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Friday, June 12, 2009

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Ann Otoole

I would really appreciate it if you 'respected" metaverse journalists would ask for a direct answer to the question are there any plans or discussions concerning ending user generated content in Second Life. I.e.; has it been discussed, is it on the table as an option, are there current plans to migrate build tools and content upload out of the Second Life back end support systems. As it is this "UI" that was "leaked" clearly demonstrates an effort to bury user generated content. Second Life lives because of user generated content. If there was nothing but the linden avatars and linden style builds in Second Life it would already be dead and shuttered long ago.

So how about it Hamlet? Are you willing to ask the hard questions? Nobody else will. Must be an off limits topic with the execs.

Hamlet Au

Yes, I contacted various Lindens about this; will update when/if I get anything.

Rez Gray

Ann, LL is NOT going to bury or end user generated content. U-GC is the entire point.
What this /might/ be is a simplified UI for end users that don't do their own creation, or get confounded by, like it says, 350 options.

Ideally we'd still have full-function clients a separate option for editing and creating stuff, and still have this 'habbo' client for easier use.

Besides. This us a UI-usability study build, so chill.

Vivienne Graves

@ Ann OToole:

WHY would you think that LL have any plan to 'end user created content in SL'? What serious evidence would you have for even the slightest suspicion of this? Why would LL talk about the strength of the in-world economy, and then take that in-world economy away, effectively? (No user-created content, no in-world economy, because there is nothing to spend money on.)

I submit that this apparent concern of yours is baseless and paranoid nonsense.

Ann Otoole

Actually Viv it is based on comments from current and former Linden Devs in various venues where they openly state UGC is not part of the future of the 3D metaverse and that content will be created only by select individuals. (for technical reasons related to scaling)

So i am afraid your attempt at defamation is a fail. I have reasons for asking. The main reason is to force Linden Research Inc. to make a public proclamation affirming they are not going to end UGC. If Linden Research Inc. will not affirm they are never going to end UGC then it is important for those building businesses in Second Life to know it is over and to develop exit strategies immediately (like a disconcertingly increasing number of SL thought leaders already are albeit is supposedly for non SL related reasons).

I want to hear it from the CEO that Linden research Inc. is not going to end UGC. If they will not make this commitment then it is critical for people to discontinue assuming there is a future in Second Life.

Nothing wrong with asking. Attempting to suppress these questions is rather dictatorial don't you think?

Hamlet Au

"based on comments from current and former Linden Devs in various venues"

Ann, can you post specific citations, please?

And please keep it civil, everyone.

Tateru Nino

I certainly can't envisage the Lab ever putting an end to UGC. I'm not going to slap anyone for suggesting it, though.

Frankly, the notion's never even occurred to me.

Vivienne Graves

Ann: If you have reasons for asking, you are doing so in the wrong forum; if you have evidence of this, provide it, not just some vague 'I've heard from so and so that'...which is not evidence at all but unsubstantiated hearsay.

And, WHAT 'attempt at defamation'? Calling a spade a spade isn't defamatory. There's certainly been no evidence of what you say re user-generated content, either, not thus far, anyway; at worst I can see metaverse providers like LL adding 'inventory fee' surcharges to users who've acquired a lot of content, to defray the cost of asset storage and datacentre expansion over and above user fees/Lindex sales; an end to 'unapproved' user-created content, though, seems frankly absurd.

Ann Otoole

so far the cites return 404 (unsurprising) but I have a ton of stuff related to sirikata and blue mars to go through and therein is your clue. They looked at SL and Blue Mars elected to clearly not have UGC and sirikata appears uninterested in enabling end users to create content ala SL ease and instead all these new startups, including some that have not revealed themselves to the public (so I cannot say anything), are not going to allow UGC. One means is by no scripting and mesh upload only limiting content creation to very few highly skilled people. This is not UGC. Not only that but you will not be customizing much and will have a very limited selection of avatar modifiers. (Hmmm whatever happened to kaneva, etc.)

It would be faster for the CEO of Linden research Inc. to answer the question unambiguously. Yes or no. If SL is going to end UGC in the future then we need to know now. It will not bother me in the least to have my suspicions put to rest along with the information others have emitted on the topic. In fact I would love to hear Mr. Klingdon commit to SL always supporting open UGC in the manner it currently does. I would feel safer about betting real life endeavor time on Second Life if he would make the commitment. I would feel better if Mitch kapor, Phillip Rosedale, and Mr. Klingdon issued a joint statement committing Second Life to supporting unfettered (within TOS/CS of course) user generated content so there is no opportunity for future corporate double speak on the topic.

Places like gor grid ( http://thegorlife.com/ ) are getting ready to open as well as other places so content creators need to know what horse to bet on in the race.

It is a simple question. Clearly other 3D "grids" (or whatever you wish to call them) are not going to allow UGC for both technical and political reasons. So it is a natural and relevant question for LL's CEO to answer clearly and unambiguously.

Vivienne Graves

Citations, not there? And you only have for reference what other virtual worlds (which are not SL and are not run by LL) are doing. Which means you can't substantiate your claims of having heard from (unnamed) 'LL devs' that user-generated content 'plays no role in the future of the 3d metaverse'.

And again I submit that you're really asking in the wrong forum; if you have such concern, enquire of Mr Kingdon et al. Their present position as stated doesn't give any indication of support for the idea; NB the 'adult content' press release from a little over a month ago (note boldfaced sections):

Developed and launched by Linden Lab in 2003, Second Life is the world's leading 3D virtual world environment. It enables its users - known as Residents - to create content, interact with others, launch businesses, collaborate and educate. With a thriving inworld economy that saw over $360 million USD transacted in 2008, and a broad user base that includes everyone from consumers and educators to medical researchers and large enterprises, Second Life has become one of the largest hubs of user-generated content (UGC) in the world.

Ann Otoole

What Second Life is today with 100,000 concurrency may not be what Second Life has to become to support the stated goal of one million concurrency. If you cannot grasp the problems of that load increase then obviously you will not comprehend my question. The Gold Solution Provider program already created a select set of partner content providers. This purported new user interface clearly begins the process of downplaying user generated content.

My question is valid. If Linden Research Inc refuses to answer this simple question then the story is told and people can take the absence of a position statement anyway they choose.

Vivienne Graves

Condescending, much?

I comprehend the problems of scaling, thanks. What I don't comprehend is why exactly you seem to think that the scalability and load-balancing required to enable one million concurrent users (by limiting database access events and server-client traffic to the barest minimum) perforce means the end of user-generated content in SL. User-generated content is one of the main selling points of SL; it continues to figure prominently in LL's promotional literature, and there has been no serious evidence that this will change.

The screenshots of the new UI (which is very obviously quite far from being a finished product) show that 'build' has been moved to a menu rather than being a button, and that build and edit are both context-sensitive ('build' greyed out when build is disabled; edit not available unless interacting with an editable object). Concluding from these minor changes in an alpha-stage UI revision that LL intend to downplay or eliminate user-created content is just silly (these options' presence in the new UI would seem to suggest the opposite to any rational person).

AlterEgoTrip Svenska

As far as I know it is a good thing to ask questions.. will people just ask them and let this be? I feel that this forum is probably the MOST appropriate forum to ask questions in because this is the main line, this is the main user base of SL reading here, and if they start asking questions and finding things out, all the better.

I personally hate this new interface because 12 minutes into my introduction to SL I used that pie menu and found it an easy, clever little bit of inovation- realizing that some may not like it, makes me wonder why not make a pie menu option on the advanced menu options.. *shrugs*

I hope this is not a first step to do away with user created content.

@Hamlet Au I hope that Linden Lab considers answering your questions, and please please report back on any response even if there is NONE.

Adric Antfarm

Sorry. I wanted to post in the NWN comment section and I seem to have ended up at the Herald.

Weird.

Later Ann

Tormented Twilight

I never liked the interface to begin with but got used to it. They just keep 'fixing' crap that doesn't need to be fixed while for nearly a decade continuing to ignore the real problems like the asset server/transaction server/lag lagging lag/and dumping more bad code on top of already bad code. Hey but we got glow and sculpties! Yeah!!!! How screwed up is it when the transaction server does stuff like tell you your transaction timed out and failed, then still takes your money and doesn't give you what you paid for even though the system itself was able to give you a nice blue pop-up telling you it failed? Are you serious? Almost every new update introduces new problems and then you have to wait for every other update to fix the new problems that the last update caused. Back in 2003/2004 Second Life ran like a peach. It may not have been as 'fancy' as it supposedly is now but it ran clean and didn't suck dry every last possible mb of memory it was able to in infinite memory leaks. With all due respect I doubt it's even possible for the devs to get back to that level of 'clean code'. Sooner or later, it's all going to come crashing down. We're talking about software that came out in 2003 that's on par with games from the late 90's that takes more memory, runs slower, looks worse and incinerates more graphics cards than Half Life 2.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate SL. I love it. But the devs constantly ignore their user base and instead of making critical fixes and updates inundate us with worthless crap like making the UI uglier and more difficult than it already is.

Mark Young

> Clearly other 3D "grids" (or whatever you wish to call them)
> are not going to allow UGC
> for both technical and political reasons.

Huh? The big finding of Web 2.0 was that UGC is a perpetual motion machine for making media sites appealing. There will be more opportunities for 3D UGC in the future, not less.

Hamlet Au

"Blue Mars elected to clearly not have UGC and sirikata appears uninterested in enabling end users to create content"

Ann, sorry, this is not accurate. I've been at the Blue Mars office in Honolulu, wrote a feature about them, and the founders told me then they intend to make the content creation licensing program open to all and cheap to register for. The licensing scheme is not to keep content creation to a select few, but to protect themselves legally. I talked with the lead developers of Sirikata a couple weeks ago, and they too told me they fully intend to introduce UGC in later builds (they're still in very early alpha.) Not sure what that has to do with SL, in either case.

Brian

Anne, you say:
"Actually Viv it is based on comments from current and former Linden Devs in various venues where they openly state UGC is not part of the future of the 3D metaverse and that content will be created only by select individuals."

Then you say:
"If Linden Research Inc refuses to answer this simple question then the story is told and people can take the absence of a position statement anyway they choose."

Wouldn't it make more sense for you to respond to people's request for you to substantiate your claims first? Or should we take the absence of that any way we choose as well?

Iggy O

If Linden Lab wanted to kill the education market in SL, they'd can end-UGC. Ever educator I know would pull out of SL.

@Ann, don't be so fretful: ain't gonna happen.

Troy McConaghy

This just in:

Facebook has just announced that they will not be allowing user-generated content as of August 1, 2009. Only selected platinum partners will be able to add or edit content on Facebook.

Asked for comment, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the move would enable Facebook to scale from hundreds of millions of active users to billions of active users. He added that it might even make Facebook profitable.

(Just kidding! - Troy)

Ann Otoole

Hamlet we will need a citation from your secret source at Linden Lab. Otherwise we have the classic case of pot calling the kettle black. You can't demand I give up my sources and then you post a statement from a secret source.

Besides, a coder does not call the shots and is about 100% likely to be oblivious to decisions made at the board level. I seriously doubt the coders and rank & file at Linden Lab knew of the decisions made regarding adult content prior to SL5B. But Mr. Kapor's keynote gave it away. We just didn't see the context at the time. In fact almost everyone took Mr. Kapor's keynote completely out of context at the time. If you go back and reread his SL5B keynote today it will be crystal clear what he was alluding to.

So we are left with the fact we do not have a public statement from a Linden Research Inc. Corporate officer authorized to speak on these topics confirming there are no plans to eliminate or limit UGC. Nor would I expect them to limit their options. As for the implied threat of people quitting is such a decision was made? Sorry but when you are in the big dog game it does not matter what the little dogs think. They are all easily replaceable. Especially in today's employment climate where there are literally thousands of people with superior skills and experience available for immediate start. Life is tough. If the boss says kill UGC you are either on board with it or you are out the door. Simple as that. So no wonder you have a source with information counter to my information and neither of us is willing to cite sources. There have been a number of high visibility departures from the Lab. Nobody really found out why these key players resigned (without a job to go to I might add) did they?

Iggy O

@Prokofy, who wrote about Blue Mars:

"It is not at all designed as an open and free platform for anyone to create in."

Correct, based on what I've read at the Blue Mars site and a review, by a content-creator for corporations, posted at the SLED list. Most of the residents in Blue Mars will be tourists.

I've been tussling with a few educators who see BM as some sort of godsend for us. I don't, for the very reasons Prok notes here. We'd have to have skills with software of a sort that only a tiny fraction of faculty and students could master--Maya and other 3D applications.

And BM is PeeCee Vista only...yuck. Granted, BM may be visually stunning, and intuitive, and great for games. That makes it a Wii of virtual worlds, not a site for education.

I'd predict it will hold very little interest for educators who want their students to make things without some difficult vetting process.

It might be great fun for Vista users who want to play some great golf or drive a vehicle, and I'll find a high-end campus PC with lots of RAM to test BM when it launches. I'd at least enjoy a better road-racing experience than I have in SL.


Darien Caldwell

Vivienne Graves, Can I ask why you feel the need to attack Ann so vigourously? IF she's wrong, so be it, but the level of vitrol coming from you is astounding, as if she had attacked you personally. Do you care to explain how the possibility of UGC being removed from SL is a personal affront? Do you work for Linden Lab?

Hamlet Au

"Correct, based on what I've read at the Blue Mars site and a review, by a content-creator for corporations, posted at the SLED list. Most of the residents in Blue Mars will be tourists."

Iggy, I visited the Blue Mars office and wrote a story about them for GigaOM last year:

http://gigaom.com/2008/02/19/blue-mars-second-life-with-pro-level-content/

It's true that the Blue Mars team designed the world to emphasize professional-level content, but they also emphasized to me that the licensing scheme for content creators will be open to all, and merely require a nominal fee. That's not the same as having an open-ended platform like SL, but it's definitely much closer to it on the spectrum than most other virtual worlds. (Also the user-to-user economy.) You're right that creating Blue Mars content will require facility with Maya and other industry platforms; but then again, Second Life's top content creators generally use those, as well.

All that said, I definitely wouldn't recommend Blue Mars for educators, except for a narrow set of specific use cases. You think WindLight is tough on old laptops, try getting a one gig client running the CryEngine to work on them.

Iggy O

I'll concede that Blue Mars could be a really nice platform for gaming, with something that MMOs don't feature: competition for gear that comes from pro-level residents.

If the driving is good, I would find the right hardware to race others. Sure, I could play a console driving game, but if BM includes talented content-creators vying to market really good vehicles, the racing scene could be really fun...somehow, I'll have to convince our admins at school that it's research for my job :)

Leondra

I have been reading the comments on and off all day. I am not a gamer, nor a techie, but I have found my "art" in SL, I would hate for this space to end. I am inspired by others and stretch my skills to create. I am sure I am not alone.

What drew me in, was to "create my world". I am so attached to these pixels and this experience, and would hate to see it only for the elite.

and LL... sorry my inventory is such a pain in the ass.

Vivienne Graves

@Darien Caldwell: You apparently have no idea what 'vitriol' means. I never said the 'possibility of user-generated content being removed from SL' was anything other than paranoid nonsense--which it patently is; Ann is unable to provide citations for her claims of 'Linden developers' saying 'UGC is not the future of 3d VRs', nor as we've seen are her supposed supporting claims of what OTHER, non-SL, 3d worlds are doing actually valid.

chaddington boomhauer

I thought the viewer was "open source" - can't anyone who wants to grab the current development source via svn/cvs etc?

Arcadia Codesmith

"You're right that creating Blue Mars content will require facility with Maya and other industry platforms; but then again, Second Life's top content creators generally use those, as well."

But the rest of Second Life's creators don't, Hamlet, and that's who we're discussing: the people who aren't pulling in hundreds or thousands of US dollars a month, but maybe are just making rent on their shops with little more than the in-game tools and a basic image editor.

Don't get me wrong; I think rumors of SL ending UGC are just paranoia. BUT I see a tendency in the industry as a whole towards increasing the barriers to entry for creators rather than lowering them.

And that troubles me deeply.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

I went to the Blue Mars site and looked at the form for would-be content developers. One of the choices for software one can claim familiarity with is Blender.

Blender is Open Source; free as in beer and free as in speech. There are online tutorials for it, and there are books that teach its use as well. (A copy of _Essential Blender_ sits behind me as I type; about $30 at amazon.com.)

If there's a high barrier to being a content creator for Blue Mars, software cost isn't a part of it.

Nexii Malthus

People who think user generated content in SL is going to end, need to take a chill pill, step back, and look at what the heck they were thinking.

It is silly Herald-style-doom-and-gloom-thinking. With Philip Rosedale pulling the real strings as board of directors, SL will continue and thrive as it always has been doing for years. In fact, it has been doing better than EVER before.

I think the Lab has been putting too much pressure on their developers, at least, that is what it seems from some lindens who have been skipping their office hours.

Long term the virtual world scene is looking good though as the OGPX mailing list has recently begun with conversation slowly picking up.

Mid-term we will start to see Philip take an initiative with the Snowglobe client, which is proving to cite interesting discussion towards fixing the second most critical design problems and trying to figure out what new features could be applied to improve the metaverse experience. Myself picking up speed to participate in the SLDev mailing list and post my own contributions.

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