Applications and Tools, Second Life

Philip Rosedale: Second Life Is Better Than Lively Because It’s Like Warcraft

Erick Schonfeld caught up with Philip Rosedale on the beach, where he was either checking out the surf or actually attending a, um, Fortune Brainstorm conference. He asked Philip to comment on whether he thought small Web-based worlds such as Google’s Lively were a threat to Second Life.

Philip sort of stumbles around the response, saying

“We’re not worried about it, we’re actually. we’re trying to push it forward as fast as we can. We open sourced the Second Life client with the hope that it would get generalized by the different companies and types of people that are using it uh as quickly as possible into a you know a standardized, an approach to immersing yourself as a…with a client in a 3D world as possible.”

Um, meaning I guess: Web-based worlds, embedded in an open and standardized system of browsers and Flash plug-ins, need to be pushed forward as fast as possible. So, Second Life needs to be generalized.

Now, he goes on to explain that what he means by that, is that the ubiquity of 3D worlds is a priority to Linden Lab, it’s just that the road to accomplishing that is through interoperability.

“I think that, you know, as a company we’re probably a little bit AHEAD of that curve, because we’re trying to anticipate the future and trying to anticipate the standards process on say uh making avatars, you know accounts, interoperable BETWEEN virtual worlds, open sourcing the software so people can extend it, if anything I think the only argument you can make at this point is that maybe we were just EARLY to be doing that but I think long term, without that kind of an open standard that you know, the Internet has already happened, people know how this movie goes, and so if virtual worlds are going to become the 3D version of the Internet they’re going to absolutely have to be open uh and opened up and standardized extremely fast.”

Meaning, I guess, that Second Life is far ahead of the curve predicting tomorrow, but we’d better get there extremely quickly (we’re running out of time before the singularity I suppose).

The interviewer ask Philip whether that’s a sort of “siloed version”. Philip sort of scrunches up as he considers the question:

The interview uses the word “why” in his question, but Philip jumps on the “inside the browser versus client issue”.

And here, for me, is the crux of the Lab’s problem, primarily because of what’s missing in his response:

“Virtual worlds to achieve the immersive properties that are key technologically to the experience they create REQUIRE a piece of client software in the same way you know that you had to download Mosaic and Netscape in the early days to experience the Internet. I, so…but I think that the problem of say getting those bundled onto machines or making that download very small and very easy is a VERY straight-forward problem.”

Can anyone please point me to a “why?”

And this is the issue. Philip is asked “what about all those easily accessible 3D rooms embedded in browsers and Facebook and whatever” and his response is “we’re developing standards, and the technology will get easier to install.”


Why are immersive properties key not technologically but to the USER? What fricking DIFFERENCE does it make?

Seriously, if Linden Lab can’t express clearly and concisely why Second Life and virtual worlds REQUIRE a client in the first place, who CARES whether you can teleport between Second Life and Open Sim?

On a browser-based version of Second Life, he says they’re working on it the best they can but that there are challenges:

“The completely browser based ways of looking into the virtual world do not provide very much in the…experientially, and so it’s difficult…you kind of have to look at use model to use model. There are people today who have used the Second Life open source code and they’ve ACTUALLY written um, for example chat-based clients.”

On asked what you CAN’T do in a Web-based world?

“In a browser you can’t render a 3D environment with sound, lighting, shadows, the actual sort of World of Warcraft like…you know uh most people have seen that…the real 3D rendered experience.”

And again: WHY does this matter???

The folks at the Lab had better get their value proposition down. Because answers like this give me no faith that they even know how critical it is to communicate why Second Life is important.


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