Rosedale Hits it Out of the Park

1 Billion users. I want 1 Billion users. Often called a rounding error in a large software company, one billion users. That might sound glib, but it really isn’t. Are the billion users paying customers or not, bottom line. Let’s characterize the population who might make up the 1 billion. Are they spenders, or are they the ones receiving the benefits of the redistributed wealth. They are likely pedestrians. They fashion themselves for free to look like Angelina Jolie or Chris Evans and yearn to be on the next cover of a Virtual World magazine. But open up a Facebook page so they can market themselves as if they were on the cover. They are ex-pat Gaia junkies and they come into virtual worlds to spend about a dollar, likely for cooler hair. They are likely not the explorers who pay up to $300 a month for a quarter of a server and are considering the several 10s of thousands to secure their world behind the firewall. These numbers seem much smaller and the standards for them are at greater stakes. Conversely, the billion are not the spenders, they are the receivers – and the standards required to keep them interested in virtual worlds are what’s really subject for discussion here. It is the standard of identity.

In the abounding world of redistributing wealth, the San Francisco Odysseus is wrapping its mind around open source with a guarantee to set us free, after they’ve heard the siren call and been wooed into believing everything they hear. But once they get off the expensive Second Life island (if they ever will), and give up all the freebies, free clothes, free VoIP and free meeting places, an evil question of capitalism pops into mind. Who’s going to pay for the billions to stay on line? The open source community, although a wonderful idea, has always made me strangely nervous. In the free worlds, everyone is going to build content, build applications, build the realm and leave it open so everyone can access it and grow it. It seems like they’ll make money on it, but the bottom line, Linden Lab owns the operating environment it all runs on and everyone has to pay the Linden tax to operate their open source solutions. For some reason, I can never wrap my arms around this answer, until I started to look at Obama’s political practices. The people who are going to pay for it are you. Free, which is what open source assumes, is going to be funded by you. You must pay for the price of innovation, and you will not collect on that innovation, you will give it up for the common good.

This is big. Instead of competing with WalMart, Amazon, or even Live.Com, the virtual world is going to get you hooked on buying image, identity and community.  I think I overhead a couple of Microsofties in the 90s having this same conversation. One said,  let’s go in their and round up the standards and by the time anyone is really paying attention, we’ll be dominant in the market and there won’t be any reason but to log onto our identity servers. And when people catch on, let’s call it open source and lets even put our research on line so people can get access to it and put their research on line as well. It’s all so Boy Scouts. Beumused, I keep thinking, who is forgetting that we came here to lay a stake to a standard so everyone benefits (or dare I say profits).  What standards are those? I’m just looking for exactitude, Phillip.

Reductionism in the article suggests that the innovation is minimal scaffolding for the development of the rich content experiences.  The minimal scaffolding. That sounds so Leonardo da Vinci telling Pope Gregory this ceiling should take me just a couple of months.

Now this is the real example, so we understanding what Phillip is supporting in open source. He suggests an offering to translate up services in Japanese as an example of minimal scaffolding for open source. I like it but it sure doesn’t mean anything. There are no IP issues right up front, there is unlimited resource of consent (because they’re your ideas), and it’s as open as sound in the forest (so who’s going to argue). If  you just want to speak Japanese and understand it -you enter into a virtual world, hook up with a Japanese person, walk around and point to things on various islands and repeat after me over headphones “this is a booku”. I’m missing the open source and innovation standards thing again. Is it because someone really kind wrote a translator in Second Life that Linden now incorporates into its platform – clever open source isn’t it. The Japanese Angelina Jolie is pretty, she me a book (well access to a URL website where I could buy a book), and showed me  some Japanese things (well some images on, and I spoke to her with my free IP (well just words that came to me when we were talking).

Now, let’s get back to frameworks, open source and how this model is going to make me money. Amazon made some money in my experience, that was good. Linden made some money from the islands where the nice Japanese lady spoke to me in Japanese, and the island owner made some money when I bought the traditional Japanese dress. But where’s my money? I even paid the nice little Japanese lady. Hmm. I’m one of the billion spenders. I get it now.

Now, on the street, I hear its time to hide your good ideas from the development community because the patent lawyers have arrived, and everyone is asking for quick claims and licenses to just have another conversation . The lawyer can be heard saying at the conference, you did of course file for your patent last year, and your part of the virtual operating system, business process and unique programming all belong to you right? Or did you license it to Linden according to their Terms of Service and now it’s part of their Enterprise Server.

Now maybe I’m getting this all wrong, and the open source thingy is all about really grabbing the power of an experiential engine (yourself), and a really good definition of who you are. Are you the open source? Or are you a microtransaction that gets paid based on your expertise on the experiential engine? Is anyone talking about that yet?

We applaud you, Phillip, for the one transparent thing you say here. The complexity and uncertainty of virtual worlds have favored a process where features were developed more in the open and early feedback was able to direct development. And Linden humility stresses that they did feel smart enough to be able to hide their ideas from end -users! Man, let me get this straight, you don’t know you gave up all your ideas for Second Life development because who reads the terms of service for a virtual world. Did you realize that the ideas they were not hiding were your ideas being converted by their standards.

My advise to the read – think of yourself as the backbone of operating systems and monetize your own self expression, and keep it to yourself. Use the virtual world to offer you as a service, and stop giving all your ideas away for free, as you close down your island this month because with the $300 per month that you’ve been spending, you could have bought a car now and gone from town to town and offered your service in the physical dimension. Try focusing on identity as a new form of self expression that can be monetized by you – if you take hold of it and do it right, you’ll win. After all this is just gaming right (….)

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