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06/08/2008

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Dahlia

Prok, I'm not sure your description of the obfuscation problem with scripts agrees what what I understood from reading the messages in the sldev mailing list. It seems that Linden Lab(tm),(c),(whatever) has a "garbage collection" process that deletes unreferenced assets from the asset servers. This means that if the UUID for an asset does not appear anywhere, i.e., a script, a prim, someone's inventory, the asset may be deemed unneeded and may be deleted from the asset server. If a script is obfuscated and it contains the only reference to an asset, and the UUID is obfuscated as well, then the garbage collection may not recognize the UUID and the asset could be deleted. The obfuscated script itself would probably not be deleted.

Whether or not any obfuscation of a script actually protects that script is another issue altogether.

Prokofy Neva

Dahlia, all you've done is explain in much more detail what I said. And the issue remains. That if someone decides to try to obfuscate their script so that the uh "open sourcerers" can't get at it over at IBM etc, then that reference-less thingie could be deleted as garbage. And that's troublesome. And that's troublesome *not only* because "it can't work" (see "The Geek Religion").

Dahlia

I wasn't debating your points in your blog Prok, just thought it may be useful information that readers may not have heard. :)

Not sure I understand the relationship to your "The Geek Religion" post, it seemed to be composed of stereotypical generalizations that sometimes appear on the surface, but if I ever do see them they never continue once I get to know the person. But then I'm sure many would consider me a geek so it would be expected that I don't understand. ;)

Ann Otoole

Currently LL is number 11 on the SAI top 25 and they have valued LL at 1.1 billion dollars. This is because of the land/sim revenue stream. What will happen when SAI gets word that LL no longer holds the keys to what could have ben the largest revenue stream in the history of technology? When any joe blow ripper can drag content off SL to open sim and then give it away (remember, there is no economy or permissions concept in open sim) then why would anyone need LL anymore. Perhaps Phillip Rosedale will go down in history as the guy that gave away the biggest thing in the history of the planet. Sort of like that guy that sold the golden code to Bill Gates for a few grand. DOH!

Of course IBM is all for it. They are not dumb. Once LL has given it away IBM can do as they please with it and cut LL right out of the loop. So Mitch and his angel pals will find they just funded a major coup by IBM.

Maybe thats the big announcement: "Oh Hai we decided to end the L$ and remove the permissions system in SL. Everything has been converted to full perms and you can no longer sell anything or cash any L$ into dollars. Everything on le innernette wanted to be freee wheeee so now SL is freee at lasst! goodbai!

Prokofy Neva

Yeah. When I hear goons like Saijanai Kuhn babbling about how, gosh, golly, now the tough part comes where we have to figure out messy stuff like "the economy" and "people's psychology" that they really mean they could give a flying fuck, and will take exactly the attitude toward "the economy" and "people's psychology" that they took "blazing their trail" in the first place.

What's annoying about Bolsheviks is that they imagine they are revolutionary, and everyone else is backward. But they're the ones with an ideology, my God, more than 100 years old concocted abstractly in a German library, designed to protect the economy and restore an idyllic pastoral past.

Here's how it should work:

1. Human beings in an economy get together and decide democratically what it is they want to keep and develop out of their economy, oh, things like "intellectual property".

2. They don't force and jam abstract metaphors like "Darwinism" or "the open source corporate/start-up business plan" as a model for entire economies and entire swathes of businesses and individuals.

3. They hear the pros and cons from experts, not 19-year-old weapons salesmen, anonymous fucktards, and corporate shills.

4. They vote. Yes or no.

5. WHEN they have a plan, THEN they lay pipe.

Pipe should not be laid first and then force everyone to plan around the pipe-laying.

Naoki Yifu

SL has it's growing problems and issues that have still yet been ironed out (and won't, not in it's current incarnation). 2008 and beyond is about grid stability we heard. However how can this be, one entity managing that which makes up the grid. Imagine for a moment, one company overseeing every single web site, application, database known to man and all it's inherit problems therein. That's where LL is currently in terms of the world of SL. Why? Well it's not a bad problem to have (many would love to have this problem). Simply put, to get something proven. And now that the concept of a virtual world has been proven what next? Well, we know LL has open sourced the viewer which was a big step in kick starting OpenSim to come in to being -- they didn't want to build a viewer and also a server as well. With the viewer open sourced OpenSim Devs could now focus all efforts on building out the server. Continuing, LL has welcomed the OpenSim Devs -- they are part of the AWG. And IBM is also part of this initiative for an open virtual world platform. Why would LL do this? Won't this have an effect on Land sales? Isn't there going to be a competitor to come around and trump LL's SL?

The idea of a direct competitor coming out of the woods is questionable... we know from Corey (ex)Linden that whoever attempts such a feat will have hurdles to get where LL is currently. There is also the argument of having content and an active community -- chicken and egg story. Here is the rub, we've heard the term over and over SL as a 'platform' more than once. The idea of an OpenSim where jack or jill can purchase their own servers and setup shop either locally and or connect it out to the larger grid is quite a powerhouse. Fast forward to a year or so the grid is now modular in the sense that one can connect their local Sim to any Grid available on the net. How does LL make money from this? Well, by then they would have already locked down the market. What market? Not the land market but the services market for connecting these walled gardens to be accessible grid-wide, avatar authentication, inventory transportation, money management you name it.

Land market won't be the biggest source if at all the main source of revenue in the future. Lastly with the platform Open Sourced and freely available competitors going against the LL machine won't have much of a chance for quite some time.

Of course this is all just a big guess.

Prokofy Neva

This idea that there's something terrible about "one company managing everything" is one of the sacred tenets of open source, but open source is apparently merely a shill for one bigger company to get a smaller company's code (IBM to LL in this case). Why is it more sacred for this bigger -- giant! -- company to open source the code of a smaller company, to get on the ground floor and take most advantage of it? That's merely predatory behaviour. OS is just a cover of this issue, it seems to me.

Furthermore, Verisign or ICANN *are* the "one company* already running many basic architectural aspects of the multi-owned and dispersed Internet. LL or IBM or whoever could aspire to that same kind of role.

Or take word-processing. Is it Microsoft that controls probably 90 percent of the world's word-processing, or, I dunno, um...Google docs? Please.

Where is this competitor that will trump LL's land sales? There isn't a single other game, world, platform, thing in the Metaverse that has a real estate market like Second Life does. There is a very pale and tiny imitation. Nothing else has real estate. Even OpenSim only has a real estate market in the sense that wholesalers sell you the sim retail, but it is not an integrated world real estate where you fly around and buy and sell within the world itself, which has been one of the engines not only for the world's growth but LL's growth (and that's why coders hate the land business so mightily, as it is a source of growth that is utterly independent of them and indeed antithetical to their inherent instability. Coders are conflict-drivers.)

The powerhouse of which you speak isn't there yet, and I'm skeptical. It's partly seeing some of the individuals involved, and knowing their reputations not to be good. It's partly seeing the difficulty of just joining and logging on and buying without jumping through bunches of hoops. Reading the fine print last night, I saw that you could only be hosting your own server to use their software to then also become an estate owner that would be virtually hosted with them, i.e. along the LL business plan lines. So that sucks and that is not how to grow the world -- but then, would you want to be dependent on these kids in their basements now? I wouldn't.

I think the Lindens could well maintain the land market if they change their attitude to one of lovingkindness to land barons and mom and pop rental agencies and see themselves as being there to serve them, not kill them or compete with them. The ease with which you can buy with them, be billed for tier reliably (more or less), sell out to other people, get services from them that you'd have to do yourself or rely on these garage code kiddies to do -- those are all HUGE bonuses that would keep customers like me and my tenants for sure.

The fees they get for hooking up ex-Lindens and code kiddies or even IBM will not be a substitute for the end-user and land dealer tier they get now. They know that, surely.

Here's how I see it: the land market could remain in the Lindens' hands if they stop dumping their co-owners -- us -- and treating us badly, and instead celebrate us, and stop chasing after OpenSim. OpenSim will not be a competitor unless they decide it is, and unless they decide that chasing it is more important than holding on to existing customers.

Of course, some Lindens will gamble that they can do both. And that's what they are trying to do now -- making a show of stabilizing the mainland, even as they lose it again, and putting all this effort into the AWG, which is of course not integrated with anything else like content providers or governance.

Naoki Yifu

"Why is it more sacred for this bigger -- giant! -- company to open source the code of a smaller company, to get on the ground floor and take most advantage of it?"

Good question Prokovy. I can only surmise the partnership of IBM and LL is the lab offloading some of the heavy lifting leading up to a next gen platform. Clearly though, Big Blue has a vested interest in seeing the concept of virtual worlds be a success.

++++

"Verisign or ICANN *are* the "one company* already running many basic architectural aspects of the multi-owned and dispersed Internet. LL or IBM or whoever could aspire to that same kind of role."

(ICANN) Exactly! And below that hierarchy are a wide array of business models and providers offering varying degrees of products and services. But, ICANN isn't running or developing those bottom tier offerings (products and services) for end consumers. Looking at LL's current situation, their hand is in everything. Moving forward however, to an open platform, focus will shift. Hey, now that the concept is proven. It's time to refine, cherry pick the key areas for sustainability and leave the rest for the bottom tier to sort through and build up.

++++

"Where is this competitor that will trump LL's land sales? There isn't a single other game, world, platform, thing in the Metaverse that has a real estate market like Second Life does."

Agreed, but I hear it all the time from people crying foul about LL's dealings with world management and direction. Open platform = little to no competition for LL. People don't realize that this is partly what "opening up the platform" equates to.


++++


"The powerhouse of which you speak isn't there yet, and I'm skeptical."

Agreed it isn't there yet, but, I think we can safely say that the reality of it being is becoming more evident as time wears on.
It would be unwise to stick ones head in the sand on this, that is a choice though.

++++

"Reading the fine print last night, I saw that you could only be hosting your own server to use their software to then also become an estate owner that would be virtually hosted with them, i.e. along the LL business plan lines. So that sucks and that is not how to grow the world"

Yes that's a bit rigid and it's just a sign that we are not there yet. It could also just mean that specific grid just setup their business model to work the way it's presented. Another note, some Grids won't be exact replicas of SL, some will have features SL doesn't like say importing real 3D meshes instead of using prims (that is pretty big step for content creation). Even still these early implementations while they aren't up to snuff, that shouldn't stop people from formulating, testing or playing until wrinkles are ironed out.


++++

"It's partly seeing some of the individuals involved, and knowing their reputations not to be good. It's partly seeing the difficulty of just joining and logging on and buying without jumping through bunches of hoops."

It all sounds a bit worrying, as if another wrench is being thrown into the economy and we'll have to rethink our in-world strategies. Open Platform concept being so new and the base template (SL) isn't even fully functioning yet (it wasn't meant to be). So, it's hard to see how it could all work so seamlessly. There will be false starts but best practices and reputable service providers eventually bubble up to the top.


++++

"The ease with which you can buy with them, be billed for tier reliably (more or less), sell out to other people, get services from them that you'd have to do yourself or rely on these garage code kiddies to do -- those are all HUGE bonuses that would keep customers like me and my tenants for sure."

You have a point there. And I never meant to paint that Land wouldn't be a value add for specific market segments within the gated community. I just can't help thinking that with an Open Platform on the horizon, LL will just focus mainly on Land as their source of revenue, when the options on having a SIM at varying price points and feature sets quadruple outside of LL/SL territory. It leads me to believe LL would have to diversify from being dependent on selling server space for revenue. How they will do that... sky is the limit.

Also, from your key selling points. It could very well be another benefit for a few players to enter into the virtual world market. Offering the ease of use to buy, be billed, sell and so on in terms of land in an Open Platform.


++++


"The fees they get for hooking up ex-Lindens and code kiddies or even IBM will not be a substitute for the end-user and land dealer tier they get now. They know that, surely."

Certainly that would be accurate a picture today. What about a few years from now? ...a few years from now the landscape could change drastically.


++++

Over all though I think LL has their eyes on bigger things. They are at the helm of a new business model that they have built from the ground up, and they're just getting started. They will tinker and some of that tinkering might not be palatable to start, I only can hope it's all for the better.

Prokofy Neva

Naoki, I'm glad you find what I saw thoughtful or useful for you to respond to, but what I always have to chuckle about with analyses like yours is your unexamined overconfidence.

The first piece of religious doctrine you unconsciously hold, like all geeks, is the idea that the business model of the future is no longer tied to steel or bricks and mortar. But of course, people will always need machines and houses, and can't live on air. I like what the steel guy coming into SL the other day to say he was going to see if he could use it to sell shares in a real-life steel company said: which was basically: steel is real lol.

Virtual worlds depend on steel, lots of it and even with virtual or cloud or whatever computing, will continue to do so. Armchair metaversal analysts tell you sagely that the future isn't in selling server space because that's always going to be a business model that will be very costly with its expenses.

But...somebody has to be in the server business, because virtual worlds *are* on servers. Even if you make them cheaper, even if you make it possible to put more angels on the head of their pins, so what? You aren't entirely free of steel, and you can't entirely offload the cost and mechanics of running the steel on to end users because it will be more expensive for them.

So there will always be a need for people to run server farms so that other people can rent and be virtual hosts, which is the brilliant model the Lindens have now.

This idea that they should figure out how to make a buck handing out domain names I remain skeptical about. The fact that we all have to pay $19.95 to register a DNS address or whatever it's called today from some domain registry place is a kind of artifact that will go away. After all, we pay nothing like that to get into the white or yellow pages unless we want really big visible ads. The telephone company simply provides that service as part of what you get as a customer. The Internet is still in its youth; the virtual worlds industry is still in its infancy.

Tekkies feel an enormous sense of gloating about land being devalued and server prices coming down -- we've already seen them gloat on the forums and blogs over the Lindens crashing the price heedlessly, giving withering, snarky lecturers to people who wished to preserve their investment.

(I always tell people that money put in Second Life is never an investment. I always caution tenants seeking to go out then and buy land that they can't view it as "an investment". The only thing you can view as "an investment" in SL is your time, and fortunately, you can pull that out at any time that you feel it is no longer cost effective or emotionally satisfying.)

But the fact is that as Anshe Chung could tell you, or as I could tell you, keeping a rentals business flowing and happy and productive is no small chore. Just slapping a hook-up interface and lots of fees on to a situation won't necessarily result in the same intact community.

One of the ways that SL became more cohesive, like Will Wright's collective job objects, is by sharing sims as they would a real-life neighbourhood. For some people, this led them to cooperate and take pride in keeping their sim good-lucking. For others, it led to them gouging and cutting and scratching to take advantage of their neighbour. Still, the mainland is filled with enough examples of people looking out for each other and trying to harmonize so as not to give up hope.

The Internet, like real life, is made up of customers. Tekkies often think that by automating so many things on web pages and in VWs that they are freeing themselves and others from ever having to do deal with customers. But the reality is that people are fed up of automated robotic phone answering from places like Virgin or Verizon and hate not being able to find any real live people behind web pages to solve problems, and something like SL offers a solution to restore some of that contact and service "face to face" while retaining the ability to automate too.

Naoki Yifu

Just in: There is a piece on Reuters covering LL's confirmed move to push interoperability -- OpenSim being the first in line.

Zero Linden (Joe Miller) gave hints on LL's new revenue model though nothing confirmed.

“I could see Linden offering economic services, trading services, search services”

"the role VeriSign plays in the administration of the Internet by managing top-level “.com” and “.net” network addresses. Linden may one day play an active role in not only teleports between OpenSim worlds and the Second Life Grid, but between two otherwise unconnected OpenSim worlds."


He ended with:

"The evolution from a company that sells virtual land to the infrastructure backbone of a diverse array of OpenSim worlds will be a slow one"

“We look forward to the day when the value of entering the Second Life Grid will be clear over the value of entering an OpenSim grid”


http://secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2008/07/11/interview-linden-prepares-for-an-opensim-future/

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