You are very right in regards to the fact that if you only have one major player in the field then you don't have an industry. You're also right that small businesses, educational institutions and corporations all have worries about the lack of healthy competition in the virtual worlds industry. Small businesses, educational institutions and Fortune 500 companies will hesitate and not fully throw in their hat to our industry if they feel they are locked into any one platform or grid.
The fact is there is a great deal of viable businesses coming forward to offer either a peer2peer system like ReactionGrid and OSGrid, self-hosted regions for free or a minimal monthly fee, and a completely hosted solution, like SpotON3D, HippiHi, Kaneva and There.com. But if the "media" public relations groups concentrate a majority of their time and talent on the 800 pound Gorilla in the room then how will businesses know they have real viable options and aren't hogtied into one company's venue.
Here's my five major points I think are necessary to really break through these problems and make the 3D Web a reality:
1. We can wear different hair, clothing, eyes and accessories, but the skin and shape is what truly defines our identity. This is why it is necessary to push forward the UNIVERSAL AVATAR in a way that still respects content creators' rights and rewards them adequately for their great work- $24.99 - $49.99 USD for royalty free skins and shapes, but still retain selling restrictions.
2. All grids should fully disclose the risk factors and responsibilities of buying, hypergridding, uploading and creating content their grid systems. This would go a long way in establishing the TRUSTED GRID ideal, where creators and businesses/orgs could easily assess which grids offered them the least amount of risk in balance with the greatest opportunity.
3. The latter is not just for the content creators. Big corporations will not invest the money needed to make a truly functional 3D web presence if they have to worry about being sued because of questionable materials found on their private or public grids or having their investments ripped by programs a child could use with ease. Until the copyright issues are resolved to their satisfaction, or a real viable system is taken up to ensure content they buy into is authentically and legally viable, they will continue to keep a safe distance from any real investment in Virtual Environs and just dabble at best.
4. The presence of other grids doesn't have to equal leaving Second Life. The more choices there are and the more voices that can be heard, the greater the following will be for all the offerings out there. But to think that any one company can own the 3D Web and provide the customer service that's necessary ... that's just not realistically feasible.
5. Businesses big and small need to start exploring the other options that might fit their needs better than the predominantly recreational nature of Second Life as their SOLE 3D BUSINESS OFFERING. SL's wonderful user base is always going to be a draw for business just because of its sheer numbers, but its only natural that they'll expand into other grids and even hire to develop their own, connecting to their existing 2D Web clients and consumers. This gives them the opportunity to reach out and work WITH them directly, rather than at arm's length.
To round this up, lets try and remember when the 2D Web first started. Can you imagine the screams of injustice that would have been heard if we'd been restricted to one hosting service, one web design firm, or if we all had to put our web pages under one company's main page? Would we have stuck around long for that? Would companies have throw gobs of money figuring out how to making their web investments give them results on their bottom lines? Doubtful. Time to grow up and understand that this isn't "just a game" or "only about business". The web is in a major transition and social networks like Second Life are essentially the new web rings of yesterday, hosting a multitude of home grown and commercial grade web pages in 3D. We need to start thinking beyond any one grid as the owner so that the millions we'll see coming at the 3D Web in the next 2-7 years will find a reason to stick around, be that in Second Life, Blue Mars, OSGrid or SpotON3D.
Monday, March 8, 2010
In Response to "What about an SL Equivalent Service?"
A few weeks ago, a posting on the Second Life Blogs appeared from user Kaiser Bogomil who posed the question "What about an SL Equivalent Service?". In his post, Mr. Bogomil raised the point of businesses hesitation at using a technology or service when it is perceived at being the one viable option. With the sort of coverage that Second Life has received over the last several years, it may be easy to assume there aren't viable alternatives. There are other reasons, perceived and real, as to why businesses haven't flocked to and adopted virtual worlds techonology. Things such as intellectual property protection, privacy on a public grid, griefing and objectionable materials are but a few that have been cited . Several people took the opportunity to respond the question as posed, including SpotOn3D COO Tessa Kinney-Johnson. Her response is posted (with minor edits) follows: