Second Life

Sputters and Sparks: Second Life in 2010

I’m not much for making predictions and in making them I’m not really PREDICTING anything, just adding meat to the bones of what’s already known – predicting that the MediaAPI will launch in 2010 seems like a bit of a no-brainer, predicting that it WON’T be launched on the other hand would be a sign that I’m feeling snarky about the Lab’s ability to deliver, and the reality is it’s already available in Snowglobe so why quibble.

Gwyn has a list of predictions and it’s pretty much what I’d put down, if I was given to these things, so go over and have a read, although I’d make a few amendments:

Second Life 2.0: Yes, the new viewer will be launched. (One of those no-brainers). But I’m not sure what Gwyn means by ’slight interface changes’ – hasn’t she seen the screen shots? Or actually used it? Surely she’s on the super secret test team or whatever. But no one will call it a slight change, I don’t think, in fact I expect people to be screaming to high heaven about it and rallying around Emerald for a while (which is why, by the way, the Lab may seem so eager to, um, accommodate the Emerald folks – have a “builder viewer” you can turn to when everyone bitches about the new one).

Gwyn does have a point however in its roll-out with html-on-a-prim, but I disagree on the date. I’m guessing we’ll see a “Second Life 2.0″ launch in February or March – maybe not a full roll-out but pretty close, and it will include: the new viewer, html-on-a-prim and the MediaAPI, linked somehow to bring Second Life Home out of beta (free in-world browsers for all Home owners or premiums with TREET.TV streams playing in everyone’s living rooms?), another enhancement to premiums, and the first announcement of how mesh will be handled.

XStreet will be Rebranded
: Yes, probably, although not necessarily in name, but as part of the ongoing ‘channel management’ they seem to be doing what with Work portals and landing hubs, a coming Education entry path, all those community partners, and the SLE Marketplace.

Interoperability will Become a Reality: Um, no, don’t think so.

OpenSim Stuff: I have no idea. Why would VastPark bother?

New Avatars in SL: Pleeeeeeeze. Something with facial expressions. Look at Aion – if you want to see incredible avatar creation it’s a dream.

Facebook-y Dashboards: Another easy one. Yes.

European Grids: I frankly can’t see them compartmentalizing the Grid based on RL geography. Kind of counter-intuitive for a virtual world.

My Grab Bag of Items for 2010
OK, now, having said I don’t like making predictions, I’ll add my own grab bag of things. These aren’t predictions so much as things that occur to me every now and then, kind of “I wonder if…” thoughts which, if they come true, will make me look really smart but which are really nothing more than vague guesses:

- In conjunction with the launch of Second Life 2.0, the MediaAPI, etc. will be the launch of the “Develop” portal and associated ‘channel management’. You’ve all seen that “Develop” button on the home page right? Well, it’s there to do more than just link to the old Grid site. The Lab recognizes that if it can’t attract top-level content, it will never scale to the million concurrent users of which M and gang dream. There’s nothing wrong with the in-world content developers (they’ll say) when in reality they figure that what they need are the agencies, indie game shops and Farmville types to take another look at SL.

- So, the ‘Develop’ channel will include outreach to game developers, social networking studios, enterprise software companies and anyone else who they can rope into bringing fresh blood to the larger challenge of creating ’scalable/viral’ experiences in SL. Which will mean, inevitably, that they’re out pitching the big brands and agencies again – it’s the world M comes from after all, and I’m sure he’s kicking himself that the Smithsonian isn’t in SL instead of Blue Mars. Look for major media-type deals as the Lab tries to grab some of the share of development time from folks making Facebook widgets, pitching SL as ‘ready for prime time’ now that it’s more stable, mesh imports are available and….

- ….and there’s a new class of servers. This is something that’s already quietly used on the Grid for special events and we’ll see a new class of servers that support significantly higher numbers of avatars and don’t share bandwidth with other islands. It will hardly tip SL into the 5,000 avatars/sim category, but expect to see a whole new ‘professional class’ of sims sometime soon. But….

- One of the biggest constraints will be LSL. Expect a move this year to see a second option for scripting in Second Life, possibly based on Lua or, um C++ or something (ignore this prediction, I have no idea what scripting language would make the most sense). This shift won’t kill LSL but will be a sort of new API that links SL to ’standard’ programming and will also, incidentally, allow more robust media/Web/social media plug-ins.

- Linden Lab will hold its own developer conference while making nice noises about how the Second Life Community Convention isn’t being ignored. It will focus on developers, education, entertainment and enterprise and they’ll make a concerted effort to attract talent and attendees from outside SL itself. Picture a Microsoft Sharepoint VP pitching SL/Sharepoint integration, or Michael Eisner talking about on-line stories, and you’ve got the idea.

- Second Life Enterprise will only take off as the Lab strikes deals with outside consultancies. While the Gold Service Provider program started by ‘accrediting’ in-world agencies, their major focus in 2010 will be to sign deals with large service providers in specific verticals. This will lead to a shake-up on the current GSP list as we start to see them working with larger external entities: picture a global training company striking a deal with the Lab which hooks them up with a GSP, the GSP essentially merges into the training company, and the Lab continues to skim off the top through the Marketplace and license fees for SLE.

- The Lab will, finally, do something about music. It won’t work particularly well but headed into 2011 maybe they’ll get it right.

- Their focus on getting SL into social media will continue. Look for some kind of Facebook widget that, um, live streams video of your Second Life Home living room or something. Your guess is as good as mine, and I’m a bit anxious about them paying any attention on this stuff at all, quite frankly. (Stick to advertising, leave the widgets to Metaplace 2).

- They will publish a road map. Except that it won’t really be one. It will be like it’s always been: a series of blog posts that give a vague sense of where things are headed and which leave the blogs to fill in the gaps, thus continuing to allow the Lab to get out its message and test the waters through its dedicated team of flaks (like myself LOL) while being able to disclaim any responsibility and say “where did you get THAT idea from?” without giving you any ideas of their own.

OK, so, for someone who doesn’t make predictions, I guess that’s a start.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

And to all of you, and I mean this with all my heart: may you have a happy and prosperous 2010.


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