Second Life still living its first one

CNNMoney.com has an interview with Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab on their website:

Second Life still living its first one

The article points out that Second Life has had its day in the sun, and that they are now faced with making the service successful. Rosedale states that they need to more of a business, and less of a lab. He references making Second Life like a public utility. The one problem I have with this is that even public utilities charge rates to their users.

In my opinion, far too many free accounts have been registered over the past 5 years that are never again used. These accounts take up resources on the servers and in the directory. Whatever objects that were created and bought by these transient users now take up database resources. All of this contributes to the sluggish performance of the asset database. I was in Linden Lab’s offices back in December doing some testing and was shocked at how slow the performance was right inside their own building. If Second Life is going to aspire to be a public utility, they should run some Drano through the old pipes and clean out all the debris.

Rosedale alludes to the urban legend of HTML on a prim in the article. This has been hanging out there forever. Here are his comments on this:

Rosedale says that while the company’s main task in 2008 will be stabilizing and improving the user experience of Second Life, he is very excited about one technical improvement – adding HTML Web software. Currently, you have to click back to your browser to see Web content. Soon the Web will work right inside Second Life. A building could have its walls papered with the Web. Multiple avatars could surf the Web together or even share a whiteboard using Flash technology.”

I just don’t understand why this feature has taken so long to integrate into the platform. We’ll see how long it still takes to get this out of the gates. I want to see an open source server/grid made available. This is the Holy Grail of education. With platforms like the upcoming one from SUN (currently referred to as MPK-20, which not only has HTML integrated, but the whole Sun Open Office Suite), Linden Lab will soon be playing catch up with a new kid on the block.

I was a BETA tester for Second Life back in 2003. The client graphics and interface have not changed much in all these years. Rosedale states that Second Life is still complicated and difficult to use. I expected some streamlined clients to hit the Internet after the client code went open source, as of yet this has not happened. The one thing I did notice was that the article quotes concurrent usage now as a measure of residents, not total registered users as has been done to death in the past. This is at least a solid metric that can be used to gauge usage of the Second Life platform.

My wish list for the New Year to Philip is as follows:

  • More video and audio streaming formats
  • A customizable UI and menu system
  • Open source or licensed servers
  • Estate tools that provide usage metrics (ie: heat maps of your land)
  • And the most important of all: The ability to link education projects on the Teen Grid, or at the very least a way to teleport students between private islands
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2 responses to “Second Life still living its first one

  1. Pingback: The Grid Live » Second Life News for January 27 2008

  2. Great coverage and commentary.

    Clearly Linden recognizes the need for HTML in Second Life, as they’ve now made this promise in several forums. Competing against Qwak, Croquet, and others for the educators requires HTML embedding. Philip said in his interview with Reuters from Davos that “HTML on a prim” would be available by May 1st, though stopped short of promising that for more than the Beta Grid or in test roll-out (which is good…last thing we need is a buggy launch).

    The Lindens also made specific promises around open servers, and have said that “in the future there will not be one grid but many”.

    There was another interview that outlined development plans for 2008, and I’ve tried to summarize their overall improvement plans : http://dusanwriter.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/schedule-for-second-life-improvements-mono-lightweight-client-open-servers-html/

    This includes releasing a lightweight client, open architecture plans, and Mono.

    I think you’re right about a house cleaning, but this might go deeper than deleting old accounts (and we know they won’t do THAT, it would mess up their ability to claim 8M users).

    One of the striking questions is whether they’ll ever allow interoperability – say, seamless integration of Google SketchUp models or 3DS. If they did, it might kill the current in-world economy but might benefit the platform in the long run. My suspicion is they might build a pipe in once they open up the architecture but only allow full integration with current and common 3D modeling environments once they can disconnect those objects from the main grid.

    Regarding your wish list, if SL is a utility provider (something I have an issue with as I think it lacks strategic depth but I digress) then I imagine that the Estate Tools idea would be left to other providers, much like WebTrends is a plug in to the utility of Web hosting.

    And finally, I’m curious as to whether you think the Linden’s intentions would ever be to split off the Teen Grid entirely if they go ahead with their open sim plan and then, knowing that others will be hosting SL grids, remove the restrictions? The Teen Grid could still restrict those going to it, but the main grids, being open, would allow individual users the ability to make their own choices about access.

    Keep up the wonderful posts, your blog is one of my required reads.

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