I do have ESP, I swear! But here's the problem. I also have astigmatism. So I see certain things as really nearby but blurry -- when in fact they are very far off. And I can only see certain things very close up, i.e. about 15 minutes before they happen (so I so often don't get credit for my ESP, it's a shame).
So, for my last year's predictions, I only got half of my predictions correct. Terrible! I almost felt like Algernon with the flowers, reading my predictions last year.
First, what I got all wrong:
1) Augumented Reality Will Become the Next Big Thing and 2) The Lindens somehow get into Augmented Reality
Huh? Augmented Reality -- well, it's just not ready for prime time. Not only isn't ready for the goggles -- people don't like having distracting things in front of their view. It's not ready even just in the window-for-perceiving-the-world that is the tiny screen of your i-phone or bigger screen of your i-pad. There are *some* augmented things here and there, but by and large, it's just not taking over. Even Google Street View doesn't seem to have that much uptake. Let alone aps built on top of that, like the one where you assume a first-person-shooter stance and go shoot in Google Street View.
Perhaps we have to redefine or dumb down what Augmented Reality is. But in the version of it we heard from Vernor Vinges or in the many long breathless reports from Tish Shute, it's just not happening. Maybe, like virtual worlds, it is in its winter.
But it's not going to happen next year, either. It's too wonky, buggy, hard to use.
3. I was wrong that Web GPL will be the Next Big Thing, too. Too wonky. Just not there yet.
4. Philip will come back to SL and do something with AI. Wrong. He went on to real life to make Coffee and Power and his other influence-peddling game.
7. Sion Zaius will return to Second Life and make version 1.4 of the famous chickens. Sadly, never happened.
8. Dave Winer, Doug Rushkoff etc will make a new Darknet.
Strangely, they never did this. Maybe that's because they hope if they do things like defeat SOPA, they can just takeover the existing Internet and run it in the continued ethics-free manner they wish.
12. Merchants will be certified and offered faster cashouts or a chit-earning scheme or free advertising. I won't count this as a fulfilled prediction, even though "free advertising" is *exactly* what a number of high-end merchants got this year, starting with the pet mafia who got into the email boxes of all us premium account holders and ending with things like "Wolf Point" or whatever it is that got on the splash page. BTW, your humble correspondent got on the splash page for a few times this year too as part of the Halloween promotion -- St. Thaddeus got in the Destination list, and those were rotated on the splash.
Now, for where my ESP worked:
5. SL will not be public, merged, or bought out. Well, it wasn't. But hold that thought...
6. Search will not be fixed. No need for ESP on that one!
8. Dusan Writer will sell or pass on Metanomics. Does Metanomics still exist? I think he *did* pass it on, but it faltered. He also hasn't blogged for the entire year. He has other things he's doing.
10. The edu sims on open sim and hypergrid will fail or not grow by much. Too true. And indeed, educators remaining in SL did better. That isn't hard to show. It comes from a different perspective to start with, i.e. whether you are hard-left like that ubiquitous goof with the name like Omniscient Painintheass on SHamlet's blog, or whether you are mainstream, and find some prototyping or training use for SL, as we can see from some media stories this year. No big boom over at the commie sims.
11. Mesh will be implemented too soon, badly, and will be buggy and laggy. Yep.
Now, for this year's batch:
Wow, is that really me saying that? Haven't I been discounting this every time everyone else said it for the last 7 years? Isn't it always the case that when people say this, they merely mean "SL is ending *just for me*". Well, perhaps. But I just think this is true. I feel it and sense it.
The reasons have to do with a lot of little things and a lot of big things. Like the VP for platform and the VP for marketing leaving; like the community managers not really ever being replaced (unless Viale Linden turned out to be more than I've heard?).
The big thing is the way SL has always been run -- "with their own money" or with not very much of the VC cash. The original backers put a bit of largely their own money into it and got some of their friends' money -- I don't think it was more than say $25 million or so -- and they got out what they could already and either left, or stayed, but with marginal attention. They never discuss it. The board of Linden Lab has to be one of the most secretive entities in the universe. No one on it ever talks. Mitch Kapor, the CEO has absolutely nothing to say -- and has not said anything for literally years (I think the last thing he said about 4-5 years ago was that SL was for misfits but had to move beyond that stage.)
When people aren't excited about their own product yet have money in this product and occupy positions on boards, I have to figure either it's of marginal interest, they are winding it down, or perhaps they have some really big soopersekrit thing they are going to do. I'm going to bet doors number one and two.
When I saw them describe the Linden Realms game as not something for its own sake, not for newbies, not to re-interest oldbies, but to try out tools they were going to give to resident devs to make their own games, I knew that the managers were not serious about SL. They don't view it as a destination. They continue to view it as an experimental piece of software that might become a tool to do other things with that they will sell to other people. Worlds for Windows...
There's an article on Sand Castle Studios (were they the people who so shamelessly pumped mesh and produced a video ridiculing those who criticized mesh?) -- showing how they are indignant with LL for not selling itself better. For the reason that many of us have noted many times before: SL doesn't advertise itself, and when it finally does, it does such a strange and awkward and shabby job of it, that you wonder if there isn't somebody sabotaging marketing's decision to market, because they don't REALLY want to market it -- see above.
I mean, I don't mind if they change the splash page -- we were all getting deathly sick of that dippy girl doing the twirl into the red dress and the man with the strangely-assed suit pants (we used to call them "floods" in school -- if your pants looked like you had hiked them up for a flood and missed your ankles) -- awkwardly holding his briefcase -- but if you're going to put "Vampire" as the theme to sell SL better, at least put *a prettier Vampire*. The one they have up there now is just plain ugly -- and not in a good, Vampire way ugly. Just ugly. Vampires should look daunting and imperious and have long black Morticia sort of hair with their fangs ever so slightly protruding through their ruby-red lips. This one looks like a bedraggled hung-over crack ho from the wrong side of the tracks in Zindra, who got run over by a dozen of AnnMarie Otoole's annoyance vehicles, before deciding to play "Twilight" for the day.
Ouch. Can't you do better, Linden Lab? But ah, you don't want to, because you'll be wrapping it up this year. You do this deliberately, don't you.
Yes, that's my gut. It will be couched in terms of "ceasing further development" or "focusing on new projects"...or something.
Little things give me this hunch, too. The way in which search is tinkered with endlessly and strangely. Ayesha claims bitterly that search is now favouriting the Mainland. Perhaps? I have some newbie areas that are filled that usually have at least a few free. Is this search? Or new sign-ups? Doesn't seem to be. Something like this feels like global warming. Hot one day, but cold the next. Not necessarily a good hot.
Void Singer, leaving SL and the forums over some censorship issue. Void Singer is one of those obnoxious know-it-all scripters who always has to let you know who knows more than you, but he/she is a staple of that scripters' forum, and a "speech offense" (or defense of someone else's "speech offense") isn't supposed to happen to this class of people. When it does, you realize maybe they don't care anymore.
Which leads to my next predictions...
2. Linden Lab will buy out Open Sim or some open sims or hypergrid or whatever all those reverse-engineered and perverse-engineered platforms are called, and ask them to them help them...restructure...the rump of SL that remains after they announce their "new priorities". Now, note that I said "Second Life as we know it". The end of "Second Life as we know it" -- Lindens owning servers which they in places decorate (Mainland, Moles) and in places leave to rot and die (roads with AMT vehicles, many patches of flat land all over), and in places zone (Linden Homes, Zindra, Bay City, Nautilus) -- will...change. End, or segue or get metamorphized.
First, there will be the big estates -- these will be offered to become basically open sims. Fix your own software, hire developers, host your own land -- we'll help you make the transition. Oh, you don't have servers of your own or don't think you can manage the cost and the skills required to actually run servers independently (as distinct from sort of turning them off now and then and flicking a few switches on them as you do in your "ownership" currently)? Then, we advise you use Lucky Linden's new EZ Sim Holding company that will help you do that! For only $325 a month per sim! Or maybe even $295. Or maybe even $195!
They may not have to "buy out" those prodigal children of the open sims, but just "make them some sort of deal". Have Adam Zaius take over some of the big estates for a transfer fee.
Yes, this may involve opening up the server code, or licensing certain people to buy a box of server code for some big fee, so that the features which people are used to -- absent in the Leninist sims -- will be present.
3. Linden Lab will make a new product involving a Facebook game with digital content you pay for, or a new system like the LindEx to be used for paying for digital content online -- it may be in the form of a Zynga-like game with currency. Yes, that would be the really smart thing to have done a year ago; such games are tanking now and Zynga isn't doing so well, but their concept of a lite SL on Facebook with digital items for sale and currency could very well work, allowing for the year of dev time that good ideas take, meaning belated, but still perhaps relevant. If Shaker can take the Sims and Facebook it, imagine what an SL would be like on Facebook.
This new product might be mobile-phone related but surely the Blue Mars experience of trying to interest people in decorating avatars on their phone, unattached to any world, will give them pause.
Even so, this *might* be what they do. It would make a lot of sense -- keep the world, or the rump of the world, siphon off what you can to open sims to get the management and hardware care headaches gone -- but weave in a Facebook game/interface/thingie that is layered on top of that that keeps the same client base who want to socialize and dress up and then adds zillions more through their friend lists.
The Lindens simply followed what everybody already knows, and which Hamlet has propagandistically supplied to us to help "prepare the public". Something like 70 percent of people who log on never leave their sim. They just hang out, maybe bounce on the pose balls with their partners, maybe chat, maybe move their furniture around, and then log off. They don't even shop. Only 30 percent regularly explore (like me). So why make a whole slow-loading world for these people? A contiguous, geographically-metaphor'd world with roads? Why not just put them on Facebook?
And instead, fill the roads with stupid vehicles that make their use really unpleasant -- drive people away. Make people move to SL Marketplace if they want to be seen and found in search and have no tier to pay -- and make the need for store sims with lag disappear. Don't bother with the texture loading problems issue -- who cares? Work towards something that could load in the browser ahead (SHamlet keeps hawking that solution).
Why bother making Linden Realms with stuff meant for devs, not newbies, if you have a world with declining users and only a barely-climbing income spent inworld? Only if you are going to make a "lite" version and hook it to Facebook.
The new video advertising SL has each character -- furry, space cadet, vampire, whatever -- stop the cool thing he is doing and then show you a little square with his Facebook face on it -- as if to say, "all fun and games and roleplay, but here's my real self so you can socialize with me...somewhere else, like Facebook." It works just like Susan Wu's Vampire game does, in fact, and I wonder if that really will take off. It might.
So the new Facebook-game direction of SL isn't really a sharp plug-pull of the world -- as some people envisioned the end of Second Life-as-We-Know-It. It isn't that all of a sudden, they run out of money, they can't keep enough engineers working for peanuts or for free, so they shut it down with a big GAME OVER like The Sims Online did (I still feel chills when I remember that awful moment -- it still makes me very sad.)
No, the Lindens will have their new...product...the Facebook game or the digital currency extending beyond SL or whatever...and this heavy old world as we know it will gradually...wane.
4. SHamlet ne Linden will retire. This long-awaited day will come. When SL dies as any sort of world where stuff happens (it gets harder and harder for him and his minions to write about), and when it really just devolves into a combination of the new atomized mass Facebook game thingie and a lot of privately-held servers not really in any contiguous world-thing, what will there be to blog about? In a space where you could pretend there was a "Metaverse" -- lots of worlds, the biggest being Second Life, but also Blue Mars, and Kaneva and other worlds all over -- you could justify being a metaversal blogger.
With all of them shuttered or very much dwindled in size, you will look very old-fashioned and out of touch. Augmented Reality isn't here yet, so what's to write about? Aps? But other people do that already. I suspect that just as for all SL-related blogs, Sham's traffic is down, and his own Federated News people will not be making as much from the ads as they used to. So something will have to give. And I think he will either retire or get himself a job in the Facebook game. SHam is not loathe to do cheesy things. Don't forget that he got involved in that Vampire game that the venture capitalist Susan Wu was doing for awhile (does it still exist?) with Mike Arrington's enthusiastic support (did he invest?).
5. The Mainland will be closed. If you have all those other things happening, this has to happen, too. Now, here's where there *might* be an opportunity to turn the fuck-you hedonism and coddling of infantile entitlement-happy dweebs implicit in "Your World, Your Imagination" and change it to "Our World, Our Shared Vision." Perhaps a group of forward-looking citizens might buy the Mainland. Or ask the Mainland to be moved to their open sims, where they will maintain it. But they will end up quarreling and will hate and resent each other so much that it won't happen and in the end, the Lindens will, well, hopefully archive it, because a lot of their own paid-for moles' content is on it.If you really complain, the Lindens will come with an all-sim copier, copy your mainland, and plunk you down on Lucky Linden's new EZ Management system. Say good-bye to those pesky black-box building neighbours 4-ever!
Now, what else could there be to possibly predict if "Second Life-as-we-know-it" will wane and change in the next year? Well, the reaction:
6. Crap Mariner will deny that it is happening. Although Fatty has regularly published grim-grams to the effect that the world is ending *tomorrow* and that it *should* be finished off *today* because of some NVidia shadow alias problem, he will be in total denial as the world wanes. He will keep snapping happy high-rez photos of his 100-world story readings and endless tree decoration, and keep telling you it's Grace O'Clock until the servers go dark...
7. Prokofy Neva will acknowledge its happening, but keep hoping the deadline will be extended, and work diligently in that Our World, Our Shared Vision caucus well past the sell-by date...
8. Various large sim holders will dump and stampede. They will not care about their customers.
9. Lots of nice girls will keep their sims to the bitter end, but not have the money or the ability to make the transfer. The hardier ones will (Solace Beach). Many a bright thing has appeared in our midst, like Benares, run by the beloved brinda Allen. Everyone thought they would keep her dream alive after she died in RL. It didn't prove possible to pay all the bills...
10. Way, way more people than you think will rush to the Facebook game. If they can have a thing that is like Farmville (socially acceptable) but with their friend list from SL (maybe with their pseudonyms intact somehow?) and still be able to try on clothes and decorate and buy and sell, they will go there. After all, 70 percent sit on their own sim...
11. Way more devs that you think as absolutely dedicated to our geographically contiguous world with its scripting and prim craftsmenship will rush to develop for this new worldlet thingie. Indeed, they are already preparing the way with Mesh.
12. Rod Humble will remain as CEO and Will Wright will remain on the board. For them, games and artificial intelligence are more important than worlds. Worlds are only mere backdrops for AI-characters like sims, or the evolving creatures of Spore.
Well, there's always Sims 3...