Deep Thoughts, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

Virtual Worlds 2009: A Greener, Cleaner, Open Year Ahead

I’m no good at predictions. A while ago I predicted that this new game I found, Second Life, would be an interesting diversion for a few weeks, or at least until I leveled up, and either I haven’t figured out where to find what level I’m at or its been an awfully long couple of weeks.

So, I’ll leave it to others to predict.

The State of the Virtual World
Prokofy is predicting that Philip will write a book, and he may be right, although it would probably only be released for reading on a Kindle or something similarly cool. On the other hand Philip thinks electricity is cool, so maybe what’s old and classic is new and uber-trendy among the sushi eating beach boys of Silicon Valley, it’s so hard to keep up. Maybe paper’s in again.

Philip gets bookish. Via Vint.

Prok also weighs in on tier rates and concurrency and some other stuff, and I’ll take his word for it, I never would have predicted that the Lindens would back-track on something, or suddenly change their pricing, which places me in the “what are you daft” camp I suppose.

RightAsRain is predicting. Well, he’s not really predicting anything. His disgust, I suppose. What a sham the Lab is. I love RaR. I love all that stuff they did over there on the Rezzable sims, and the Greenies, and the Carnival of Doom. But from what I figure, they weren’t making any money, because they started charging admission. Their business model, I guess, had something to do with the number of new users continuing to grow at the pace it did a year or so ago…a kind of massive network effect (or Ponzi scheme, depending how you look at it). But if that was the model, then it sort of made the Rezzable sims a tourist destination – I mean, I’ve been to Paris, it’s lovely, but I return for the food and the people and the culture, not to see the Eiffel Tower a second time.

Greenies go OpenSim via Vint

I guess I never quite understood what was going on. I remember visiting the Surfline sims and thinking “yeah, I’d buy a place here” and then being completely stymied when I couldn’t find a house to rent or land to buy. There was barely even anything to BUY. And I was willing. I LIKE buying stuff, even if it’s stuff I don’t NEED. I buy it because it actually only costs a few cents, and maybe it’s cool, but mostly I buy it because I love the way someone built their store or branded it or the way they thought through a particular style or space.

I mean, I bought what I COULD, but Black Swan didn’t even have a gift shop, and I must have visited it 10 times, but why would I visit again when they started charging admission? Used to be I brought newbies there, to amaze them with what was POSSIBLE.

I look around and see places like Loco Pocos, or Midian City, or Golgothica, or even that incredibly irritating vampire game and I see people who look like they have workable business models, selling stuff, and making money at it. Maybe I’m missing something?

It’s OK. RaR is predicting OpenSim is the place to be. Make it so I don’t have to fill out another registration and remember another password (and please don’t go on about OpenID) and I’m game. (The name verification thing is a cool idea, by the way).

The Bigger, Better, Cleaner World

“The Throng” per Ugotrade

Tish at Ugotrade is predicting that the great minds of the world will band together under the banner of a nobler cause, specifically “sustainable living” and I suppose with Obama sloshing money around for energy efficiency, eco-friendly, green world projects and independence from foreigners and whatnot it’s probably a good crowd to be hanging around with. Nothing like a good eco-colonic to get over the past eight years I suppose, and lots of consulting gigs to boot.

The Wikipedia/O’Reilly set and their followers either don’t have jobs or can’t find anything to invest in that someone can’t start up in their basement without VC money. They need something to do, so it’s off to save the world, and eliminate our carbon emissions. Which reminds me: I should probably turn my computer off now and then, it’s poking a hole in the ozone layer, it’s just that I hate having to boot up in the morning, the Twitter stream waits for no Windows, after all. (Yeah, yeah – I have a Mac at work, so don’t bug me about it).

OK, I’m a bit snarky. This sudden energy around, um, energy reminds me of a teacher I had in grade 11. He was ex-hippy, wore sandals, smiled serenely, seemed to enjoy his job, knew all the cool songs, understood my angst, encouraged me to write – and I hated him. I mean, who did he think he was? He was a TEACHER. Teachers aren’t ALLOWED to be cool.

In any case, I wish I could say I was entirely buying the virtual world angle to all of this eco-talk. I mean, sure, save costs on meetings – it’s a down economy after all, who needs to fly the staff around for off-sites and retreats and trade shows, meet virtually instead. You can even salve your conscience a bit about driving around in a Ford instead of a little electric scooter, but I’m not seeing the part where virtual worlds save the ozone layer. As a social space for meeting other cool, intelligent people, sure. As a more impressive conference call, definitely. The rest of it I’m waiting on.

So What’s the Big Idea?

I do think that 2009 will be a remarkable year.

Write that down. You can hold me to it a year from now.

Other than that, I can’t predict. A Google virtual world was about as much as I could anticipate over the last 12 months, and look where that got us….although recently there have been avatars wandering around Google Earth but they look more like Macy’s Day floats than anything else, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.

Image: Future Lab

I was reading about product design and business strategy and they proposed that you should always plan design to last for 15-20 years. And they argued that it actually isn’t that difficult to do, because most technology that will be prevalent 15 years from now is already here today. So with that in mind, it’s safe to say that we’re probably already living in our tomorrow, which will look different from today only because more people will have the really cool toys.

So I don’t know. Maybe that means more of the same. Although really, if the past is any indication it won’t be the gadgets or the latest Web apps that count, it will be the people we meet along the way, whether curmudgeons or naifs, grinning like M as he wanders blithely towards his rez date at the Lab, still smitten, or still a noob, or more devilish than we’d like, depending how you look at it, but still logging on.


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