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Second Life and Open Source

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 16, 2006 14:43 UTC (Sat) by drag (guest, #31333)
Parent article: Second Life and Open Source

Second life is not a Virtual world at all. At least not in a real sense.

All it is online game created to place artifical restrictions on what is and what is not allowed to happen in order to make as much money for it's creators as possible.

A true virtual world is like the WWW. It is created and governed based on natural laws of that virtual world.

Natural laws of a virtual world would be like:
It costs the same to make one digital item as it does to create 10,000 copies of that digital item.

The limitations on the world are not of one of natural resources or land mass.. the limitations are based on things like amount of RAM the servers have and the efficiency of the rendering method.

Art and creation is valuable not because art and creation is rare.. it is valuable because creative humans with good talent are relatively rare. If Picaso was a modern artist and worked with digital data then every man, woman, and child on earth could have a "Picaso" painting.

To have a long term, successfull, and even profitable, digital virtual world you have to create something that operates within these limitations, within the natural laws of the internet and human interactions with computers.

Imposing artificial limitations, like Second life does, is not something that is paticularly healthy, or usefull, or even that interesting. If it becomes very popular it will retard progress.

Imagine of the WWW had it built into the protocols that only Microsoft was allowed to host websites and that people charged you money based on how many Gif images you choose to download.

Remember this sort of stuff back in the beginnings of the popularized internet were people tried to create 'online services'. All Second life is is a modern 3d version of 'Microsoft Network', 'Proginy', 'Genie', 'AOL', 'AppleLink'/'E-world'.

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Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 16, 2006 19:39 UTC (Sat) by droundy (subscriber, #4559) [Link]

I think you've failed to notice the "virtual" part of "virtual world". It isn't real. Thus it isn't governed by "real" laws, but rather by "virtual" laws which define the reality of that virtual world.

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 17, 2006 1:21 UTC (Sun) by drag (guest, #31333) [Link]

Laws are based on real realities.

In a free sociaty laws are based on realities of the world we live in. The 'natural laws' so to say. These are based on how the world functions and such. You just don't make it up as you go along unless your a despot.

For instance in the real world you stab somebody, they get hurt. So it's illegal to stab people, you goto jail so you can't stab people anymore.

But in a virtual world you can make it so that people can stab others. They can stab people all day and all night and there is nothing bad that can happen. So why make it a crime to stab people? Its pointless. (it's not the matrix)

In the real world the cost of production is very real. It costs stuff to make a shirt, for instance. You have to build a plant, hire and train people, obtain materials, etc etc. The cost of production is very real and people need to be compinsated for it.

The cost of production is nill. As soon as one virtual shirt is made, you can make infinate amounts of shirts. A person makes a program were you can make a mathmatical model of a shirt for a game or whatnot and then regular people can make new shirts all day long.

Unjust laws are based on pointless crap people make up for themselves.. Like segregation laws based on skin color.

In the virtual world there are real limitations also. You have limitations on how well people can interact with the computer. You have limitations on the amount of computing power you have and the amount of bandwidth you have. A DDOS attack has real consiquences, for instance.Hacking into somebody's computer can cause real personal loss.

Now a _game_ is different.

A game is something that has a rigidly set of defined rules that you can operate in. This is for pure entertainment and thus it realy shouldn't be taken very seriously.

Second life is not a virtual world. It bills itself as this new way for people to interact and deal with each other. A 'second life' in a virtual world.

In fact it's not even the first of it's type. It's basicly a interactive version of 'The Sims'. Instead of trying to your character keep a job and buy fancy furniture or whatever it's that you make the fancy furniture and buy and sell it to other players.

It's the same thing as World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxy, City of Heroes or any other dozens of other online video games. Then in a more limited way you had the BBS's and online MUDS that pre-date that.

A true virtual world, one that will create a new way for humanity to interact in a virtual world, will have rules and laws based on the limitations and problems faced by the very nature of having a virtual world. This sort of thing will be built into the protocols that made it.

Not abritary limitations the makers of Second life have placed on it's users.

We already have virtual world models. World Wide Web is going to be the biggest example. Something based on hypertext that has grown into this large thing that is a part of the lives of millions of people around world.

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 17, 2006 21:00 UTC (Sun) by joey (subscriber, #328) [Link]

I like how you think -- this is why I've stopped trying to develop MOO engines for now. I tried to imagine the most amazing, empowering, decrentralised, integrated with the real world MOO I could, and I ended up with something not unlike the web (and rather scarily close to microsoft's land of virii).

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 22, 2006 20:30 UTC (Fri) by petetron (guest, #8495) [Link]

I'd be interested in talking to you about your experience and designs with MOOs -- it sounds like you've given this some real thought, and I'm curious how it might relate to my own work on VOS ( (see also my comment above).

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 21, 2006 17:47 UTC (Thu) by mikov (subscriber, #33179) [Link]

I think you may be missing something here. A "true" virtual world, like
the one you describe, would be no fun at all - people wouldn't want to
spend any time there. No matter what we do, we are bound too strongly to
the physical reality - the notion of "moving beyond reality" is just
something that you see in SF novels. So, in a virtual world people want to
pretend they are in the "real world". You are right that it is a game of
sorts, but so is life.

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 22, 2006 9:23 UTC (Fri) by JohnNilsson (guest, #41242) [Link]

If you truly believe that a world limited only by what people create will be "no fun at all" you obviously never experienced what the rest of us would refer to as "imagination".

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 22, 2006 19:01 UTC (Fri) by mikov (subscriber, #33179) [Link]

Big words. Obviously you think that people can enjoy themselves in a
virtual environment which is not based on the real world; to exist as pure
thought without form or boundary, sail freely limited only by imagination,
exchange untethered ideas, etc, etc (bla, bla, bla). What a beautiful
idea, sadly without much substance.

People like to eat, to have sex, to dance, to play sports, to own a nice
car, or at least to pretend to. It all boils to basic, primitive things.
In a virtual world they want to experience things they can't really do in
the real world - it is a form of escapism.

I predict that the next step for virtual worlds will be to make them
resemble the real world even more - wearing 3D goggles, special gloves,
etc. Let's not kid ourselves - the ultimate goal of course is to make
cybersex seem real.

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Dec 22, 2006 18:15 UTC (Fri) by petetron (guest, #8495) [Link]

Yes! You've hit the nail on the head. The Second Life system is designed to support their business model, rather than being a open, interesting architechture that will promote progress in the model of the web. I've also been telling people that online 3D is still in the "Compuserve and Prodigy" phase of development for a while now. A real open source system, and a real open architechture that in flexible and encourages innovation is what we're looking for.

In that vein, I've actually been working on just such a project for about seven years now as a hobby open source effort, and have built several end-to-end prototypes of such 3D systems, learning a lot each time about how to do it right and scale up to the real size of the problem. I think there's a real zeitgeist that "we need an open source Second Life" triggered by, ironically, the massive hype train put out by Linden Labs.

We call it the Interreality Project, and the software is the Virtual Object System (VOS):

I'm in the early phases of looking into possible funding to develop this as a full time open source effort, if anyone knows anything about this I'd love to hear from you!

Second Life and Open Source

Posted Jan 5, 2007 0:32 UTC (Fri) by obi (guest, #5784) [Link]

Hey, that's interesting. I've been playing with the idea of distributed data structures for 3D environments for a while now, and hadn't yet seen your project.

I also think what's needed is a distributed (p2p if you will) version of all this stuff, and in addition I'm thinking about using certs and trust networks to counter or at least minimize the damage of "cancer" nodes. As long as we only have a system dependent on a company setting up hundreds of servers to put our stuff on, we don't really have an "open" network.

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