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Gwyneth Llewelyn
Neufreistadt, Second Life
I'm just a virtual girl in a virtual world...
Interests: virtual realities and societies/economies inside virtual realities.
Recent Activity
Oh, that was masterfully executed... 1) Dump the bottomless pit of wasted money that was Sansar; 2) Spin-off Tilia (just as eBay did with PayPal); 3) Move everything into the cloud (i.e. better infrastructure — no CPUs will be idle on empty regions — for a fraction of the cost), which allows extra available cash (can be turned in more profits, more staff, both, etc.); 4) Get acquired by a very long-standing, solid company that follows the Graham and Dodd value investing school of thought, which has famously been adopted by Warren Buffet. I'd say the future looks bright! :-) ... then again, I'm known to be the eternal optimist.
In about two weeks, we got a couple of requests for proposals for new virtual world presences... one from a very old customer, one for a new one. Hmm. Both are academic, though, which means little funding and relatively short-lived virtual presences, but... it's no coincidence that it happened now, when for so many years our mailboxes just got spam... Obviously, so far, we have no confirmation that either of those will go ahead, but... as said, it's good to know that at least some people are thinking about SL again!
... and, of course, we Mac users will patiently fiddle our fingers (or use a fidget) and eternally wait for someone to remember to port it for us.
I don't think that a sample of 106 people is really representative, either. Maybe you could have asked an open-ended 'why' question (i.e. why would you join any of those platforms, or none at all). I can see both the appeal of an open-source, open-ended platform, as well as one that is a closed garden ran by a company which has been doing exactly that for 14 years; and I can also see the appeal for high-end gamers with their homes furnished with all sort of VR gear, versus the social user who, at best, has a high-end laptop to log in. Both platforms will appeal to each kind of user in very different ways. Personally I think that both platforms will find their niche markets (around the 10-100K users), and there will be a lot of experimenting by the academic community on High Fidelity (because it's free and open-source), but Second Life will still remain a 'first choice' for the casual, social users. That's why I still think that Linden Lab, at some point, will have no choice but to 'force' people to switch over to Sansar — maybe starting to find clever ways to port content, especially meshed content (which ought to actually be easier to move over) — merely from a business perspective: it might simply be too costly to keep two separate teams on two platforms at the same time, and enhancing SL will become harder and harder every day. They have been saying 'no' for quite a while now, but... for how long will they be able to keep that promise?
I agree — mix a world-class brand from a huge entertainment corporation, and the success is guaranteed, pretty much whatever they launch (it could be an app to 'pokémonize' your face, and it would be a huge success as well). I'm waiting for Pokémon Go to launch in my country to try it out — I did try Ingress, but it seemed far too much trouble to play, even though the graphics and the plot line are quite cool!… — although, to be honest, pretty much everybody here at the office has jailbroken their phones (or whatever the equivalent trick is) to be able to play it, and it certainly works well. Imagine my surprise when I saw pretty much everybody standing up, walking around with their smartphones playing elevator music, and coming behind my workplace (I sit against a window, so it's not that easy to squeeze through) with glazed eyes and clearly not even noticing that I was in the way... Sure, I had vaguely heard about the launch of Pokémon Go, but not the details; and I didn't know you could hack into the phones to play it. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine knew how to hack into Ingress (very easy, apparently any kid can do it) in order to play it without moving from their chair — something that is child's play to do for Pokémon Go as well, at least on an Android phone (allegedly you can do the same on iOS but it requires a tiny bit more expertise). So maybe because cheating at the game will be child's play, it won't last long? Who knows. The truth is that there are a lot of games around where it's pretty easy to cheat, and they are nevertheless long-lived. And none of them beat the number of Twitter users in a week after launch. So Nintendo & Niantic have got a point there. And possibly a 'killing application' for AR. We'll see. I'm eager to see some success in this area — AR and VR are close cousins, and mainstream adoption of the one will at least raise interest on the other. What I find nasty about the Nintendo/Niantic launch is that Niantic was financed by Goggle's R&D department to develop the Ingress engine, and now Niantic has used it to split a million dollars/day with Nintendo — and the game is only a week old, and just launched on three countries (I think). Once it becomes a worldwide game, I'm sure that Nintendo/Niantic will easily get each a billion per year — or about what WoW is worth in yearly subscriptions. How much does Google earn from that? Probably next-to-zilch — because if they start grumbling much about using Google Maps, Niantic could easily switch to OpenStreetMap instead, and that would mean no more fees to pay to Google (or anyone else). So this is certainly interesting and intriguing. Even if the 'fad' is over after summer, I'm pretty sure that the whole development costs will easily have been paid. And in terms of brand awareness and media coverage, they certainly got a LOT of free 'advertising'. Nicely done, Nintendo, you know how to pull this off :) As for other giant ventures with similar concepts... I can very well imagine that Disney's Marvel division could come up with something pretty similar. Become your own superhero by locally saving people or fulfilling some quests; add a nice plot about people becoming mutants everywhere; or what about a zombie invasion (pitting Humans vs. Zombies, you pick your character), with nice art from Marvel's studios? Disney could pull it off, too. But sure, Universal Studios with Harry Potter could pretty much do the same. I can certainly imagine a world-wide wizardry contest, with players picking up spells and magic items all over the world, exchanging them with each other, and so forth. It makes sense, has a lot of appeal, and, yes, it's also another universal brand. So I guess you're right, we're probably going to see a few more competitors to Pokémon Go — but they will always be remembered as 'the first'. Now, how much time until someone develops an equivalent game for SL?... Heh. AR inside VR. That's definitely cool! Didn't Babbage Linden have something like that, in his Linden days? (I could look it up, but I'm lazy...) (ooooooh, someone still remembers Fasa.... gosh, I've suddenly noticed I'm middle-aged!)
That's rather nice for a free app, although I must humbly confess that I'm addicted to FilterForge's art filters...
Whew I'm so sorry to hear about this, Damien & Washu. I certainly hope that you can figure out a way out of that mess. You don't deserve that extra trouble to deal with the robotic morons at the IRS — taking away your precious time dealing with stupid bureaucracy, instead of spending it with your child and/or creating amazing content... I remember having had similar issues with Portugal's IRS, even though in that case the issue was not PayPal, and the money 'earned' from SL did not come from LindeX. But still 'our' IRS was confused about why I had earned a lot of money one year but didn't report anything the next year (because, well, sadly enough, that second year's income was no way near the first year, and was actually well below the minimum amount for reporting). At the end, the IRS 'won' (by default — my lawyers couldn't step in in time, the actual period for complaining was measured in days, not weeks or months) and I had to a huge amount of taxes for money that I didn't ever receive. I learned that Portugal's IRS are actually allowed to file tax forms on your behalf, not telling you anything about it, and not allowing you to complain — and once 'their' tax forms are in the system, they override anything you might have declared! (And, suspiciously enough, they will NOT show you THEIR tax forms, unless you have a court order to look at their records...). Fishy? Oh yes, very. My only luck — as opposed to your situation — is that I had earned just a tiny fraction of what you do with content :) so it didn't ruin me, and I was at least allowed to pay the 'fake' taxes in monthly installments over a period of two years. The lesson I learned was, for the future, to get the best lawyers I can afford, and make sure they move FAST — something that my current poorly underpaid lawyers were unable to do. :( And, again, the accountants had nothing to do with my case, either. They had reported everything correctly to the last cent. It was just the stupid IRS that did not 'believe' them.
Gwyneth Llewelyn is now following Beth Simone Noveck
Jan 17, 2015
@Pierre Ceriano I think that's the right attitude; what I call "Plan B". If LL even embraces that and arranges a form of compensating content creators wishing to do exactly what you're doing — exchanging 'old' SL content with 'new' SL2 content for free — and this is loudly announced and proclaimed, then I think that SL2 has more than a fair chance to survive. In any case, thanks for already doing that promise today! I hope it encourages others to do the same. @Ciaran Laval — will it really still be running?... And for how long?
I won't be using Second Life at all... it will be shut down!! Sure, I read what Ebbe said. But let's do a reality check here: Ebbe is like a politician in a campaign saying that he will not raise taxes. Then he gets elected, looks at the big hole in the budget left by their predecessors, and, in a panic, raises taxes. Was that politician 'lying'? No. He was being honest (but naïve) while he campaigned, because that's the data he had at the moment he was on the streets. When facing reality, he had no choice but to go back on his word. In 2016, SL will not be able to sustain LL any longer — thanks to this announcement, which might be well-meant, but completely ill-timed and badly worded. When that happens, Ebbe has either the choice of shutting down SL (which costs way too much to maintain) and keep SL2 and hope against all hope to increase the number of users there, or, well, resign... and eventually the Board might have to liquidate LL. My assumptions for that dark future are based on a lot of things: 1) Linden Lab has never found a way to make grow SL — except for giving access for free. All announcements since that decision always shrunk SL more and more. No matter what theories they tried to put into practice, SL always shrunk. It was almost reaching an equilibrium now, when they made this announcement — and the rate of shrinkage will accelerate. 2) If they can't attract new users and keep them inside SL, why should they suddenly be able to do that for SL2? 3) SL2 will, undoubtedly, attract thousands of early adopters. All VWs launched since 2005 managed to do that. All were seen as potential competitors to SL. All failed — after attracting thousands of early adopters. Why should SL2 be different? 4) If there was 'nothing else' besides SL2 out there, then perhaps LL would have a chance. All Ebbe needs is to get a few thousands of content creators and 100,000 users willing to spend money in SL2. That's what he's gambling on. Sadly for him, in 2016 we will have High Fidelity and possibly Facebook's VW competing with SL2. Both will have dazzling, shiny, new graphics. Both will attract thousands of early adopters. Many will come from a ruined SL. 5) It took years and years for SL to develop the exciting society, economy, and complex community we have now, with millions of users (many of those gone already, of course). Even if the open beta version is around for, say, a year — how does Ebbe expect that a few thousands can replicate in a year what millions have done over a decade? Even assuming there was no competition! Look at OpenSimulator: it has been around for 7 years now, and has probably 30,000 regular users. While it's possible that SL2 can grow a little faster than that, the problem is pure economics: will LL's board be happy with a company making thousands of dollars a month instead of the millions it gets now?
Ciaran is so right. In my own assumptions I thought only about the technical hurdle of doing the migration. I forgot all about the ToS. Granted, it might be possible to change the ToS now and force everybody to sign it, but will that be a good move? Dang. There goes one of the best arguments that LL had to avoid everybody switching over to HiFi and Facebook when SL goes down: a clear migration plan. Time for Plan B. That's on my blog, at the very end — I might have to highlite it.
In the mean time, Newsweek has posted a letter from the poor guy who was misidentified as Bitcoin's creator. It's sad really, since he might not be able to afford legal counsel to sue Newsweek... Is their claim that Bitcoin exchanges 500 million dollars per day true? If so, I'd say it's certainly a digital currency "more successful" than the L$ — which "only" gets 500 million dollars transacted per year. Still, as far as I know, the huge success of Bitcoin is that it's so successfully employed on those kinds of sites that cannot use PayPal or similar credit card processors. Aye, you know what kinds of sites I mean. By contrast, the L$ is mostly used to acquire content and pay tier...
Well, hmm, maybe HF is really a virtual world after all. In any case, I'm a bit baffled about the "secrecy". I mean, High Fidelity is on GitHub. There is a direct link for it on their website. Just point to it, clone the repository, compile it on your computer, and you're ready to go. No secrets, all the source code is there for anyone to see. Yay for open source projects — go Philip!
I have this strange feeling that Philip is not interested in developing a new virtual world. Instead, he's developing technology that allows others to create their own virtual worlds instead. Something a bit along the lines of Unity. He will just license the technology to whomever might be interested in it. In that case, one wonders who his customers might be. Two, of course, come immediately to mind: Linden Lab and... Facebook. We'll see, I might be wrong on this, but it's just HF's own website and all the news surrounding it are all about the tech and never about the world. That should ring a few alarms...
Well, I can only say that I'm glad that at least Linden Lab is 'looking into the issue', and explains their intent. I agree with you, Hamlet, ten extra words in the ToS would have gone a long, long way to mitigate the whole drama! But if that letter means that all fears will be removed, I have no idea. After all, they can always and endlessly change the ToS, as often as they wish...
I've resorted to the "trick" of using a Page for a long time, because, yes, it doesn't violate Facebook's ToS (and you can hide who the administrator is — Facebook's employees will know that, of course, but not the general public). Facebook's more recent APIs are clever enough to allow a lot of things to be done with Pages, and which work almost exactly in the same way than using a Facebook account with real names & data. For example, Jetpack for WordPress, an add-on by Automattic, includes sharing tools/posting to Facebook which distinguishes between both, and you can do everything as well with a Page. This is by far not the only good example — several online services also allow Pages to be used as Facebook logins — but there is a catch. The vast majority of plugins/online services out there still use the 2005 API, which has no clue about Pages. So this means that the ease of using a Facebook Page as a single registration/login for those services is impossible. Ironically, Linden Lab, who should know better, and who just finished developing their "Facebook Sharing" tools inside the viewer, also use the old 2005 API. Bummer! There is absolutely nothing that LL has implemented that cannot be done with a Page instead (e.g. sharing locations, status, pictures...). But nooooo they just had to use the old and outdated API! How stupid can that be? It's impossible to address all the billions of sites out there which still use the old API, and that's why Facebook still supports it. The only way to force them all to change would be by Facebook simply dropping the access to the old API (Google and Yahoo, for similar reasons, are always fond of dropping old APIs...). But until that happens, we'll still be stuck to using 'real' accounts with Facebook, not Pages, to register with all those services out there. Including, to our chagrin, Second Life :-P
Shouldn't the question be "Do you recommend non-profits & education groups pay half the price for an SL sim?" Otherwise, at least for a non-native English speaker like me, I don't know what I should answer :) I'm certainly strongly in favour of giving them a 50% discount, but I'm quite sure it's too late now: pretty much everybody in education & research has moved to OpenSimulator, for many more reasons than merely the discount (hint: free uploading of textures and no land impact limits).
Hehe... I have missed your post, Hamlet, so I'm just replying now :) We both are committing some fallacies: You: Just because you know a few senior citizens that love the OR, that doesn't mean all will love it, or even that a substantial amount of them will do so. Me: Just because I don't personally know any 70+-year-old who is a hard-core gamer, that doesn't mean that there are hundreds of thousands of them around. So I stick to my point... will the OR (or some clone of it) become as ubiquitous as, say, the mouse... or the mobile phone? I'd say, "no", even if it costs $5, because it's not a question of technology that drives people to social virtual-worlds with user-generated content. If it were the case, SL would be empty, as it trails behind the gaming industry in terms of technology :) But still it attracts *some* people — well, a few millions — even though it's not something designed for the hard-core games, but sometimes is presented as if it were. So I have to agree totally with Ajax. Note that the Segway isn't a flop. It's a huge commercial success. It has long passed the stage where the hype attracted consumers, it's incredibly overpriced, but it still sells like crazy even if the media doesn't talk about it — and it continues to evolve and be developed. But it didn't change traffic patterns and urban layouts as the original viral meme-spreading about the Segway claimed it would do. There are good reasons for the OR to be similar. It will appeal immediately to the tens of thousands who already want one. Hundreds of thousands more will also buy it instead of a new console for Christmas. I can even believe that soon every major game will support it natively — and so will SL. But that doesn't mean a) that millions will join SL because of its OR support or that b) OR will become as commonplace as a keyboard and mouse. Or even a joystick. Because, well, not everybody likes immersion (see Nozick). Oh, btw, and I'm not so sure that the current generation of kids would love to use something that "even their grandparents are using". In fact, I would certainly not use that as an argument! I'm sure it will kill sales instead of promoting them. To reply to @joker: as far as I understand, the OR's support in SL will work in a way that at least you won't need a keyboard and mouse to move around. And of course LL wants everybody to use voice and not text, so they don't worry much about that issue. My question is more how other things in the UI will work — how do you open inventory and drag an item to a friend without a keyboard and a mouse? So I have to agree, 85% of SL's interface is not about navigation and camera positioning, and, in that regard, I fail to see how OR will improve all that. BUT... let LL suprise us. Sometimes they do!
... or it's an attack. You might be able to talk to the Typepad guys and see if they can provide you with an IP address log of those locations and see if they are suspect... It certainly doesn't look nice to me.
@Flashing Merlin the issue is that many content creators are not happy in providing their real data to everybody... the anonymity of the L$ allowed them to exist without a) anyone knowing who they are; b) not pay income taxes in their home countries :) If they're forced to accept US$ or Euros in-world, many will probably shut down their shops. Granted, the market is saturated (there is more demand than supply), and this would mean that all other content creators who have no problem in accepting US$ via PayPal would be more than happy to fill the void :)
The issue is not really the LindeX. The issue is that the LindeX may also be shut down by the US Government. Then we will have a problem!
Well, I just think that shutting down the third-party exchanges will not be enough; if LL is fearing US Government action, then they'll have to shut down the LindeX next. At that time, either residents become very creative (using other ways of doing business), or, well, without a way for creators to earn their money, they will stop creating; without content, there will be little incentive to shell out cartloads of money to pay tier, when almost-content-less virtual worlds exist beyond SL — namely, on the many OpenSim grids (many of which are beyond the reach of the US Government, fortunately).
Ok. Uh. Ah. Oh. Well, I don't know. I'm too open-minded to be too skeptic, but I can only say: this will surely attract techies. Sure, they will come. If you need a $3000 computer to render things like what HF is promising to do, then a million or two hard-core gamers and 3D modellers will most definitely jump onto HF. What about the rest of the world? Well... we thought they would come to Second Life. They didn't. So perhaps Philip's new venture works out fine: a better SL. Sure. Why not? So many people have tried to do that and fail, why shouldn't SL's inventor out-invent his own creation? Einstein also dropped special relativity and created general relativity instead. Sure, Philip's not Einstein, but out-performing one's own inventions is cool, right? They didn't hire John Carmack. Nor, of course, Cory, who is still enthusiastic about Cloud Party, will not budge. But Philip hired Jeska again. That sounds good. Doesn't it? :) I only wonder about conflicts of interest as Philip sits on both boards :) Unless, uh, SL is going to migrate to HF? Hmmm. That would mean that they'd blow up all future competition forever.