Wilder Linden announced that she was involved from the Linden side of things.
Also last night, that same friend also logged onto SL for the first time, and was able to attend.
So many things just came full circle.
Speaking of Making things ... I'm making a life of SL
That's right. Yesterday morning I gave 2 weeks' notice to my current employer. Starting January, I will be self-employed doing SL work full-time! It's an exciting jump for me, obviously. For those curious, the business plan consists of a lot of contracting, expanding my SL business, and doing long-term projects like my SL search engine in development.
I'd love to personally reminisce about this huge life-changing decision for me, but this is a blog I'd like to keep on focus for SL Technology. So to all the people out there who've encouraged and inspired me in my jump: Thanks. You folks should know who you are. :)
If you haven't yet, and you're reading this Sunday, check out the Scripting Trade Show in the vehicle sims south of the Welcome Area.
My contribution is in Georgean around 100, 150 or thereabouts. I have "A Brief Visual History of Vendor Software", as well as a PosAbility demo and my Colt .45s.
Update to the P2P issue:
I didn't have the chance to test this out because I'd have to tier up in Preview (which is silly) to check out the settings. But, according to Nathan Stewart:
"... if the land is set to blocked and you offer, they are sent to the next available parcel"
"offer teleport overides landing point and works as anywhere in other cases."
So how is this "blocking" anything?
1. If "offer teleprot" overides blocking and landing points, then what is the point?
2. If I block someone from porting to my land, I don't want them being sent next door automatically! They should be sent to telehub. Further, doing it this next-door way wastes Sim CPU time as it's trying to figure out what the nearest location is, rather than just either:
(A) Giving the person the option not to tp.
(B) Defaulting to telehubs.
Stay tuned for LL's answer.
An update to the last entry:
Linden Lab has made a big move toward providing solid landowner rights and privacy options in Second Life.
Preview release 1.8.0(3) is now available!
Be sure to visit http://secondlife.com/preview/ for the latest information and updates.
Second Life 1.8.0(3) Dec 7, 2005
- Offer teleports should ignore landing points.
- Removed "Show Telehub Coverage" on map.
- Parcel owners can now block teleports onto their land.
- Fixed various ripple water issues.
I applaud LL for having the foresight to implement this and to hearing the requests of its users.
Point to Point teleportation has recently been classified "under discussion" at the SL feature voting site. Affectionately truncated, "P2P" has been a big topic of discussion recently in the forums. It's a controversial topic, because it has the potential to shape the very way we navigate through our virtual world.
It's rapidly progressing to a feature, and the newest Preview Grid has re-enabled it, along with some better scripting tools for allowing / banning avatars. This is an immediate issue being explored, and now is the time to consider what should be done and have LL implement the best option.
First, let's explore why we have telehubs.
"New York Subway" Theory
Back in July, a dozen of us invaded Linden Lab and wound up at a local San Fran pub with a large portion of the LL staff. The topic of telehubs and P2P came up, and Philip Linden (CEO) explained his rationale why SL uses telehubs.
Philip said that the reason New York City was so great, from a social standpoint, is travel via the subway. The consequence is that you wind up near where you want to be, and have to walk the rest of the way. On the way you see a bunch of neat places and perhaps meet some new people. Businesses and communities evolve around the subway stops as a matter of unintended city planning.
Sure enough, land near telehubs in SL tends to be visited more, and go for more money when sold. But do they really provide community? How well do they really fill this idea of the New York City Subway? And lastly, does this hinder natural Internet / Metaverse travel?
Do telehubs promote community? No ... not really. They serve as commercial advertising centers. If LL really wants to promote community, it needs to add a whole bunch of metadata into the back-end data for parcels. But I'm not going to discuss that issue here.
Realizing telehubs don't fulfill the purpose they serve, it would seem obvious that they should be done away with. Well ... not really. I think there are some way of restoring the original intent.
Robin Linden's take on preserving telehubs indicates that they are something LL wants to promote in the process of implementing P2P. Here's another good discussion.
Balancing Needs in a Plan
My plan is something a bit unique - a hybrid method that incorporates telehubs with P2P.
We should be tailoring the system to be compatible with the current Internet. Do people have to travel a distance to get to standard Internet websites? No, people are accustomed to the behavior of going right to the site that they desire. However, supplementary to this, people also have the desire to"surf" - wander from place to place. Because of this, it seems that both direct P2P and telehubs together are the best solution in line with keeping with current-day Internet behavior.
Let's first examine the needs of SL for the system:
1. Linden Lab has expressed the desire to preserve telehubs while implementing P2P. These telehubs should aim to be community centers.
2. The solution must be scalable.
3. The solution needs to leave alone or improve upon privacy of landowners.
4. The solution should consider the evolution of SL to the Metaverse.
5. There should be some compensation somehow for people who invested in telehub land - presumably purchased at a higher price than other land.
The question now is how to achieve that balance and fulfill the needs as stated.
My proposal consists of 4 parts:
1. Keep telehubs.
2. Alter the way telehubs are listed. (Explained below).
3. Allow parcels to have a "teleport here" feature to landing point.
4. Alter "port to me" to land at the nearest landing point. - and not work if the land that the person is on does not have the direct port enabled.
with an recent revision:
3-R. Allow landowners to be able to choose between porting to anywhere in the land or just the landing point.
How this fills the needs:
Need 1: Preserving Telehubs
Clearly, this keeps both the telehubs and introduces P2P to land.
Need 2: Scalability.
Telehubs can not be managed by a central database. This is unscalable. As is, there are problems with associating telehubs with locality - namely - that certain areas on the map teleport to inconvenient telehubs. (Try clicking the grid near Avalon on the main grid, and you'll teleport to Avalon - unable to fly to your location.- as an example.)
What seems like a much more intelligent solution would be to have data in a simulator to indicate which telehub it uses. When a new sim is added, the telehub data would be filled with the sim with the nearest telehub. This would have to be on the spot checked and verified automatically in the system - so bad data is not entered.
As for P2P, the landing points indicate where a person can tp to (if they are allowed by the landowner) - so it is scalable.
Need 3: Privacy
Direct P2P anywhere treads on privacy. Period.
It is the wrong solution for Linden Lab. Even "port to me" is obtrusive - since one griefer can quickly become many. The alternative is to let the landowner choose whether or not to enable a new land option "port here" - and have it work like land access. (With inclusion list, all group members, etc as options.)
In this case, to port directly to that land, a resident would have to find the land first, in one of a few ways:
1. a "Port to me" invitation
2. finding the land listed in classified
3. Finding the land in "Find".
4. A direct web-browser compatible hyperlink to SL land.
5. A previously established landmark
No matter which method, the person is then tp'd to the landing point listed in the land. This would need to have a Z-location (height) added to allow people to tp in higher than ground level. The result is that people would only be able to go where the land owner wanted, or anywhere if the land owner desired.
This not only lets people toggle it off for more privacy, but also satisfies ...
Need 4: Compatibility with the current Internet
The Internet is set up to allow people to go instantly to some places, but prevent people from instantly going to others. For example, if I need to pay for something off Amazon.com, I need to enter my credit card information before I go to the confirmation page. My proposed method allows landowners to follow this model.
If a landowner wants a person to be able to go somewhere immediately, they can parcel off some of the land and put the landing point there with port enabled. If a land owner wants a person not to be able to go there, they can just toggle off the feature, or restrict it to groups. (This is essentially how estates in SL work anyway.)
Need 5: Compensation for any loss
Because telehubs are not eliminated, the need for compensation is reduced. This is far less of a headache for Linden Lab. In fact, removing the universal "port to me" option and making it to enabled land only puts the control where it belongs - to the landowner, and further increases telehub's value.
Yeah, there will be whiners
Removing "port to me"'s ability to port anywhere, and only allowing it to work on designated land is a controversial change. I think it is one that is essential.
Consider the following problems solved by implementing the new method:
1. A person invites uninvited friends that are instantly ported there.
2. A person ports their friend into the middle of a game where access is limited to progress - thereby cheating.
Since all land is potentially portable - and presumably most people will want to allow the porting to their land, this will not be a big issue. The worst a person may need to do is walk from the landing point to the point on the parcel that they want to go.
Update: Please check out this thread for discussion about "port to me".
Of a variety of solutions, this is the only one I've found so far that's met all of the stated needs. I challenge the SL community to come up with something better.