Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can Loyalty to Second Life(r) Unknowingly Hinder the Metaverse' Growth & Adoption?

As the 3D Web and Virtual Worlds expand and grow into integrated communities, with both secure and public spaces, its important to remember no one company can own this market. The audience is too vast and diverse to be met by any one entity; social, educational, governmental, e-commerce, enterprise and yes, even recreational.

This is why we at SpotON3D™, found it so refreshing to see so many virtual and game platforms choices shown on the FCVW's recent promotional video for their upcoming conference in DC*. Ms. Robinson, the lead for the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds Conference, seems to embrace this reality and encourage the idea that more choices equal healthy competition and the ability to service a wider market.

For those who are fiercely loyal to their home platform... THANK YOU! The last couple of years haven't been easy. The recession hurt everyone world wide, and VW's were not immune. Forterra, There.com and Metaplace are all gone, either just ceasing to operate, or were sold at a loss. Second Life® by many estimates has suffered as well. No longer do we see 80,000 users on the grid daily. The new users coming in aren't spending money as they used to, some feel. The creator market is said to be saturated with excellent content, so competition is fierce, while at the same time their expenses to do business have gone up. Many of the community's favorite Lindens are no longer employed, and some LL investors have cashed out for pennies on the dollar, probably because they needed funds to get through this recession. Yet, as we near to end of these economically induced problems we still see a very strong and supportive core community, which is profoundly gratifying to witness. Definitely something SpotON3D aspires to through our innovative systems and true customer service.

BUT ...*yes there had to be one, didn't there? ... for Virtual Worlds and the 3D Web to become more than just a flash in the pan we, the citizens of the Metaverse, need to be the catalyst for change. Having witnessed fifteen years of boom and bust in the Virtual World Community, one can see red flags that could present serious problems for the growth of the Metaverse and SL® in particular. Change that isn't just about monetizing the 3D Web, Virtual Worlds or live content gaming systems, but more about creating healthier free enterprise standards that promote the Metaverse as an industry of many, rather than a business of one.

There are some key community standards with the citizens of the Metaverse, should be calling for loud and clear to ensure Second Life® and as a result, the Virtual World Industry as a whole doesn't go the way of the before mentioned companies. These are standards not only espoused to by SpotON3D™, but already implemented to illustrate that indeed this can be done effectively without leaving anyone behind. The Metaverse truly depends upon the core principals introduced below being adopted by all the professional grade grids, for the community to become a strong and viable industry.

- Universal Registrar, and Avatar Systems
Eliminating registration fatigue for the majority by ensuring the user's Avatar is available on all trusted grids through on secure registration system, thereby bridging the gap between the 3D Web & VW in a secure and legal manner.

- Comprehensive Membership and User Permissions
Tiered user memberships whose permissions go beyond registration, reaching deep into the platform to support enforceable rational and reasonable rules and standards concerning avatar access, permissions, usage rights of content and behaviors to help create a more stable and socially responsible community.

- Universal Market Place
First, the Metaverse Market Place must facilite the legal and secure distribution of content across trusted grid systems in a responsible manner, while retaining the content creator's IP rights as efficiently and safely as possible.

Secondly, no real business is going to invest the thousands of dollars needed to establish their 3D Web investment if they are not reasonably sure the content used is legally gotten. That's why its so important that a there be a system that supports the legal Purchase, Contract, Backup, Import and Move of 3D assets.

Thirdly, the control and IP rights of virtual world assets need to always and completely remain in the hands of the creator, with the virtual world host only retaining enough rights to ensure delivery of those same assets. The exception of this is of coarse contracted work for a company that requires exclusive rights and new content.

Virtual Worlds or girds that give themselves Shared or Exclusive IP rights OR give themselves the equivalent of the same by the way they describe their usage rights really only serve to hurt the market place. Imagine if GoDaddy(r)suddenly gave themselves the right to use/giveaway/sell customer's web site assets in the name of marketing and promotions as requirement of using their service. Undoubtedly, folks would turn tail and run ... NOT WALK ... the other way, expressing loud and clear their displeasure.

- Universal Mediate and Arbitration System
Community driven dispute resolution to handle social and legal disagreements in a affordable, responsible and legally sound manner, such as a FREE and Public Mediation System that is recognized by the Metaverse community as a whole, and real legal and binding Online Arbitration at affordable prices, ($150-$300 usd on SpotON3D with our exclusive real world judge arbitration service)

-Define Trusted Grids in the Context of 2D Web Hosting Standards
Apply responsible permissions and restrictions on the users as we see in 2D Web Hosting companies, such as GODaddy.com®.

If we look to Virtual World Grid platform’s basic functionality there are very clear parallels between the services Second Life®, Teleplace™, ProtonMedia, ReactionGrid and SpotON3D offer and your standard 2D Web hosting service. Fundamentally they all offer the means to host, store and display content and software for individuals, businesses, educators and more, but the advent of content creation inside the web hosting solutions is what complicats things. It shouldn't. Its really no different than the 2D web hosting companies that provide their customers with the DIY tools to make their own sites on their web portals. They own those tools, but not the content that the web customers add to it to make it their own. Those IP rights stay with the creators of the content, be that the person using the tools, or someone they've contracted to provide materials for their web sites.

To some this phrase might sound odd contradictory – Collaborate with your competition? But there is a long history of competitive companies reach out to each other to make their industry stronger, while still competing. An example is the Hotel and Food and Beverage Industry. When one runs out of a food, such as french fries, they often run over to their nearest competitor and "bum" off a bag or two to get through the night. No money is exchanged, only an IOU. Why? Because they know that somewhere down the road they too will come up short and need help. To use such a problem as leverage would not only be seen as petty, but to expose that problem to get some leverage in the public's eye, really only results in giving their industry as a whole a black eye. That turns consumers and other businesses off, because its just so messy and drama driven and definitely wouldn't show that the companies in question put their customer needs first.

How does that apply to the Metaverse? Every time we hold a virtual worlds event, appear on a panel of experts, blog about our experiences or talk about these grids we are extending our reach to a wider audience and giving validity to the whole idea of a interconnected 3D Web community. If we feel compelled to show how much we love our most favorite grid, lets not do it in such a way that makes us look desperate or insecure as a community, but rather illustrates our ability to be open minded and supportive of all the Metaverse. After all, grids are now just a TP away.

It's not about LEAVING ...

It's about EXPANDING Beyond any one Grid's Borders

For enterprise level Fortune 500 companies and individual business to embrace the Metaverse we have to be okay with acknowledging the many choices that are out there for them to tap into. Otherwise they are going to be squeamish about investing the 100’s of thousands of dollars into their 3D Web push. They need to see a cohesive, well funded organized community of professionals and see a user bases open to traveling the 3D Web the way they do the 2D Web. Isn’t that what Social Networking is supposed to be about anyway?

Entities like Smarter Technology™ and Train for Success™ have done this. They should be applauded for extending their eye beyond Second Life’s boarders and pointing to the rest of the industry as an example of what is possible. Now its time for the rest to step up to the plate, such as Metanomics, TreetTV and others. Many media firms, consultants and sim developers want to be a part of the Metaverse, but can they really do that if they only acknowledge a fraction of the community? By not reporting and participating in the WHOLE Metaverse, we ultimately play a role in silencing the voices that might help push the Metaverse forward and ensure its survive through these early years. After All ... ONE COMPANY DOES NOT AN INDUSTRY MAKE & NO ONE COMPANY CAN NOR SHOULD OWN THE 3D WEB/METAVERSE.

If you agree or disagree, lets us know! Comment here, or come on in and check us out at http://spoton3d.com with our FREE FOREVER account. It costs nothing to learn how different and down right exciting the 3D Web can be if we open our minds enough to see.

Check out the FCVW's Conference and the video in question here



  1. So let me get this straight.
    -You are using OpenSim, which is reverse engineered from the Second Life client. (Linden I believe allowed Opensim to happen, they could of stopped it)
    -You are using Hippo client which is Open Source Second Life therefore all the graphics in your environment are from the viewer which is built by Linden

    Yet Linden is the bad one? What do you do if Linden stop allowing you to use their tech? (e.g. viewer) they have a lot of people working on that. You can price lower than Linden because you do not have to pay for viewer developers. What that math says to me is that you are stealing from the company that is feeding you.

  2. Hello Bob and thank you for your comments and questions. Many people express similar opinions that simply aren't founded on fact. We like to think its not out of spit of fear of us as competition, but rather out of their devotion to Second Life(r). We can understand the sentiment. After all we're a team of SL veterans, (2005) and Virtual Worlds (Active Worlds 1995).

    Its important to correct these perceptions, lest others jump on them as facts and repeat them. That would only serve to marginalize the users of the Metaverse as 'egocentric', 'unstable' and 'unable to be objective', something we don't believe for a moment, but has been said by people firms coming from the outside looking in. So, in our attempt to answer you concerns in a more factual and educational manner please look to our next blog post, where we will preference your comments. THANK YOU! *-)