Friday, April 04, 2008

it's a small world after all

I'm having fun spending a couple of days immersed in the metaverse at the Virtual Worlds conference in New York City. I was out in New York for consulting and the company asked me to attend, so suddenly I'm back where everyone knows my name.

Actually, I know about 1/3 of the people here, the same residents, entrepreneurs, and businesses that have been at the bleeding edge of virtual worlds for the last 2 or 3 years. The other 2/3 are new, which is good to see. With over 1200 attendees there is a fair amount of buzz.

Linden and IBM had a pretty exciting announcement about a new, enterprise solution with a portion of Second Life running on machines owned by IBM. This is a great step and one certain to generate additional corporate interest.

However, what really struck me walking around the show was how constrained the virtual world dream has become. There are a bunch of projects that look like less populated and less functional versions of Second Life, usually with some marketing material promising a "safer" or more "corporate" environment. A few other companies are promising rapid and cheap creation of advertising worlds, leveraging outsourced production.

Is this really the Metaverse? Is this even the 3D internet? Isn't this the same week that we saw Congressional testimony on virtual worlds, on their potential impact on education, community, business, and communication? Technology is just enabling us to take incredibly bold steps, to connect people in entirely new ways. From 3D camera technology to spatialized voice to novel interfaces to mobile to augmented reality, we should be ready to embark on the next exponential curve, building on everything learned from Second Life over the last 8 years.

The future is not a phalanx of walled garden, advertainment worlds constrained by short-term thinking.

I know Linden is going to continue to be bold. I am shocked that none of the competition is.


Tateru Nino said...

I'm not really surprised. I've seen this sort of thing with other industries too.

Copy success - but without the risk of innovating.

The walled garden and restricted user model is very popular right now. Right or wrong, user-generated content is widely perceived to be Second Life's biggest problem, a problem few others want to take on.

I didn't have to make this up. Quoting a VC.

dyerbrookME said...

>The future is not a phalanx of walled garden, advertainment worlds constrained by short-term thinking

I left not discouraged about virtual worlds, but realistic that there really isn't a Metaverse, that it's one thing to have read about it in a book, and dreamed about it, but it's another thing to see it happen.

So we saw that future. It is about kids and pets and walled gardens has to be about earning money. Somebody has to pay for all this.

Call me when the opensource kind of stuff has a way to make money not just for its magic circle of insiders who can then consult for everybody, but all of us.


RIP said...

Prokofy your trying your best to build more barriers to progress here too I see! Face it my friend, the buggywip business plan you have established in sl has to evolve, and no amount of overly wordy commentary will change that fact. Step out on the edge with us Prok, feel the electron wind on your aves face and stop breathing that old stale pixel dust!

Dalien said...

From an unsophisticated point of view it is just another video game - so to me this is the reason for the current step with the whole "advertainment-based walled gardens" - it's the most convenient, and possibly the most profitable approach short-term - whether we count it in the eyeballs or membership fees.

I still believe that the long-term effects will be huge, and the key to achieving them is the full decentralization of the identity/reputation management, content storage, and possibly of the very "currency" itself - and none of these activities are in the interests of current "walled gardens" - because short-term they decrease the amount of milk the cow gives :)

That's why it's not something that will happen fast. But I am sure it will eventually happen.

Len Bullard said...

Walled gardens are a normal course of evolution just like gated communities. For various motives, some domains are closed or as described years ago, are semi-permeable.

That has nothing to do with whether or not the technology is innovative. That's a red herring.

Consider this: as soon as it was reliable, the CIA and the rest of the Intelnet community began to adopt web technology but on closed networks. This is no different.

I'm surprised at Cory. He knows this. He was an officer in the United States Navy, he worked at the National Security Agency and graduated from the Navy Nuclear Power School. He knows full well why walled gardens exist.