It's Pacman. It's Manhattan.
It's ... PACMANHATTAN!
Thanks, dpstyles of flickr. I'm going to fair use your photo for news purposes:
Totally, totally mixed reality
So, what does this have to do with Second Life, my faithful readers?
This is mixed reality events. For each ghost and for Pacman, there sits a person in a room with a laptop and cell phone. They
use GPS relay their position via cell phone, so the people in the main room can monitor and update the situation from the game interface that resembles your typical Pacman map. Only, this one is 24 square blocks large.
As we do mixed reality events in SL, it's not enough to simply make them bigger or with bigger names. We should aim to make our events more interactive between worlds. A big concept that came from the "RL in SL" panel at SLCC was that SL is not seperate from RL, but an extension. This works just like the Internet; yes, there are online games, but yes, there's also e-commerce, blogging, and weather.
Simultaneous Isn't Enough
It is not sufficient to simply have an event in the real world, time it with an event in a virtual world, and call it a mixed reality event. Sure, it's cool, but the real thing that's interesting is when two world-spaces affect each other. One-way interaction is standard. That's anything in a virtual world. It's when you get people interacting across the meatspace to bitspace gap that you actually do something special with real-time virtual worlds.
So, here's to you, Pacman.
P.S. Wikipedia is Dead
And, here's me thumbing my nose to Wikipedia. There used to be a wikipedia page on mixed reality events that I would have normally posted in an entry like this, but some admin named "KungFuAdam" deleted it. No warning or nothing. Seriously, how ridiculous is it to be censored by some unknown guy named "KungFuAdam" with no warning? Thanks, "KungFuAdam", your l33t censorship skills really show your martial arts prowess. Thanks also for deleting my appeal request on your talk page without contacting me. You're super. You're practically Neo. You're "The One".
Wikipedia is dead as a dynamic source of knowledge. Mark my words. Wikipedia's content is only as good as its links to other sites or the ferocity of people willing to babysit pages to make sure content remains unaltered. Between politicians trying to erase scandals from their pages, to China's censorship, to Wikipedia's own internal moderators, it has become so rigid and standardized that the spirit of "anyone can come and add to it" has been completely obliterated.
They Spoke Too Soon?
I still remember the Wired article where the creators talk about how people on the Internet were generally good-spirited, and that's why Wikipedia worked. You spoke too soon. Its only use now is a place to post links, which seem to be the things least moderated.
I've had multiple posts deleted, and for what reason? Is it so bad that I only want to spend half an hour creating a page with related info and links, and not the full two hours which Wikipedia seems to demand to comply with all of their standards and regulations?
It seems to me that the whole point of Wikipedia was to make it easy for users to add data to a common knowledge base. That's gone. To me, that means the soul of Wikipedia is dead.
It's Pacman. It's Manhattan.
So Much To Say
I have so much to blog about recently, with SLCC and all, but I don't want to overload, just realize I'll be getting to stuff in the next week or so. Big congrats to the SLCC organizers for the event at San Francisco! I had a wonderful time and I've been hearing that from a lot of people. I'll blog about that more in detail later. In the meantime, pictures at flickr.
During SLCC, Drew Stein announced that his company, Infinite Vision Media and my company, Out of Bounds Software are merging. What this means is that Out of Bounds will become a software development studio essentially as part of IVM, and I will become a stakeholder in IVM. I have worked with IVM on a few projects, most recently as a technical advisor for the Infinite Mind nationally syndicated radio show coming to SL that brought in a few big names. (I'll refrain from the name-dropping in this post.) I'll have to talk more on that subject in another blog entry.
To Infinity Squared ... and beyond Out of Bounds!
This news is fresh off IVM announcing a cooperation with Lichtenstein Creative Media to form Infinity Squared following the successful working together from the aforementioned Infinite Mind coming to SL. By the way, that will be broadcast on the actual Infinite Mind radio show in September. woot.
What this all means to you
This really means nothing to you. The people involved are all still doing all the creative stuff we have been doing. Although, I'm all too happy to pass the accounting and tax paperwork to another person to take care of, so I suppose that frees up some of my time to do even more creative stuff.
Mergers in the scope of the Metaverse Development Industry
Creative people get together to do even bigger creative things. It also empowers us to do a higher number of smaller creative things. It's not about simply getting larger, it's about exchange of ideas and complimenting talents and expertises where needed. We saw earlier this year Electric Sheep Company merge with both Future Prototype and Tiny Sheep Dog. We also have seen other Metaverse Development Companies (did I just coin the term MDC? ***) grow by taking on more employees. This is going to keep happening, and more popping up, and if the Internet is any model, we will see a large number of development studios and companies co-existing.
I'm really excited about the prospect of coexistance, and I strongly advocate the cooperation of MDCs to take on the challenges in the coming year. Specifically, I see them as:
1. Selling SL and the Metaverse to the world as a viable platform and medium.
2. Acquiring the features we need from Linden Lab to provide even better content and services for our clients, and in turn, the community of SL at large.
3. Training new developers and establishing resources so that we aren't faced with a shortage of capable people.
Individual Success Means Industry Success
Merging with IVM is not going to hinder those goals that I have been advocating. Instead, it's going to bolster them. Friendly competition is the task at hand, because every success of one MDC is more interest of clients to come use this Metaverse medium in general.
With that in mind I continue to encourage MDCs, both big and small, full-time and part-time to gather, share ideas and resources, and solve the challenges we face. That's why I co-founded www.sldevelopers.com and that's why I blog about the industry and SL the way I do.
Good luck to all!
*** I googled the term "Metaverse Development Company", and found that Lordfly Digeridoo had said it May 23 of this year. If you know any source that's earlier, please say so, else I will assume that he should get credit for coining the term.
This was taken verbatim from a thread in the SL forums. It is in response to a resident named OSourcerer Flytrap, who is considering making the leap to doing SL full time. He has well thought out ideas of the pros and cons for doing this, and I think this serves as an excellent case for people to look at the topic as a whole.
I've italicized OSourerer's text for differentiation.
I'm excited when I hear folks interested in making the leap. If I may, I'll comment so that perhaps something I say may aid your thought process on the matter.
Originally Posted by OSourcerer Flytrap
I am once again contemplating going fulltime into SL development. I have a thriving SL business that has consistently produced around $2,000 a month for over a year. I know that if I go at it fulltime I can easily double or triple that this coming year. But it is a risky venture and I’d like to hear from others. Here is my pros/cons list:
Okay, right away, if you're already making $2000 / month, you have a successful business. Most real world businesses fail, and it seems you're already beating those odds.
SL has unlimited potential right now.
I would be doing what I love to do.
SL membership is at an all time high and increasing so the market for products in increasing.
I have mastered SL and don’t have to fight the learning curve.
It is work at home.
It is a pioneering position allowing for me to break new ground.
It is dual hemisphere work - creative/logical.
LL has had a lot of positive press lately and seems serious about marketing.
My business is unique with fewer competitors than most (not clothing/jewelry/club/land).
These sound familiar.
LL/SL can go belly up at any time with zero warning.
Nothing that has over $20 million invested simply goes poof. Second Life makes press nearly ever day now. Even if a competitor comes along with another, better metaverse, the time it will take them to catch up and solve some of the problems that Linden Lab has had to heuristically tackle will allow you to learn and switch over to a new system.
That being said, you don't have to consider yourself a SL developer. Consider yourself a Metaverse developer. If you see opportunities to do stuff in There or Activeworlds, by all means do it! Right now, a lot of us use SL primarily simply because it is the best metaverse out there.
I have no way of knowing what LL’s financial position currently is.
Do you attend town halls? Do you read the Linden blogs?
I recommend doing some research into Linden Lab. There's a lot out there.
At anytime a new competitor can come out and leapfrog SL’s technology.
Code doesn't just appear "at any time". Consider the complexity of SL's system:
- streaming data
- massive multiplayer
- the most per-user-intense server farm, anywhere. (Philip, at last year's SLCC, quoted that if they had Google's server farm it'd only support 1.7 million SL users.)
- building tools
- streaming music and video
- uploading textures, animations, and sounds
- avatars and animations
- chat communications
- the economy
- permissions systems
- compatibility with multiple platforms and video cards
- land ownership and sales
- search features
Now add to that certain ideas that are not directly code-related that Linden Lab has tackled:
- An economy stable within 30% of target exchange rate for 2 1/2 years.
- A community of half a million people
- People with years of expertise in the technology who can churn out cool stuff
- Player-player dispute resolutions systems
- extensive feedback as to the needs of users.
A competitor may pop up any time, for sure. In fact, there are some. Google Earth may decide to let people create new landscapes and add avatars.
It will still take at least a year or two for any community to approach the complexity of a system that Linden Lab has, and in that time Linden Lab will have the chance to take more action.
The security of my IP within SL is definitely questionable.
The security of your pictures online is questionable. Period. So is 3-D data. No Metaverse, ever, will ever be able to protect these 100%.
What Linden Lab does do is aid in the legal recourse for going about in stopping IP violations.
LL’s customer service history leaves a lot to be desired and any problems I have may never be addressed.
You obviously have never been on any other MMO. Linden Lab's customer service, while it has problems, is leaps and bounds beyond other systems. You think you can get Microsoft to give you personal attention to the most trivial of your problems? No. But Linden Lab employees routinely are doing this, and with the help of talented and dedicated volunteer staff.
When I first entered SL, I had come from Everquest for almost 3 years. It took hours to have a service request answered in-world in Everquest, and the outcome was almost always unsatisfactory. There was no formal way to make suggestions to improve the game. There was no talking to staff directly. Period.
Linden Lab is the closest I've seen to the receptiveness of an open source community without the code actually being open source.
LL has a habit of producing very disruptive updates that require retooling and repackaging of products.
Curse those updates! We should go back to 1.1!
Seriously, any complex metaverse is going to have an elephant load of updates. Any contemporary MMOG, who lacks many, many of the elements of an MMOVW, still have regular weekly patches. It's stellar that Linden Lab has recently committed to a bi-weekly schedule.
The shifting rules of SL (taxes, public land, dwell, telehubs, etc...) makes business unpredictable.
Are you kidding? The examples you've given are either ancient (taxes and public land) or were talked out to death with the community for months, even years!
No one knows "the rules" of the Metaverse. We're making them up. Any system that tries to be a metaverse is going to have these pains.
I have no convenient reliable means of backing up products.
Very important con, agreed 100%. Linden Lab has said they want to do this, it's a matter of time, etc. We can only try and press them to hire more staff and get things done sooner.
Griefers and scammers are on the upswing. I hate dealing with them.
Welcome to the Internet.
Knockoff artists have historically duped most of my best items and taken credit for the original idea.
Take pictures, file an abuse report, send the person a cease and desist letter, and download the DMCA report claim and file it. Document, document, document.
Anything I make in SL has zero transferability into other systems.
Not so true. You can use a GLinterncept program like OGLE to rip out the geometry and textures and then put them into Maya / 3DSMax, which is pretty much exportable to everything else. The problem isn't getting stuff out of SL, it's getting stuff in.
The blatant copyright infringements that go on daily in SL must catch up to LL one day. How will that impact LL and therefore my SL business?
Again, if you wish to act as a business, you will have to deal with what businesses do on a regular basis. Be prepared to fight for your IP and get aggressive. It's not a unique problem to Second Life.
The sex culture within SL really gives me the heebeegeebees.
Again, welcome to the Internet. Sexual urges are a common and natural thing experienced by all human beings. People express it freely in SL, and I've been told (by a Linden Labber, no less) that pornography is actually responsible for a great deal of the advancements of tricks on the world wide web.
Still, you're right that an unwanted presence in your storefronts can be disruptive to business and unprofessional.
I think, though, it would be nice to have a landowner be able to toggle avatars off, for this reason, and lag. Linden Lab I've heard is actually looking into doing it for the latter purpose - so we can cram more than 80 people into a sim for an event. Look for this as a good fix for your stores.
Owning a sole proprietorship in SL means I have to do product support, updates and promotional events.
Hire a part-time staff. There are a lot of SLrs willing to earn L$ to do stuff part time. I was just speaking to a colleague yesterday who said sales have doubled in her SL store since taking in a staff member to help run the store.
Being self employed means I need to earn about 30% more to cover equivalent benefits and insurance.
Minus gas for commuting, a reduction in car insurance, and the money you probably normally spend on feeding the soda machines and going out to lunch at work. Buy sandwich stuffs and prepare food for yourself more and you'll save a lot of money.
How can I cash out more than $2,000 a month? If this works out I will need to convert 5x that much.
I recommend adding value to your products with scripted elements, or branch into new fields. (Which also reduces the risk of your particular industry in SL.)
I would be taking a 50% pay cut for the first year and there is no way of knowing if I will ever make it back to my current salary or possibly surpass it.
It's very good to be aware of this risk.
SL is not good future resume fodder.
You think the website designers who started in 1993 feel that way?
How confident am I in LL? Are they truthful with their statistics? How much is hype and how much is real?
Those are excellent questions.
Some of the statistics are hype, but I like to look at the big four as accurate indicators of the health of SL:
1. Amount of land owned. This indicates sunk investment of users into the platform.
2. Average simultaneous online. This indicates average usage.
3. L$ sold for US$. Not L$ traded - that's essentially meaningless. But people paying for L$ is e-commerce, plain and simple.
4. Users logged in in the last 30 days. Let's face it, most Internet users don't surf all day, they use it in periodic bursts. Some people log on, check their email, read the news, and that's it. Some people only go online to shop. If we look at the behaviors of how people use the regular Internet, it will show us what to look for in usage statistics of SL.
I see my cons list is longer than my pros list. That is a bad sign.
Not really. You haven't weighted anything. If you really want to measure this, associate a number 1-5 for each, and then sum up the numbers.
But honestly, I think people need to follow their passions or they will be miserable in life. Even if people fail at their passions, they wind up being happier people. And happiness trumps money or success.
On the upside my significant other’s income easily covers both of us as well as insurance. We aren't supporting children ...
Oh, man. If you're in this position, to me, there's no question that you have the perfect opportunity! Many people have a family and can't do the jump because of that.
I definitely, hearing this, feel that you're in the prime position and I would say go for it!
but do need to consider retirement (early 40s).
And the rest of your life what? Sit in a rocking chair? 40s? Wow.
Seriously, if you do something you love, you will want to do it the rest of your life, even if it means on a limited basis or a different level.
As for money for a nest-egg, that's just going back to how well you think you'd do full-time in SL.
I don’t know. I have been riding this fence for a long time now. I’d like to hear from others that have already made the transition.
Some other suggestions for you:
1. Above all else, you need to close your eyes and visualize yourself doing it. Picture yourself working from home, or whatever your longer-term goal with working with SL is. Imagine the benefits, and seriously visualize them in your head. This is absolutely a secret to anyone's success, SL or not.
2. Research business owning with your state's rules. You'll feel much more comfortable knowing the procedure you'll be doing. This means registering a business name, possibly getting a tax ID, etc.
3. Look into the tax benefits of owning your business. Two words, my friend: "Tax shelter".
4. Aimee Weber did a great article for New World Notes:
Best of luck with your decision, and I hope, personally, that you do decide to make the jump.
Metaverse Roadmap Event
The other night I cruised to EyeBeam for a Metaverse Roadmap meeting. Jerry Paffendorf, futurist and eSheeper, hosted the event and just finished blogging his take on it. The idea is to figure out just what the Metaverse will look like in the next ten years or so, and beyond.
I suppose the most difficult thing about this is that no one seems to agree on one definition of "Metaverse". Does this mean a shared virtual space? Avatars? Open standards? Do online video games count as part of the Metaverse? So different speakers talked about different aspects, and Jerry brought a bunch of quality speakers.
Tony Parisi somewhat stole the show. "The Metaverse is here!" Of course, he's partly pitching his products that utilize the x3d standard, but he's also been in the Metaverse business for about a decade or so. He noted that the Metaverse was just like the Internet - multiple silos of content with interactive standards. Really, in essence, we're creating neat tools and examining what works and what doesn't. We're heuristically defining the Metaverse.
My Attempt at a Definition
Jerry ran a definition past me basically saying it's "Internet with dimentionality". I argue that the Internet already has dimentionality - two of them. I have usually explained it as "Basically a 3-D Internet", though it's clear there are plenty of things for which HTML is well suited. So, as best as I can figure, the Metaverse is "a manifestation of the Internet into a shared space not limited by 2-Dimensions".
You try and do better. *grin*
It's a small (virtual) world, after all
What always strikes me as odd and intriguing as I attend these real world events is meeting people whom I've previously only known online. Thursday night proved three such examples, including Tony, Rik, and Frank. Frank's meeting was especially funny because I roped a friend of mine to come, and he has only been in Second Life a few months. Frank turned to him and greeted him first, recognising him from swing dance classes. My friend turns to me, "Ron, this is Frank. Frank, what is it you do again?" Then Frank, "Video and Machinima". Then things clicked.
I had spoken to Frank just the day before. It's freaky how small this world is sometimes, especially in the Metaverse community.
What I'm happy about is that the community is so open and accepting. It's ripe with people eager for more minds to come and aid with the task set before us. The people I meet are eager for people to collaborate with, which I suppose is expected from a medium whose very nature.
Lichtenstein Creative Media and Infinite Vision Media are hot off their success with bringing in National Public Radio's show, "The Infinite Mind" into SL. So hot, in fact, that they've announced a collaborative venture called "Infiniti Squared". How cute. :) History is made, again, and this time the celebrities didn't just perform on stage or screen, but they interacted with the audience. They were unafraid to exist in a virtual world, not just show their face. Pictures. Video and Audio clips.
Can SL be the new voice of democracy in the world? Well, not if even the most gigantic companies like Google and Microsoft continue bowing to the will of censorship from foreign countries. Projects like bringing The Infinite Mind into SL do provide more outlets for communication and exchange of ideas to take place. I believe that SL, as the Metaverse, is quickly becoming the center of this century's new Renaissance. Is The Infinite Mind an example of Radio Free
Radio Free China
Speaking of Radio Free places, how about China. How 'bout it? Google thinks that letting China censor the Internet is cool under their "Do no evil" motto. Whatever. I just found out that blogger.com is part of what is censored. If someone has an easy way I can grab my blog's contents and host them on my business website, please say so.
It's not racist to point out that a government that censors the Internet is an oppressive one. I am fond of Chinese people and their culture, but what I am not fond of is the Chinese Government. Being that I have customers and clients from potentially all over the world, this one one topic that I've been wrestling with. For example, a certain land developer employes dozens of Chinese citizens, for what I'm sure is at rates far below Western standards.
Greed as the Spreader of Democracy?
Is that bad? Well, personally, I'd never outsource my work just to get super-cut rates. At the same time, my feeling is that the only non-war way we can improve human rights in places like China is through good old subversive capitalism. Yup, the same desire for consumer goods that we look down on as greedy also fuels the desire for things like "fair wages", "health insurance", "labor laws", "pensions", and "unrestricted Internet access". The same sort of economic need thing happened in Japan, and is happening in South Korea, though they had the luxury of starting out with a Democracy.
I suppose it won't be too long until China's government tries to ban Second Life. Their day will come, and it probably won't be in the form of a violent uprising, and more of a demanding for more stuff.