Comment of the Week: Grandmother of Six Contrasts & Compares Second Life and OpenSim

Dancing at Dawn

Last week a post on Second Life subscriptions re-ignited a regularly occurring reader argument on the merits of SL versus OpenSimulator, its cheaper, open source spinoff. (Which for my money, seems a bit like still arguing whether Orkut is better than MySpace in 2016, but OK.) Into the breach rides Ms. Dykoda Desmoulins (pictured), who speaks from experience:

I am not going to get into an 'Opensim vs. SL' debate, but there are a few things I would like to address.

I have been in Second Life since October 2005. I've watched it grow from a primitive virtual world into what it is today. I am a fashionista to an extent. I spend a LOT of time shopping. I find a lot of enjoyment, and spend a lot of time decorating my house, however, I tend to shop at various well-known stores, rather than Gachas (though I've been known to do the latter occasionally). I absolutely LOVE Second Life because I can satisfy my desire for all of those things, and much more. SL offers me things that I simply can't get in OpenSim.

I am a RL grandmother (of 6, actually). I love spending time in a sandbox building. I rent regions on several OpenSim grids. I love to travel the Hypergrid, exploring what others create, what others have built. I love the fact that I'm not limited by various things in OpenSim such as the linkset limits, etc.

More from this metaverse exploring grandma:

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Manager of US Army's OpenSimulator Project Proposes Oversight Be Transitioned to Civilian-Run Foundation

OpenSim US Army Moses

Interesting proposal from Douglas Maxwell, manager of the U.S. Army’s MOSES OpenSimulator project, which recently got an open source, web-based viewer, for an independent, civilian-run foundation to manage development and evolution of the codebase:

This organization would not be controlled by MOSES in any way, but a parallel civilian entity that shares our work ethic and philosophy for the application of virtual world technology to civilian educational and training uses. Ideally, this foundation would be supported through membership fees, research grants, and service contracts. The foundation should support a staff of code and content maintainers. This foundation would be responsible for the maintenance of a source code repository that would serve as an official residence for a safe and secure open source simulator.

On the surface this looks like a great idea and boon to the future of open source-based virtual worlds:  

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Open Source Web-Based Browser for OpenSim Coming Soon

MOSES OpenSim Web

Really interesting post on HyperGrid Business about an HTML5 viewer for the MOSES project, the US Army's OpenSim grid. Set for release this fall, it's developed to be usable on any device supporting HTML5 and WebGL, and even more crucial, will be released as open source. Another intriguing hook is that they're aiming to greatly improve the graphics with some new back-end:

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One-Click Viewer for OpenSim Goes Open Source

DreamWorld OpenSim open source viewer

OpenSim is an appealing open source virtual world platform for hardcore coders and such, but user friendly it is not. Veteran SL/OpenSim developer Fred Beckhusen has a solution for that, and he just made it open source: "It copies the necessary files to disk, sets up Firestorm all ready to log in, and has pre-configured avatars that can log in to a Western town all ready to explore on a horse." Get it here on Github.

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Lumiya SL Viewer for Android Gets Major UI Update

Lumiya Android SL Viewer

Lumiya, the SL viewer for Android devices, recently got a whole host of updates that longtime SL artist Douglas Story just e-mailed me excitedly about. (Disclosure: Lumiya and its talented creator, Alina Lyvette, were NWN media partners a few years ago, but I sadly haven't heard from her in awhile.) I don't regularly use an Android device or currently have one on-hand, so let Mr. Story tell you what's in store:

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This is the Nicolas Cage/Tangled/OpenSim Mash-Up You Didn't Know You Wanted But Now You're Glad You Did

Hypnotic, disturbing, glorious:

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Acclaimed Metaverse Artist Bryn Oh Creates Virtual Therapy Environment to Help Treat Military Personnel With PTSD

Bryn Oh OpenSim PTSD US Army

Violence continues shredding the real world, but virtual worlds may be able to help. Acclaimed Second Life artist Bryn Oh (pseudonym of a Canadian painter), recently announced a project she did with the US military, creating a tranquil, beautiful virtual space as therapy for military personnel suffering from PTSD.

To the uninitiated, this may seem like a strange idea, but veterans and active duty service members have been using Second Life for just that purpose for years:

After all, some vets are uncomfortable about discussing their PTSD in public for many reasons, and are often physically disabled and/or live in remote areas, making it logistically difficult for them to commune in person with fellow service people. In these cases and others, a virtual community of avatars embodied in a shared space seemed like an ideal solution. That intuition was recently confirmed by an individual infinitely more qualified to speak on the subject: retired Marine Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman, who's now director of the vet support organization Freedom Is Not Free. In a speech at East Carolina University, which is experimenting with SL as a PSTD treatment platform, Kopelman addressed the subject of Second Life as a therapy tool: “I know Marines that say that Second Life is working when nothing else has," he said.

Today (like many other days), with real world news of terrorism and violent unrest at a fevered pitch, it's somewhat difficult to write about virtual worlds and games, but knowing that they can offer some healing to the wounds we keep inflicting on ourselves may offer some solace. Bryn writes on a similar theme in her announcement:

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Friday Open Forum: Post Anything Virtual

Links, events, opinions, news, blogs, Flickrs, Tumblrs, Vines, .gifs, gfycats, etc... go!

OpenSim, Closed Window: The Virtual View from Diva's Desk

I recently told you that Crista "Diva Canto" Lopes, a longtime pioneer of OpenSimulatorwon this year's Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest, so naturally, I should also share how she helps develops the open source virtual world:

Crista Diva Canto Videira Lopes OpenSim

"There's a special place I go to when I work," she recently wrote. "I login to my vLab, move the window to the right-most screen of my four-screen workstation, turn on the chill-out radio station there, zoom the camera out, and enjoy sun rises and sun sets over the shore every couple of hours. It's my work place, a happy, calm, beautiful place. I've been doing this for so many years, that it has become second nature: I find it hard to focus when I'm not there, and I miss it almost as much as I miss home when I travel with just a small laptop."

Have to love her setup (if not her electric bill). I used to do something like this with SL when I had a halfway decent desktop PC. Though for Crista, this is just an intermediary step:

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OpenSim Pioneer Wins Prestigious Open Source Award

Video via Joyce Bettencourt

Crista Videira Lopes, a longtime pioneer of OpenSimulator (the open source spinoff of Second Life), just won this year's Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest, awarded to developers of "open source software product of significant value to the nonprofit sector and movements for social change", and backed by the massive and prestigious Tides Foundation. Considering OpenSim's use by a small but dedicated group of educators and others, and Christa's talented contributions to it, it's a well-deserved.

"My department chair nominated me," Christa tells me. (She's a professor at UC Irvine, and "Diva Canto" in SL and on Twitter.) "He must have made a good case! OpenSim fits the spirit of that award."

Along with the award, she's winning a $10,000 prize, and for OpenSim users, there's good news there:

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