Typepad ate my answer to Horus Vale below on the post about why I don't want to switch out of 1.23, in response to his reply about the wonders of open source. So I'll make a fresh post of it.
My point first was that you can hardly criticize Linden Lab for proprietary code given that they open sourced the viewer -- even though they did keep Viewer 2 under wraps for nine or more months, which seems contrary to the whole open source thang. I don't know how they justified that, but there it is. It's a good thing they keep the server code proprietary because that's holding value in -- walled gardens are a good thing.
Recently, I argued with the liberationtech kiddies on Twitter. They always refer to themselves in the third person as "we," so I guess they feel they are in a tribe. I complained about the skewing of that list always to the open source cult, and the difficulty of objecting to it, because the mods would then reprimand you and threaten you with expulsion. Like a lot of open source cult things, liberationtech isn't so open, as you have to ask to join in order to see the archives. I belong to all kinds of listserves, and most of them are openly archived -- you don't have to join the list and be vetted by mods to look at the past comments and links. The liberationtech kids say oh no, au contraire, we are open and anyone can see our archives because they only have to join. This sort of sophistry is silly when practiced by undergraduates especially. If you have to ask to join, it's not open. And you could be expelled, and then lose access to the content, even your own if you didn't save it offline.
Anyway, one of the things this kid said when I complained about Stanford University's enrapture with open source was that no, it's a bastion of conservativism favouring proprietary code for business in Silicon Valley and that's what is taught in the courses. Hmm. I question that. I don't have a scientific study, but I've seen so many social media, virtual world, Internet tech etc etc conferences, papers, etc. out of Stanford that seemed to embrace all the open stuff that I can't buy this.
Then this kid said: but nobody invests in open source software.
Let's say that again: nobody invests in open source software.
Try to think of a project or a start-up or a something that is open source that has investors.
Facebook got big investment from Goldman Sachs for its secondary stock -- but it's not open source, even though it allows hooks in for apps and has an engineering ecosystem around it for that purpose. It is castigated by the Gilmore Gang types for being a walled garden, but so what? That's how it got 600 million people, by not being a griefer sandbox.
Skype was free, but not open source. In fact if anything, people jailbroke their i-phones to be able to put Skype or other programs on it to have long distance calls for free. Skype got bought out by Microsoft, and some people (in Russia in particular where Microsoft RU laywers have been abusive against dissidents and where companies are subject to heavy state control) are worried about what that means for the future of privacy -- such as it was, on Skype. Among the first thing the Belarusian KGB (still called that) published in the state press after it arrested all the opposition candidates and supporters December 19 were their Skype chat logs. Did they use social hacks? Get passwords out of people from torture, which they practice? Or use computer hacks? Maybe they didn't have to, if they burst in the apartments and offices and everybody had Firefox, which remembers all your passwords for you unless you keep batting it away and saying NEVER NEVER NEVER (or doing the more permanent fix which has more steps, isn't an instant fix, and which is undone when you reinstall the next version.)
Then there's Linkedin. Not open source, merely free -- except it had a premium account that had more features, and businesses bought services from it
Of all the things I use, I find Linkedin the most annoying. It's not just that I can't ever seem to get its messages shut off. It's just that it's stupid. I'm sure very high-powered people with over-full resumes hungry for jobs find it useful. It's not a meeting of the minds for me. The people who contact me on it are either spammers with the same university as I have, or people who wants favours who I don't even know. It always feels like a chore, I don't want to go there, annoying people from jobs foist a request to link on you and you feel awkward saying no. You don't want to fill in all your profile as griefers will harass you in RL and at work. Most creepily, recently it told me that I might like to friend my own aunt. She had gone on there only under duress, feeling like she couldn't say no to somebody at a job. Now "how did it know" to offer her as a "friend"? She's not in any of my networks. It can't know she's my aunt. So it somehow scraped this fact out of the Yahoo social network -- also a huge nuisance in that you can't shut it off easily and get rid of it -- or somewhere, even though she didn't do that thing these services always do, which is beg you to find the rest of your friends for it to scrape, by plugging in all your email contacts. Ugh.
So Facebook, for all the bitching the high priesthood of tech gurus do about its closed nature or its scraping of data or its evil dumping on Google (good!), has more controls and is just nicer somehow. I rarely get something I don't want on Facebook.
So...long story short, these stories of IPO or investments show you that OS doesn't attract the bucks. Therefore...why are we worrying about its standards, or its development? OS is largely copies of proprietary stuff anyway.
Hey Prok - Yes, I know you do not like the open source techie groups, but my point is not about open source software and its code. Its about setting protocol standards or more specifically setting basic public standards for shared networking and communications. On the net most such standards are set in publicly accessable forums. I like and use plenty of closed source propriety software applications and utilities. But when it comes to the Internet, I and most others use programs that use a core set of publicly agreed to standards and protocols. If this was not the case, there would be little to no compatablility and therefore almost no shared functionality.
The simple answer to this whine is this: virtual worlds are not "the Internet". They don't need to be. Just like i-phone applications aren't "the Internet". You don't *have* to make virtual worlds interoperable or have "shared functionality".
When Philip Rosedale conceived of prims as the building blocks of the world, they were simple and easy to use, and most important, two or more people could work on them together -- it was collaborative. So why rush to have a "standard" for 3D Collada type of devices that in fact deprives most people of making things -- and more to the point, making them together? What's the point of that kind of standard that only satisfies some geeks who have the time and inclination to learn this arcane shit on their various gadgets? And as we found in Metaplace, most of the Google Sketch-up warehouse stuff looked like ass.
As I've said many times, it's not "insular" or "backward" not to be particularly concerned about "openness" and "standards" because only a tiny little clique is making these "standards" to suit themselves -- it is not growing organically out of customers -- and millions of customers. It's not becoming something that people find useful and want. Nobody has demanded compatibility between SL and Open Sims -- it only adds to the flushing out of content in massive IP theft.
Nor am I trying to belittle AOL's success as a network service or it contributions to the internet. But here is the catch, how would you or most others feel if one dominant company set all the standards and protocols for the entire internet in a closed, private and arbitrary fashion?
Well, I wouldn't mind it so terribly, really. One company dominates word-processing now -- Microsoft with Word -- and I find Word has its annoyances, but I don't care to go fuss with some Linux thing or Google docs where they're scraping my data even more than they already do. Second Life has nothing to compare to it in interest and flexibility. It doesn't bother me if prims or whatever it is that is their own standard, i.e. the geographical metaphor and sims, is what dominates. It's what works for most people. Blue Mars didn't work. The other things out there are tiny boutique items by contrast with SL, for narrow purposes.
What would happen if Microsoft or Google or Apple or the US government was the complete and final say on the look and feel and feature set of say all the web browsers available?
Um, nothing so terrible? Google has pretty much the complete and final say on the look and feel of search. I could try to remember to go to Bing or Yahoo more, but I don't. Nor do you. You don't complain about that. So why fuss about the same thing in virtual worlds? Apple rules the world of phones and laptops and i-pads and i-this and that. It's because most geeks and gadget lovers love it best. They don't get as much out of Google Android stuff. And that's ok. That's how it is. It's what pleases most people. There's enough choice -- it's not like Linden Lab has a complete monopoly on virtual worlds. I think you can even go to V-side not to mention Inworldz and other OS offshoots, and BM is still open. So why fussy?
The fact is, the US government, or Microsoft, or Google, do have the complete and final say on various things -- let's say, the war in Afghanistan, or word processing, or search. These aren't monopolies, and dissent is allowed. You don't demand that Google adhere to an open standard for search algorithms -- and they are so big and powerful that they can go on keeping this secret and tell you to fuck yourself. There are a few dissenters on TechCrunch that ask for them to make this transparent. Other geeks laugh at them.
I think such a situation would be despotic to say the least. For client/server software to function properly the shared elements, the shared protocols and standard features, must be compatible or they do not work. Whether the code they are made with is public or private and who owns it is completely immaterial.
Well, not really. That is, we all get it that the Internet broadly speaking functions on these shared protocols. It's kind of a big clothesline that a lot of other clothespins hang off from. To some people it's useful if all those clothes pins open and shut the same way, but others make some stuff that doesn't (like the virtual world of Second Life). It has enough things that are shared that enable things like shared media to work or XML or whatever. So what if you can't import Collada or export OAR files into OS of other people's stuff? I can't get too worried about it. The world is not waiting for this.
In order to gain access to Linden Lab's feature set and protocols process for the viewer, one must sign off on the Second Life Viewer Contribution Agreement. Signing that agreement basicly strips a participating developer of any intellectual property rights to their contributions.
Um, wait a minute, big guy. That's how open source works, doesn't it? I mean, don't all open source projects in the sky work that way? You're supposed to collectivize yourself and your IP and enter hive mind, no?
I don't find this the crime you do. That is, in the larger sense, I find open source a crime, and can't understand why people who do the hard work of coding want to participate in this foolish sandbox nonsense and work for nothing, only to see their stuff sold off as special liceses to the Electric Sheep or whatever, to see their stuff scooped up by IBM via SL Enterprise, and used for their profit-making ventures. So if you don't like that, why even support open source at all? Why even work on this viewer where your efforts get you nothing, not even pennies on the dollar, and your bones disappear into the mud like the Soviet GULAG labour working on Belomor Canal?
So, if you want to produce an SL compatible 3D VR web application, you must play by rules controlled and set by LL. They control the standards and thus the core feature set. So SL viewer v2.x maybe open source code, but the viewer itself is closed standard. Opensimulator, as a standard, is not trying to provide for every new feature that LL adds to SL. To quote their mainpage - "Out of the box, OpenSimulator can be used to simulate virtual environments similar to Second Life™, given that it supports the core of SL's messaging protocol. As such, these virtual worlds can be accessed with the regular SL viewers. However, OpenSimulator is neither a clone of Second Life's server nor does it aim at becoming such a clone. On the contrary, OpenSimulator lacks support for many of the game-specific features of Second Life (on purpose), while pursuing innovative directions towards becoming the bare bones, but extensible, server of the 3D Web" - end quote. The viewer lists of both OS and SL websites differ primarily because of compatibility issues arising from different standards and features sets. The bottom line is this - if you want to have choice, you have to have competition and if you want the public to have a say in product features and standards, those features and standards must be determined in a process open to the public. Like AOL, SL can be successful for a long time, even as a walled garden as long as it both profitable and provides services that its customer base wants. But if LL starts pushing lots of unwanted features or removes too many desired ones or becomes too expensive or inaccessable relative to other competing services, then its days are numbered. People want the SL viewer v1.x interface but they also want the extended SL viewer v2.x features and standards set. Unless LL comes up with a more desirable viewer for their userbase soon, someone may make a third party viewer that works with both SL and OS equally well and that could be the tipping point that drives more people to the OS product and its standards and pricing structure.
Again, I can only say, so what? In fact, we *do* have choice and people exercise it, and most chose SL, and that's ok!
So what if LL makes their viewer open, but not subject to a bunch of Leninists with other standards, ideas of stripping out commerce, liberating content, removing DRM, and not protecting IP? I can't get terribly, um, upset about that.
If there are other things like avatar arms extending or whatever the hell it is they do with their various thingies, so what? Then go over there and develop and stop whining. Truly, that's all anyone can say. If you think Open Sims represent the Great White Hope of virtuality, and SL is some sort of backwater, then go over there and put your shoulder to Lenin's log with the rest of them!
There are already viewers that look like clones of the SL viewer that work with both SL and OS grids. Isn't that what the Hippo or the Joykadia viewer and others are? So what? Some people use TPVs; some don't. The viewer is not the tipping point of the world: the world itself is. And I'll remind you of the Prokofy definition of what makes a virtual world and this discussion on Raph's blog:
1. Has a sense of place.
2. Has drama.
I mean, do you know any live musicians in the open sims that sing songs that put in the place names of SL sims, like Frogg Marlowe does?
You describe LL as balancing between open and closed to please their customers. Good! Open Sims, all together, soaking wet, have like 15,000 customers. Why are we trying to please them? Let them please themselves.
LL got two things very right:
o DRM, that makes the economy, with copy/mod/transfer and a payments system
o geographical metaphor that creates a sense of place
Those two things are what Hamlet and even people like you are chipping and hammering away at, wanting them to destroy for the sake of some pristine Leninist vision of purity of open source copying and "innovation" and freedom from the burden of property (land). But these two forms of property -- intellectual property and land as a commodity (server space) are holding the world together pretty well. Other concepts -- content, currency commissions, endless payment of geeks to run open source software -- these aren't proven as the cash cows that you might think.
It's funny how people like you, and the other gurus never bang on IMVU and ask them to become open source or ask them to change. Why do you think that is? Is it because they don't sell land? So that makes them acceptable lol?
So I will continue to ask this question regularly and often: why do we need standards for virtual worlds? Says who? For what? Why?
I simply reject the idea that it is "backward" to favour this particular walled garden that in fact is the only one that is profitable. The open sims don't open their books at all, so we don't really know what's happening there for those economies. Little rich boy Adam Zaius probably makes sure he gets paid, but he probably loses a lot of money too. Can Inworldz go on forever offering cheap sims and not paying themselves sufficient salaries?And so on.
The problem with SL viewer 2 isn't that it is "not a standard". If anything, by rushing to put in mesh, they are feeding that geeky yen to have standards based on things like Collada and other 3d programs that produce the marvels of Turbosquid. But that's exactly what will make the world less democratic and less open.