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Gwyneth Llewelyn
Neufreistadt, Confederation of Democratic Simulators, Second Life
I'm just a virtual girl in a virtual world...
Interests: virtual realities and societies/economies inside virtual realities.
Recent Activity
Adeon: it is meaningless. It would be like calling all kinds of computer devices — from desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, to supercomputers — 'metatoys'. Like, you see, those things that people play with? Metatoys. You can throw anything into that classification, and it will stick. A Xbox? A metatoy. Your old 1980s Tamaguchi? Why, obviously a metatoy. Everything is a metatoy, even if you use it to actually work with, or communicate with, whatever. Anyway, speaking of meaningless things, I always thought that 'non-fungible token' is the sort of thing that sounds 'fintechy' but is also pretty much meaningless as well. Obviously, it is supposed to relate to financial, non-fungible assets — something which a financier is likely to understand. But an NFT is technically not the token (whatever it might be) but rather the contract that comes with it. In other words, what gets transacted on a crypto-exchange is not really the item but rather the contract — the item, by itself, is theoretically irrelevant. Or, if put in another way: who cares if you have a billion perfectly identical copies of one silly bitmap, so long as you have a sequence of random characters (which are utterly devoid of meaning and lack any patterns) that proves you own one of them? That proof (and not the item) is what is valued and transacted... Well, speculators are used to invest in virtual goods of many sorts. The venerable old futures are just a bet made about the future price of an item; who wins the bet gets to keep all the money in the pool. That's the kind of thing that economists, bankers, Wall Street yahoos, and academics tell us that are supposed to be 'worth' something. Compared to that, at least one can read out the long sequence of random characters 'inside' a NFT and recite them, just for the fun of it. Or assign each letter/number to a musical note and play a tune. Well, it's not much fun, I guess...
It's ironic that I'm reading this a year after you wrote it, Hamlet. Well, that's me, always late in catching up with things :) I really need to read his book now. No more excuses for me!
All right, so I am biased. But I'm totally siding with both Wagner & Mark here. Nothing against Epic, mind you; they dared to challenge the pricing structure of Apple/Google, and they have done so rightly — by risking to develop their own online store. I'm quite the skeptic when it comes to the 'metaverse-in-your-smartglasses' thing. I can certainly foresee that such a gadget might enjoy some sales in a niche market. But I'd be hard-pressed to believe that, 20 or 30 years from now, we'll all be taking the subway or bus, sitting next to each other, each of us happily grabbing in the air while communicating — or playing! — to others via a 'metaverse'. Then again, people said the same about smartphones, and look at how we use them today...
Hm! That's actually quite interesting news (as it was back in 2013, mind you), and perhaps a bit surprising, in view of the (alleged!) size of each market. Then again, and taking into account that I'm by no means an expert in cryptocurrency (in particular, I have no idea how the BTC market fixes the coin's actual price — since it's clearly not by old-fashioned supply-and-demand rules), all I know is that, these days, almost all BTC transactions occur between users and crypto-to-fiat currency exchanges, and between the exchanges themselves, as actually adding things to the ledger takes an insane amount of processing time, and is restricted to 'a few' entries per minute. What that means is that exchanges have their own way of, well, exchanging data among themselves — at mind-boggling speeds, since this is just a private way of settling balances between them, not to actually write anything on the ledger — while, every once in a while, they actually write something to the ledger. Perhaps just once per day, or once per week, or something like that — it's actually irrelevant, except when 'problems' occur (e.g. an exchange that goes down, or gets hacked, or gets limited in some way by regulatory bodies...). My point is that we only see public transactions on the ledger — not necessarily the transactions occurring on individual exchanges, or between the exchanges themselves. Unless they choose to publish such data (and in most cases, since they are unregulated, they keep such data strictly to themselves), there is no way to actually know how many BTC transactions were made. Sure, we can speculate, and extrapolate from the few exchanges which do publish their data, but we cannot know, in the sense that we know how many L$ get transacted (or how many ledger entries were updated on the Bitcoin blockchain). In other words, more likely than not (I don't know, I don't run a Bitcoin node, and haven't ever bothered to peek at the ledger!), the ledger gets written with bulk entries that correspond to vast amounts of transactions occurring between exchanges — but not to individual transactions. Then again, I don't really know how it works :) All I know is that the vast majority — and that's 'vast' with a capital V — of BTC transactions do not occur between individual users themselves, but rather between such individuals and their wallets and their wallets with whatever exchange(s) they work with. And all of these are unknown, untracked, and uncounted... Thus, an alternative explanation about the question you've been asking in the past nine years is simply one: we (investors) do not really want you (representants of the media) to get a clue on how much we actually exchange (or who we exchange with), lest governments engage themselves even deeper into cryptocurrency regulation. They might also not be very willing to announce to the wide world that the actual speculation on BTC occurs on exchanges — not on the blockchain — and it's there where day traders make money, since exchanges (unlike the blockchain!) are able to clear transactions in nanoseconds among themselves using their own protocols which bear nothing in common with the whole blockchain concept. In fact, such inter-exchange transactions are at the other extreme of the spectrum: it's an interchange of information, which is not public, not open, uses multiple protocols, is completely unregulated but also unregulatable (anybody can get a peek at the blockchain ledger and see who is exchanging BTC with whom; nobody is allowed to take a look at the information exchanged between exchanges), it uses strong encryption solely among business partners who only share keys among themselves (their communications are therefore inviolable), and it's certainly not 'centralised' (in the sense that there is no government body doing oversight), but also not 'distributed' in the sense of Bitcoin (where anyone can participate), since only exchanges are able to join the playing field. Indeed, it resembles much more the way how SWIFT or similar inter-bank protocols work — you need to be a bank to transfer money to another bank using SWIFT, although you can offer 'SWIFT bank transfers' to your users — and much less the conceptual framework that cryptocurrency was supposed to provide. Finally, your contacts in the investor market may not really want the public to know that you make far more money in ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) than on day-trading on the BTC exchanges... Although I seriously suspect that you make even more by operating an exchange; at least, at the insane fees they charge (well, I just tried out with very few, I cannot say if this is common to all; I would just guess that people would gravitate towards those with the lowest transaction fees, which ought to bring the overall price down — that, at least, is basic economics...). After all, Linden Lab found that out on their own a long, long time ago, and that's why they run the LindeX as a monopoly. Disclaimer: I really don't know much about cryptocurrency except the very basics. So, take my words with a container load of salt!
Akirakiyoi raises a fundamental question, which is the unfairness of the whole situation. It's easy to target oligarchs with sanctions — we have their names & addresses, after all. It's much tougher when applying sanctions to all Russians. After all, while we can easily believe that Russian elections are far less rigged than what many believe it to be — in other words, 70% or so of eligible Russian voters did vote for Putin, and wanted his reign as 'dictator-aka-tzar', but that's hardly the whole population of the Russian Federation. A lot simply refuse to vote (for good reasons, too). 30% who appear at the urns did vote against Putin and will continue to do so for as long as Putin allows free elections with secret ballots. That gives — what? Perhaps half of all Russians are not exactly aligned with the regime, and are well aware of the situation in Ukraine and what the West is attempting to do about it? These are the same Russians that were positively enthusiastic when, two decades ago or so, the Russian Federation even earned a 'temporary observatory status' at NATO — and it suddenly even became possible to believe that Russia would not only join NATO, but perhaps even some kind of Pan-European Union? The mind boggles at how many steps we retraced until we went back to the height of the Cold War in 1962 again... Anyway... I still think that it's 'unfair' to target half the population of Russia who is against their own regime, but powerless to effect any real change, and now have to suffer as well for crimes they never committed nor even endorsed. Imagine that the whole world would sanction the US during the Trump era just because half the population of the US is positively anti-democratic and wants a republican dictator — in the Ancient Rome context of both words! — as their Dear Leader. Why should the remaining US population suffer sanctions for something they never wished for, neither endorsed? I totally realise that both situations are not identical; after all, not even Trump managed to have the US invade Mexico (or Canada) just because he (allegedly) hated Mexicans — while Putin has no such qualms. But just imagine that Trump had, in fact, attempted to invade Mexico, and the US would be facing heavy sanctions from all countries in the world. Would that be fair for all Americans who voted Democrat in 2016 (and remember they were more than those who voted Trump!)? Such a moral dilemma is currently being faced by a plethora of Internet-based services who may be called to apply sanctions on Russia residents. For example, I'm a huge fan of Cloudflare, and love the company. They are still providing services to Russia — even under pressure to stop doing so, even though they had to shut & lock down the servers in the data centres they have in the country. But they still keep their service active (outbound data from Russia is just transparently redirected to nearby data centres — just as it happens if there is unpredictable downtime — and the difference is terms of quality is not that big). You may ask why. Their answers have been posted on their blog: because innocent Russians are desperately seeking access to reliable news sources. Putin doesn't want to prevent non-Russians to access their state-sponsored propaganda websites. What he wants is to prevent Russians from reading about the Truth on the international media. That's exactly the same attitude as China, Iran, and similar governments which restrict access to their citizens, because they fear to expose them to the Truth (and for good reasons, too). Information is power, and those who control information are in control of that power. That's why Cloudflare is still providing service to Russians willing to access the Truth; and they will continue to do so until they're physically forced to stop. Similarly, on the very popular techy Q&A site StackOverflow, where developers (amog others!) are very active, and come from all over the world, this very same question was raised: should access to Russian users be blocked or not? The company behind StackOverflow noted that this would not really matter in the grand scheme of things. Russian techie-savvy users know very well how to avoid any blocks placed on Russian origin IP addresses (using run-of-the-mill VPNs, for example), and they wouldn't be affected in the least. Rather, it would make it more difficult for less-savvy users to find answers to their questions — and what purpose would that serve, anyway? We're talking about questions about how to configure Windows to use less memory on old computers, for example — not exactly how to write the next Internet worm, or sample code for missile guidance systems. Ultimately, like CloudFlare, the company decided to keep everybody's access to their websites — unless, of course, they're mandated by a warrant to tell them otherwise and legally compel them to obey such a law, if it were put in place — but I hardly believe that this will ever be the case. Russian content creators in Second Life are well aware of the Truth, and have always been; they were just powerless to prevent their government from controlling it. They are on the same side of the Ukrainian victims — it's just that they can still live without the fear of getting hit with bombs. They nevertheless face a dire period of time ahead — when, thanks to all the indiscriminate sanctions, innocent Russians will suffer from a lack of food, medical drugs, and other primary necessities. It's certainly better to remain in your home with heating and running water and quiet nights without fearing that your house can get hit by a shell or a bomb at every minute — but similar to the Ukrainians living underground on their basements (most of which hastily 'converted' into bunkers but lacking pretty much everything), what matters is the food you're able to place on your table. Now please don't get me wrong. I'm totally against Putin's War and unwaveringly on the side of all Ukrainians (even those who have fallen prey to Putin's propaganda machine — which, thankfully, are far fewer than Putin hoped for). But I also felt quite encouraged that at the rallies I attended near our Russian Embassy there was a strong contingent of Russian emigrants solidly standing shoulder-by-shoulder with their Ukranian counterparts and shouting anti-Putin and pro-Ukraine slogans as loud as anyone else. That's a good sign, I think, and one that seems to prevail — but it's not universal, as the griefing of Russian regions shows. That said, I would most strongly condemn any griefing against Russian regions or their residents, and treat such attacks as being pure hate speech and thus against the ToS and Code of Conduct. As for cashing out hard-earned L$, that's a very sensitive issue, since current sanctions in effect might prevent Tilia from doing that (I'm not sure), although, technically speaking, such sanctions are targeted to specific individuals from Russia (and now from Belarus as well), and not to the general population. It's nevertheless true that most payment systems have stopped operating in Russia — and I feel that Tilia, no matter what its stance is, might not be able to transfer funds to Russian residents, even if the vast majority of Russian residents are most certainly totally innocent (and technically not subject to sanctions!). I might not agree with the quasi-political, quasi-propagandistic message from @Luther Weymann above, but he is making a point: Russian SL residents are overwhelmingly victims of the system they happen to live in. I'm pretty sure that if they could overthrow their system (and believe that they could have a good alternative), they would — just like most Germans living under Nazi Germany were not exactly dancing and cheering on the streets. They would have voted Hitler out of power and re-establish the former democratic regime (or a new one) — if they could. The same happens today in contemporary Russia — Putin might not be 'a new Hitler', but it's the closest we have to that in Europe right now. Oh, sure, I'm aware that technically there are elections, but we all know about the Russian opposition and how they are treated by Putin's regime. Anyway, the point being is that this is a war with victims on both sides — albeit some fall prey to bombs and missiles, others to lack of money (and ultimately also lack of food and essential services) — and it's hardly obvious how exactly Linden Lab and/or Tilia are 'helping the cause' if they just cut access to their systems. All I can suggest at this juncture is for Linden Lab to open up some popular regions for allowing protesters to speak their mind (in the olden days, the Governor's Mansion region was used to stage such protests; but perhaps there are better spots), or, this being Second Life, to exercise their creativity in protesting against Putin's war and its consequence to so many millions of innocents. Keep in mind, however, that it's quite likely that both Russian residents as well as Ukrainian ones might be side-by-side in such protests — and on the same side, too. At least inside Second Life, Russian residents and Ukranian residents in Russia-occupied cities do not need to be afraid of speaking out their minds (and exercise their freedom of expression!), without fear from being (physically) shot to death...
Hey! The avatars have legs now! 😁 They're still ugly, though. @Martin, while I had also missed that, I've noticed that the author of that article raises more questions than the answers given by Zuckerberg.
... oh wait. Actually, it looks like I wasn't very original about Horizon becoming the 'new' PlayStation Home. Someone else had the same idea a few weeks ago and even made a video about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHEhegSczXQ
@Luther — 52-year-old here, but in my defense, I like to say that I was only 35 when I joined — and already felt that I was the youngest person around :-) Actually, let me play Devil's Advocate here. What's so wrong about targeting GenXers with a depressing video? Most of them are on Facebook anyway, and already depressed (and getting worse). So that's Meta's target audience — trying to recapture those GenXers who finally gave up on Facebook and are ready to try the Next Best Thing. Interestingly, the best part of that ad is the most depressing one — the one that uses real life action with CGI for the animatronics. That's the bit where the director's got creative. The worst bit is, well, Horizon. I'm sorry, but shelling out a small fortune for a VR headset to get legless, low-polygon avatars that seem to do little more than crowd around you, having a weird minimalistic almost-wireframe-y background of speeding flying cars... I don't know, but the appeal is simply not there. Unless things start to improve soon and fast, I'm not really sure that Horizon will last long as a Meta product... However, I'm not saying that Meta will move out of VR gadgets and games. These are lucrative businesses by themselves, with strong, well-proven business models. And with hundreds of millions of computer game players world-wide, that's not a niche market. What Meta could attempt to do is a long-running series of (independent) games that use the same avatar technology, and capitalise on the ability of players to personalise them (even outside of the game itself) on a 'social' VR platform where outfits and props for avatars are for sale — a bit like the old PlayStation Home (https://www.nme.com/news/gaming-news/playstation-home-is-back-from-dead-after-6-years-thanks-to-fan-project-3104756), which has been resurrected by the fan base (https://nagato.gitbook.io/playstation-home-online-faq-page/), and, looking at their Git repository, it's being actively maintained. Now, I never owned a game console (I have no time for that!), so I cannot tell how much interest PlayStation Home has (or had). There is clearly a reason for why Sony abandoned it in 2015 (I just don't know what reason was given at the time). Nevertheless, the notion that a fan base can resurrect such a project shows that there is some interest in such a product. How 'niche' it will ever be is anyone's question. But I'd say that Horizon could become the next 'PlayStation Home' for the Oculus ecosystem. The question is just if Meta is really interested in such a niche audience. From the link posted by @Martin L., I'd guess that the answer is 'no'. It's also weird to think that Facebook acquired Oculus back in 2014, Horizon is just starting to roll out after 7 or 8 years of 'development', and the best they can show is an ad with legless avatars — while in 2018 they were internally discussing that it would take them perhaps another decade until they get some traction from a VR-based 'metaverse'. Ha. I predict that Facebook will not be around in a decade any longer! I hardly believe that Zuckerberg will manage to push all his Boomer/GenXers currently on Facebook into his home-cooked VR social environment — even if he gives them all some Oculus goggles for free. The issue here is that most Facebook users are not using it on a desktop computer, but rather on a mobile phone, and that's the kind of experience you need to get billions of users. No, people will not spend 'all their time' with VR goggles on, no matter how sad and depressing their lives are. On the other hand, they will carry their smartphones everywhere — and everybody will have one (or more than one). The popularity of Meta's 2D environments comes from the simple fact that 2D social spaces only require a mobile phone and an opposing thumb, and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. You can't do that with VR unless you get a brain implant from Elon Musk's Neuralink (https://abcnews.go.com/Health/elon-musk-unveils-brain-chip-implant-fitbit-skull/story?id=72703840). That technology is already here and it's not sci-fi, but it'll require another decade or so until it gets approved by the FDA and similar regulatory bodies world-wide to become a routine surgery that can be done anywhere in safety. It will also cost substantially more than an Oculus Quest :-)
Quite interesting. I wouldn't say I'm 'surprised' with the numbers. What @Isabella said is quite right: SL targets a different audience, it's a different niche market, so, no surprise that the numbers are different as well. It's still nice to see that the ratio of (professional) developers to consumers in SL is so high :) (comparatively speaking, that is)
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!