Saturday, April 4, 2009

On Walled Gardens

For April Fool's, while some were making drama of leaving, M Linden decided it would be an ideal time to declare that new Second Life servers would be available! This was no surprise to anyone. Linden Lab regularly prints out land and rolls it out like wet toilet paper.

But lo! Look closer, my friends! As it turns out, these new servers would have the option of being completely walled off from the main grid! Yes, you will be able to run a server all of your own that does not have to deal with the main grid and all its woes. No more worrying about newbies crashing in or griefers parading around. Your little patch of land will be isolated from it all. I imagine it something like Dinotopia or Atlantis, where life goes on despite being completely isolated from the rest of the planet.

This is quite an ideal solution for colleges. They'd no longer have to deal with Second Life's troubles and nasty residents. They can do their own thing off the grid where no one can touch them. They can set up their chemistry models and displays of all kinds with no interference. Which is a good thing, I think, because honestly that's the way it is now. Most colleges have their islands isolated to their group which you need permission to join. And you can only join if you are a registered student (or special visitor). I'm not sure, but likely they won't have to deal with the downtimes either, or when the grid decides to play dead.

Businesses can use Second Life as a glorified office meeting. I know in the past that a few of them attempted to create an ad of sorts out of their island, but each them it didn't seem to pan out. Either they would have a barebones display of posters on plywood panels or a few random activities such as rollerboarding or dunk the avatar. I know I still have my cement star from AOL island's Walk of the Stars, with my handprint and name on it (my name got the shaft, however, as Tsiolkovsky was too long for the imprinting script). Both of those options fizzled, but the allure of holding an office meeting, where you can see another person face to avatar (the idea is that you'd make your avatar look like you) and be able to show off some concept in a 3D space as a prototype (even if only as a show) was and apparently still is strong. Or so Linden lab says.

Probably more but I'm too lazy to think or remember them.

So we appease those two markets. Linden Lab survives another day! Hail the conquering heroes! Corporations and Universities get their wish of not having to deal with us proles, and us proles no longer have to deal with lame islands and the constant whine of a community that is closed and too adult and 'losers who need first lives hur hur'.

Let's look farther, though. How will Linden Lab give out these islands? Do I have to be an official University or Corporation? Will the Tsiolkovsky Industrial Co. be granted the go-ahead? Or what if Linden Lab lets any old avatar buy one?

I think people would jump for them. Think of it: you and a select group of friends would have your own private sandbox to build or do the nasty in without all the world gazing in on you. It is basically the same attraction as the big businesses, except on a much smaller scale. You would have the weight of Linden Lab's power upon you to keep separate from that yucky ol' main grid with its dirty newbies and icky griefers.

The problem would lie in the cost. As some have already pointed out, to take possibly take advantage of this fat cash calf, Linden Lab would jack the price up fairly high. It's reasonable, they are arranging a server tailor made to you and made separate from their entire world. And for deeper reasons, they don't want everyone to rush in and have the grid end up a billion isolated islands, like small planets in a giant universe. At least, not yet, anyway.

So, would those people buy such a thing? Would they value their privacy and pixel sex enough to buy the special SL GRID super special awesome separate island?

We do see that they (they being everyone who participates in the act of pixual intercourse) will pay good sums for good prim genitals, and good homes and beds in which they can perform. And security orbs to make sure people stay off their lawn even if alt zoom renders that moot. They went and bought lots of those Openspaces as a cheap way to set up. They still pay good money for an island to fortify.

I'm being a prude. I'm sure the idea that you could have a private off-grid island is appealing to some. I can see people joining together to pay the support and tier for it, they already do this with regular islands and groups. In theory, this should be a good match.

But the one thing that I think shoots down that theory is that with the current tools, all this can be effectively done. Islands usually aren't joined unless a special order is put out, and putting up ban lines and access lists takes care of unwanted interlopers. And for far far less cash. The sole benefit is the (still undefined and rumored) separation, in total, from the main grid. Which leads us to ask: how deep is that separation? The best would be a complete break from the central grid and its rolling restarts and crashes and such. I think M says as much.

Aside from the rolling restarts, has the grid completely failed lately? I can't recall it doing so recently although I will admit to have a lacking presence in Second Life lately.

The cost, that's the rub. I doubt it will be cheap. It will likely be very expensive. We don't know yet because M loves a good cliffhanger and promises to tell us 'this summer' which narrows it down to June through August. July? Until we know the details, we can only know that it will be completely separated from the grid and it's implied it will be expensive. It's targeted specifically towards big business and universities (although Openspace was supposed to target island owners who wanted to pretty their islands and we saw how that turned out). And it will have a beta phase, as M mentions an offer to apply to test the beta stage.

Oh, I just can't wait!

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