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10/31/2008

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Ann Otoole

lol some of your best work yet!

Oh wait that is all great but there is this other place with a bigger more sinister package called "Death Star" It has one slogan on the front of the shrinkwrap box:

"In addition to its authority to investigate law violations by individuals and businesses, the Commission also has federal rule-making authority to issue industry-wide regulations. Commission rules are published in Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations."

This means if you are in a largely unregulated new industry then "Death Star" can manufacture legislation to suit, File the new charges, and prosecute as well as file lawsuits on behalf of anonymous consumers.

No you should not want Death Star anywhere near your startup at all. If Death Star comes into orbit around your company then you probably had a shortage of seasoned execs running the show.

Gigs Taggart

I can see the parallels with "net neutrality", but it is sort of a weak analogy.

People don't make big up front investments in their ISP, and they can't then resell those investments on the secondary market. That feature of SL does make any comparison with a pure service pretty weak.

What we own in SL is a limited, intangible, transferable license to access some "vritual land" (a representation of some server resources). We pay an up-front fee to acquire this asset. Linden Lab can call this a "setup fee" and a "maintenance fee" or whatever they want, but the fact remains that it is an asset in every sense of the word. You can transfer it, it has a secondary market value, and it has value in the form of sub-licensing (renting).

Linden Lab is now blaming people for maximizing the value of their assets, and creating externalities due to flaws in Linden's software. It's entirely possible to split up the resources on a server and prevent one instance from affecting the others. Linden either doesn't know how or doesn't want to invest in fixing that.

It's actually an easier problem to solve than the "mainland problem" of the same nature. Within a seamless simulator it's much more difficult to partition resources and resolve "neighbor conflicts". The problem is much more likely to be solved on openspaces than on the mainland or on full sims.

Ciaran Laval

Nice post Prok, not sure everyone will get it but well presented.

Loki

Kool article ,just wish it did not make me feel like everytime i go into secondlife and meet up with my friends somewhere i'm potentially hogging bandwith now.

none

When did the OpenSpaces customers become "everybody", as in "punish everybody"?

"Net neutrality" is easy to understand, if you already understand the difference between a common carrier and a contract carrier. It doesn't have to do with "congestion management", although it may have to do with truth-in-packaging; when an "unlimited internet service" in fact has limits and caps.

That's hardly the case here. OpenSpaces sim had limitations that were disclosed from the get-go by LL, and then swept under the rug by resellers and arbitrageurs.

The big LL failure here was in not understanding that the "we won't address performance problems in OpenSpaces" policy wasn't good enough when the scope of effect of one bad actor in an OS could be fifteen other OS regions on the same quad core.

And failing to reckon with the fact that, in computing, things almost never scale in a linear fashion, but setting pricing as if they did.

"Buying a sim" is "buying an asset" just like "buying" a utility drop and electric meter is. It's a necessary set up cost, and it may be transferable, but it's the ongoing costs that reflect the actual utility of the service. Gigs' "license" analogy is pretty close.

If instead of a meter that provided billing data, you only had a breaker that would open when your power draw exceeded a set number of watts, you'd be closer to the OpenSpaces situation. Especially if fifteen other households somewhere in your neighborhood were on the same breaker, and they all lost power when you did...

Now it's time for Prok to call me a stupid, ignorant, commie hippie tekkie. Let's get it on with it; nobody's trolled me all day

Prokofy Neva

It's hilarious to watch people who think they are somehow besting me in argument in fact prove my point.

It dosen't matter if some ISP promises "unlimited and unconditional and content-blind Internet access". It can't. It can't because there isn't enough bandwidth, and some script kiddies are taking it all. So if they can't "make more bandwidth," which isn't as easy as you might think, they will have to ration it, and "pay per play". Metering is what is used for water and electricity, and once everyone gets over themselves and their preciousness about the "Intertubes" as being somehow "different" and requiring "endless freedom" inviting "tragedy of the commons," it will be metered, too.

These companies might get so that if they detect Bittorent, they knock you off line. But what is more likely to happen is that more expensive accounts will have more bandwidth. After all, there is already a precedent for this that the Net Neutrality goons never, ever talk about -- purposefully. If you go and rent tripod.com server space, you will have to pay according to bandwidth. If you expect your paged to be accessed a lot, you will get a more expensive account. If you won't get that much traffic, it will be less. (At least it used to be that way at tripod and Lycos and I believe still is).

Even if somebody thinks "metering possibly can't work" they will unfortunately be wrong because the companies will have to meter, or sell packages of levels. It's like how much land you buy, and how much tier you pay.

The Lindens are in fact, as always, paving the way to the future here. They are showing that because a lot of people overused these sims, they have to cost more.


I'm falling all over myself laughing watching geeks now suddenly tell *me*, who has insisted for four years that land is a commodity, and been told haughtily and scornfully that it is mere programming time and overpriced server re-rental, that in fact it *is* a commodity. This is truly hilarious!

Of course it is! Thank you! And that means if you need to put more energy on it, it will cost more, just like my electric bill goes up if I have more heat in my apartment or more computer use.

The "sharing with other households" things means, yes, it is EXACTLY like a New York City apartment building. Because that is EXACTLY what the landlords due, charging you a core fee as part of the electric bill for the heating of corridors and the fee to restart a cold radiator in freezing temperatures, so there is a shared, communal part of the cost.

The Lindens have always dismissed the request that some of us have had to meter CPU on the mainland, to make club hogs scarfing up all the avatar spaces and FPS on a sim from their 4096 simply pay lots more, because they prevent us from using our share.

The Lindens of course deliberately overbook, like airlines. If they sold all the 512s they used to put out for first land, or they did nothing to stop a landlord for selling 5152s on a sim, not all the owners of those 128 512s could come home. Only 40 of them could.

So what the Lindens have done -- simply charged more for this product that a) tends to be overused and b) is snapped up even by the literal 100s by girls trying to re-rent tropicana beach pancakes and make a buck (that's $1000 a month if all they do is flip them, give them completely away in terms of estate powers, charge no purchase price, and just collect a bit more rent, say, $85, which is what they do.

That $1000 per 100 OS sims is something the Lindens want to be making, not you.

Cocoanut Koala

PainPoint stuff - brilliant.

But - you forgot the numbers that preceded this dramatic rake hike: The steps where the Lindens sold a pig in a poke, and kept on selling it and increasing its capability, raking in the big bucks all the while, before they suddenly hiked tier by 67%.

Here they are:

1. Lindens come up with Open Spaces, which I believe Adam Zaius pioneered, and he used his mainly for vast stretches of trees upon trees.

2. Lindens offer these open spaces as four-fers, to people who already own islands - such as Adam.

3. Open Spaces become increasingly popular, and Lindens enable people to purchase them singly, while "piggybacking" on the accounts of those who already own islands. And not necessarily, I believe, attached to any other island. People like Adam start offering them.

4. The Lindens announce, "Hey, these are better than we thought they were, so here's doubled prim counts for everybody!"

5. The Lindens watch for months as the Open Spaces become wildly popular. Everyone buys up skads of them; landlords listen to their renters and switch to open spaces; and people - gasp! - use them for something besides vast swatches of trees on trees on an island sitting in the middle of a void.

6. LL Profit

7. LL Profit

8. LL Profit

9. The Lindens announce that unbeknownst to them, people are for some reason actually putting HOUSES on these spaces, rather than swathes of trees in the middle of an ocean that goes nowhere, to, you know, tp to and just look at sometimes.

10. Raise tier - more profit! And the suckers have already bought the spaces!

Now you tell me, the Lindens aren't complicit in making this happen this way?

And tell me - do you suppose the sales were starting to slow a tad? That maybe they'd already wrung the most profit they could out of them before they decided to change tier - or even, to be fair, changed tier to something more realistically sustainable?

And where in the real world is anything else offered at a large price just to get, plus a monthly fee - WITHOUT the safety net of even a yearly contract that states the monthly fee up front, so you can at least determine the actual annual cost?

Where in the real world can you sink 1200 into something (for a regular island, say, in SL), agree to pay a monthly fee, and then wake up and discover your fee has been raised 67%? (And that your purchase is now almost impossible to unload, and even if you do, you'll have to pay $100 or more just to make the transfer.)

And tell me, will it HURT the Lindens if people abandon these islands now so LL can resell them, or convert them to their own uses? Or will it HURT them if they get a bunch of transfer fees out of it now?

I know that some of these have been "abused." But this is no solution to that problem.

And it's not the tier increase itself that's so awful - it's the fact that you realize you've been sold a pig in a poke. (To get a really good handle on that concept, just ask those people who just bought some Open Spaces.) It's knowing that now you may not even be able to UNLOAD them.

Now tell me: Am I being cynical? Did this REALLY catch the Lindens by surprise, after all these months, and after all these steps they took to make them more available to everyone, more attractive, hold more prims, etc.?

Cause if so, then what you have is a company so asleep at the wheel, so inept, that it's a wonder they can actually find their way into the office each day.

I tend to think it's simple: They milked it as long as they could.

coco

Jahar Aabye

Another ironic thing is that it seems like a lot of the people who were asking for the prim counts to be raised on the OpenSpace sims are the same ones complaining about this action...actually, maybe it's actually quite predictable, since those were the people most likely to overload the sims.

Of course, the fact that this particular situation involves a Common Good, Negative Externalities, 3rd Party Actors...it's just a clusterfuck of Market Failures.

Of course, having worked on the nightmare of nightmares when it comes to Public Policy in RL*, this really isn't that difficult of a problem. Raising the rates is the simplest solution, albeit a rather unpopular one. The protests that you hear are the same ones that you hear from the vox populi in RL as well: Taxes are too high, services are too low, the government is taking all our money, the government isn't doing enough...it's the same in any language and any time period. What generally silences it is not better collective action or more efficient policies, but better communication from the administration to the population.

After all, I wonder what the protests would have been like if LL had decided to impose serverside clamps on sim resource usage (if it were hypothetically possible), and then kick all the sims that were well over the threshold for "light use" up to full sims and charge them the full USD $295 tier. Now THAT would have been a debacle.


*The US healthcare system (ie Medicare and Medicaid) is a far bigger mess than all the problems on the grid combined are or ever will be

Jahar Aabye

Oh, and Anne:

If the DeathStar should come into orbit around your planet, it will likely destroy everything capriciously. Straggling refugees might be able to reach other planets (grids) in the metaverse, but they would have to rebuild their entire civilization amid complete anarchy and lawlessness.

And of course, once the DeathStar destroys one planet, what is to stop it from deciding that it must move on to conquer all of them?

It would be extremely unwise for citizens to attempt to call attention to the DeathStar in an act of retribution. Those things have a mind of their own.

Desmond Shang

I just got word that some Caledon residents have set their openspace regions afire to protest the recent tier increase.

As we have free speech rights in place, and considering the circumstances, I won't stop them.

Prokofy Neva

Cocoanut, it's good you've rehearsed the history that yes, goes back to Adam as if often does, and him getting, before anyone else, these light sims of 4 to a pack, and then Anshe seeing this and demanding equal opportunity for herself, and then the Lindens selling them for 4 in a pack and then after Havoc testing, selling them one by one, if you had an island.

But here's what it's really all about. It's not about the Lindens profiting. They don't get much profit really. It's modest. What it's about is making sure that such profit as there is to be made is made by them, and not all these girls who bought up 100s of sims and flipped them to people with basically ownership-like rights and even the right to pay the LINDENS tier, because of the set up.

that meant without even getting out of bed in the morning, these girls flipping sims to get rich quick could make $1000 a month just for the mere fact of holding these 100 sims on their balance sheet, and in fact made more, selling them and collecting higher rent. It was a heady time.

The Lindens saw this glutting out crazily because many girls thought they could then be like the other girls and get rich quick by doing nothing.

The Lindens, however, hate land. they want land only to be a jacket or shelf or frame for the jewel of content, not anything valued by itself or a commodity that is flipped.

I think that the use as rentals and the flipping and non-owner payor rights bothered them as much as anything, and they came up with the "performance" issue to express what was wrong in technical rather than financial terms, that's all.

Ciaran Laval

"OpenSpaces sim had limitations that were disclosed from the get-go by LL, and then swept under the rug by resellers and arbitrageurs."

They were also swept under the rug by LL. I amongst many others pointed out back in July when LL were gleefully blogging about how wonderful they were and their growth in land mass that Openspaces wer being used for far more than their blurb, but they were selling like hot cakes.

They were being used in other ways before the product change and a cursory glance at the blog comments when the initial change was annoucned shows that people planned to use them as they are now being used.

There has been an "Eyes are bigger than the belly" attitude to openspaces for a long time and that attitude starts at the very top of the chain and they need to take responsibility.

Gareth Nelson

""Net neutrality" is easy to understand, if you already understand the difference between a common carrier and a contract carrier."

Here's the thing: the types who promote "net neutrality" also seem to take issue with the idea of tiered internet access. But tiered internet access is already here, and if they ever did manage to get a law passed that prohibited traffic shaping and QoS measures, then we'll simply all end up getting slower access.

I'm more than happy to pay for my bandwidth usage, rather than pay a flat fee for a painfully slow connection.

The real issue with the openspace sims as I see it is nicely summed up here:
"And where in the real world is anything else offered at a large price just to get, plus a monthly fee - WITHOUT the safety net of even a yearly contract that states the monthly fee up front, so you can at least determine the actual annual cost?"

Jacking prices up and down all the time is guaranteed to piss off customers and LL should probably be rethinking this decision. CPU metering isn't even required to fix the issues (in fact i'd oppose that, as it'd never be possible for all the regions on one single server to get the maximum amount - even if they're willing to pay). The answer is correct throttling on the cheaper plans, with more expensive plans for lower-contention servers.

Gareth Nelson

"that meant without even getting out of bed in the morning, these girls flipping sims to get rich quick could make $1000 a month just for the mere fact of holding these 100 sims on their balance sheet, and in fact made more, selling them and collecting higher rent. It was a heady time."

oh noes! capitalism!
I'd have thought you would support free trade of this kind (so long as nobody fails to impose restrictions on any software they might happen to trade on the free market).

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