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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

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Bikhu Timtam

Second Life purchased by Google...

Cyn Vandeverre

Significant benefits for being a premium member, such as increased IMs to email before being capped, and increased groups.

T_S_Kimball

1) ESC becomes a full subsidiary of another company. Probably CBS, since they have most of it anyway...

2) Separate Euro-Grid goes online. Yes, I know there's rumors of a new grid in China, but it will likely be independent due to political reasons. The Euro one may also need to be totally independent from the main SL one to escape US laws (and scare Congress, again).

3) Cory O. ends up working for Turner/TimeWarner. It would take too long to describe why this would be possible; Perhaps I can pitch an article to you Hamlet?

If you'll allow a 4th:

4) LL's restructuring (post-Cory) will focus on revenue - perhaps incorporating what Cyn mentions above, but will probably include much more than that. The emergence of an SL 'middle-class' may become more defined if that happens.

--Alan Kiesler (SL)
--Tim Kimball (RL)

Hamlet, if I'm cited please use RL name. :)

Hamlet Au

"It would take too long to describe why this would be possible"

Why not post a summary here in Comments, TS? I probably wouldn't run a purely speculative post, but I'm betting folks are curious to read it.

Dedric Mauriac

1) Source code released for simulators hacked to expose scripts byte code.

2) Browsable web pages on prims allow residents to gamble in-world through 3rd party sites.

3) Linden Lab found to have a big part in creating HiPiHi to bring virtual worlds within government censorship.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

2008 is actually a way harder year to predict "top headlines" for Second Life, for a simple reason: I believe that the "hype era" is slowly coming to an end. Even Valleywag won't talk as much about SL in a derogative manner any more (why bother?).

This mostly means that the public is slowly "tired" about knowing about the #45,677 organisation entering SL. So only major catastrophes will be likely to be reported, like, say, a branch of the Mafia caught after the transcript logs of their meetings in SL having been used as evidence on the court, or a German pedophile organisation being run through SL :)

I mean, let's see what would be technical news in 2008 —

- the launch of Havok 4 on the main grid
- Mono replacing the LSL virtual machine
- HTML on a prim, and better SL <-> Web integration (through capabilities)
- New generation of photorealistic avatars being previewed on the Beta Grid
- OpenSL Consortium being launched while server code gets licensed (probably to IBM first)
- Java-based or Android-based mobile version of SL being previewed on an early beta
- First attempts of cross-VW integration (likely allowing HiPiHi users to get access to some SL content through a collaborative effort with SL)
- new Grid Architecture launched and previewed

Technical issues that will affect social behaviour:

- Non-US grids (not all of them ran by LL) will allow gambling again; European citizens forbidden to enter ageplay sims; taxing introduced on L$ sales on the LindeX for European users
- LL plans to outsource the mainland (not to close it down, but to let a private organisation run it much better than currently); griefing reaches a plateaux (as private groups start slowly to catch up and thoroughly ban griefers from the new private mainland)
- Impact of 'age validation' mostly overhyped; not only there won't be a mass exodus, but a huge majority of SL residents won't validate their age (because Integrity's database won't work as thought, and most people won't bother with manual validation)
- the new SL <-> web integration efforts will show a "merger" of OpenSocial-based sites and (increased) Facebook interconnection. Most of these "new" tools will be basically ignored (as will the articles reporting on them)
- LL will drop traffic stats (claiming database overload), which will make the campers violently protest; the in-world Search engine will give the SL population the first visible traffic-free listings. Sales by the major groups that rely on "fake traffic" (and not on quality of content/experience/products) to survive will quickly fade out and disappear from SL.
- Voice will be used by 50% of SL users (up from a third). Voice quality will continue to be bad.

Social issues:

- one city/state government will use SL as a core project for democratic participation of their citizens (which will at the beginning be intensely griefed but quickly forgotten)
- LL will collaborate with organisations like IANA/ICANN (or perhaps the US copyright authorities) to prevent users from registering sim names and avatar names using a trademark that they're not allowed to use; existing sim names will be reviewed
- Legislation on pseudonymity will be discussed by a major university using SL as their research environment, and proposals will be made (and very likely ignored)

More important than the above:

- the media will not have interest in any of the above examples, unless it leads to a lawsuit or criminal charges

Cyn Vandeverre

I expect someone has reported on this in the SL-blogverse somewhere, but I saw this week: "The US faces $21m (£10.6m) in annual trade sanctions as a result of its online betting ban, the World Trade Organization has ruled."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7156394.stm

This may eventually change SL's ban on gambling.

Giulio Prisco

1) Bad press continues through the first few months, but corporations keep entering SL with less media hype.

2) OpenSim releases version 1.0 in September and moves to the integration of better VR groupware features (like Qwaq Forums).

2) Several alternative grids based on OpenSim start to take active users and corporations away from SL - eventually LL frees parts of the server code, but "too little, too late".

Tristin

The Lindens will finally buy a dictonary and look up the words "customer service" and go DOH!
o and IDV will be manditory

Digado | Mapping the Metaverse

- Optimism: As the 2d internet grows, the potential for Virtual Worlds grows. Better data exchange make Virtual Worlds more accessible to the masses. Interests of big investors grows and steps towards a standard slowly start to connect multiple worlds.

- In search of the holy grail: Trough 2d and 3d integration many developers, both the professional and the amateurs, will look for applications of (3d) virtual environments. What will be the ‘killer app’ to convince a mainstream audience the 3d sites are worth visiting.

- Disappointment: Companies will still get it wrong, the masses will still stay away from Metaverses, and it will take some time to get over the negative spin Second Life has given Virtual Worlds. Opportunity’s, jobs and ‘residents’ will fluctuate, a roller coaster many believe to be Bubble 2.0 (or even 3.0)


2008 Predictions as asked by VirtualWorldNews
http://digado.nl/what-are-your-2008-predictions-and-business-goals.html

My top 5 predictions for Virtual Reality
http://digado.nl/what-to-expect-from-vr-in-2008.html

Neptune Rebel

1) Second Life becomes a primary element of another network TV show

2) SL will pass 25 million accounts

3) A reality TV show will be filmed completely in SL

4) The value of the Linden will spike dramatically on the exchange index

5) 20 of the Fortune 100 companies will have a presence in SL.

Coughran Mayo/Dick Dillon

1. A much ballyhooed mud wrestling match between Callie Cline and Aimee Weber will turn into an exchange of (polite) insults (e.g. Callie: "I read your book, but I didn't understand it.", Aimee: "I wore your clothes but they didn't fit me."

2. The Info Isles, Commonwealth, Non-Profit Commons and a consortium of libraries and universities in SL will band together and become the second largest conglomerate economy in SL, after ACS.

3. The introduction of the sculptie/flexi prim will lead to the creation of new Sims such as Schmoo Island, Land of the Uvulae, and "The E.D.".

Marianne McCann

IDV, in a somewhat refined format, will become mandatory.

Server code will be released, but will be hobbled.

A "copybot" like situation will affect content developers in SL, potentially involving script permissions.

Digital content rights will be a major issue, with at least one major corporation (perhaps Disney) attempting to control such in SL.

Windlight and Havok4 will become fully incorporated parts of the standard SL browser. Any 'forecasts' of doom will be largely unfounded.

Although there will be some growth, voice users will remain a minority.

Corporate attempts within SL will slow, but those that do enter will become richer. Some corporations will become to 'get" SL, thanks to increased visibility and others "hand holding" them into the world.

An in-world designer will "cross over" into the real world fashion world.

ESC will, in some form, take over the SL "viewer" market.

A major competitor for Second Life will be announced, likely backed by a pre-existing U.S. media organization or internet company.

An additional scandal akin to the German Television "Ageplay" scandal will hit the news media in the United States. Likewise news stories of a suicidal or homicidal teens "having an account in Second Life" will supplant the "MySpace" stories of previous years.

Involvement in Second Life of U.S. presidential candidates will remain largely a footnote at best.

Sered Woollahra

2008 will see more alternatives to SL appear, including an IBM branded 3D environment for (their own?) business purposes, and a major OpenSim release. In the mean time, all those involved will pay lip service to openness and integration; IBM and LL will even put (some) effort in it.

Geuis Dassin

Second Life will pass 20 million registered users around the middle of the year. Related to this, the active user base will be close to or surpass 1 million people over a 60 day period.

Peak concurrency will surpass 100,000 by year's end.

Linden Lab has already made predictions about user growth and are quietly working to allow third-party server sims to connect to the grid. Notice, this is not an open-source server prediction.

The organic growth that SL has experienced over the last few years will provide the impetus to open up the grid.

Linden Lab will create a new revenue model for itself by making independent sim owners pay a monthly access fee of about half to 2/3 the cost of renting a LL-hosted server.

skribe

2008 will see legal action over machinima shot in SL forcing LL to clearly define the limits of machinima in the TOS. Hopefully it doesn't involve me.

Neptune Rebel

Sorry, missed the "Pick 3" thing. You can drop my number 1 and 3.

T_S_Kimball

Evening Hamlet,

There are a number of things coming to a head that can make Cory, and those who follow his ideals, to consider helping Turner (or, more accurately, Cyan Worlds/GameTap):

-> Cyan has mentioned that they are interested in tapping its user base for content creation - initially for simple things like clothing.

-> Tools are currently available to create an Age for Myst Online (MO), though currently it 1) needs serious work still, and 2) is only playable via the old single-player version of Uru. The toolset in question is covered via GPLv3, and uses Blender - which has also been used for SL creation (in particular the sculpties).

-> MO Age Creation (not unlike high-end content creation in SL) is a team effort - even more so, since on top of the need for modelers, texture artists, and scripters, you also need to consider sound engineers for the environment itself. This makes age creation in MO more like a 'mod team' effort, but not impossible (search for 'Ahra Pahts').

-> Like There, MO is designed to be both PG and social in nature, with also an emphasis on puzzles of course. ;) Guilds are in the process of forming, some of which are centered around this idea of new content (both creation and pre-release testing). Most of this is being done without any major need of oversight by Cyan (yet).

I have absolutely no illusions about the fact that this can go either way; Again, this is merely my own observations (though would be nice if it would come to pass). I also understand that Myst Online cannot be directly compared to SL (I've made that mistake already in the past); This is more of a 'social impact' possibility than a 'world competitor' one, though it could blossom into the latter if things take off in '08.

The main obstacle is the same one that WoW faces - MO requires a paid GameTap subscription. However, it costs the same as a Premium account (including the costs of a year prepaid), and for that cost - approximately the same as one or two new game titles - you can have a wide selection of other games available (including other content exclusive to GT itself).

That brings up a 5th possible prediction:

-> GameTap Gold (paid) members get access to Second Life as pre-IDV Premium accounts (without the need of supplying the needed info to LL), possibly contracting their own viewer - the OnRez one definitely comes to mind. This could be a win/win for GameTap's international market, as well as registration from LL's perspective.

--TSK

Lowell Cremorne

My predictions can be found here ;)

http://www.metaversejournal.com/2007/12/28/australia-and-virtual-worlds-2008-predictions/

In summary they are:

1. Australia will see its first legal action in regards to a virtual world -
2. Second Life viability will remain under question
3. VastPark will flourish
4. Google will not launch a virtual world
5. There’ll be failures aplenty
6. Australian business will remain conservative
7. Mainstream media will continue to get it wrong

Ann Otoole

2008 brings the great sl depression as sl is totally overrun by IP thieves selling other's work for pennies and the major old school cliques also drop prices down to near zero in an attempt to force out new talent. LL stands by doing nothing except fiddling with improving their Friday COD4 skills while SL burns. Land values plummet to zero and masses of customers no longer pay rents forcing sim owners into default and abandoning islands left and right adding to the land and asset value plummet. But before everything goes down the tubes the open source crowd manages to steal most wonderful builds with their shiny new sim stealer system (already exists) and they deploy those sims and all that stolen IP into the open grid where everything will be free.

Stone Semyorka

The top three Second Life-related headlines in 2008 will be:

Headline 1) ***Second Life did not die out in 2008.***
Major publicity reverberations in 2006 drove accounts from 1 million to 11 million. Episodes in 2007 of Law & Order, SVU, and The Office drove a brief renewal of expansion. The HBO series in 2008 will keep momentum upward. Concurrency will drive past 75,000 and active monthly users will pass 750,000. This merely increases the value of Linden Lab. Meanwhile, LL has ever more important common interests with giants such as Google and IBM. Roots are intertwining. One of those two will "merge with" (buy out) Linden Lab/Second Life in 2008.

Headline 2) ***Residential leadership did not die out in 2008.***
Thank you to those who actually thought about our future and didn't just find this forum one more place to post their never-ending gripes about perceived hurts to themselves. New leaders will follow the positive role models presented by Gwyneth Llewelyn, Marianne McCann, Cyn Vandeverre, TS Kimball, Neptune Rebel, Coughran Mayo, Geuis Dassin, HALEY Salomon, Veritas Veriscan and numerous others who promote rationality in residency. As in RL, news media will have the greatest impact on us in 2008 because our own blogs, newspapers, magazines, TV and radio are how we know the who, what, where, when, why and how of us. Not the sensational scandal mongers of RL who feature our dark side, but our own SL fourth estate digging out all sides and ending up with a fair and balanced picture of Second Life. I'm thinking mainly of people like Hamlet Au, Warren Ellis, Rik Riel, Tateru Nino, Iris Ophelia, Sue Stonebender and the several others who take us seriously on a daily basis and help us find our way through the thicket.

Headline 3) ***Second Life got a whole lot better in 2008.***
While age validation will send the precocious teens back to their grid and voice chat will appeal to those into group communication, our virtuality will look pretty much the same a year from now. What will change most dramatically will be increased beauty, enhanced sophistication, and new ways to live out our fantasies. The new Search, a stabilized WindLight, an evolved user interface, and better ergonomics overall will make it easier, prettier, more profitable and more fun. But it's still going to be us at the steering wheel.

Pavig Lok

My top 3 headlines for.....

THE GEEK BLOGS

1) Linden labs opens jabber gateway into secondlife instant messaging client.
Hilarity ensues.

2) Education boffins laud html on a prim...
in principle.

3) Trans-metaverse avatars protest having to leave their weapons at customs.

THE MAINSTREAM PRESS

1) Virtual Worlds Next Big Thing - like myspace
(but nothing like it really we just said that to get your attention.)

2) Virtual Worlds Cesspit Of Degenerate Illegality -
(err not really we just said that to get your attention again.)

3) Terrorists Plan Virtual Terror -
(eeeeh is this gonzo thing still working or do we need to start paying for research from now on?)

THE BUSINESS PRESS

1) Corporates turn to virtual worlds to get things done as facebook suffers productivity killing zombie apocalypse.

2) Government economists move to establish tax rates on Netherweave, Isogen, Prism Power.

3) As corporations leave VW's in droves while cottage MDC industry reports record growth, as does litigation for profit.


Well they're my predictions for headlines in 2008 - serious predictions about SL can be found at http://pavig.wordpress.com/2007/12/29/pavs-predictions-for-sl-virtual-worlds-for-2008/

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

1) Pontiac, after leaving SL, will set up Motorati in its own more restricted, and branded, virtual world (with better driving physics)

2) A major competitor to SL will emerge

3) SL will finally enter get onto the radar of the non-digerati, resulting in a flood of noobs like none we've seen before...

Mona

- Merging of the teen grid with the main grid, which means full implementation of adult flagging to create a SL "redlight district"
- Nickvoices, built in voicechanger
- Ability to move avatar's limbs
- Full 3d support
- Opensourcing the servers
- The end of "premium" users
- Connection fee for external grids to reach main grid
- Collaboration with other companies instead of competing
- Getting paid for linking someones elses business in your profile/blog etc. instead of camping

Laetizia Coronet

My laptop will cease to support SL, that's my 2008 prediction.

Fleep

X-Posted from my blog: Education in Virtual Worlds 2008 Predictions

The Virtual Worlds Management Industry Forecast 2008 report spawned a host of predictions from other bloggers, and several commenters suggested I do the same when I reviewed the report. I think the general predictions have been pretty well covered so I’ll stick to the topic nearest and dearest to my heart: Education in Virtual Worlds.

Following the report’s question format..

What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?

1. Second Life will continue to be the virtual world platform of choice for educators in 2008. While competing platforms are coming online in droves, university and college administrators are conservative about investing in new and poorly understood technologies. In countless committee meetings, early adopter faculty and IT staff will have to show hard data to skeptical department heads and Second Life is the only virtual world platform with a critical mass of educators, institutions, grant dollars, and burgeoning research to provide that data. What the administrators don’t know and nearly as important as the data, however, is that Second Life is also the only platform with a large enough and diverse resource base to provide freely-given documentation, training, websites, and technical support that educators need to deliver results - a level of support that isn’t currently provided by the host institutions or Linden Lab themselves (though the power of the 4,000 some educators on the Linden Lab hostedSL Educators email list can’t be underestimated).

2. Traditional Course/Content/Learning Management Systems will belatedly establish project teams to explore how they can cross-over into virtual world territory. The big players like Blackboard and Desire2Learn will look at the ground-breaking work of the SLoodle project and the continued spread of the open-source Moodle CMS and wonder where the heck their heads were in 2007. Though there won’t be any major implementations of virtual world technology in these other platforms, internally there will be a lot of head scratching, planning, and development, which will be poorly implemented in 2009.

3. College presidents will demand proof of ROI more vigorously than any CEO in 2008. Though the cost of entry to stick an institutional sign in the virtual world yard is still relatively low, as more educational institutions develop virtual presences and programs, the cost in both time and money to build, document, and deliver courses in these environments will explode. Early adopters will be forced to defend their work in a climate of tightening budgets and the increasing corporatization of edu culture, which will yield better metrics and research study designs that will be utilized to better effect by the private sector in late 2008 and into 2009.

What goals have you set for 2008?

The University of Cincinnati Second Life Learning Community has grown from a handful of members to over 30 faculty and staff from nearly every college, and in 2007 we hosted 7 classes on our island. Beyond increasing growth of the learning community and the number of courses that explore Second Life as some component of the course, my 2008 goals include:

1. Research: Complete and publish results of a second study of educational institutions in Second Life to build upon the initial benchmark. The second time around, I hope to explore not just “who” and “what kinds of spaces are being built”, but also take a more comprehensive look at the type of educational activities that are being conducted. Are educators just delivering traditional PowerPoint slides and lectures in the virtual world, or are they doing something else?

2. Sustainability: Funding, funding, upgrade computer labs, funding, more support staff, funding, better documentation and support infrastructure, and did I mention funding? I suspect I’m not the only one working 60 or 70 hour weeks to make education in virtual worlds a reality, and if we don’t find a way to make these nascent programs sustainable, we’ll all suffer massive burn-out. In return for more institutional support, we’ll be expected to deliver on the promise, but we can’t deliver on the promise without more institutional support, so solving this chicken-egg dilemma is a high priority in 2008.

3. Collaboration: Identify and challenge departmental and institutional barriers that hinder opportunities for collaboration. Virtual worlds knock down more than just geographical barriers, they also facilitate the holy grail of interdisciplinary curriculum - digital design students can help create models and learning spaces that are programmed for interactivity by computer science students to facilitate social science research, and there’s nothing to stop this from happening across institutions as faculty find researchers from other disciplines who share similar interests from different perspectives. The technology makes it possible, it’s just a matter of discovering what cultural and procedural barriers are standing in the way.

What challenges do you expect 2008 to bring for education and the virtual worlds industry?

1. Throwing off the “games” label: 2008 will be the last year that educators have to explain that virtual worlds are not games, not because the perception disappears, but because mass media will do the job instead. Virtual world applications for other serious purposes will be discussed in newspapers and tv shows and other traditional media ad nauseum, and by the end of 2008, anyone who still thinks any animated simulation on a computer is just a game was living under a rock.

2. Integration: Educational institutions have spent millions of tax payer dollars integrating student information systems, HR systems, grant and research funding systems, payment processing systems, and more. All of this data and infrastructure exists to automate the day-to-day business processes previously done manually, and yet with closed virtual world systems, we’re back to manually creating accounts, enrolling students in groups, giving curriculum and items by hand.. Virtual world platforms that intend to be adopted by institutions will have to enable integration with institutional systems and infrastructure or be outdone by competitors who do. This is a key barrier to widespread adoption, and newcomers to the virtual world playing field will begin to address this need in 2008.

3. Scalability: The interface must be user friendly. The initial experience must be idiot-proofed (even a PhD won’t get you off of Second Life’s orientation island, and that is ridiculous.) The documentation must be free, easily accessible, and clear. The tools for teaching must be easy to find and plentiful to accommodate different teaching styles. The platform must be stable, reliable, and allow more than 2 or 3 concurrent classes in the same space. Virtual world platforms that get the basics wrong will lose educational users in droves in favor of the platforms that get them right. Second Life in particular is on the hotseat in this regard, educators are itching for a way to test their theories on a platform that makes it possible without it feeling like a root canal, and 2008 may be the make or break year.

A number of new platforms are launching in 2008. What are the biggest impacts this will have on education and virtual worlds?

1. The education separatists will get their wish and discover that closed, sterile, disinfected virtual worlds are boring as hell, but they’ll persist in using them because it’s safer and easier to defend to administrators. Their students will see the experience as one more horrible institutional misuse of a cool technology and adopt open virtual worlds in ever greater numbers.

2. New degree programs will begin to emerge that focus on the interdisciplinary cross-section of organizational leadership in online environments, virtual worlds, and pedagogy. Ok, I’m hoping to find a program like that in 2008, so let me know if you find one. ;)

3. The most highly paid “instructional designer” positions will require experience with 3D modeling, social networking, and virtual worlds. Nascent departments and sub-units with expertise in virtual world platforms will begin to develop in IT departments at educational institutions across the United States, and in some other nations where virtual world technologies are being aggressively pursued.

How will all of this change education in 2008?

It won’t change anything except on the margins. A few students in a few courses in a few institutions will get a revolutionary educational experience that radically changes their view of the world and their place in it, but the vast majority of institutional resources, staff time, and equipment purchases will be continue to be spent on flat web technologies and endeavors. Enormous amounts of resources will continue to be poured into crappy course management and e-portfolio systems that don’t properly utilize Web 2.0 technologies yet, let alone incorporate virtual world tech. Pockets of innovation, under-funded and under-supported, will continue to grow, however, and faculty will lead the charge as they become aware of grant and research opportunities that they can’t take advantage of because of this lack of institutional support. National and professional associations will develop virtual world Special Interest Groups and these will show rapid growth among young faculty and early adopters across disciplines, but it will be several years before virtual worlds in education begins to approach anything like mainstream adoption.

So there you have it, just in under the wire! I’ll look forward to seeing how off the mark I am at the end of 2008, but until then, a Very Happy New Year to all - especially the educational community!

Eris

We finally get web-on-a-prim, the ability to display a webpage on the face of any prim, and everyone suddenly realises the most likely use for it is advertising within SL. Too late...

Almost overnight, the mainland is (almost) completely destroyed by a tsunami of ugly advertising, land prices crash again as everyone tries to flee. SL finally only really becomes useful or enjoyable on private islands and they become the only viable future for the platform.

Linden lose another revenue stream and try to pretend it was what they intended all along...

Peter Stindberg

A major player, most likely Google, will buy LL/SL. In case of Google this will dramatically increase stability and scalability when the SL grid will be ported to the worldwide Google datacenter infrastructure.

Adz Childs

1. A RL celebrity will sue for the rights to use their own real first and last name on Second Life, which someone in Second Life has already reserved months or years ago either on purpose or by coincidence. If the settlement is reached within the year, then the outcome will be that the defendant will have to give up the name but can keep the avatar.

2. A major virtual stock exchange, most likely The World Stock Exchange (WSE) will close or will be shut down. Customers will lose money. It will re-invent itself in another form, in a move widely seen as a way to avoid paying liabilities associated with this failure.

3. There will be a significant change to the "Community Standards" document. Specifically, section 5 will be significantly changed or removed.

...Seven more 2008 predictions, and link-back, at http://adz.secondlifekid.com/2008/01/01/2008-predictions/

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