Applications and Tools, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

Teleport to OpenSim from Second Life: Interoperability and the Decentralized Grid

IBM and Linden Lab have announced that they’ve accomplished avatar interoperability between OpenSim and Second Life today, allowing avatars to teleport between grids.

At yesterday’s keynote by Mitch Kapor the big announcement was met with a yawn, but his comments on needing to decentralize the governance and Grid hinted at the direction of the Lab. Today’s announcement demonstrates the direction that the Lab is taking: acting as the central hub for commerce and identity while allowing other grids to link to these services.

While cross-grid log-in between OpenSim and Second Life had been achieved before, the difference is that this time is that the avatar logged into Second Life and then teleported to OpenSim. In other words, was able to teleport directly from a sim in Second Life to OpenSim and back.

Thanks to Saijanai Kuhn who explained that currently, you login to a simulator. With the new open protocols, you log into an “Agent Domain” much like an ISP for your avatar. The then you tell the Agent Domain which grid you want to go to, it contacts the grid and passes the connections along to your viewer.

Discussions of OpenSim bring up concerns about asset transfers from the ‘protected’ grids of Second Life to OpenSim. The Lab is trying to allay those concerns and Zero Linden is promising time on Metanomics to explain the accomplishment in interoperability and is reviewing details with the Linden lawyers about the Terms of Services in order to provide clarity on copyright protection.

A rough outline of the current thoughts about IP protection are available on the Second Life Wiki in which they outline options currently under consideration:

Two extensions have been suggested to the current permission system:

* transfer to trusted region — that would allow the content creator either
o to allow transfer of the content to a list of trusted regions, or
o to allow transfer to all those regions that are trusted by a list of regions that she trusts
* sticky permissions — permissions that cannot be changed down the food chain; for example,
o sticky transfer permission and sticky price tag: you can transfer the object, but you cannot take away the transfer permission, you should also not charge for the object.

Mitch Kapor talked about Second Life as moving from the early adopter phase to a pragmatic one. There are challenges for universities and companies with Second Life. These were touched on by mooncaine in comments on a recent post: namely, “you can’t back up the content you create on your own storage devices, and you are utterly reliant on LL’s servers to be up and accessible to you.”

Ability to host your own Grid on openSim, back-up the content on that server, and have a secure environment goes a long way to allaying these concerns. However, it also opens up a new level of discussion around IP protection and begs the question of how Linden Lab plans to make money on all the stuff that’s happening over on another Grid. However, their reasoning may be that if they can establish the Second Life avatar and teleport protocol as the standard for open source systems, they at least maintain a slice of the provision of services and may be able to move towards establishing the standards for identity, permissions and teleportation through the metaverse.


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