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Monday, May 04, 2009


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Porsupah Ree

One aspect to bear in mind with SL's hype cycle is that it's primarily driven by the tech and general media, with reporting more closely resembling mere punditry. A negative study may be picked up and reported, then subsequently echoed, in some way establishing its legitimacy. This then sets the scene for a small trend of negative reporting, as we've all seen repeatedly in a variety of scare stories in the more tabloid outlets, or the procession of clueless brands leaving SL, adding to the SL Death Watch.

Meanwhile, SL itself continues to evolve and grow, providing nurturing grounds for some spectacular artistic creativity, and simply enjoyable social arenas for a wide array of interests.

I'm not sure how much relevance open source vs closed source has, I admit - it's certainly preferable to have applications be open, though I'd more agree with Bruce Perens outlook that it's more important that the protocols and formats be open, rather than specific applications. Firefox is widely used, but so are other proprietary browsers; in some cases, they're even closed source front ends for open source engines. What matters, ultimately, is each browser's compliance with the standards.

Browser-based viewers? I'm not sure about that at all. I don't quite see what embedding an application within another, quite different, application gains the user or the developer. Other than basing a virtual world purely within Flash, any other plugin would have to be developed for as many platforms, winding up every bit as internally complex as a completely independent application.

One element that could change matters radically would be the release of the SL server code, alongside, one would imagine, some form of income stream for the Lab, permitting connectivity to the asset servers. If sims could come in a wide variety of power, ranging from sufficient for yourself and a few friends, through to something more suitable for large public events, the low end of sim costs could conceivably fall down to the level of impulse spending, as we're already seeing in the realms of OpenSim - but with full and complete compatibility with one's existing inventory.

How likely that is, though, is another matter entirely - it seemed quite probable a couple years ago, but since then, the notion of open server code's been pushed well into the realms of mere conceivability.


I am glad that people are going to spend some time looking at where we are on the hype cycle.
Mass adoption has to sit on top of the cultural change of people wishing to interact and share live. In that sense the facebook and twitter's of teh world are helping people get used to near live interaction.
In many ways the tech is not the restriction. It is people feeling the benefit (that many of us already have) of interacting in ways that are richer than an email or a telecon.
The closed worlds tend to also provide some focus, be it story or characterization that suits people more geared to being more passive in their media consumption, but starts to let them explore and evolve their own self expression, building characters or content.
We will never have one all signing all dancing virtual world where we will suddenly be able to say there is mass adoption IMHO. There will be constant evolution, constant industry vertical solutions and a whole mix of things paid for and free.
I like web browser based solutions, but it seems unfortunate that we restrict the possibilities in order to gain adoption.
Lets face it if something is useful enough people will do what they need to do to access it. Enterprise IT policies restricting take up of applications is more about trying to maintain some sort of control. Whilst security is important, clearly, people across an enterprise being able to communicate efficiently is even more important.
So we have the possible adoption across large enterprises, the social web driving adoption of new ways to communicate and the entertainment industry seeking to get themselves past the packaged goods that they deliver today.
Lots of industries, lots of drivers but not one answer.

Tateru Nino

The hype-cycle chart doesn't apply very well here. Well, it sort of does, but the Gartner hype-cycle insofar as services (particularly social ones) is oversimplified to the point of naivety. What we actually have is the aggregate of dozens of those cycles, offset by time.

On the Gartner chart, we're simultaneously at many different points along the line.

Hamlet Au

I agree, Tat. And good points, Mr. Potato!

Iggy O

It will take years of educating university admins before SL or something like it becomes a mainstream app on campus. Early adopters will help speed the process along, but admins may have to encounter--and use for work purposes--other VWs and educate themselves.

I hold out a lot of hope for browser-based worlds like Metaplace, because they get around the client issues that SL has, as well as its steep graphics requirements. Every time I've taught with SL, a few students get "orphaned" mid-term after an upgrade makes their laptops worthless--and most use laptops on my campus.

I've long been ticked off by the digerati answer: "put in a new graphics card." Yeah, right, we'll do that in the middle of a semester, even on a desktop system.

Browser-based worlds can also fly under "no gaming" rules on some campuses. /me sticks tongue out at grumpy admins who think learning cannot happen during gaming...

In time, Metaplace and worlds like it may provide "good enough" simulation, without the verisimilitude of SL's "look," and that would be enough for many applications of the VWs in the classroom. A precedent here is Blackboard: there are much better course-management systems out there, but Bb is good enough for most faculty and it's familiar.

cube inada

Browser Based...

Back to the Future.:) Earlier Today.:)



FlipperPA Peregrine

Just as an update, we'll be in Huntsman Hall in room #340. Be sure to introduce yourself to us if you can make it - we will be getting the panel on video and sharing it with the public as well.

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