Applications and Tools, Art and Exploration, Second Life, Visualization in 3D

The Power of -In: Second Life’s Dynamic Web Interface

When it comes to whether business will adopt Second Life instead of, say, Protosphere or Forterra’s OLIVE, we can talk feature sets and look at nice shiny corporate builds all day, but as I proposed yesterday, the advantage that Linden Lab has over all of the competition isn’t what THEY can do, but rather what content creators can accomplish. The challenge, I proposed, is whether the Lab can engage, support and build an ecosystem of developers who collectively will be able to build a marketplace of ideas, applications, content, and services. Whether the Lab can pull this off is partly dependent on how well they address policy issues such as content protection and seller registries, and partly on whether the tools they launch both work, and allow the kind of creative exploration that leads to game changers.

One of the game changers will be the MediaAPI. But there are others that have already hit the Grid, including HTTP-IN, something that I think is an overlooked improvement other than as, perhaps, a faster way for things like vendors to operate. The lack of static IP addresses is also an issue, but I’m not a coder and I understand you can work around it.

HTTP-IN allows Web sites to communicate with in-world prims and speeds up the protocols and increases the capacity from previous ways of accomplishing Web-to-world communication. When combined with the forthcoming MediaAPI, HTTP-IN will provide some pretty mind-boggling opportunities for data visualization and transmedia content, including the dynamic transport of data from Web to world and back again. I imaging a day when a build in Second Life will display content from Web pages with which we can directly interact. Let’s say you update a sales spread sheet in world, in real time, with your entire sales team present. As you update the spread sheet, the data is communicated out to a Web site which keeps track of and displays the data, while at the same time the data communicates with in-world prims to create a living landscape of moving, shifting prims that truly let you “walk through the data”.

The whole thing reminds me of Keystone’s work on reflective architecture, which was one of my early and more profound discoveries in Second Life.

Now, Hamlet at New World Notes brings us an example of how HTTP-IN was used by OpenSource Obscure to create a dynamic building in Second Life whose composition is controlled by Web-side inputs:

“The HTML part is quite trivial: the user makes her choices in the webpage, and a form transmits those values to a LSL scripted object in Second Life by using the recent HTTP-in functions. This scripted object works like a main controller. After it receives the values from the webpage, it elaborates them and sends appropriate commands to Chromutate structures, components and sub-controllers. Those are scripted objects too, and will change prim properties or rez stuff according to the commands.”

To me, this isn’t eye candy. This is a sneak peek into the future, one in which projects like Reflective Architecture and Chromutate will be extended, with the inclusion of the MediaAPI, to include not only prims that change based on user inputs from either in-world or the Web – those same prims will soon DISPLAY content…a Web site, an input form, a video, a piece of Flash, with the ability to interact directly with the content, creating a loop of input and change that’s one step closer to being able to truly walk through the Web.


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