"Every human being is interested in two kinds of worlds: the Primary, everyday world which he knows through his senses, and a Secondary world or worlds which he not only can create in his imagination, but which he cannot stop himself creating." W.H. Auden
"Mikey Likes It' Commercial for Life Cereal from the 1970s.
As Rex Cronon helpfully pointed out, Jenni Darkwatch has a great explanation in sort of laymen's terms, or at least power SL user terms, about what the new (well, year-old) Land Impact readings are all about. Not everybody has come to grips with these because not everybody uses V2 or V3, the latest viewers, but they will. I resisted using V3 for the longest time and still have to "flee back to V1 to get work done" because there are so many things I can't get done efficiently in V3 (um, like find my inventory, including things I just bought, or search efficiently or remove prims from land efficiently). I do use V3 pretty much always now, however, because newest customers are on it, and I can't step them through all the oddities of the SL GUI unless I'm right on it myself, there just isn't any other way, I tried keeping two sets of notecards, making tutorials with screenshots -- the hell with it. Nobody has time for that unless they are geeks. Normal people want a simple flat instruction *right now* personally, live, in real time, they don't want to be sent to tutorials, help islands, Torley videos.
Many people, including Shamlet ne Linden and his pals, expect the Lindens to reduce tier. They aren't going to do that. In fact, they're doing something worse -- they're making less server space available for your inventory at the same price, just like cereal manufacturers now do with making their boxes smaller and putting less cereal in them, but keeping the same sticker on them.
That really is what happened, and it explains why our Ross build could suddenly display as way over the limit, even without mesh or only a few "objects on physics".
That's not supposed to happen, according to the official propaganda. LI was only supposed to be calculated for mesh products as a way of merging them to the land/tier system smoothly. They can be built less "heavy" or more "light" (the Lindens use the literary metaphor of "gravity" in this world that doesn't have any as we understand it in real life because it helps explain "usage" of server capacity).
But what they didn't tell us is that prims can now read double, or even 40 times as much as they used to. That's not supposed to happen; in fact it does, if you read the explanations. Two boxes can be forced to render as one prim if the menu is jigged right and "anything but prim" is checked off, i.e. convex, a workaround that will ultimately likely have consequences. But two prims can also now "land impact" as four; and one torus can be a whopping 37.
Here's what I wrote on the forums, in case it gets deleted:
It seems to me, however, that what *politically* is really happening here -- once you get through all the technicalities -- is that readings of "how much prim space remains" on a leased server, i.e. "what the land impact is" -- can very likely change for the *higher* or the *lower* -- but quite often *the higher*.
Phil thinks that if an object goes from 2 prims to 4 LI while remaining the same object, or 16 prims or 18 LI while remaining the same object, merely "opted-in" or "linked differently," that "it doesn't matter". He likely doesn't want any one to stop buying primmy furniture for fear it will use up land.
But it is using up more land. The Lindens have basically just raised tier by making the existing offer of server space in fact less. They obviously want to work very hard at hiding that news. But that *is* the news. And it's bad news -- a torus isn't 1 prim; it's a whopping *37* LI.
This explains while an old legacy build from 2005, which has been obviously there mainly unchanged in its main components since then -- for more than 7 years -- and which had never been over its limits could suddenly show nearly twice the number of prims and thereby use up a buffer and make it impossible for boats to pass.
A chair that was 22 prims was now showing as 28; overall, a viewer that highlighted and showed the number of objects as 400 plus and 1800 something LI on the viewer, in fact inworld was showing 2200 on the actual land viewer, using the latest v3.
If you suddenly have to get rid of half your prims or 1000 prims, you end up having to cut the build in half, and figuring out how to fake-link prims to get them to force the "favourable reading" and all the rest described here. What a racket! What a pain! How awful!
Most people on a smaller parcel in a rental somewhere aren't going to notice much. Perhaps they'll not be able to put out as much stuff. Or maybe some stuff will actually book as lower now, so they cancel each other out. I've already had some tenants on the mainland get exasperated at "new readings" of their formerly prim-compliant lots. I come, and I'm perplexed, too. You count the prims in the objects by looking at edit -- but the land impact is higher, sometimes by hundreds, forcing prim overrage in a group that wrecks havocs on group rentals on mainland.
The Lindens and their chief apologists keep telling people the Party line: that the new reading system only affects mesh; that old legacy prims are essentially grandfathered; but wait, scripts might cause some different readings...and then they begin to mumble (which is why Jeremy Linden's article is so unclear -- it's deliberate -- ANYTHING but tell the customer that the product is now diminished but sold at the same price).
Everyone knows what happened to cereal boxes in the recession. The price of cereal went way up, especially after some droughts. So instead of putting higher and higher prices on the boxes of cereal so that they would become ridiculous, like US $8.00 or $10.00, to keep them at $5.82 or $6.89 or something that looked plausible, they just reduced the size of the box, and also put less cereal in it but fluffed it up with air.
When you get home and put your "new-sized" cereal box to a "legacy cereal box" in the cupboard, you see how you've been robbed -- when you open up the box and find half of it is air and there's about two bowls of cereal inside, you realize just how badly.
The same thing has happened to Second Life.
Basically, by telling this political truth, I will experience a number of things:
o snarky tekkies will tell me I don't understand the technology
o Lindens will roll their eyes and claim I am only describing one use case
o fanboyz will claim that there are only certain sets of circumstances that produce the much higher readers and they don't alway pertain
o blah blah, you get the idea
But the news is this: you land is not worth as much because you and/or your tenants cannot put out as much on it.
This news is starting to seep through people's consciousnesses, despite the enormous anti-gravity spin going on from Lindens (mainly through silence as they experiment) and fanboyz (mainly through burying the problems in enormously technical building tutorials and discussions). Most people grappling with this on a parcel-level like a 1024 or 4096 are simply fiddling around, trying to put out that new mesh thing they bought and take out that old primmy table that seems to "cost more" in land impact, jiggling until they get it right, finding puzzling things like two becoming four or one becoming 37, eyeing the prim/LI count, and just fiddling til they get it right and forgetting about it.
People with very large builds are eyeing the problem more nervously as prims return to inventory mysteriously or mystery prims appear (yesterday I took out the "145 prims" that came back to inventory from Ross in a public sandbox, and there was...on object. When the sandbox returned, it said "145 again". Maybe they are linked and up in the air, I couldn't find anything on the mini-map).
But people who own 100 islands are probably seeing this at a much larger scale where maybe they can now see that homesteads in particular are not what they used to be. Maybe they can cloak this worrying phenomenon by just steering customers to mesh, putting out mesh houses that can "take up less prims" (I think most mesh houses look like ass, even with v3, because they look like pasted on texture instead of craftsmenship, and look too round like cartoons, but it's a matter of taste).
I think mainly this unwelcome development will impact old legacy builds on the mainland, oldbies even on new islands that stuck to their own inventories. And eventually, the Lindens will get people to shake loose prims and not have to worry about wildly different readings. No more torii, no more one prim object reading 37 all of a sudden because it's twisted and the server has to groan trying to render it for you to see. I think the world will be poorer when there aren't the choices of prims, sculpties, mesh mainly because people will find it harder to make their own stuff.
Now, could someone explain to me "how it gets there"? I find this interesting. When is Amazon going to let *me* sell my SL stuff on Amazon?!
BTW, I had a customer tactfully tell me today what my best product was! She had a poll asking her customers whether they built products in SL or not. I clicked "yes" because I sell my little touchingly amateur items in my store. I think some of them are cool, like my fairy thimbles, where you can feed your fairies wedding cake, pine nuts, the things they like. Well, pretend-feed, not real-feed, because the real fairy food you still have to buy at Wyrmwood.
Yes, I just said what I just said.
Anyway, she cheerfully said that my best product was...notecards! My helpful notecards. Mkay, point taken. I may not be able to stick two prims together, my lamps are not exactly executed by the numbers, but I do know how to write a mean help card, I guess!
Okay, so the point is, files of stuff in Second Life is just a file of bytes and numbers or whatever. Why not be able to have them uploaded to Amazon.com like a PDF to sell on a Kindle, and then get more customers?
So far, only Linden Lab can do this (and maybe other game companies can, too.)
So, how does this work?
I guess there's some sort of "pathway" or "packet route" or "pipe" of some kind built out between Amazon's servers and Linden Lab's server farms. Maybe they don't even have to go far. LL used to have a server farm named something like 123 in California, but now they rent in both CA and Texas and probably other places. I don't *think* they rent from Amazon.
So anyway, the name "Prokofy Neva", once I link it (merely write it) to my "SL account," then is sent to the LL servers and "it just knows" to then release to me one free hoverboard. If I try to get "two free hoverboards" it may block me because it will recognize that I've gotten one already.
So...it's not like Amazon is storing up hundreds of thousands of copies of the hoverboard on its servers, and releasing them one-by-one directly into my game. Nor is it even storing links directly to LL's asset server, which would be a marvel if it worked that way, given their walled garden status. But...It doesn't have to. It just sends my name to LL, and LL sends me a hoverboard from its asset server on that basis.
As some of the tekkies said on this blog entry, it's not as if your inventory in SL is actually "stuffed with stuff". It's not like that hoverboard is "in your inventory" as such. Rather, what's "in your inventory" is a *link*. *When* you click on that link and push it inworld, *then* it rezzes out as another copy on that sim -- clicking on "inventory" that "looks like it's there" in the form of a little box is just sending an instruction to the asset server to render that particular item with its unique UUID on that particular sim. When you delete it or "send it back from parcel to inventory" it doesn't really "go anywhere"; it just has its links removed that enable it to be rezzed.
So this idea that inventories are a huge load for Linden Lab on their server is ridiculous. Creations are indeed a load -- I think Philip Linden measured this in terabytes of data -- it's a lot. But that original is on their asset server anyway, and the copies are really just links when they are inside your inventory. They probably have a system to sort of deep freeze the ones that don't get called on very often, and keep more to the surface the ones that do get called on often.
So Hamlet thinks that in order to find another revenue stream, the Lindens should become like Manhattan Storage in real life and charge you for putting boxes of your stuff in their warehouse.
This is ridiculous, because the lines of code in these data base tables are not taking up much space, relatively speaking. I can't help thinking that what the real load on the server is, is the dynamic rendering of the world itself. Keeping it available, and showing as nearing toward you and receding into the distance in a geographically-continguous world -- that's probably the greatest strain of RL. Then holding all the avatars and their outfits and attachments on a sim. I just don't think inventories -- loading them and showing them and keeping them available -- is the biggest chore of SL.
Of course, this chore is done very badly so it could be a load after all. When I log on, my full inventory of some 45,000 objects never loads, ever. Each time I log on, perhaps half; perhaps even a third only are available. Who the hell knows why, and why it changes, and why it's different things every time. Because v1 loads much better, I sometimes have to log out of v.3 and go back on v.1 just to find something I just bought that doesn't even show in my inventory. We won't be able to do that for long! So I even have to keep little stash boxes inworld, like a squirrel, of stuff that I know won't load. Oddly enough, the stuff that most fails to load is the stuff I used many times a day, namely notecards, my "best product".
Why does Hamlet come up with these stupid-ass ideas? Well, partly it's that technocommunist spite toward land, commerce and commercial virtuality that he has always harboured since the dawn of SL, and even before in keeping with the whole Creative Commons and Cory Doctorow sort of cult (he was the one to introduce them in SL in fact). He hates the land model, and is constantly ranting that the Lindens should ditch it; commerce in general bothers him but he wants the Lindens to figure out a way to survive, now that their islands aren't selling so well. So he comes up with these controlling socialist notions.
But as people noted in the comments, no one will stay in SL if their hundreds of pairs of shoes are threatened. Totally. They're right about that! People's inventory is very precious to them, even more than their land or homes, which they often ditch.
I don't know if there was a way to "deep six" inventory in "frozen storage" to lighten server load -- if it really is true that pulling it up when you log on "to be there in your inventory menu" is the chore claimed, and whether it would make any difference. So maybe there's a model whereby you agree to put inventory you want to save but not access regularly in deep storage, and pay not to put it away, but pay to get it back out, maybe only as a cash sink, like textures, $10 a piece or something.
But...why? The Lindens won't make money this way, and the job of trying to police new/old accounts and give some inventory and some not in a system just seems stupid. If you create a system like that, you will start getting people who will sell themselves as mule accounts. Let's say you can only keep inventory if you have the $9.95 account, but you still allow new accounts to join with X space for inventory, let's say "100 things". You will immediately have inventory barons who agree to keep your inventory for you and rez it when you call them, for a free. And SL being the weepy helpy culture that it is with girls with big hearts, you will immediately have people who stay online all day mad at the "inventory barons" who will do this for you for free.
The Lindens are not going to create another way for people to make a buck not through content creation, and also develop thousands of new tickets of complaints.
It would make for an interesting social system if you had some accounts serving as nomads with no inventory capacity and some as camels who would go around carrying inventory for people.
Anyway, the Lindens are not going to do this so it's stupid.