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Neal Stewart

Although Second Life is not a next-generation browser in its current state, I think it certainly has the potential to become so. This is why:

* Although the group IM sessions in-world are currently somewhat limited, there are no technical reasons why the chat features cannot be improved to a level matching those of IRC or ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, etc.

* Several SL residents, like Masakazu of W-Hat fame for example, have brilliantly used the in-world coding language and Second Life's XML-RPC features to create in-world gateways to external IRC sessions. So, people can connect to an IRC channel with mIRC for example and say things that will be spoken in-world by the gateway object. And residents in-world who are within range of the gateway object can say things that will be relayed by an IRC bot in the external IRC channel.

* On the subject of in-world avatars, I see no reason why Linden Lab could not allow sim-owners to allow invisible avatars in their sim. In addition, with future code-improvements and/or increases in broadband bandwidth, users could have multiple SL-client windows open, allowing visible or invisible avatar presences in multiple sims simultaneously. I have heard that some SL residents already control 2 or of their 3 avatars in-world simultaneously, sitting at a real-life desk in front of locally-networked PC's. 'Enabling solo 3D orgies' was a criterion laid out in RFC 8008 - 'Next Generation' Browser Standards.

* Last but not least, Linden Lab have already got a development road-map to integrate Mozilla Firefox into Second Life. So, SL may already be set to subsume traditional web-browsers.

It's important to point out though that current low-end web-browsers can run on devices that have only trivial processing power. SL can not. But by some definitions 'next-generation' means high-end PCs etc. Of course the best case scenario is one where rich and poor can all join in SL. Hopefully we can keep on lowering the entry-bar.

-- Neal

George Dickeson

I'm glad you found it interesting Jerry.

As you might have guessed, I havn't been able to spend any great amount of time using>Second Life itself, due to the fees involved. I have however, spent a fair amount of time trying to understand the whole virtual world phenomena that has been evolving since the infancy of the internet (see>The Palace). Back in 1998, when I had just started getting into Quake, there was a big vibe online about the potential of 3D online multiplayer games, where one can hop online and find themselves in a virtual community of scores of complete strangers. Given that, it seems remarkable to me just how little has happened since then. In my opinion, we seem to be stuck on a few ideas that just will not work.

In response to Neal, (>Infinite Monkeys aside) the main points you make are about Second Life's ability to emulate old ideas, or even utilise existing protocols (IM, IRC, embedded web browser, etc). I mentioned these as examples of existing methods of communication that have worked, and become common-place. However, simply tacking them on top of Second Life will not make Second Life itself any more intuitive to use. To run these applications, I currently use the good old intuitive desktop; they already have a metaverse that they are suited to (and it, by the way, does not at all resemble "real life").

Similarly, merely making the avatar invisible doesn't enable us to be in multiple places at once, or in multiple conversations at once. Perhaps hacks can be invented to make these criteria possible, but these would be counterintuitive to Second Life's ideal of real life emulation, thus only making the product less seamless.

In creating a virtual online community that works, these are the criteria (with fancy names) that I see as being absolutely neccessary.

* Temporal Flexibility - A conversation does not occur as it does in real life: in IRC you can idle in a channel while still listening to the conversation; in instant messaging you typically have many minutes to reply before you are assumed to be AFK; In IRC, conversations can continue after hours of idle time; In newsgroups, you have days to reply.

* Omnipresence - There is no expectation that you are only IMing with one person at once. Most importantly, while you are having your many converations, you can be exploring the internet, gathering information, and using a variety of protocols at once to meet your ends. This has a number of important implications, for exampe: the avatar becomes an indirect representation of you (like a business card you leave in places you have been) rather than a direct reprisentation (like your player in quake). The also means that the users viewportal needs to be multitasking oriented (like the windows desktop is) rather than singletasking (like the Second Life).

* Spacial Flexibility - This one is very important. No matter what I want to do on my computer, it is nearly always one step away. Either a typing a url, or running a program from the start menu. Sometimes tasks require a few more steps, like browsing my computer for a particular file, or running a google search. But in any case, whatever I want to do becomes frustrating and not worth it takes more than about 10 seconds to start. This is because programmers and general users have the ability to make "shortcuts" and "scripts" to simplify tasks and bring the outside world closer to the user. By giving me more "dimensions" of access to the world, I have more things within arms reach. The Second Life interface however, is based on real life. This means walking to meet a friend, traveling to different towns, ie. it is restricted by Spacial Inflexibility: The interface is a specific shape to everyone who uses it.

Enough ranting, this post is far too long already (as you can see, I'm quite passionate about the subject). Anyway here is an interesting assortment of links on the subject.>The Psychology of Cyberspace by John Suler - Very influential ebook on the subject.>Open Croquet - An interesting take on making an immerisive, 3d way to browse the interenet in its many forms.>Big Blog Zoo and>DBin are two projects based on w3c's semantic web initiative. While they do not involve community, they do show some insight towards the future of information-getting, and how the internet as an information resource could be included in a Virtual World project.

Jerry P

George, we're mashing up Second Life and the Croquet Project you mention at Accelerating Change this year. We've got Second Life/Linden Lab's CEO (abstract) and two Principal Architects of Croquet (abstract) on a panel together called "Building the Metaverse" :-D. Video of that will be streamed into Second Life later this month as the next SL Future Salon. Hope you can join us for that.

Also I just found this interesting post you might like:

Want to know what the blog-o-sphere will look like in 2015?

Look at the virtual worlds of today’s Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) like Second Life.

Want to know why everyone will have a blog tommorrow, just like everyone has an email address today?

Because your blog will be your avatar in virtual reality. And you can’t play in virtual reality without an avatar. So you’re gonna need a blog, baby.

When you blog today, you are participating in a Massively Multiplayer Online Conversation (MMOC). Today’s text blogs are like the text-based MUD games of yesteryear. These MUDs eventually grew up to become today’s 3-d MMOGs. And inna future, blogs will grow up from text to audio to video. And blogs will come to resemble the avatars in today’s MMOGs.

So, how is that going to happen folks?

George Dickeson

Thanks for that link, (I gave another lengthy reply). It's all more food for thought to me :)

Keep me posted about that meetup and I will get a trial SL account before it comes up.

I'de just like to say that I had no idea this community existed untill a few days ago. It's great to see that so many other people are interested, and even involved proffesionally.


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