Monthly Archives: April 2007

The Other Shoe Drops

In January, I was stunned by the news that LL was opening up the source code to the SL client, far earlier than I had predicted.  At that time, it looked like they’d keep the server software under wraps for awhile though…which only made sense.  I mean, how else could LL make money?

Fast-forward to today.  Jaw, meet floor.  Again.

In a report from the VW07 conference, Joe Miller of LL states that they will “be open-sourcing the back end so sims can run anywhere on any machine whether trusted by us or not.”  He further adds, “SL cannot truly succeed as long as one company controls the Grid.”

Now, this begs the question: What exactly do they mean by this?  Will these newly-independent sim servers be part of their own Grids, or will they all coordinate with the master asset servers and master “Grid map” at LL HQ?  If the latter, there’s a business model for LL, similar to that of a domain registrar: for some annual fee, a sim server can enjoy connectivity to the world and the greater economy of Second Life.  Or, put it another way, it would work like private islands do now, except LL wouldn’t need to supply the additional servers for these new sims; it would just “point to” the sim in its master geography database, and hand avatar connections off to it as they TP there.  Yet private grids are still an option, assuming there’s a way for someone else to build the necessary infrastructure around these sim servers (asset server, login server, etc.)

ZDnet Social Web speculates that companies like IBM and Google will be interested in setting up shop with their own sims.  Might we have an “IBMland” and “Googleland” continent to complement (or eventually supplant) the four LL Mainland continents, and sit alongside Dreamland and the rest?  Will there still be room for the little guy in all this?  (For example, could I create a single-sim “EMinds Island” running as a process on EMinds’ present server?)

More to the point: How will this affect the stability of the world we have now?  Heaven knows we’ve been seeing a lot of instability recently, much of it asset-server-related (TP issues, inventory problems, L$ balance problems, etc.); will the strain of shooting assets all over the world prove to be too much for the asset server, even clustered?  Can anything be done with the asset server architecture to scale this better?  (There’s some indication from the original 3pointD report that LL is working on this.)

This isn’t as dramatic an announcement as the client opening was; when the announcement was made, you could download the client source practically right away, if you wanted to.  Here, there’s no fixed timeframe for when we’ll see the server code.  But we’ve just moved that much closer to the vision of the distributed Metaverse that LL has been chasing after all along.

“You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope

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Codes of Conduct and Other Irrelevancies

As a Second Life blogger, I also fall into the wider category of “blogger.” That means, when people like Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales start spouting off inanities about a “code of conduct” for bloggers, they’re talking to me, too.

To which I echo the words of Campbell-Award-winning science fiction author John Scalzi: “Who elected Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales the hall monitors of the Internet?”

Look, I have nothing but respect for what O’Reilly and Wales have accomplished; I own an awful lot of O’Reilly computer books, and I use Wikipedia quite frequently. But does that give them the right to tell me how to run my blog? Or anyone else’s?

Scalzi doesn’t think so. Neither does Misha, nor Kim du Toit. And that goes for me, too.

Now, if they want to establish little Pleasantville-esque “codes of conduct” and little Boy Scout merit badges to show that their sites conform to some utopian notion of How Blogging Ought To Be, far be it for me to stop them. Those are their sites, they can do with them as they please. Same goes for any other blog site out there; it’s their bat, their ball, and their backyard, so, when you post a comment on their site, you play by their rules.

But I don’t have to do the same. Try to tell me how to run my site, and you’re more likely to inspire me to tell you what to go do with your little “suggestions,” and “codes of conduct,” and little logos. After you’ve folded them till they’re all sharp corners.

The impetus for this whole little fracas, it seems, was a series of attacks against blogger and computer book author Kathy Sierra, which left her afraid to leave her house or continue posting on her blog. This is obviously not a Good Thing, but it happens; some of the insults that blogger Michelle Malkin gets on a regular basis, for instance, are just as bad, if not worse. But here’s what gets me (quoted from the Times article linked above):

In an online shouting match that was widely reported, Kathy Sierra, a high-tech book author from Boulder County, Colo., and a friend of Mr. O’Reilly, reported getting death threats that stemmed in part from a dispute over whether it was acceptable to delete the impolitic comments left by visitors to someone’s personal Web site. [emphasis mine]

What?!?!? I don’t even see how this could be a question in anyone’s mind. Someone should have reminded Ms. Sierra that the First Amendment applies to the government, not private citizens or organizations. She has and always had every right to delete any comment she didn’t want to keep on her blog, for any reason or none. And, if someone wants to cry “censorship!” as a result, she can always say what I say: “There may be free speech, but there is no free lunch. You want to make a speech, go get your own blog; I run this one and I don’t have to carry your crap here if I don’t want it.”

As for death threats, there’s a little thing you can always look into in that case: it’s called law enforcement. Many blogging software systems record the IP addresses that comments are posted from, which can often provide a way for the police or the FBI to track down people making death threats. Quite frankly, however, I doubt that a lot of the morons who post death threats on the Internet have the stones to actually act on those threats…though I can understand where you might not want to take that chance.

I could go on about this whole rigamarole, but I’d rather just hold it here and point out that this site now has a nice little page linked above, called “Rules of the Road,” that lists the applicable disclaimers and comment rules for this site. I don’t really expect to have to resort to quoting from them, but this way, my ass is covered. And I didn’t even need some anal-retentive “code of conduct” to refer to. Just some good old-fashioned common sense…which appears to be all too UN-common these days.

“With the first link, a chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard, “The Drumhead,” Star Trek: The Next Generation

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No, I Haven’t Dropped Off The Face of the Grid

Kickin’ It at the Evans Compound

There have been many twists and turns in my Second Life of late, which will probably be of interest to very few, but which I offer up here by way of explanation for the lack of new content at this address.  Some of this, Danielle has already written about, so you can consult with her for corroboration.

First of all, Danielle and I are officially no longer partnered…”divorced,” if you will. While a sad occurrence, it’s more a reflection of the fact that we wanted to give each other the space we needed–her to find other playmates, and me for my other projects.  She lost no time, though; she is now engaged to Shawn Triskaidekaphobia, Head Manager at the Gin Rummy, and will have a wedding ceremony in-world this Saturday.  I’ll be walking her down the aisle to give her away; that somehow seems appropriate.

This is not to say that I am currently engaged in the hunt for “the next ex-Mrs. Evans,” though.  Far from it; I simply don’t have time, for one thing.  I’m presently engaged in a new project out-of-world which I’m spending as much time on as I can eke out of other things, including SL.  While I can’t divulge details, I will say that it involves Windows software development…a field I’ve been away from for 6 years or so prior to this.  But it’s coming back to me, especially with a fresh copy of Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 to work with.

Which is not to say I’m abandoning SL, either.  I am still partner in the Gin Rummy operation, and I continue to keep things up there, including DJ’ing there as scheduled.  DJ CoolJ has a couple of other gigs, too, at Black Diamond (usually 10-midnight, whenever Chelle decides to schedule me in), and, most recently, at Club Incircle (6-8 PM on Saturdays).  And I have my own “groupies” now, too…just look for “DJ CoolJ’s Groupies & Friends” in Groups.  And the Evans Family Compound in Aphrodisia still stands; I don’t want to give up that property, it’s too nice. (I have rented out the guest house, though, to a couple of our GR employees who needed a place to live.)

And, hopefully, I’ll have some more insightful commentary up here soon, on this strange and wonderful, if not always reliable, Grid of ours…population five million strong and growing.

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