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07/20/2008

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Gareth Nelson

"Adam claims he provides "all the programming hooks" to run an economy. Not. There is no microcurrency."

Actually, opensim does have all the hooks needed to provide a microcurrency. The sample module provided gives each user L$1000 at every login, but this could be modified to track between logins how much currency each user actually has. The problem is that anyone providing such a service is going to need to make sure that it's secure otherwise they open themselves up to huge legal risk. On top of that, RL conversion in some places requires a license from the relevant financial authorities. For example, the FSA in the UK requires a reserve of capital of at least £1M GBP to operate an "electronic money transfer service" as well as complying with regular audits and strict security standards. Suffice to say it's an expensive business to get into if you want to be legit.

"Yes, reverse engineering SL has its charms -- look what they've added to their TOS lol: "
Openlife Grid reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate your access to the Openlife Grid Web Site and the related services or any portion thereof at any time, without notice.""

For a free service this clause is redundant. For paid services it's a kind of boilerplate found everywhere which shouldn't be there but tends to be a copycat thing with a lot of online services.

""Unfortunately “Mod/Copy/Trans” does not a legal contract make - what we’d like to be able to do is show those, and then automatically generate a contract you can use that backs those up legally. A primitive structure for how to store licensing information was fleshed out on the OpenSim Wiki, you can read the proposal I made (fairly old, from January I think).""

Adam is indeed wrong here - C/M/T doesn't create a contract, but it does create license conditions. Without a license being granted you have no rights at all to do these things.

Prokofy Neva

>The sample module provided gives each user L$1000 at every login

Um, so Adam buys Lindens on the LindEx for this, does he?

Gareth Nelson

">The sample module provided gives each user L$1000 at every login

Um, so Adam buys Lindens on the LindEx for this, does he?"

No, I never stated that this is linked up to SL's economy at all. Still, you can't argue that the code doesn't have hooks in place because it does.

John Lopez

The key thing is the line that likens it to Apache. Apache is open source, yet it runs over half the websites on the planet, including a very, very, large number of commercial sites.

Sure, the people behind Apache have some extreme open source evangelists on the team, but those who actually *use* Apache care not about that. Likewise I care not about the fact that one of the firms I deal with is filled with Scientology fans. As long as they produce the results, who cares if they believe in UFOs dropping souls in volcanoes or free software? We free to build what I want using Apache... and we do.

In this regard, the open software provides more freedom than the corporate controlled Grid ever will, for education, business and crazy nutjobs.

Prokofy Neva

Oh, I don't believe that at all. Ideologies bleed into tools and shape them, that's for sure. If that business bolsters the Scientologists and you buy their wares, you are bolstering something that many find suspect and oppressive. It's like saying, oh, Wagner writes good operas and cutting out the Hitler context.

Apache isn't a world. Second Life is a world. One of the vital forms of progress that has to happen is that software has to stop being seen in this narrow, literalist, controlling tekkie way as merely software with only its technical aspects. It is socialware too.

We have hardware, software, and socialware. This third area has intersections with law, politics, sociology, psychiatry, etc. *and that's ok*. That isn't something that is mere film you wipe away from the pristine platform. It is a function of the software to *be* socialware.

And that means the public has to have a say in it and it has to serve social needs and not mere technical absolutes.

Apache is *not a world*. Adam is trying to strip out the worldness of virtual world software and denude it of its obvious socialware aspects that in fact he can't escape -- it's like the Bolsheviks always tried to suppress the normal human activity of commerce.

These things have to be seen more holistically because they *are* more holistic and complex than this narrow view of them admits.

We also haven't seen enough of a time span and enough real numbers and use cases to conclude that opensource software is the barstormer of the economy that we're being led to believe here. Again, all it involves is selling consulting services on top of the "free software" that is useless unless you have the consultant to decode it all the time. Opensource software contains a booby trap within it, which is the cost of the programmers and consultants required to run this "free" thing.

Desmond Shang

For what it's worth, even as a clear capitalist that generally eats from the Main Grid table... I can see a few constraints that would channel Adam's efforts. He makes a fair bit of sense.

For example, Adam is not going to start a microcurrency casually.

Why not? Think about it - the moment you introduce a microcurrency, now you have an economy to manage. Potentially a big, capricious, unstable one filled with people playing fast and loose. Gambling. Ginko. Landbots out to feed off mistakes.

Adam may do pretty well, but it's not like he can call Pierre or Mitch and squeeze by on another ten or hundred million dollars in case of 'oops.'

Permissions schemes get pretty meaningless, too, when anyone's kid brother can patch their regions onto your grid.

It's one thing to trust Adam's grid. I actually would!

The question is are we willing to trust a grid controlled by Adam, Sam, Fred, Steve, and three hundred and eighty seven of their closest friends. Each having one or one hundred regions, and each an opportunity for corruption or theft.

Because of that issue, the standard permission schemes we use effectively on a unified grid start to break down. The opensource worlds are just too granular from a trust perspective.

I think this is why a lot of opensource people have given up on it, or have focused on the 'we don't really need it' aspects.

Maybe there will be some Verisign-like authority someday, where you can poke that with a server request for permissions - failing which, your item won't copy or transfer without a whole bunch of trouble. The old 'trusted computing' angle.

But that's boring. It's not slinging prims or "check out my cool build" or "look at our new shiny feature."

So I'm not exactly going to hold my breath waiting for it to come about.

Prokofy Neva

Desmond,

At one level, what you say sounds like good sense and justified pragmatic considerations.

Yet...I'm told that Adam's accounts have $1000 starter Lindens in them. What's up with that then? Did he buy them on the LindEx? Are they live?

And I guess I'm seeing all this as overly complexified at one level. It would be easy to go in one of two directions: use Lindens, sign the risk API with the Lindens as a big buyer and seller, i.e. like Anshe Chung does to sell Lindens to customers, and let people simply use Lindens. It's up to the Lindens, especially as they are talking about having their currency be a gold standard and all that, to think of how to handle these risks and manage them. It's a plug-in, and people add it without all the hooting and hollering you're implying because it's part of being a trusted grid.

It's also quite feasible to have PayPal be the payments system, and merely buy packets or units or tokens or time. Like, a $9.95 subscription gives you $3000 units, and if you want more, you top off like a phone bill until you reach $25 or some reasonable number. After all, Google AdSense and other kinds of systems keep track of pennies a day but don't try to pay out that pennies constantly, they wait til there is a threshold, I believe it's $100. Amazon doesn't have a problem paying you $1.17 for a book somebody bought used from you, after it gets its cut. And so on. It's not THAT insurmountable.

And you're rushing to make defense of Adam, using argumentation he himself doesn't even use. He's against it because he's against economies and commerce in virtual worlds -- period. He thinks it should be one big hippie commune, with of course the ability to stash away open source code you develop into proprietary projects to make money or consulting to make money lol.

As for the permissions, I don't see that you necessarily have to weld that to currency. No copy means no copy. People might want to set up all items that are checked off as going to other grids as "no copy" and "no transfer" and then that's all you'd want that copy grid to ensure -- the minimum -- if they can't or won't put in a buy-sell interface.

I don't see what's so damn granular about all this. Stuff you buy on the SL grid can be yours to use but it can't be easy for you to copy and transfer it (or mod it, if that's the issue). And that has to happen not just as a "marking" but as an *implementation technically*.

My response to Ugotrade's article on this contains more.

http://www.ugotrade.com/2008/07/08/ibm-linden-lab-launch-protocols-for-virtual-world-interoperability/

Gareth Nelson

"It's like saying, oh, Wagner writes good operas and cutting out the Hitler context"

That statement, more than anything else, summarises your incredible ignorance. Hitler was a vegetarian too - does that mean that talking about vegetarianism is bad if you "cut out the hitler context"?

Gareth Nelson

"Opensource software contains a booby trap within it, which is the cost of the programmers and consultants required to run this "free" thing"

You mean unlike propriatary software where you pay for a support contract or hire your own staff to maintain it?

Or is everyone born knowing how to maintain a network consisting of windows servers, cisco routers and windows workstations with oracle databases and ?

Gareth Nelson

"Permissions schemes get pretty meaningless, too, when anyone's kid brother can patch their regions onto your grid.

It's one thing to trust Adam's grid. I actually would!"

Another point - you are talking about deepgrid right? Because that's the only grid that can honestly be called "adam's grid". Or are you making the mistake of associating all public opensim-based grids with adam?

Gareth Nelson

"The opensource worlds are just too granular from a trust perspective."

You're making the mistake here of associating free code with "anyone can link up a sim". A lot of public grids allow anyone to link up a sim, but it's got nothing to do with the licensing of the software running the grid at all.

Gareth Nelson

"Yet...I'm told that Adam's accounts have $1000 starter Lindens in them. What's up with that then? Did he buy them on the LindEx? Are they live?"

Opensim gives each avatar L$1000, but only within that sim or that grid and only if you run the sample money module. My point was that this sample money module could be hacked to get your balance from a backend server and persist it between sessions.

And please, please stop referring to opensim as "Adam's world". Opensim was originally created by Michael Wright (who also did a lot of the early work on physics - guy's a genius), the first grid servers were created by me and tons of other features were implemented by a group of roughly 10 people. Adam specialised in terrain and data storage back in "the day", but he didn't create opensim himself. Give credit where it's due please.

Prokofy Neva

The awful thing about you, Gareth, is that due to your condition, you may never step away from your computer and aquire real-life knowledge and experience that would temper the awful extremism and literalism which so hobbles your perception.

The inherent contradiction -- hypocrisy -- of opensource coding is that it's all free this and that and open this and that until...it then isn't, and you have to pay a geek to work it, troubleshoot it, decipher it. THAT's the problem. The inherent contradiction. Free for the geek, not free for the people. And the "free thing" has no real standardized and transparent pricing on it -- it's the Oriental Bazaar (and that's why geeks like it -- controlling people).

Proprietary software, however, is like the Western Flea Market. The price tag is emphatically on from the beginning. Nobody tells you a tale of selfless tekkies and stone soup miracles. You pay from the get-go. You go on paying to get that service. And it's all good and normal.

If you don't understand about Wagner and Hitler, I can't help you, you're too young, too stupid, and too inexperienced. Let me suggest this: it never hurts to contemplate about what vegetarianism and Hitler might have in common! How's that for an idea!

Adam was the first man. All grids come from Adam. It's all Adam's World.

>only within that sim or that grid and only if you run the sample money module

Uh, and how did they get those Lindens?

Sorry, I'll definitely go on calling all these open things "Adam's World" because that's just how it is, and I hope it continues to have a high annoyance factor for you : )

>the first grid servers were created by me and tons of other features were implemented by a group of roughly 10 people

The story of Lenin's log...

Gareth Nelson

"Proprietary software, however, is like the Western Flea Market. The price tag is emphatically on from the beginning. Nobody tells you a tale of selfless tekkies and stone soup miracles. You pay from the get-go. You go on paying to get that service. And it's all good and normal."

Except it isn't that simple - since most software doesn't come with more than very very basic tech support. The amount of tech support you get for the retail price on most software is actually about the same amount that you can get for free simply by going online. For anything more than that, or to get someone who will actually come and help you setup anything more complex, you need to pay for one of those damned evil geeks to come out to you in person and help install and maintain the thing for you. Try and get microsoft to help you install a large-ish network running windows server on the server side and windows XP on the client side while paying them only the retail cost of the software. You'll find they won't offer you much.

Also, not to mention that with propritary software you have only one source of support and if they suck then you're pretty much screwed. You can't go elsewhere and get the same level of support because nobody else will understand the software to the same depth and nobody else can fix the bugs.

"If you don't understand about Wagner and Hitler, I can't help you, you're too young, too stupid, and too inexperienced"

The themes in wagner's ring cycle (pretty much universally seen as his greatest work) do not correlate to the philosophy of the nazis. When one looks at the ring cycle, the main theme that seems to come out is a kind of anti-materialist theme. Note that personally i'd consider myself a fan of wagner, does that make me a nazi or anti-materialist? No, it makes me a fan of a great composer.

"Adam was the first man. All grids come from Adam. It's all Adam's World."

That's totally wrong, adam didn't come along in opensim until revision number 242. Yours truely came along at revision number 24. Don't believe me?
Here's the logs:
http://www.litesim.com/static/downloads/opensim-early.txt


">only within that sim or that grid and only if you run the sample money module

Uh, and how did they get those Lindens?"

By incrementing a variable, I explained already that it's not linked to the SL economy.

"Sorry, I'll definitely go on calling all these open things "Adam's World" because that's just how it is, and I hope it continues to have a high annoyance factor for you :)"

Real slap in the face, thanks - go and read the logs to find out how wrong you are:
http://www.litesim.com/static/downloads/opensim-early.txt

To help you out, mw is Michael Wright, "gareth" is me (duh), adam is afrisby

Maximilian Proto

"It's like saying, oh, Wagner writes good operas and cutting out the Hitler context"

Wagner wrote amazing operas. The nature of his fanbase doesn't change the quality of his music.

/me wanders off shaking his head ...

Prokofy Neva

The characterization of proprietary software support here is completely skewed, and merely an artifact of the opensource religion. It doesn't correlate with any actual experience I've had with actual software support, including even Microsoft Windows, imagine that. I've only had good experience. I'm not a big software user, but I don't see this point tracking; it's a religious doctrine from OS.

I'm not surprised that geeks and extremists turn out to be fans of Wagner, and of justifying the concept of stripping away the genius of music from the rest of a life's profile which is clearly anti-semitic. Do some googling, think about it some more, open your mind. Again, this is a religious problem on your part, merely to be contrary -- or worse.

The record shows not that you cam in at 24, but at 42 at Adam's World.

Desmond Shang

"Another point - you are talking about deepgrid right? Because that's the only grid that can honestly be called "adam's grid". Or are you making the mistake of associating all public opensim-based grids with adam?"

Could be, but the point is still valid. It's been a while - I haven't heard from him much since secondcitizen.com folded; I didn't really migrate back to sluniverse with the rest of the gang. So I had the impression he'd linked up with some other grids at this point; maybe he didn't.

Point is, linking up to other grids is something Adam or anyone with their own grid can do.

And probably will do, given time - why not? It's not like any of the grids out there are trying to create a central authority that will control IP across all the others.

Adam isn't just another guy with a random grid (we all have our own grids these days, don't we? meh, even I've got one) - he's got a small empire on the main grid, knows the issues and has been instrumental in a lot more than just 'getting things to work.' That's why people talk about him, and that's why he's influential. I can see a lot of his customers on the main grid in a situation to seriously consider any alternative grid he has to offer.

Gareth Nelson

"The record shows not that you cam in at 24, but at 42 at Adam's World."

r23 | jmalthus | 2007-02-16 14:12:25 -0800 (Fri, 16 Feb 2007) | 2 lines

Imported gareth's ogs branch thingy

As for "adam's world", adam came in wayyyyy later, almost 2 months later

"The characterization of proprietary software support here is completely skewed, and merely an artifact of the opensource religion. It doesn't correlate with any actual experience I've had with actual software support, including even Microsoft Windows, imagine that. I've only had good experience. I'm not a big software user, but I don't see this point tracking; it's a religious doctrine from OS."

You've had microsoft send an engineer out to help you setup a network or had an MS engineer stick with you for weeks and give detailed guidance on setting up a network? I doubt it, they offer support via outsourced call centers, the majority response to most problems is "reboot your computer". I've had plenty of experience with this kind of "support" and now try to avoid it when possible.

"I'm not surprised that geeks and extremists turn out to be fans of Wagner, and of justifying the concept of stripping away the genius of music from the rest of a life's profile which is clearly anti-semitic."

If you must know, my religious affiliation is the Church of Satan and yet I still enjoy a lot of music from christian composers and bands. I enjoy novels and poetry from artists of various affiliations. Guess what - it doesn't matter to my own religious views. This is of course hugely irrelevant to the discussion.

"Could be, but the point is still valid. It's been a while - I haven't heard from him much since secondcitizen.com folded; I didn't really migrate back to sluniverse with the rest of the gang. So I had the impression he'd linked up with some other grids at this point; maybe he didn't."

He hasn't yet linked up with other grids to my knowledge and he's definately not just some random guy either. But he's not the source of all that is opensim as prok puts across either. Last I saw, deepgrid is not doing as well as OSGrid but it is the first public grid (running code that a whole load of people wrote). Deepgrid is for the most part a fairly generic opensim-based grid.

Clubside Granville

There's already enough vitriol here and y interest in OpenSim is negligible because it uses Second Life as its technological inspiration... BUT

Why not take a page out of the "modern" web to solve some of these problems? Like AJAX and IFRAMEs and shared JavaScript libraries, modularity could be a solution. OpenSim has its own inventory and object editing/creation, but ultimately much of this is controlled by the client. Imagine plug-in inventories/objects that are pointers also stored on the actual "world" server. When these objects are viewed or edited a call is placed to the third-party handler like a Web service, the client having a plug-in to handle that third-party that has its own permissions.

The best analogy is Flash. You can have your opensource browser, Firefox, still work with proprietary modules like Flash. An opensource Second Life viewer that works with OpenSim but with certain objects that third-party plug-in is called to handle it. Another secure module could handle Linden Lab microcurrency or another providers and through links you get both "free" software and, if you so choose, controlled objects.

Sorry if that's a very basic description but I think the analogies make it easy enough to understand. It's easy enough to implement, follows current client/server architectures, Does it solve the problems being discussed here?

Gareth Nelson

Clubside - there's no reason why currency can't be implemented with a free solution. In fact it already is about half-done in opensim today. I won't comment on the analogy of flash other than to say there's already propriatary plugins in opensim.

Hardcore free software advocates will do anything possible to strip out these propritary plugins and avoid them. Personally, i'm working on stripping out anything non-free in opensim but i'm still leaving in the potential to load them later if you can find a way to do so without forming a derivative work.

Of course, truely hardcore free software advocates (richard stallman comes to mind) will absolutely avoid ALL software that isn't free. Stallman even avoids closed BIOS. I don't go to that level because it's not practical for me to do so, but I still greatly respect stallman for his example and hope someday it does become possible to have a totally free software based computing environment. (Stallman manages this almost 100% with the exception of his laptop's wireless driver - so he avoids using wireless and turns the wifi adaptor off).

Clubside Granville

Gareth - while we can focus on the currency issue here, I was trying to offer a solution to many of the issues raised here and elsewhere about creator's rights and economies in virtual worlds.

The problem with the "free" solution is trust. Creators need to trust that if they want to "cash out" the company involved will do so and at an agreed upon and trackable conversion rate. Consumers have to trust that their real money will buy them fake money that can be effectively used by trusting creators. Both of these needs require an institution that at least appears trustworthy such as Linden Lab. And for a Linden Lab there needs to be a trust that the software can't be abused.

"Can't" is the important word here. "Won't" just doesn't cut it. Free software can do it but I thought we were talking opensource here.Opensource means the mechanism that places money into a user's account and buys money from the provider are known. The provider can ensure money is charged and return a fake money amount to be transferred, but the source can easily just create money for users without actually hitting up the provider. The client can just say you have a billion fake dollars. A trusted agent must exist to place value behind that fake money, and even with a checking mechanism to say "hey, he never purchased those billion dollars", there are just too many additional checks-and-balances between consumer, seller and currency regulator to have it make sense to not use a proprietary, trusted mechanism.

You may believe a not-for-profit organization could run such a currency exchange. Three or four other people may as well, but the unwashed millions who want to take advantage of all the non-commerce pieces of your software will not.

I believe in free software and opensource software. They have their places. I believe in giving away stuff in Second Life (I have given away thousands of real US dollars in land usage and L$ over the years). But these are choices for people, not ideals to be thrust on them. To serve both needs, the free and the commerce, trust is the key and that will require something for all parties to approve and never will opensource satisfy. I also believe in commerce and people being paid for their work, don't you?

I'll leave you with only a short comment on Richard Stallman because otherwise Prok will delete what would be a profanity-enriched post: the zealousness of demanding free software to run on hardware that will always have a cost should be a definition of insanity.

Gareth Nelson

"To serve both needs, the free and the commerce, trust is the key and that will require something for all parties to approve and never will opensource satisfy. I also believe in commerce and people being paid for their work, don't you?"

This is really 2 things:

1 - the security of free and open-source software (note that all free software is open-source, but not all open source software is free, i'm talking about free in the FSF definition, freedom not price)

2 - that people should be compensated for their work

On point 1, the example I often like to use is this:
Would you trust a drug that had no studies in medical journals and where the formula was secret more than you would trust one where the chemical makeup is known and numerous scientific studies have verified safety?

A service using free software to provide virtual currency transfer services does not need to be any different from one that doesn't release source code apart from in one factor: whether or not they release the code they use to do it. However, using free software doesn't mean that you release all your encryption keys and passwords. Just because a service releases the code that powers it does not mean random scammers can connect without check.

In other words:
Not only can you trust a service that releases it's code, it can be MORE trustworthy then one where you're clueless as to what security holes might lie in wait. Without the source code being available, generally only the bad guys bother to poke it and find problems.

As for being compensated for work:
First, it's fine to sell free software (see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html for example). When you sell free software though, you just don't sell it with restrictions on how it can be used later.

Second, programmers can still be paid to produce free software and service providers can still build a business on free software.

"A trusted agent must exist to place value behind that fake money, and even with a checking mechanism to say "hey, he never purchased those billion dollars""

Personally, I trust people who don't try to sell me services without waving their hands and saying "trust me, it works" without proof more than I trust services that hide all the details.

"The problem with the "free" solution is trust. Creators need to trust that if they want to "cash out" the company involved will do so and at an agreed upon and trackable conversion rate"

There's no reason at all why this can't be done with free software. If you believe running free software means that a company is not trustworthy enough to comply with contractual obligations then you have no place doing any businesss online where nearly every large e-commerce site runs on a LAMP stack or otherwise uses free software heavily.

"I'll leave you with only a short comment on Richard Stallman because otherwise Prok will delete what would be a profanity-enriched post: the zealousness of demanding free software to run on hardware that will always have a cost should be a definition of insanity."

The hardware itself costs money to produce, so does a lot of software both propritary and free. The difference is that free software doesn't restrict what you can do with your own computer just because you choose to run it.

Stallman is way more hardcore than most free software advocates but he is not insane and he does not force anyone to open up their code. He simply exercises his freedom to choose what runs on his own hardware and his free speech right to advocate his views. As I said, personally I respect his example a great deal and would love to see the day where I can realistically have a computing environment built entirely on free software, but I do not hope to get to that situation through forcing others at all.

Clubside Granville

Gareth - I understand you're drawing a difference between free and opensource software, which is true, they are different. So my question is simple: in this currency situation are you saying the code that places a call to a service to convert real money into in-world currency, and places in-world currency into a user account, should be opensource? Or just that it could be free software and not necessarily opensource?

Gareth Nelson

"Or just that it could be free software and not necessarily opensource?"

No such thing as free software which is not open source :)

Desmond Shang

Really all of this has little to do with opensource or free.

Who cares?

Say the opensource software was just a code module, i.e. not open at all. People would still use it to make grids.

Say it cost ten dollars, or 100.

So what?

Again, people will still use it to make grids.

* * * * *

The issue is trust.

- Will your creations or $L be safe on Joe Schmoe's grid, however it's done?

- What about on his friend's region just across the server border?

- Could you possibly start a small content creation business on such a grid, or would you be out of your mind to do so?

- Can you identify the motivation for Joe Schmoe to still have his region up tomorrow, other than "it's just so kewl!!!"

There's the problem right there.

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