Sunday, 22 June 2014

033: Second Second Life: No freaking out required

Well, the big news on Friday afternoon from Linden Labs was that they're working on a new "next generation virtual world". I don't think anyone should be surprised at that; it's their business. The part of the press release that everyone is freaking out over is -- "[W]e don't want to constrain our development by setting backward compatibility with Second Life as an absolute requirement from the start."

Judging by reaction in the blogosphere, and a couple of random comments I heard last night while I was out shopping, that announcement means that Second Life will be shutting down in about 20 minutes, and every cent you've ever spent on stuff in SL is now completely wasted, and, and, and -- the sky is falling.

For crying out loud, RELAX.

My friend Eddi Haskell has summed it up very well at his blog, found here -- and his post is called "Much Ado About Nothing", which is perfect. He makes four very good points that you really should read for yourself. But what it boils down to for me is, SL technology is open source and Linden Labs is still making money by running SL -- so I don't think SL is going anywhere soon. If Linden Labs sells it off, someone will pick it up (and personally, I'm thinking that Facebook has pretty deep pockets right now, and it's kind of a natural fit with their business model). Firestorm will continue to support a viewer as a third-party provider, I think.

And honestly, did you think Second Life was going to last forever?  This is, to me, just like the transition that I've lived through between VHS and DVD. Yes, I had to replace movies that I owned in VHS format, but the DVD format is a lot better and easier to use. I'm betting that once Linden Labs approaches the question of creating a virtual world with today's technology, with the extraordinary graphics that we've all seen in other games, and, yes, even with the potential addition of Oculus Rift to the mix, we will be happy puppies. The technological leap might cost us all time and money, but I'm thinking that it will be like the early days of SL all over again -- covers of magazines will bring thousands of newbies into Second Second Life, as you might call it, and the experience that we've all gained in our years in SL will pay off big-time in SSL. We'll all be able to start consulting services teaching people about the equivalent of Slink feet and l'Uomo mesh bodies and custom AOs, because we've already mastered the art of surfing the technology waves that pass through SL every so often.

So look on the bright side! Frankly, although I'm sure we'll be able to play in SL for a long, long time, I will probably be enthusiastic about leaving it behind and moving to SSL. We'll be getting a better environment in which to do the same things we like to do. And we'll be the only people who have experience at using that kind of environment. I can't say I'll be delighted if I have to throw away a lot of virtual clothes and furniture, etc., but I wasn't happy about throwing away a lot of VHS tapes either. It's a part of life. And I can't wait to see what they come up with!

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