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  Will Open Source ‘Second Life’ Servers Acknowledge Your Investment?  
Posted 2007-01-28 by Tony Walsh
2005 Avatar of the Year Prokofy Neva raised some good points yesterday in a long blog post I'll distill down to this: If Linden Lab moves away from renting proprietary servers and instead turns towards an open-source server model, what will happen to the holdings of users who have invested in virtual real estate?

Considering Second Life's client has gone open source earlier than expected, that Linden Lab has been mulling over doing the same for the server software, and that any true "metaverse" can't be under the thumb of a single company, it's worth considering how the transition between today's semi-open Second Life may transform into tomorrow's roll-your-own universe. Neva wonders what will happen to users who have already paid set up fees in the thousands of dollars to Linden Lab--if the company gets out of the hosting business, users may have to switch service-providers (or host their own worlds) at a substantial cost.

Part of the value of business investment in Second Life relates to the ease of travel between properties. A host-your-own metaverse doesn't necessarily care to be interoperable. Even if today's property owners were able to transition inexpensively to a number of metaversal hosting services in the future, I'm guessing that some owners will become the gatekeepers of their own walled gardens, refusing to "play nice" with the rest of Second Life. Competing gardens could be blocked from each other completely, creating contintent-sized black holes in the metaversal map. This could be a large problem for small property owners and entrepreneurs who depend on a completely open metaverse to reach a large customer base. Businesses could be completely killed by excision from the access lists of metaverse hosts. If the World Wide Web had been rolled out this way, it might have died young.
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Comment posted by TrevorFSmith
January 28, 2007 @ 2:45 pm
Consider what happens once a good metaverse platform goes so open that it's just another bullet point on the cheap web hosting companies' offerings. When we can all buy a $5/mo dreamhost account and make a sim as easily as a PHP forum, real estate becomes another commodity. When this happens the value to be created in the metaverse will move into services, regardless of how many business plans that foils.

Then we'll need something like to smooth movement among sims, which comes with the same warts as moving among 2D web sites.
Comment posted by Eric Rice
January 29, 2007 @ 6:47 am
Does this analogy work.

Would the difference between running your own SL Server or being on the SL Grid be akin to having your own website ( or having it part of a this-is-the-way-it-is network (myspace/ ?

I'd like a personal, professional or enterprise license for SL Server, one that gives me say, 100 avatars/5 sims (personal); 100 avatars/unlimited sims (pro), or unlimited / unlimited (enterprise). (Maybe the freebie is the Personal Server?

Or maybe you wanna hang with the rest of the crowd on SL Grid where it's point-and-click connected.

If we host it ourselves, we have to add the links ourselves. Making the same judgements we do on the web. :)
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
January 29, 2007 @ 7:39 am
Of course prices will decrease. This isn't *real* real estate, this is virtual real estate. No one OWNS land in SecondLife - it is leased and there is an initial cost based upon the spender's value of the 'land'.

Internet access costs decrease every year. Hardware costs decrease every year. Shouldn't the price of the *use* of virtual land decrease as well? Aside from the economic bubbles that users have created (which would include Prokofy Neva), the virtual land's value is not increased. The cost is decreased. To the average person, this is a good thing. For the real estate venturers, this is not a good thing.

Capitalism on one hand dictates that Linden Lab has to maintain a competitive edge once the server side is open sourced. That is good. On the other hand - Prokofy Neva's hand - the 'investment' in a virtual commodity may well go South, but since the market is in a growth period... one should expect that, or should have. Web hosting prices decreased. Virtual land is effectively web hosting. It isn't something you really own - if it were, you could download it and play with it on your hard drive. It just isn't *yours*

That people can run their own servers in the future is good in that the pricing remains competitive - that is good for the consumer. And considering how much would have to be spent to compare to Linden Lab's investment, barring Amazon and Google, its hard to think of anyone who could compete and cause land prices to drop substantially.

If you're speculating in any business, risk is part of it. The risk may have increased in virtual land hosting within SecondLife, but... if you're creating economic bubbles, you have to understand that at some time they will pop. ;-)
Comment posted by Ian Betteridge
January 29, 2007 @ 9:32 am
The way that commercial land owners differentiate themselves will be with content: themed zones with developed, specialised communities and land that's been expertly sculpted into tropical paradises, winter snow parks, and Gorean slave pits (or whatever). A sim is a blank canvas, and a lot of people will prefer not to have to do the landscaping and maintenance themselves.

Look at Anshe Chung or Azure Islands, for example - both have put a lot of work into making land that is fun to hang around in, rather than just a domatory.
Comment posted by TrevorFSmith
January 29, 2007 @ 10:46 am
In addition to open sim platforms, we must consider the corresponding open data formats. What happens when sim templates become as easy to create and pass around as blog templates? How far up-market does that push the virtual real estate companies?

I'm always startled by how many actively written blogs pick an included template, tweak the colors, and then never touch it again.
Comment posted by AndrewLinden
January 29, 2007 @ 5:35 pm
I think the metaverse will be big enough to support a variety of walled gardens of different sizes and entire continents with different feature sets. If SL were to move into an era of open-source server tech then I would NOT expect the existing world to fracture into smaller sub-states. Instead, the world would expand such that there was a very large open, public, and fee space and the original LL run SL would become just another walled garden, most likely dwarfed by the public space and by the collection of all other gardens.

What would it all mean for those who invest in virtual real estate? Don't expect things to not change.
Comment posted by Giff-Forseti
January 29, 2007 @ 7:13 pm
It doesn't take open sourcing for land prices to change -- Linden Lab has at times added huge amounts of servers (land) pushing prices down. I've definitely had to sell land at a loss in SL (because I wanted to move it quickly) and I've seen prices go up and down numerous times over the last 2+ years.

It's definitely worth pointing out again that no land is being "bought" -- it is all leased from Linden Lab. Scarcity in virtual land is entirely a factor of Linden Lab's ability to add more servers, or their desire to keep land prices at a certain level (and it's an interesting debate when people speculate about reasons for the latter).

There hasn't been a major change in Second Life that hasn't hurt some group of entrepreneurs.

I'm not too worried about the walled garden problem, although I do think we will see multiple virtual worlds/metaverses competing, and the bridges between them might be painful for a while.

I think with the open source client there are already folks who have hacked up their own version of a simulator server back end. Of course, it's not connected to anything else, it is just a walled garden. I think that model will work in some cases -- you can see an example of a effective walled garden today with Virtual Laguna Beach -- but I think most people want ease of movement from virtual space to virtual space. Someone who tries a walled garden without the right content or reach will simply find themselves isolated and marginalized.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 29, 2007 @ 10:20 pm
Thanks for covering my essay, Tony.

Re: Nobody. I don't get why partaking normally in LL's business plan and paying *server-like* purchasing prices and maintenance fee (*not hosting-like fees") is "making a bubble". Nobody loves to fulminate about people he sees as evil capitalist money bags exploiting Teh Ppl, but seriously, we pay for Linden Lab's research and development and have a huge stake in the creation of their software. We count. We make up 70 percent of their bottom line. We pay $10 million minimum in land fees a year, like a real venture capitalist. So we want equity, participation, and a fair transition. That's just good business for LL, and it's just a good, sound foundation for the Metaverse.

If servers decrease in value in RL, how come LL has consistently RAISED prices on its "land" servers? Island prices went up hugely in November; mainland prices on the auction, which LL was only to happy to rake in from bids, went up even more dramatically. What, Lenin gets to sell the rope to the capitalists to hang them? Hell, no.

There's no reason on earth why this company can't find a reasonable and equitable compensation for the thousands of people who kept them in payroll and rent money for years. We are partners, even if junior. That means shares in the company, or discounted link-up fees, or some kind of transition to Spinoff Lindens' Hosting Franchulate or whatever but it means taking care of their best customers and not dumping them on the metaversal highway as roadkill.

Business involves risk; virtual business involves more risks. But risks don't involve execution at dawn in the stadium, or hanging the expropriators from the lamp-posts and expropriating from them. Please. That was the last century's utopian nightmare. Can't we do better than that?

I'm not so sure that the roll-your-own will work so smoothly that it will be widely available and workable as a concept even for the most skilled and talented and wealthy. Nobody's hatred of landowners in SL now, and his contempt for their hard work and development, will have to be transferred to a new class of landowner/independent hosters who will simply be programmers like Nobody, but will be just as cutthroat as the old quit-renters of Philip's original crowd-serfing project. Let's see how much he likes them.

Ian is trying to make the case of the content-fascists of SL who sneer at anything that isn't 'quality compelling content'. This is a highly subjective, relative concept, however. Part of the compelling attraction of SL for many people is that they can come on, rent or buy a plot, and do their own amateur content on it. A sculpted, covenanted parcel with hackened RL mimicry isn't for everybody. People have enjoyed making everything from spaceships to treehouses to underwater mermaid caverns in an amateur way that might not pass somebody's Compelling Content Committee but gives them personally endless joy, as they exchange with their friends. How will they carry over, and who will care about their stuff?

Already we see how the horrors of walled gardening work in SL--mass-banning from continents in a really chilling prelude to the prospect of a Metaverse just like Snowcrash and the Black Sun, with only privileged, feted, skilled and connected "anarchocapitalists" at the top of the heap, and the rest of us logging in from public terminals as Barbie and Ken.

It's interesting that Andrew has given a notion supporting Jack Linden's famous quote, "There will always be a Mainland". God save the King, eh? It's comforting to think the Lindens might keep the stump of their world after all the giddy tekkies do one of those "United We Stand/Divided We Run Free At Last" capers. But I wouldn't bet on it. I want them to think hard about how they are doing it and not stiff us.

Honestly, can we expect that by then, LL itself won't be radically changed and won't want to get rid of the laggy, blingy, seam-gapped mainland and the whiney private sims? They may wish to outsource or sell the whole thing so they can go back to being a Lab. Khamon Fate has speculated on my blog that the Lindens might enjoy the idea of continuing to add new features and use the old mainland faithfuls as eternal beta-testers. That would give both of them a reason to continue the sometimes uneasy and contentious relationship with Governor Linden and her big estate.

Land *is* being bought. It says "own land" and "buy land" on the advertising on the website and on the auction.

I find it humorous that the people who speak most about the Darwinist exigency of having to absorb the cost of risks are those who have not ever had to do it for one minute in Second Life. Giff gets his income from outworld consulting business, and it doesn't matter if he once sold his telehub land for a bit of a loss. His cottages still sell *cough*. Second Life has been kind to him and others now making a killing in part because it is not a fair place in which there are rules, in which those who make them up always explain what they are doing, or why.

People are completely underestimating the tremendous desire for walled gardens. SL is filled with parcels with vicious security orbs, red ban lines, guard dogs, security agents bearing weapons, and hatred of outsiders. Mass-bans are increasingly the norm. There will be joy in the land when people can make more private enclaves to pursue their sexual fantasies even to the most extreme deviance without prying eyes of the public, press, and random newbies. There will be a huge demand for protected walled gardens that can keep out CopyBot or LandBot or CampBot. Security is the greatest thing people seek in SL. And they will pay anything for it.

The Balkanized metaverse created as a result is likely to have a fearful effect on real life.
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
January 29, 2007 @ 10:51 pm
OK, so out of that really long response... there is no response to the fact that if you stop paying tier, you lose your land.

What Prok does own is Prok's opinion. That's about it. :-)
Comment posted by Eric Rice
January 29, 2007 @ 11:51 pm
You know, there's nothing WRONG with a walled garden in this context, which I think is the incorrect term here. Are the individual sites on the web, walled gardens? If so, should we only live in the myspace grid?

I want to run cyberpunk, combat-ish sims, lots of 'em, and hook up with OTHER cyberpunk sims. I have NO interest in being neighbors with a casino, strip club, mall, or suburban rental and I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

I want to do it myself, and link up with who I want to link up with.

And maybe start a webring. Heh.

I wouldn't expect the Food Network sim to want to link up. I would expect sci-fi authors and publishers to want to link up. Cuz we share the same vibe or style.

Regardless whether or not we agree with them, maybe then the people of who are always persecuted can do their thing in peace--after all, gardens DO have walls to keep people from tromping their narrow little asses through it.

And God Bless Us Everyone for our ability to do that. Our way.
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
January 30, 2007 @ 12:25 am
Hallelujah, Eric. It's time for virtual worlds to mature a bit more - because we have. :-)
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 30, 2007 @ 12:38 am
Spin, why can't you do that on a private sim or continent? Then that way, new people come into some sort of welcome area, they can then hear about your sim and you can refresh your public. Or did you expect it would always be just landing people from your trust network directly into your sim? And wouldn't people who combat by day like to rent a suburban home by night or something? I wonder if people will stay this compartmentalized. Everybody thought Abkhazia was going to be so interesting...
Comment posted by Eric Rice
January 30, 2007 @ 1:18 am
I would be doing it on a private sim, MY sim. Or, in the case of SL Server Pro edition: MY continent.

Mainland controls are already inferior to Estate controls. I might put up a place in SL Grid, like I have a MySpace page, but it directs people to my world.

And yes, people in my trust network (or simply, people into the same stuff that I'm into, tell other people of similar interests)

And the rentals I've been interested in providing aren't suburban homes, but shipping containers and bunkers and lean-tos. If we wanted to go back to a suburban life, I suppose we'd log off for the day. Not all of us are swanky hipster city dwellers ;-)

But above all, I don't want my stuff on LL servers, I want them on my own. I'm not happy with the tech and I believe that other bandwidth/server providers can do a better job. But it has to be shaken loose, and I'm willing to lose a little investment to do it.
Comment posted by Ian Betteridge
January 30, 2007 @ 6:24 am
Prokofy writes:

"If servers decrease in value in RL, how come LL has consistently RAISED prices on its "land" servers?"

Because bandwidth usage doesn't go down. 29,000 concurrent users = a massive bandwidth bill, which LL's business model currently pushes directly on to land owners and premium account holders. The amount of bandwidth required to make SL work has at least doubled in the past six months, probably a lot more. LL has chosen to pass this increase largely on to sim owners.

"Ian is trying to make the case of the content-fascists of SL who sneer at anything that isn't 'quality compelling content'."

Once again, Prokofy, you put words into my mouth. The market for people who want a well-designed experience is large, but it's not the only market. Some want small rentals, like the ones you provide (and provide well and fairly). And some - like Eric - will want to roll their own sim, creating things from the ground up. Some will choose to do that by buying an off-the-shelf sim hosting package from LL or someone else. Some will want it themselves, hosting their own server. This exactly mirrors the web server hosting world, where you can buy anything from a $5 a month blog-only package from TypePad all the way up to co-location and beyond. It's freedom of choice, something that I happen to believe in.

Now, as to the question of linkage. It's pretty clear from things like Philip Rosedale's talk to the Long Now foundation that LL's intention is to be the backbone that connects sims running anywhere in the world together, allowing AVs to move between sims and retain consistency. This means LL has to retain some aspects of the system under its own proprietary wings: money, for example. If you keep money under control, then the login system has to be kept under wraps too. LL will charge a fee for these services, either on a per-user basis (user fees) or on a per sim basis (similar to tier).

Someone will no doubt create alternate money and login systems, so you can create sims with no connection at all to LL's grid and pay them nothing. But most people will prefer not to do that, just as most people prefer to connect to Blizzard's WoW servers rather than the various hacked independent ones. At the end of the day, walled gardens have little attraction to the majority of users - just ask AOL.
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
January 30, 2007 @ 8:14 am
You know, on a sidenote: With the amount of land increases seen in SecondLife within the last 12 months alone - has there been a proportional increase in sandboxes? If there hasn't been, that supports Ian's point related to bandwidth; if there are less open areas in which basic, nonpaying accounts can create things it demonstrates a mild cultural change in the direction of not adding things which do not pay for themselves.

And that makes perfect sense to me.

What I find most disturbing in all of these discussions are not that people disagree - that is par for the course. What disturbs me is that whatever happens, the same whipping boys are brought out - Open Source and Linden Lab.

The premise appears to be that 'open source is evil because open source is evil because open source is evil' (very analytical) and 'everything is Linden Lab's fault'. If that is the case, people should stop using Google (whenever they do they use Linux) and should probably stop supporting something which is 'becoming evil'.

(Apologies to Google for punning around with "don't be evil")

Here is the juicy question: What are the individuals who use SecondLife responsible for? The less responsibility one has, the less freedom one should expect. At the end of the day, this discussion is about records in databases, pixels, and the valuation of records in databases and pixels. If you want to make Linden Lab responsible for everything - you have to accept their choices. And if they choose Open Source so that they aren't completely responsible for some things - such as land hosting - you have to abide that.

I could easily see Prok starting a server and renting land off of it. Sure, she may need some technical assistance to get it off the ground - yet she has made so many friends of technical people by using derogatory terms and blaming things on technical people and even companies without facts. Yet Prok could probably muster some support, get a server up, and rent... but the problem isn't the technical side. The problem will be maintaining cost as low or lower than that of Linden Lab. And suddenly the 'sins of Linden Lab' may not be so bad for Prok when Prok can shop around and choose between virtual land hosting providers. As a person who rents virtual land to sublet - with a no-brainer analog to internet hosting resellers - Open Sourcing actually works to Prok's benefit.

What open sourcing doesn't allow is draconian control of virtual land hosting pricing within the metaverse. Competition increases when a market matures. Anshe Chung could easily cash out some money, toss a server farm together in China and *really* own assets in the metaverse.

The problem, of course, is that people don't want to do their own hosting because it is complicated and can be expensive... and yet... open sourcing the server end will give such people more choices.

So open source is bad because choices are bad? That appears to be what Prok is saying, with the premise that choices are bad because technical people control choices... yet technical people do not control choices. Business intelligence does that. Technical people as a group do better when people have more choices. So do non-technical people because they are given more options.

This is bad... how? Ask Prok. It will come down to calling me a fascist or socialist or whatever 'ist' suits the mood. Why? Because I'm a technical person who advocates choices instead of vendor lock-in. If that makes me evil, don't step on my tail.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 30, 2007 @ 8:57 am
When I ask why the cost of technology hasn't gone done in SL where it does elsewhere, I am merely reiterating the point of view of a thousand tekkies. I don't have a problem with an expanding, more complex 3-D virtual world raising its costs.

The question is how those costs should be covered. Many fanboyz gripe about the free accounts and their draw on server space and energy. There's no question that the new, free accounts coming in droves create a slower SL and even log-on queues like popular games do. That doesn't bother me; I'm all for new, free accounts.

However, if the CPU usage is at issue, I want the Lindens to charge for its usage. I want them to create a metered system, so that the Clubs and Casinos and Porn Palaces that have camp-chairs on 2560 m2 taking up the spaces for the entire sim, so that all the other land owners on that sim can't even come home, are paying for that privileged of running a veto on our FPS and our use of land. Anshe Chung has responded rationally to this mounting problem. She doesn't ban camp chairs, but she tells store and casino owners in her zoned, commercial areas that they can only have one camper per 1024 m2; this is her new rule this week. Makes sense.

If Lindens can measure CPU, they can bill for it, like they bill for tier. Just as they had to come around to billing for land and limit prims per square meter, so they will have to bite the bullet on CPU, and stop passing the cost on to thousands of landowners forced to sit idly by while club-thieves steal all the CPU. They'll also likely have to face an inventory cap or cost for holding inventory over X number of pieces, as well. It's one of the biggest fallacies of virtual worlds that they have no scarcity, and that no economy of scarcity or scale matters. In fact, FPS, CPU, etc. *are* the scarcities.

As for sandboxes, I personally maintain 3 of them and have for nearly 2 years. However, I was forced to take them out of SEARCH finally so that they would stop being abused and remain available for actual law-abiding newbies and actual tenants to use to practice building. I found that incredibly selfish f-tards were constantly rezzing giant dicks and putting out 3,000 prim gunships forcing even the existing builds on that sim to return to inventory or putting a veto on anybody's use of the prims. The more and more free accounts come in from all over, the harder it gets to expect understanding and comformity to any kind of civilized norms of behaviour. So in the end, you stop the service; it's too hard to keep policing.

I don't see why Lindens are any different; they have subsidized people's games for years, and they have had to remove the struts one by one. They maintain large public sandboxes, but it eats up their staff time in abuse management.

I figure at some point, the Lindens will grow up, and stop this boys-with-toys fascination with shooting and armour. They don't allow shooting and fighting in sandboxes and many parcels, yet they put at least two scenes of armoured avs and battle on their website, and people arrive expecting WoW. So when they're ready to stop savaging their existing customer base that is consisted mainly NOT of 14-year-old boys who want to shoot, and their immatire 38-year-old equivalents, and are ready to have civilization, they'll take that stuff off the front page, and figure out how to steer it better. The Lindens even put out more free combat sims and features on them like blue and red teams; this didn't lead to less shooting incidents on the police blotter (I discovered this myself when I use to run a combat sim and try to steer shooters to it; the whole fun of shooting is to shoot shoppers and mall managers, not sit in a ghetto of a combat sim).

I don't understand why the Lindens owe the world a free sandbox. They've had one for 6 years, and are not yet profitable. Who is supposed to pay for their programmers?

Yes, we can turn to LL and open-source and remain very critical of their choices. If LL's fiduciary responsibilty is to their venture capitalists and their social responsibility is to their customers, there are some who say they should have moved to zoning even of mainland sims (by at least selling them with a nominal label like "commercial" or "club" off the auction to try to steer their usage) or an end to unverified accounts, in order to quell the mounting problems of abuse, loss of performance, and anger of the core customer base, some of whom peeled off. I actually wasn't among those voices, because I could see that having the Sheer Numbers was apparently some part of the gaming world and software world's formula for obtaining an IPO or whatever, so I couldn't really oppose it. I'm just reflecting that point of view here.

Yes, we all know that open-source is as wholesome as clean, nuclear power and represents the hope of civilization *cough*. Open-source is the backbone of the Internet. I'm browsing this page on Mozilla. Blah blah blah. But the *culture* of open-source has been vicious, hothouse, privileged, and arrogantly irresponsible in SL. It involvse people long before libsecondlife was made, openly creating exploits to do things like corner the land market or grief people. Since the onset of libsl, all we've seen from them are CopyBot, CampBot,and LandBot, and their claims to sanctify that menacing and harassment by "bug-finding" sound hollow when they mainly seem to involve enriching a few people's pockets while both Lindens and others look the other way and claim no group responsibilty.

I've written at length about the evils of open-source that illustrate that it isn't a tautology, but it is about a culture of recklnessness, low ethics, lack of concern for the interests of others, and rampant Bolshevik "end justifies the means" sort of tactics and a constant demand for entitlement and freebies. Thee are costs to open source that the open sourcerers don't wish to admit. Even within its ranks, even by programmers, OS has valid criticisms, so it is not merely the non-tekkie who raises these rightful objections to allow tiny corps of reverse engineers destroy the whole world in order to save it.

As for starting my own server, one of the evils of the open-source/clubby/feted programming culture and world is that somebody like Nobody can imagine that no one can ever criticize tekkies; that if you have crossed some witless, narrow-minded tekkie ass on a forums, that this thug is now entitled to deny you access to the Metaverse or deny you the hosting privileges that he ostensibly offers the public, on arbitrary, specious grounds. This is what exposes the fallacy of their position more than anything. These folks like Nobody actually believe, smugly, snidely, and arrogantly, that they will come to power with their programming skills and get to behave like dicks to everyone. That if anyone ever crossed them, criticized their arrogance, questioned their feting, challenged their rule over forums, that they will get to retaliate and demolish those people. It's not the basis for a civil society; it's the basis for totalitarianism. That's why I bother, and have bothered for two years, I find it the most appalling culture and set of "norms" I've ever encountered in my life, given the scope it will have to spread very wide and affect large numbers of people.

I've cited the facts, as have others: CampBot, CopyBot, LandBot. Each program disrupted and harmed others. Each lined the pockets of their users. Each involved other group members and Lindens sitting on their hands and claiming they can't get into an arms race.

These people can sure get into an arms race with those who use words on their forums to challenge their lack of ethics -- they ban, filter, strain, steer, and shut down. THAT arms race is ok, eh?

None of us know yet whether the Lindens will remain in the hosting business. Andrew Linden made it seem like they might, but knowing what he himself has said in the past about the need to throttle memberships; and knowing the elitist Lindens' predilection for helping their own, I can't imagine they will go on supporting blingtards or even the lesser forms of their OS pals. They will have orientation, educational, development grids straining out all the gnats they need to strain along the way, and ask Anshe or Adam or whomever to take care of the rest, possibly at bulk, reduced rates unavailable to others of smaller size. That's how they've always done it; that's how they are likely to do it.

What Nobody is forgetting with his fulminization is that I'm not the one advocating open-source of the server code, the creation of hosting competition, and the host-your-own option. That's THEIR idea. I think it isn't ready for that because it has not yet tamed the monster it has created. Even Mitch Kapor indicated that aside from the problem of scaling technically, what gives them pause right now is *governance*. This is a huge challenge, and it's not only about trying to make the nation of surly sex-keepers get along, it's about the challenge of trying to run a gambling and sex palace that regulators and MPs and governments are going to want to challenge seriously at some point.

For me, as bad as it is, the Lindens, with their Big Six, their TOS, and their relatively even-handed supplying of services, is a far better hosting alternative than arrogant tekkie forums f-wads who will arbitrarily dispense services. The Lindens helped create this class, of course, and bear responsibility for it; but they are so far better than its worst elements.

The concept that business intelligences are at play yet in a world utterly controlled by tekkies without surveillance or civilian control is preposterous. But that day is coming. It's already refreshing to see economic analysis being applied to the hothouse of SL that challenges the smug burghers of SL.

Everyone forgets that as big as it will become, SL is still a small pond. Only the big fish in it run things. Franchising a dozen big fish and letting them run the Metaverse isn't about choices; it is about institutionalizing the Black Sun and its elitist programmers and marginalizing the rest of us to grey-avatar public log-in status.
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
January 30, 2007 @ 9:20 am
Prok says: "But the *culture* of open-source has been vicious, hothouse, privileged, and arrogantly irresponsible in SL."

Actually, what you have written about open source culture is just that - but there has been a lot of great culture which you found it convenient to overlook to support your own opinions. If SL's open source culture looks bad, it is partially because of your written perspectives. Painting the wall orange and saying that the wall is orange afterward is too easy. ;-)

Prok Writes: "The concept that business intelligences are at play yet in a world utterly controlled by tekkies without surveillance or civilian control is preposterous. But that day is coming. It's already refreshing to see economic analysis being applied to the hothouse of SL that challenges the smug burghers of SL."

So you're telling me that the world is run by technical people? That is certainly not true. Technology companies have a large effect these days, but the people running them aren't usually very technical people. They may be more technical than you, but by your own implied admission that wouldn't be too difficult. Yet here you are, posting comments on a blog entry, having your own blog, and using a SL interface which you have written is 'so difficult to learn'. Lookout, Prok - to true non-technical people, you're a 'tekkie' - and perhaps the most stereotyped. The one who rides in a canoe in a star trek uniform. Right...

Prok says: "Everyone forgets that as big as it will become, SL is still a small pond. Only the big fish in it run things. Franchising a dozen big fish and letting them run the Metaverse isn't about choices; it is about institutionalizing the Black Sun and its elitist programmers and marginalizing the rest of us to grey-avatar public log-in status."

Heh. Well, get some money together and start your own thing or... become more technical. Change to survive, or become antiquated and die. If you choose to die, I'd ask you to do it more quietly... or less verbosely. The world just isn't going to spin the way you want it to, no matter how many tantrums you throw. If you choose not to be a part of the future, that's fine with me. Thats your choice - deciding not to make that choice is also a choice.

Get over it, Prok.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 30, 2007 @ 9:38 am
I think the low ethics and nastiness inherent in programmer culture is evident in Nobody's post, and doesn't need a point-by-point rebuttal. The idea that everyone has to "go tekkie or die" is the kind of tech-Darwinism that real-life tekkies don't indulge in; it's the indulgence of Internet sages without sufficient outlet in RL for their wares.

I'll crosspost from the Herald:

"Mark my words:

Ultimately, there is no resolving the class warfare between sandboxers (programmers, hackers, libbers, Lindens) and settlers (landowners, developers, tenants, content creators). They will rage and wage war until one prevails. The weak links in each class -- the content creators who are the pro sandboxers and the Lindens who are the pro settlers -- will make the wars wage on even longer by their treachery. Ultimately, unless the settlers prevail, the sandbox race will come to an end. That is why perhaps in a generation, we might count on some rational restraint of the destructiveness of sandoxers in their own class self-interest."

The other revolutions on the Internet, whether photo-sharing, blogging, social software sites, YouTube, were all about tekkies taking their tekkie stuff and dumbing it down to make it possible for any Joe Blow to use the stuff easily and make content and hook up with others. The entire ethos of the Internet has been to make more intuitive and easier interface; to help people and and not force them to file 50 lines of commands to send an email (as we used to have to do in the very earliest days of the Internet), to give them buttons to push. Tekkies in the real world understand that their livlihoods and continued existence dependends not on further obfuscuating their knowledge, but making it more widely available and easy to use for others.

The tekkies of the Metaverse are going in the oppposite direction. They don't care about user interface. They make challenging, difficult worlds and interfaces that only other tekkies can really work. Things like the group tools evolve by becoming more complex, harder to use, with more choices, and more annoyances. Building tools didn't get easier in SL; they got harder, even imposing an annoying grid over the scene that most casual users will never use.

Making people learn the complexities of hosting a server isn't about freeing people; it's about ensnaring them. The Metaverse is not going in the direction of openless and classlessness that the Internet began in and continues in. Instead, it is making the boulevard and the Black Sun of Snowcrash. It is creating a hardened cadre of smug and cynical programmers who will make the world, and usher in rubes among the masses whom they will shill. This isn't a good recipe.
Comment posted by Ian Betteridge
January 30, 2007 @ 9:48 am
"However, if the CPU usage is at issue.."

Largely, it isn't - and the move to Mono should make it even less of one. Instead it's bandwidth, and bottlenecks on the asset servers. Throwing more servers at a problem is easy: connecting them together and to the internet is hard.

"I want them to create a metered system..."

They already effectively have such a system, in the form of land: land, after all, is (technically at least) primarily a way of limiting prim usage. Where this fails, of course, is that it measures only the static and not the active prims on a site - the active prims being the people on it. LL could, of course, make visitor traffic meterable and charged for - and this may well be a hosting model for the future. Just as my hosting package includes 40GB bandwidth per month, so an SL "hosting" package could include 10,000 visitors a month (or whatever).

With multiple sim providers, you could choose a package that suits your needs - low cost, but low visitors, or high-cost with lots of visitors and extras. There would be a hundred ways to differentiate different hosting packages.
Comment posted by Ian Betteridge
January 30, 2007 @ 9:54 am
"The tekkies of the Metaverse are going in the oppposite direction. They don't care about user interface."

Actually, one of the main criticisms that I've heard non-technical people have about SL is that the interface as it stands is too complex. I expect interface enhancements to be high on the list of the open source client.

"Making people learn the complexities of hosting a server isn't about freeing people; it's about ensnaring them."

Ever used Mac OS X Prok? If so, you'll know that hosting a server is as easy as going to a the System Preferences and clicking a box that says "Personal Web Server". Oh, and you're running Apache - the same software that your bank likely uses for its web site.

No one is claiming that people will *have* to host their own server. As usual, you're creating and attacking straw men. What everyone here is saying is that you'll have the option to do so, if you want, or the option to host with another company, including LL.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 30, 2007 @ 10:15 am
Actually, Ian, you need to catch up on this issue by reading the back forums, and talking to older residents and Lindens. You're not correct. CPU usage is indeed an issue, and Lindens have indeed discussed the concept of metering it; look at Cory Lindens' past townhalls in the History Wiki.

Metering isn't done on land in the way you imagine, precisely because any twit sitting on a 512 can have 38 of his friends on camp chairs, and completely block the sim and its script-time and avatar availability. This is widely known and understood, and that's why Anshe, managing 500 sims, moved to a requirement that camp chairs have to ration themselves to one per 1024 m2.

Consecutive traffic over the day isn't the usage problem, as we all know; it's the simultaneous usage drawing on all the sim's resources at that moment.

Actually, you'll never believe it, but in a small group with 10 employees I ran for five years, I had to buy servers and computers, and run them myself, using just rote routines and cribbed notes from the tekkies who I had to hire on a sparing basis. It's not the mysterious realm everyone imagines. There's enormous amount of bullshit that attaches to the world of techdom -- rather like car repair.

Still waiting to hear what Ian a) does in SL; b) considers his body of opinion and accomplishments.
Comment posted by Ian Betteridge
January 30, 2007 @ 12:21 pm
Prokofy, it's nice that you don't understand the difference between "was" an issue and "is" an issue.

"Metering isn't done on land in the way you imagine"

And it's nice you don't understand the difference between "effectively" having such a system, and actually having it.

"Consecutive traffic over the day isn't the usage problem, as we all know; it's the simultaneous usage drawing on all the sim's resources at that moment."

Yes, peak usage is an issue: but in terms of setting realistic ways to meter, it's not ideal. A one-off event that draws lots of people to a sim is less of an indication of the overall drain than something measured over a longer period. That's doubly true if the peak happens during a low period for other activity.

"It's not the mysterious realm everyone imagines."

I agree with you. Which is why I find your constant assertions that using open source products is somehow hard and lets "tekkies" (nice Newspeak, Prok!) rule.

"Still waiting to hear what Ian a) does in SL; b) considers his body of opinion and accomplishments."

For (a), it's irrelevant to the truth of what I'm saying. For (b), Google me. Hint: I'm not the Australian folk singer.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 30, 2007 @ 12:37 pm
Ian, don't you have a blog to be writing? You can continue with your spite and venom against me on this blog or my blog, but what does it get you? We already get all the points you're making, and your pendantic word-mincing now isn't adding to the discussion. Yes, I'm stupid, and thank God my central nervous system or I'd be so dumb I'd forget to breathe. Now that we've established that, could we move on and get some finer insights into the Metaverse than what you've been supplying up to now? It doesn't matter if we failed to genuflect at the usual insufferable "don't you know who I AM?" stuff, your blog looks to be filled with petty gossip, dispeptic remarks, and warmed-over SL "insights" like gosh, there's all this sex in SL. If you are the fine technical mind you've made yourself out to be, get busy! We live in hope!
Comment posted by Ian Betteridge
January 30, 2007 @ 12:50 pm
Prok, I will carry on challenging your ideas for as long as you continue writing them. Who said you were stupid? Not me. I said exactly the opposite, above - but of course that doesn't fit in with your world view, so you ignore it. Neither have I pulled the "don't you know who I am" card: I simply responded to your demands to know who I am.

And as I've said to you before, look up "Socratic method". You might learn something.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 30, 2007 @ 11:16 pm
Socratic method, known to me since my young teenage years, is not what you use; what you use is hectoring, bullying, and literalist parsing of sentences. Go and write something coheren laying out your own ideas, rather than pretending to fight evil by trolling me.

Could we get back on topic here? Raph has picked up this discussion (at least the pre-troll part of it) and talked about everything being a kind of new interactive TV network.
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