Time for the annual predictions again. You know, I do have the power of clairvoyancy, and I have to say, it's annoying, because people never believe me. I don't have a very *good* version of this power/gene, because I can't see much, or that far, but, what I get, I get. I find that in fact, seeing into the future isn't really seeing into the future, because, um, it didn't happen yet, but...it's more about paying *really good attention to the the present*. You know, like the Wizard of Oz reaching into Dorothy's basket and finding the picture of Auntie Em...
I did pretty well with my 2008 predictions. I said Linden Lab wouldn't open source it's server code -- and it didn't, and it won't, so I don't even really have to include that as this year's prediction, either. I was right that "shedloads" of VWs *did not* come to "unseat" Second Life, either. Google was Deadly, Twinity never got working for a lot of people, VastPark eternally stayed in Beta, Multiverse remained inscrutable, Sony's Home was a flop, and all those open sim SL clones were filled with badly-working code and dull drama (what a combo!) I said LL would announce "interoperability with some aspect of the avatars with another world" -- and that kinda sorta happened with that first hop by Zha Ewry, but...hmmm...
I think when I said LL would open up a second grid where some select few would get to advance their businesses, the fulfillment of that prediction was when Rivers Run Red got an exclusive contract to do a suite of office services with LL. I'm not sure that physically takes place on some stand-alone separate logged in grid, but...it's like a second grid, and may in time become one, so as to break free from the blinged central asset server. Like the Central Committee of the CPSU, I've always wondered why you can't just...have two of them. You know, *another* "central asset server* lol. Like, in...Tatarstan lol.
When I talked about a "blackout" in real life restoring the sense of fragility of virtual worlds, I should have crossed out that word and put "recession". Oh, well, too late now...I was sure right about mobile phones being more important, however.
But...like I said, the population kept growing and growing...As for the "suit for fraud" over banks, well, hmmm, that didn't happen, unless you call Intblubs absurd IPO to raise a war chest to sue LL over the openspaces, but...naah, I won't give myself a gimme on that one. No lawsuit on libel, either. Naaah, it's just too hard to do that. I was right that the lawsuits would ebb, though, and they have. No there there.
I thought something was going to happen with China. Hmm, boy, I was wrong about that. And...nope, still not getting anything on that for this year.
It was a no-brainer to say that big corporations would not be using SL as much.
I don't know what I was smoking when I said the more mainstream blogs would start integrating more with virtual worlds. That's simply not happening. Even with Daily Kos kinda sorta having some SL presence for their annual wingding. No, I guess I don't have clairvoyancy, duh.
Wrong also about age verification -- it went nowhere -- and Red Light District, which never caught on. I don't know why. I have met like one actual person who went there -- and then came back to SL.
My idea that advertisers would continue to flop, but that some would help the arts to "burgeon" -- you know, I should rename that blog to "Wishful Thinking" instead of "Predictions". Gaaah. And...SL strikebreakers for the Writers' Guild? Good Lord, what WAS I smoking? I should have changed it not to "Wishful Thinking" but "Fanciful Scenarios That Will Never Happen". I wonder what made me think they would. I guess it was seeing a few crossover campaigns...
Metaplace didn't open yet, it's still in beta, but so far, so good. He's doing all the right things, and even has Google sketch-up buildings loading now.
Uh, you know that idea I had in 2006 about how North Korea, the UN Secretary General and South Korea would meet in Second Life? Well, hold that thought...
So with less than 50 percent accuracy, why should you read further? Well, because it's...at least some 50 percent accuracy : )
1. Second Life will continue to grow, and will reach the 100,000 concurrency mark and pass it.
2. No, that won't be due to bots. Bots will continue to be permitted, will not be banned, and likely not even forced to have paid accounts. But Lindens will try to make a gesture toward the bot issue by merely making it possible to report them for "resource abuse" and such tickets will get a more kindly read, especially if on a parcel on a mainland sim where the other owners can't even come home to their own lots due to the camping. LL might deprecate the camping script, make it illegal, or make forced, lengthy log-ons without log-offs a TOS offense or a policy -- something. They'll do some little thing, but not ban bots, and some people will continue to use them en masse.
3. Lindens will remove traffic from search results. This hugely undesirable and controversial action will be vigorously applauded by the claques on the JIRA and forums, but there will be enormous screaming in the land, and not from popular clubs (many of whom are in a bots arms race with other clubs merely to stay in the view, and will be secretly relieved if traffic is removed). No, the screaming will come from ordinary merchants with stores with traffic that isn't artificially boosted. The economy will take a huge, severe hit as the engine of sales -- search/places plus traffic sorts -- will be amputated. The Lindens won't care, however, as it will merely shake loose the smaller content creators, the people without sufficient funds to buy expensive classifieds or with sufficient market share or RL media coverage to get top word-of-mouth sales, and that's the sort of social Darwinism the Lindens like to see happen to prune their world.
In response, once both vendors and shoppers get the huge realization of what's just happened to the world, they will recreate their own traffic/search system. Various blogs, services, scripts, etc. will emerge to recreate the search/places/traffic ranking/sales formula. And the Lindens will justify their action by saying they encourage such resident monitoring or reporting on traffic, and they will leave traffic on the land menu to display. (And for extra geeky spiteful credit, they'll make that an option to turn off or on, so that big RL business embarassed by their poor traffic will instantly turn it off so it won't show, but inworld businesses proud of merited traffic will leave it on).
So picture some widget invented that will scrape visible traffic data and feed it to a website where it will be ranked...thereby keeping the motivation for botting...but various site owners will spotcheck or accept abuse reports and weed out bots. In any event, expect a lot of havoc and destruction with this one.
4. Lindens will continue to blur the distinction between mainland and private islands, and between themselves as platform providers and their residents as content and services providers, and roll out their first zoned sims. In order to fight the price jacking that occurs in the auction process, they will either roll out huge numbers of them, or make the buyable inworld for a fixed price, like First Land used to be, only by verified accounts, i.e. payment information on file, premium account, tied to an IP address and only one credit card. If that sounds like insufficient protection against farming fixed land accounts, you're right, but the Lindens will sic peer pressure on the problem and enable ARing of the farmers.
Lindens will come up with a theme that will be what I'm calling "Neko" these days, i.e. urban grunge, post-apocalypse, and furry lite (Nekos are basically furry lite). So they'll have a bombed-out end-of-the-world look, all kinds of bloggers will wittily talk about how it *is* the EOW and LL is desperate, but LL will laugh all the way to the bank because it will be a huge seller. This may or may not go hand in hand with a policy simply not to open up the Mainland auction ever again to whole sims or part new sims, but only used land or their own themed land. I'm betting they will not make a decision or policy about it, but just continue by inertia not to open up the Mainland auctions to full sims anymore.
5. At least one senior Linden manager will leave LL and go to some better virtual world or social media, and may take some residents with them.
6. Philip Linden will be writing a book, all throughout the year, that he will have a ghost-writer helper for...and that ghost-writer *might* be Daniel Terdiman. Or...hm...there are so many out-of-work journalists these days, let me keep thinking...
7. The Lindens are going to move closer to their goal of becoming a There-like platform that licenses third-party content to sell to users without going wild promoting amateur UGC by tinkering with the LindEx. Something new will be added to the LindEx. They will also move toward becoming "more like" the totalitarian economies of the Soviet Union and Red China which they emulate. So just as the Soviet Union had its "golden ruble" (the best exchange rate for large enterprises in other countries, etc.), its "petrodollar" (what its oil was selling at); it's beriozka rate for foreigners; it's black-market rate, etc. so the LindEx will develop different values for the Linden. Large, bulk buyers or sellers will get a special rate. Or, certain certified/licensed/chosen businesses will get a "merchants' rate". Or...something will happen in the direction we've already seen, with the rate moving up in value from 264 to 263 Lindens per US $1.00
8. Anshe Chung will finish leaving Second Life. This will be for various reasons -- attrition, the moving of people on to open spaces (yes, they will buy their own rather than paying ACS's overpriced rates), the moving on to Linden mainland zoned sims, or other rental empires with more service and better prices - and also because ACS will be losing money and find some place where money might be better made (IMVU), maybe even on their own virtual world somewhere. Of course, it's also possible that a Madoff-like-thing will be discovered behind the great empire.
9. The Lindens will raise mainland tier to $295. They will claim they can't have two classes of people. They will try to mollify irate mainland owners who actually have less features than islands by saying a) they've cleaned up ad farms and camping and provided better-looking sims and b) they will add the view of top scripts or some other token new feature. This will happen by the third quarter.
10. Open Sim and other opensource projects will continue to be for geeky insiders only, and continue to flop, big time, as they won't care about commerce, customers, community. They will be the Linux of Virtual Worlds. Like Linux, they will attract fierce and sectarian followers who bore everybody to death telling you how their system is vital to the whole sector and even purchased by, um, IBM or something, but everyone will continue to laugh because they will remain rude, clunky, counterintuitive, sectarian and unfriendly and everyone will keep walking around them.
I will have some social media predictions soon. Basically, I think all the services are going to crash, big-time. A few might be bought out by Google, i.e. Facebook, but nothing much exciting will happen in them. SL will look fabulous by comparison.