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December 06, 2005


Oz Spade

I think the notion that SL will become a land of closed in boxes is rediculous. It already exists in one form, where people will put up walls to block out their neighbors and replace it with a different texture. So what? People want solitude, allow them that. But not everyone likes that, there are tons of people who enjoy the splendid views and sunsets that SL creates. We have forests and other recreations of nature abound.

If everyone wanted to live in boxes they already would be and some are, but it will hardly become an epidemic.

What I would love to see though, in comparison to the "boxed parcels", is for SL to allow each user to create their own world. Which will eventualy happen if SL allows users to host their own, me thinks. And you could "portal" from one of these worlds to another, and if you allow you could start your own community in your own. That would be great.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

Philip, I'm almost embarassed that you took time to read my ramblings and comment on them. Thanks for that. :)

Oz, I think that "box metaphor" has eluded you. The silly pictures with the cubes on a sandbox are a problem for the SL-savvy, who immediately think of 10x10x10 m cubes, and naturally label that as "ridiculous". Don't take the picture literally. Read what Philip has written: "when we look at the global map of SL, we will see clumps of land corresponding to communities of experience".

Each of those boxes correspond to one of those clumps of land, or, if you prefer, a specific community living "inside" it. Not literally inside a box with painted pictures on the wall!! Actually, now that I've re-read my own ramblings, I thought the metaphor was pretty obvious. Perhaps it isn't. Well, Philip certainly understood it quite clearly and described it in much better words than I did :)

So, for the sake of completeness — no, I don't think that people will "wall-in" themselves and never look to the "outside" of their houses! Instead, I think that people will gather inside communities, as opposed to spreading themselves all over the virtual landscape (like they currently do).

What this means is a move from a continuous, virtual landscape, to one with "private" communities (based on interests), small patches of land (where "small" can be whole continents, of course) without any relation between each other, and travel across them will be from one "private" community to the other — directly, without the need of watching what's in-between.

In a sense, what you describe as "several worlds" which you can "portal" from one to another, is precisely what I think that will happen (soon), and which Philip describes as "each large community will be its own country". The difference between your suggested model and what Philip describes (and that I have inaccurately represented with "boxes") is that there will be "land between" — what I call the "wasteland", unorganized space that is somehow not important, between the multiple, self-contained communities. Under your model, there won't be any "need" for "wasteland" — it would be like a big chatting system where you move from room to room, and people just meet "inside" (not literally inside, but metaphorically inside), and "portal" to the next room when they want to get in touch with them.

We have that now: it's called IMVU. Or Virtual Worlds (http://www.virtualworlds.de/).

Perhaps I should replace that picture with the silly boxes with one representing the solar system — it would reflect a better metaphor, SL as a group of "individual planets".

In any case, I cannot disagree that, in the medium-to-long term, this is what very likely is going to happen. I'm perhaps a bit skeptic of having "countries" surrounding similar-minded "countries", although those examples also exist in SL (islands clumping together). We can only see what will happen. I have for long been a firm believer in "federations" of communities that have similar goals, and also believe that similar-minded communities will, over time, come closer together. I have no factual data to support those claims, just intuition, I guess — most people, to a degree, will naturally clump together according to common interests, if the distance is not a factor (something we've been discovering since the dawn of the Internet).

What I just hoped is that this would happen using the current mainland and its telehub system, using them as attractors for providing the required assymetries to put this development in motion. It seemed to be working so far to an extent. The absence of the telehub system may, however, point towards a different future: one where people will disregard the "lay of the land", so to speak, and reinvent it for themselves — either on the islands, or on large patches of the mainland, in planned communities.

Isablan Neva

I think Gwyn’s cube analogy is going to be correct in some instances but not in others. In a number of places (mostly the older, core sims it seems to me) like-minded landowners have tended to gather without a formal agreement and imprint the sim with a distinct “flavor.” I base this on noticing that land availability tends to be pretty rare in these sims, while there is plenty of land for sale all over the map, the older sims are the most difficult to buy into. I personally think these sims will change very little in the advent of p2p as most of the landowners are long term stakeholders in SL and many have extensive builds that are not easily moved to another location. In those cases, each sim is like its own web page. In sims that are more unstable and land is changing hands more often, the trend will probably be towards isolation and attempting to exert as much control as possible over one’s environment as a natural defense mechanism.

In the end, it really will come down to the stability of the landowners in the sim and whether they are “buy and hold” investors or “chasing the buck” investors.

Jarod Godel

Which is it, Philip: "with their houses being near meeting spaces and stores" or "global position doesn't mean that much?" Those are two mutually exclusive designs for a system, You either have to design a system where distance means nothing -- save for local, accepted rules -- or you design a system with enforced traveling, running in MMORPG's.

You continuously and incorrectly think of Second Life as being a physical, meat area. Second Life, and the Internet at large, are not meat areas where such limitations as geography, distance, and staircases (for us wheelchair bound folks) limit or define how you traverse. The Internet is information flow, that information can be used to exchange words, to draw pictures, or someday upload the physicality of Natalie Portman to our brains. However, that information should *never* be forgotten, and the rigid physicality of the real world should never be imposed upon it.

If you want waiting areas between worlds, like some clock-filled, "time tunnel" from an old "Muppet Babies" episode, then build one and force people to use it. However, if you're trying to build a platform that impatient, wannabe transhumans (like myself) are going to use, don't try to shoehorn twentieth century metaphors into the protocols.

This is the same mentality comic book publishers are using: one story, one universe, one continuity. Comic publishers are excited when they sell a million copies of a $2.50 book ($2,500,000) one month; what they miss is that "City of Heroes" has a monthly population of about 180,000 people, each paying $14.95 ($2,691,000/month), to have versions of their heroes in various stages of self-defined continuity.

Talking about Second Life in terms of a universe of countries is a stupid, malformed idea. We already have a such a thing, it's called The Real World. Treating Second Life like an escape from The Real World, a way to circumvent this universe with another, is foolish. You should treat Second Life as a tool, or platform, that allows you to experience The Real World in new ways, not seperate ones.

I'm never going to be a fashion model, and I would not want to be one. However, in Second Life I've had the opportunity to play one. Second Life offered me opportunity to experience something I never would in my physical life. As great as that experience was, I'm glad it was something that was added to my life, not something that happened in spite of my real life.

Ghordon Farina

Personally, I think that the p2p won't hurt much. Yeah, it'll bring about change, but we'll be okay.

I would like to say, though, that I very much like Oz Spade's idea (which reminds me a LOT of the Metaverse from Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson) in which each SL user can host their own world (of which the only restrictions are those of their hardware) so that they can build and script and develop offline or on the road (laptop), while also having the ability to travel to the mainland and the LL-hosted worlds (private islands, etc). From the Lindens point of view, this means that there will be more user-created goodness for potential denizens to be attracted to (new users), without the worry of buying new servers or increasing bandwidth. If a user had a personal computer hosting their own world, and linked it to their house on their own 512m parcel of land on the mainland, all they would have to do is make a simlink from the house to their computer and transfer each user there.

Of course, the potential for abuse is a consideration, but I believe it would be an interesting endeavour.


Nolan Nash

Dude, where's my planet?

I think we have been trending towards this "box" or "solar system" scenario for some time now.

I remember, back during the heated debates over government in SL, some folks, including myself, predicting that we would see the emergence of city-states. I even suggested that there would be "no-man's land" between. I fancied myself living in one of these "lawless zones". (I am grinning as I think about that.)

Of course, even before the arrival of Neualtenberg, we already had some localized, common interest zones and sims. Some were in existence as far back as beta.

Nexus Prime, Venice, Outlands, Little Tokyo, Americana, Slate, Tabor Village, Kissling City, Darkwood, Luskwood, to name a few.

Private island sims were made available, and each developed its own distinctive flair.

Neualtenberg came into existence, outgrew its original confines, moved, and continues to flourish.

More recently we have seen the emergence of player owned continents, most of which are zoned and/or themed to some extent.

I really don't think that the removal of telehubs is going to accelerate this trend that much, if at all. It is really inevitable.

People gravitate towards places which hold interests congruent with their own. It's human nature, and I don't think that's a regrettable thing. I would be much less enamored with SL if it was one big, heterogeneous conglomeration.

I shudder at the thought of endless suburban sprawl, with strip malls here and there. I get enough of that in my day to day life.

This is going to sound cliché, but we should celebrate and embrace our regional dissimilarities, not fear them.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

The point here is if physical proximity helps to build communities, or if it's completely irrelevant.

In the Internet (or before that), the notion of physical proximity is mostly irrelevant — if by that we mean RL geographic location. The truth is, people "reinvent" physical proximity. They congregate on the same websites, web forums, chatrooms. This is the new "physical proximity". Of course, the Internet or the old BBS systems were very abstract systems and all this reasoning is so hard to apply.

In SL, however, there is "familiarity" in terms of what we can call a virtual physical proximity. I may live in Portugal and my neighbour in New Zealand (antipodes to each other), but we both may share a parcel in the same sim, side by side. We naturally talk to each other, and get friends to join us. Later these friends also buy plots nearby. We have common interests and ideas, so we congregate on the same spot, and grow outwards.

Take a look at a sim with, say, 2 years of existence. At its beginning, it was probably looking like the First Land sims in the Northern Continent these days: utter chaos. But the old sims, these days, look lovely altogether. Friends have moved together, people sharing the same ideas, shaping the terrain around themselves to better reflect their sense of community.

This, in my opinion, is a Good Thing. It may take weeks, months or years (mostly depending on what the driving force is — urban planning or organic growth). But it slowly falls into familiar landscapes to our very human eyes.

Now let's see the alternative, proposed by all those who put an emphasis on surrealism, transhumanism, or simply isolation. Under their models, the virtual landscape should *not* reflect proximity of interests — you can get people together through p2p teleporting. In a way, this is what happens when people on MSN Messenger, Yahoo or Jabber simply fire up their applications, create a chatroom, and get together for a bit of talking. They don't need "physical presence" to get together. Thus, it follows that SL doesn't need to follow a "physical" model of the universe to make the communities grow. Experimenting with surreal landscapes is an opportunity that is available on SL, and we should exploit it.

Now while I certainly agree that there is a very large number of people in SL promoting this kind of view — large in percentage, compared to the same number of people in RL — one must take into account that SL is not any more the small 500-people group of radical thinkers that it was back in 2002/3. It has grown to embrace non-radical people. The same 500 are still around, still pressing their agenda, but they are "surrounded" now by 92,000 people who are used to "familiarity". They are the ones that wish log cabins inside virtual forests, and lakes and waterfalls, and shops in their community, and walk across the stone path to talk with their neighbours — even if all those concepts, from a surrealistic point of view, don't make any sense at all. We can get rid of them. We can use the "linked chatroom" approach of IMVU or Virtual Worlds or whatever platform you may care to name.

So I agree that the issue is not telehubs — but immersion. What SL has as an unique feature is the replacement of a surrealistic environment with a fantastic one. Gravity works, but we can fly. We build houses on the ground, but we can go through walls. We build familiar vehicles and furniture, but the way they appear with a deep bass sound when they rezz them is "magical" in nature. While I have suggested elsewhere that all this could, in future upgrades, be "disconnected" in private islands (ie. turn off gravity, change sky & water textures, etc) for the ones wishing to explore surrealism, the truth is, even on the mainstream artistic movements, surrealism has been slowly replaced by magical realism. And that's where SL currently fits in: a familiar landscape, but with magical/fantastic elements. This is what those 92,000 people react positively to.

The introduction of surrealistic elements (as said, an outdated perspective in terms of mainstream art, although I won't discuss this fully — I'm definitely not qualified enough to embrace that discussion, my own artistic training is quite limited in scope) in SL will certainly change all that. I think that what Philip tried to express in his blog entry (if I may be so bold to interpret it) is that despite the surrealistic element (p2p teleporting), people will congregate on communities with physical (even if virtual) presence, and that these will grow. I cannot but agree with that view. Most people — although not all — will embrace the familiarity of a realistic (but magical) place, and get together to escape the unfamiliarity of the surrealistic landscape. These communities will certainly attract people together. But, contrary to the current model — a mainland where the dominant modelling forces are "attractors" to shape it — this will happen like RL private condominiums in the middle of large tracts of slums in a wasteland. People will live in the private condominiums and avoid the wasteland using p2p teleport.

The question then is: what purpose will that wasteland serve? Will it be just a place of cheap land where further communities will develop slowly over the time, hoping against hope to attract people from the "p2p network traffic lanes"? This is like hoping that people flying from Hong Kong to London will more often than not make a stop in Afghanistan just to look what is going on there, and citizens of Afghanistan, by themselves, doing all the efforts to have the airplanes regularly stop there by doing interesting things (we have some RL examples where this actually worked — Dubai comes to mind). This is much harder, and I'm not sure if it will ever happen.

From some comments here, it even looks like that nobody seriously expects that to happen — the mainland, slowly, will lose its purpose. SL will be a "water world" with scattered islands here and there, interconnected by p2p teleport. Or, if you wish, it will be a planetary system, with each community living on a planet, and using p2p teleport to hop between the void. A "void" which has had a fantastic development due to organic growth so far, but that the near future will simply discard over time, to the point that it might simply disappear for lack of interest.

Is a "world" built of "isolated countries" such a bad idea? I don't think so. As said, so many other virtual world platforms have embraced the same concept, and they are thriving. But we will lose over time the uniqueness of what SL had to offer. That's what I'm mostly sad about.


Great thoughts here, and thank you for the clarifying your thoughts here, Gwen.

I agree that there will be an inevitable push towards zoning and community groupings -- humans have an affinity towards grouping. This will not be universal, however.

There will be lots of people who do not want to fit into an existing community but prefer to be the rebel in the "wasteland" between. There will be those who reject the existing commnunities and try to create their own order/community within the wasteland.

Fly around much of SL now and what do you see? Chaos, up close, or a wild-and-woolly tapestry zoomed out. Some people hate it and flee to a controlled community zone, and some people love it and gravitate to this blank canvas. That will not change.

One thing is for certain, people do not want excessive artificial constraints placed on them. You create telehubs, i.e. inefficient transportation, and you inevitably get ROAMs and supersonic jetpacks etc.

Pham Neutra

While it is perfectly understandable that our Noble King Philip defends the decision to (more or less) kill the Telehub system here, the most interesting aspect of the vision presented here is his repeated admitting that the current tool set provided with SL is NOT sufficient to make this vision real.

It's completely plausible to me that Second Life might evolve to a world - or solar system - with more or less closely or loosely connected communities that define themselves not only by a group or organisation name and titles, but with some "physical proximity", too. This has to do with the way the human brain works; hardwired and trained. There might be some impatient "transhumans" out there - like Jarod - but I would like to question if this target audience is large enough for the business plan of LL.

I don't think that P2P teleporting will lead to the complete desintegration of the SL society. I am opposed to implementing it now because, IMHO,

(1) it will not alleviate the massive usability issues of SL (see http://secondslog.blogspot.com/2005/11/what-is-reason-for-new-users-to-turn.html)

(2) it removes what little effective zoning is present in SL today.

And its seems a little paradox to me that this mild zoning pressure provided by the telehubs is removed and at the same time a vision is propagated that NEEDS better zoning tools and better support for semi-independent communities in SL.

To make Philips vision a reality, we would need tools that make group efforts much more effective, that would make group owned land a much lesser financial risk for those involved, that would make the inner workings of groups much more griefer-resistant and that would connect group tools with land management tools in an effective way.

But that would be just a first step.

Building sub-continents like Dreamland or Queso-Land or whatever little empires exist now in SL ... takes a lot of energy, will power, money and time. The largest project of that type is Anshe's Dreamland. And Dreamland shows how flawed the current toolset is: with a usable but clumsy billing system, no effective way to control or enforce zoning rules and no effective way to delegate many of the tasks of managing such a community without great risk.

Dreamland is managed by a mom-and-pop business through a single account, because there is no other way to do it. Models which distribute the work load (and responsibilites and risks etc) of large holdings like Dreamland on more than two or four shoulders simply do not exist or are very risky with "SL as it is".

If Philip (or LL as a company) really would like to realize the vision presented here, Linden Lab would have to license SL or - even better - set up a kind of franchise, where an individual, a group of residents or an RL company could buy/rent servers from Linden Lab and on these servers play more or less the same role Linden Lab now plays for Second Life at large. In such a model a lot of related services (like account management, billing etc.) would be handled (for a fee) by Linden Lab but would be done as a proxy for the franchise.

Of course these other organisations would compete with the Lindens in some ways. Why should Linden Lab further such a model? Because it would lead to a much more attractive SL (and more residents) in the long run. Those who like the current anarchy would still find it. Those who like a little more structure could get it. Those who would like to stay on their communities could do so. And those who like "to travel the globe" could do that,too.

Jake Rietveld

I think that one thing gets overlooked in all this bruhaha, and that is that content creates communites. Night clubs, Tringo, Slingo, gambling and even Bad movies creat community.

Elex Dusk, with a 512 meter plot in Mare did more to create community than a batery of telehubs. Small and lage communities form around places where people want to go. Sl is a marvelous platform for socializing and yet it is also a marvelous place to build and dream house. I don't think P2P telporting is going to put everyone in a box, and all traffic will be isolated to a few island boxes. People like to wander, they like to explore.
There will be ample numbers of people who want to wander around the grid, but they will be exploreing because they want to, not just skimming over land and getting frustrated with builds that impede thier progress.

Thus I see telehubs as neutral. they facilitate people getting from point a to point b. What is important is what happens at point a and point b? how do we build communities around content? These are the questions we must now address. What is entailed by community planning in a virtual environment?

Original I think Philip read Jane Jacob's book. Well Jacobs was largely reacting to the urban planning model of Robert Moses, who fel that cities are for traffic. Thus a confict was set up between the small local community that was self contained, and the central urban hub with residences outlying the commercial structures and people commuting to work in cars. In the 21 cetury we can see the failure of each of these models. SL is soemthing new, we are not limited in terms of time and distance, nor do we want to be. Thus virtual geography will not create communites. People will do that, and make the geography match.

Liberty Tesla

Gwyn, you're contradicting yourself. If p2p means that Location Doesn't Matter, then in what sense is anyplace "wasteland"? How is it that people starting new communities there are "hoping against hope" that people will wander into their location, when Location Doesn't Matter? New communities will start up because of other attractors: forum postings, classifieds, event listings, or word of mouth; or people will just see five green dots clustered together on the map, and decide to go see what's going on. The "wasteland" is simply cheap land that hasn't been put to good use *yet*.

Ananda Sandgrain

This is an interesting new vision you have, but it seems to me that the current "land" model for defining communities is still much more constrained than it needs to be. Every single sim is exactly the same size, and has the same horizon. Every piece of property is static. It can't be located as you suggest. I'm stuck with my property where it is, unless I decide to pay huge sums to a realtor and buy a new location. I'm stuck with my neighbors, I'm stuck with a static piece of land even if I like my neighbors. All these things are not necessary or even useful in creating online communities, they are simply holdovers from the patterns we are used to in the real world. They are arbitraries.

If you truly want to give communities a good way to congregate themselves together, the ability to relate individual spaces to each other must become much more dynamic. To go back to the Metaverse precedent, remember that the Street was not a static grid. It was a common node, linking a wide variety of seperate spaces with different levels of immersiveness and quality. When you walk through a doorway, the inner space may have nothing to do with the apparent dimensions of the space from the outside.

I've dreamed of sharing a virtual community where my friends and I live together on a little street, and share a common pub on one corner. Every time a new friend joins, we shoehorn another doorway into the street. But if you enter the door to my house, you'll find yourself in a vast forest. If you enter the garage, you'll find yourself on the open hangar deck of the Kazenojin air station, ready to fly among the thunderclouds over miles of empty terrain.

What I'm saying is free us from the constraints of a static grid. Free us to make those connections to each other, and from one "box" to another.

Elan Mistral

As a new user, I have a few comments, but no clear opinion.

I enjoyed the telehubs, as they modelled sth that will be very cool in the futuer RW. They also provided a challenge... trying to find the location I was actually searching for! And did cause me to view areas I otherwise perhaps would not have.

However, I am now enjoying being transported to exactly where I want to go...

Since SL is such a complex set of possibilities, it seems to me that it is actually impossible to predict what will happen. Hopefully, it won't be whatever would happen in the "Real World", because there are so many variables which don't currently exist in 1L.

One aspect of my personal interest in SL is for a place to model innovative and evolutionary social structure, and hopefully find some things which can be reintegrated into 1L, as well as having experiences which are only possible in SL or dreamstates, but which are shared with others.

It surprises me how many people seem to want to just have a more beautiful, more decadent version of what is possible in 1L... not that I too do not enjoy this! But when so much more is possible in terms of evolution...

But who am I to say what another's Utopia should or should not be? The nature of a Utopia is perhaps that it works for everyone, no matter how different their desires and visions.

So as far as P2P creating isolated communities of like-minded people, I see that this is possible, and a positive stage perhaps (isn't it nice to have the opportunity to create the community you've dreamed of, with no interference from those who just don't understand?), but don't we all have our own quirks and foibles? Isn't community always a degree of work and co-operation, and overcoming differences? And, actually, maybe even the views of our worst, most hated enemy enrich our lives if they don't end it. I don't know if I believe that, but I just notice that alot of people claim they want community, and base their ideas of which people are "like-minded" on a certain set of criteria, but when you dig deeper, they don't get along either. So to create a world of lasting value, I think most people will have to confront difference in the other unless they remain on a superficial level. And having found like mindedness, may crave people with different opinions and ways of life... if you know they can't actually kill you.

Prokofy Neva

Philip and other posters, The ultimate irony about all of this trashing of "suburbia" is that you also so highly praise and idealize "Boardman", a zoned Linden sim managed by Ingrid Ingersoll and other architects, which is only a slightly ironized suburbia where a green cube once rezzed by Philip Linden is said to be of untold worth. Do you not see the irony in this? LL also created Blumfield as its first "zoned newbie sim" in a completely Levittown sort of suburban model.

In fact, this forums-concoted cliche about "tasteless suburbia" doesn't really exist -- when residents move into Ansheland or Ravenglass Rentals, or other rentals/zoned areas, or even just to newbie first land or ordinary unzoned sims, they actually don't chose the predictable Victorian house and picket-white fence you imagine, they chose Goth castles or Asian homes or modern Coloradan lodges. The Fear and Loathing of Suburbia is actually just a trope, a vehicle for expressing taste and class wars within SL.

p2p hasn't been all that. That is, it led to "dramatic sales" for the old content creating class (the FIC) and it led to some moderate traffic boost for them, but it's unclear still who the real winners are of the huge windfall of increased sales (going from $40,000 US per day to a whopping $250,000 per day as we speak). Of course, some of this may have been typed in by Lindens, including texture uploads, telehub payouts, whatever -- but the figures are dramatic enough.

There's no question that p2p has led to more shopping...and then more sated ennui. Just look at the police blotter. After you shop til you drop or "explore" (not done anywhere near as much as intellectuals fantasize)...then what?

The real winners of p2p are those who got the 128/128 lottery -- who were lucky enough or clever enough to figure out that the center of the sims would be where people would land who type in the sim name into the list. Yes, people type in the names, because they either can't figure out how to read a map, or are not sure where they will land at first.

That means that whoever has a store -- especially a slow-rezzing av-trap telehub type store -- at 128/128 or nearby gets the traffic. It's been humorous to see how this plays out -- some 128/128 positions are in the water; in a side of a wall; in somebody's lap in their nest of poseballs.

The badlands of SL aren't "suburbia" or "tract malls" or anything of the kind. They are in fact cared-for and manicured and beloved sims with all manner of amazingly creative builds and lovingly tended gardens often built for pleasure or creative inspiration, not commerce -- many of which unwillingly became "badlands" as hundreds were marred by the ugly IMPEACH BUSH signs of Lazarus Divine that have everything to do with griefing, spam, disturbance of the peace, malicious extortion, harassment, and interference with the enjoyment of SL and nothing to do with ending a wrongful war about which many of us agree.

The Lindens need to step up to the plate and enforce their own three CS and TOS clauses that amply fit this situation as gross and systematic violations, and stop fearing that discretionary and proper usage of these ample TOS terms would result in a harm to the land market or future advertising. No other types of signs that aren't on land deliberately placed for sale so as to harm, that aren't spam, that don't disturb the peace, that don't interfere with enjoyment will fit this threshold.

While technical Lindens swear there is no correlation, we users know the price of p2p, the increase in sales, and the increase in travel: grey squares.

The immersive feel of the world has been lost for many of us. We travel to a sim, and it takes 30 minutes to rez. Meanwhile, we look at the back end of the beyond, not a world. Never mind, we can still be in a store and click and buy, click and buy...

With p2p, a fair number of people have closed their lots for fear of loss of privacy. There's an increase in closure, banning, turning inwards, increasing reliance on commerce circles spoonfed from the first moment a mentor in the more sequested and filtered Help Island now grabs a newbie and hands him a folder of her store and her friends' store landmarks.

It's an opening of the world that is leading in part to its closure, and there have to be alternative forces that stem that tide and reconstruct the more open public commons in new ways and create opportunities for some kind of coherent public discourse.

The tragedy of the commons isn't that people come to graze, and some people decide grazing means that IMPEACH BUSH signs should go on every sim set to sale for $20,000 LL. The tragedy is that a simple law and simple enforcement of a rule of law that all can acknowledge, even from their niches and interest groups, cannot gain recognition in the Lazarus-faire, hedonistic climate of SL. This is its greatest tragedy -- the inability of the world's creators, trapped in their own liberalism, to make people good neighbours, despite ample tools for such benefits. A simple rule like Do Unto Others As You Would Have Then Do Unto You has never gained a foothold, in the rush to overturn all "meatworld" civilization norms.

When boxes=community, you have closed, shut-in, pseudo-linked hermits, people who have muted, banned, or erased outside input, feedback, and information. You begin to create a horrid archipelago of egos who grow larger conversely as outside information and feedback fails to reach them -- they are constantly filtering out for My Interests, My Events, My Friends, My Inventory and many other Mys that converge only with like-minded Mys and tend toward a belief that there is no Our except whatever My is the biggest My.

Philip, I own and operate 50,000 m2 I called SL Public Land Preserve open to the public. I have some 20 parcels in it with all manner of activities from forests, builds, gardens, wetlands, boating, camping, mountains, games, and vending -- I specifically enlarged the notion of "wilderness" and "preserve" behond some literal classical 19th century notion of Nature and Natural Man to include the modern passtimes of real interest which include looking at and meeting in modern builds and vending and shopping for free.

Of the 80-odd members, some donate tier, some put in cash, and all pay the one-time $50/fee. Most visitors don't join but just hang out -- that's fine. This isn't enough to cover the tier, however, and never will be in part because group tools aren't safe -- no caretakers can be brought inwithout the fear they will steal the entire thing. Your idea that all these people will spontaneously come together is utopian -- it doesn't happen, even with huge amounts of upfront investment and tier on the part of one or a small group of people to help it. You should know -- you put out loads of subsidized or even free land and sims for two years, and it didn't work to make coherent communities -- these tiny handful of little cliques that you call "communities" -- groups like Neualtenberg or Lusk or Taber made up of inward-looking, fiercely loyal tribes usually operating under one very strong-willed leader, are not real "communities" but just minor fiefdoms.

Yes, I realize you'll be working on changing those tools, but you might then err in the opposite direction and make is so that 79 out of the 80 could decide to seize the entire "covenanted land" for some other purpose because they didn't like some house or build or idea that the individual founder, who paid for all the land and holds most of the tier, originally conceived. You simply must protect entrepreneurial and venture capitalist rights in this world -- the same way you expect them to be protected in the real world where you have your real business called Linden Lab with its real venture capitalists and investors. Do no less for this world, please.

As for your claims about moveable pieces of geography and sims linking up with other sims they like based on niche-nesting: People remain people, even in cyber clothing. They like a sense of place. Experimentation finds that they don't always like literally leaving things up in the air by having meetings in the air while flying; they like to settle on the ground to root their contracts. They like a roof over their head to notarize documents, not just lighting on a flower. Although they can fly, if you put out perches for them, they never roost, they go and awkwardly arrange themselves on chairs. This won't change -- maybe forever.

You can't step on the millenia of human wants and needs just because you created a virtual world. The Linden-created mainland contiguous world of roads, interesting bridges and dams, lovely landscaped areas, even if nonsensical in avian terms, continues to be highly valued precisely because there is some intelligent design at work in it and comfort-level of familiar place.

The telehubs were imperfect as vehicles because of their force-porting and lag feature but they did create open, democratically accessible, "world-flattening" type of spaces for commerce and socializing. You didn't have to depend on a diva to accept your p2p or grant you a TP to get a spot to vend at a club. You don't have to scheme to get in with designers in the top fashionable boutiques. You just right-clicked and paid the box -- even if it was more expensive. This is the modern marketplace; p2p and niching and communitization and social engineering is moving the modern marketplace back to the old days of guild economies, and tends toward mercantilism, statism, backwards socialist models rather than modern capitalism and socially-responsible investing in a really free and equally-accessible marketplace.

What is amazing to me about my own experiment with Ravenglass Rentals and related groups is that by rejecting the ideal of the isolated private island or the "My Sim" arrangement you try to compel us to take for social-engineering and economic reasons of your own, I could still spread out a viable rentals community across 45 sims and allow *complete strangers, with no niches or common interests other than holding a nice view* to live together in more or less peace and amity. Of course, it is a constant struggle due to all the mainland horrors of griefing, sim crashing, and Lazarus.

Still, I continue to believe that learning to get along with strangers on sims not inside my niche remains terribly important for the viability of virtual civilization just like real civilization.

Prokofy Neva

Ananda and others, I don't understand this fetishizing of "doorways".

If you and your friends want cosy cottages and a pub, what is to stop you from selling your land to the many willing new citizens or realtors in the world (you completely exaggerate the expense) and pooling your resources to buy a sim for $1000 or $1250 for the island and making that world you want with My Sim and My Friends?

This is what I don't get about all this constant clamour for Lindens to push sims around like shopping carts in a big Safeway. Sell what you have and buy a new one. In fact that's exactly what most people do in SL, in a constant quest for something better that fits their needs. If anything, the Lindens glut the land market too much and make it impossible for people to sell off their land as they move at even the price they paid -- that's the problem not the lack of doorways.

With p2p, who needs a doorway? Unfortunately for your dreamers, while you don't want any meatworld space, your world is located on servers that unfortunately do have literal, necessary, distance/time between them physically. I imagine that's why the Lindens have to put up that cartoon of a black box and a line rushing forward to symbolize that wait time between locations. All a door would do would be to remove that cartoon -- but technical limitations might still require a door wait time.

The reality is that people don't go exploring and looking at forests and sandboxes and all that -- they stay on a treadmill of just My Sim and My Friends -- precisely because you social-engineered in so much choice and niching that they have absolutely no incentive to come together over anything.

The doorway stuff reminds me of college kids just walking into each others' rooms in a dorm. That desire to walk through doors wears off as soon as you get to be about 24 : ) Then you will want a little bit more sense of stability, place, reliability -- a sense that when you log-on, your build, your home, your neighbourhood is still there, waiting for you exactly as you left it -- and a sense of privacy.

With all the noise of p2p adulation and doorway clamouring, you're not hearing the very strong and sharp signal coming from all quarters: people want privacy and stability, and they don't get it with strangers landing on their heads or in the middle of their poseballs all the time.

I do hope that rather than impose this doorway stuff on the entire grid so that we all have to suffer through it whether we want it or not (like p2p), Philip and co. will first put it on a test continent to see if really it sells, scales, and works. The dorm people can go play around with it then and that will enable other people who want peace and quiet to get work done : )

Whatever your portrayal of it, Snowcrash had one very solid, meatworld, established place: the boardwalk and the Black Sun. These remained static. Whatever the doorways and ports off here and there, the boardwalk with its access from public portals or the guy's storage box home in the real world, etc. were real senses of place and they remained the same and their look and feel stayed the same (at least throughout that novel). People walked up and down this boardwalk. We need a boardwalk like this in SL. The welcome areas do not fufill that need.

Prokofy Neva

Jared, don't impose your My Niche on the entire world, which has to be an aggregate of My Niches. You've constantly railed against the "Country" and "One Grid" metaphor/virtuality of SL, but I can only say that most people aren't like you. They come on SL and make reproductions of FL. They are no different than Victorians in the 19th century who made perfect little shoe boxes of miniature lovingly-detailed furniture in perfectly-appointed rooms. LET THEM. It has to be free for people to do what comes naturally, not be forced to play pick-up-sticks constantly with their belongings and their view to whirl around like *your own* very Disney-dictated notion of Mary Poppins having a tea party on the ceiling or Willy Wonka whooshing up in a vacuum traveler or whatever other metaphor floats your boat for whooshing around with a constantly changing scene. Most people want stability -- the hilarious thing is that this precarious, unstable, constantly changing world is the only form of controlled, stable environment that some people have in their lives and they will fight for it -- just you watch.

The idea that federations have to come into being of "like-minded" or "niched" communities is also heavily statist and authoritarian. It's not free. I don't want to *have* to go in my like-minded community. I don't want to be stuffed into a box with my set of determined choices. I honestly don't mind if I share a sim with people I really don't care to hang out with actually inside their homes/spaces, like blingtard clubbers or BDSM or furries or whatever; what matters to me is that ALL of us can do the basic, human, integrative decent thing and *keep the view and share the prims*. It's just that simple.

And yes, we actually agree quite a bit more on what it means to "keep the view" than forums fighters believe: it's actually a far simpler rule set than everyone fiercely fighting for My Hedonism will admit as we've discovered time and again on the sims that actually work.

There's no reason why the "country" model can't persist, with some sort of over-arching rule of law and then some loose set of communities operating under it, with some kind of even very informal assembly. We don't have to waste resources creating a top-heavy super-structure government in search of a base. But we can have *governance* that disseminates a few basic rules -- and again, there is actually more consensus than you are prepared to realize if you would just FIX THE VOTING TOOLS TO MAKE THEM VOTE "NO" AS WELL AS "YES" AND ALSO SUGGEST NON-FEATURE BUT SOCIAL/POLITICAL PROPOSALS.

Bart s

Aren't you guy's completely out of Whack ???

Discussing Imaginary problems in imaginary worlds using imaginary politics ?????

Boxes in boxes with a blindfold on ?

Do you prefer imaginary control in a virtual world because your Real life is meaningless?

I see no difference between your ramblings or the visions of an acid doped junkie...

every reality is an illusion, especially the virtual illusion you create yourself!

Jacqueline Trudeau

As a RL resident of New York City, I think former mayor Ruldolf Guiliani had disturbing fascistic leanings. Having said that, he also had a point in cracking down on quality of life crimes. Who wants to create or live in a community of blighted graffiti-marred surroundings? Why wouldn't residents flee to some place where they either might find protection from such scofflaws by whatever governing authority or surround themselves with enough space to isolate themselves from such visual pollution. With Impeach Bush unchecked, you've allowed that analog to flourish in SL.

*Now* you muse on the breakdown of community and bemoan the fact that users might become *too* isolated? It is a harvest of what was sown with such LL hands-off policy. "White flight" is the unfortunately racially-tinged term, but that is exactly what is happening. This is not about high concepts like direct teleporting and if that eludes the LL braintrust, then I'm not sure what else there is to say.

Karmianna Hartunian

I understand what is meant here by "Boxes in Boxes" I see in my explorations of second life some odd usage of landscape.

I recently built a home on the water front in a rather scenic area, a week or so later wham there is 5 story flashing neon lingerie store next door. Makes you want to build a wall to regain the peacfull atmosphere you bought waterfront property for.

I suppose the answer would be zoning, but that is not why we find ourselves in this imaginary world to have more laws imposed on us.

So maybe boxes are the answer.
Anyone have a nice Beach JPG i can use for my box?

Meekrat Pendragon

Linden Labs has missed several opportunities to build neighborhoods and self-governance by globally dictating decisions like the telehubs to all servers. How hard would it be to keep both options in the code and allow land owners to vote for their choice?

At a higher level, each server could have a constitution about how such votes are tallied. Are they counted per owner or by land owned or a bit of both? Is the vote a percentage of the voter turn out or the number of eligible voters? And what percentage of votes does it take to change these issues, including to change the constitution itself?

I've mentioned per-server voting before, but it never got much attention:


Yes I think Zoning of land is needed by the world creators. Having malls pop up in the water front areas would drive me nuts personally.

As far as players forming guilds/groups that will happen in any game.

I cannot see instant travel through these so called P2P boxes?? as you call them being any good to the community as a whole.

Travelling should take some time and you should have to go there wether by car, running, ships, etc...

Sure for those who isolate themselves into their little region and block out others it might be fine, But I read through your little police report and see that scamming and pyramid scemes seem to be rampant in this game.

Why is that?? just want to know why they even allow it to continue with just mere warnings to those breaking rules.

Having these scemes allowing people to suck others into their region without even experiencing any other parts of the game would turn away others like me for the simple fact it sounds very controlling or manipulating. ( at least it sounds that way ).

I might try this game sometime in the future IF I think theres a possibility for me to invest and actually make something that others will check out, But if I know most players are going to be sucked up by these hidden communities why bother investing the time or $$??

Anyhow Interesting reading all the comments and I will be checking out alot more info before deciding.

Ghost Harris

Ok, I will firstly admit that I am commiting a severe violation of blogging...I'm not reading all the comments, so if some of my statements overlap I do apologize in advance. I will state what I have learned of Second Life through my immersion into it.
I am what some may call a, "diversified" individual. I like the common interactions, ie, clubs, meetings etc. But I also crave the fantasy realms, so while there may be "cubes",which was a great metaphor, I dont think it will be as intense as a problem once technology can increase to smooth transitions. I spend a little bit of time in my "other skin" each day exploring new regions, and when I have nothing else pressing to do, I wander. I may be a minority in the community but I feel that the travel is a very important part of how you get there. One thing that was left out of referring to planes as "teleporting" is getting your bags,scheduling time off, getting to the airport on time, etc. These things are all part of the journey. I for one cannot travel and explore the way I want merely because it takes so long for distances to rez. but if I could I would take my spaceship pick up a couple friends and make my journey. I feel that is on the horizon and eagerly await that day. Until then I will play superman and just fly myself around and see what creativity in other people can bring about. There will always be the isolationists, and those unwilling to shed their inhibitions, but I for one have met many that are in SecondLife to enjoy things that could not as easily be had in FirstLife. And as the appeal continues to grow the spaces inbetween will grow and diversify, so as to lure people through them rather than teleport. Once again, if I've repeated anyone else, or over simplified something I apologize, these are merely the perceptions of a humble ghost.


As a non-citizen of SL, I feel compelled to qualify what I say with the preface that I understand little of the technical elements contained in the posts above or indeed, of the advent of teleporting per se. I suppose what I am doing is the equivalent of shuffling timidly into a room full of strangers in the middle of a discussion about the transgressions of one of their number who I don't know. Like the ghost that went before me, I also apologise for not reading all of the other posts before submitting my 10 cents worth.

I have been reading around second life, which fascinated me as a concept, but I was beginning to become a little depressed at the fact that so much of what seemed such a rich concept appeared to revolve around money: the lack of it, the need for it and the comparative advantage it gives us over those who have none. Nearly all the articles I read on the phenomenon approached it from the same angle. This blog is the first place where I have seen people trying to come to grips with bigger principles which must underlie it and it makes an interesting read.

As far as the talk of regulation is concerned, it seems to me that regulation or platform design elements that amount to such are the exact thing I might go to second life to get away from and that going down that road would be the best way to give rise to third and fourth lives and so on, so why bother in the first place. Science fiction tends to endow beings who have shed their physical existence with an ethereal nature. Un-fought-for Peace and harmony invariably reigns. Reading here, it seems that there is no electronic short-cut to such state and that we prefer to bring our prides and prejudices along for the ride, wherever we go. Could a way forward be the creation of avatars with individually formed realities so if someone builds a sky-scraper in front of us, we simply remove it from our own personal view and see the pristine shoreline we sought out in the first place and could not realities be partially or fully shared with those interested in doing so? I suppose this might be an inverted form of the initial box metaphor and in any case tends to be the RL solution for so many.

Morgaine Dinova

Although the discussion here is very interesting in an abstract sense, it is largely founded on an impossible premise: namely that SL will remain architected as it stands currently, that is with a static assignment of land acreage to sims.

This is quite impossible in any realistic scaled-up future for virtual worlds. An implementation which allows at most a few dozen or a few hundred people to attend an event is clearly only a prototype, a small demonstrator of what could be.

When Google or Microsoft or Yahoo or IBM or Samsung or whoever finally decide to move in to virtual worlds, scalability will be their first concern. The companies who start from scratch will enjoy a clean slate and design for scalability (but begin with zero content), whereas any hypothetical megacorp that takes over Second Life will have some nice startup content but will have to redesign the entire static sim infrastructure into a dynamic one to make it scalable for events and for mobile objects.

And that of course means that all the box-related forecasts above will no longer make any sense at all, because land cost and availability will be nothing like at present.

I won't go into the whole technical background to this here because I've detailed it at length both in this blog and on the SL forums, but suffice to say that in a dynamic infrastructure, the cost of inactive land is simply the cost of storage (ie. no associated CPU or bandwidth costs), and hence will be effectively zero, and falling all the time.

"You want a 10000-acre estate, Sir? That'll be L$1 please."

And don't bother answering "But LL would never bring their acreage prices down like that", because once there is competition in the universe of 3D worlds, LL will have to remain in step or die. And acreage prices will go into freefall inevitably, because that pops out quite simply from the need for dynamic technology to be able to scale for events. Land costs currently are a direct consequence of the static land-sim resource infrastructure, nothing more.

So, in summary, interesting topic, but it will be dated as soon as this whole scene takes off.

alj thatcher

"Sadly, as has been shown by things like suburban housing developments, humans will do this to their individual loss - for example living too far from one another or building high fences, and then bemoaning the lack of any neighbors to talk to."

The isolated suburban communities used a model in this arguement are primarily confined to the U.S. Most countries are primarily urban and even the U.S. has a primarily urban population. Keep in mind suburbs became popular becuase work was cheaper and more effecient outside of cities and cars provided an easy form of transporation. Suburbs were designed in other words becuase it was thought that their low densities and convencies would be superior to the big city experience. Of course, this has turned out to be slightly untrue.

Secondly, isn't second life pretty much already what's being described here? I find myself teleporting island to island all the time and have found specialist groups ranging from internet theorists on kula to bondage groups and plane freaks. I think p2p will probably increase the amount of traffic between worlds and specialized communities are a great idea and needed becuase they provide unique experiences with which the virtual tourist can experience. My point being SL has limitless land, or near to it, and instanteous travel, hence the major draws of a piece of land are price and the community sorrounding it or the experiences with in. I've yet to travel anywhere in SL I felt at home so I primarily stay around in the sandboxes and just work on scripts (might join the alife group if I can actually produce something with intelligence). Forgive me becuase this is my first post to a Linden blog, but it seems to me that the cube-ism of SL's communities is a good thing. I'd love to start every session in a community with similar interests and people doing things I like. I mean if I was into planes waking up on plane island would be pretty awesome, on the other hand clothing then waking up in a mall would be cool too. I don't think communities will become as closed as predicited, you'll want to look out at the people in the other cities near by. What's interesting would be what resources are needed by every community regardless. What are the chains that permeate SL? (are there any?).

"Yes I think Zoning of land is needed by the world creators. Having malls pop up in the water front areas would drive me nuts personally. "

Then get a group together and buy the land around the waterfront and make something of it. Personally, I'd love to be able to shop by Gondola =)
There's actually several cool water front malls that I can think of one in San Antonio and the other in Fukouka.

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