Thursday, October 7, 2010

Educational Migration

I was watching a program on MBC where they had a panel discussing the recent price structure changes for academic users of SecondLife.

Generally, the was a lot of hand-wringing and telling of personal anecdotes, but toward the end of the show they hit on something that probably is the right answer and something that could benefit us all.

Many, (if not most) of these educational users have their own equipment and IT departments in-house, who can very easily run Open Sim on their own servers.

This would immediately solve the problem of providing these educational users metaverse space to do whatever they were doing before on SecondLife, while also lowering their costs and giving them a great deal more control.

Having large educational groups (like the university of Texas who now has some 50 sims on SecondLife) running OpenSim on their own servers would have the effect of drastically speeding and empowering the development of the OpenSim platform.

This could make the 3-D web more like the 2-D web where many providers with many servers populate the network, rather than one provider (like Linden Labs) running the whole show.

There is no question that something like OpenSim is the future of the metaverse, moving companies like Linden Labs into the role of provider rather than overlords.

With SecondLife up and running though, there hasn't been much motivation to really develop OpenSim to any great degree, but the moving of educational users off the SecondLife platform to Open Sim could very well be the key to making OpenSim a functional model for the Metaverse.

A large and functioning Academic use of OpenSim would force resolutions to issues like connectivity and portability of content that stymie the development of the platform now.  It even provides a framework for finding solutions since academics are used to solving problems collectively already.

Linden Labs may be trying to set themselves up as key providers in a larger metaverse rather than its sole owner.  That's probably a wise move too, as a larger metaverse is coming whether they like it or not. 

With that thinking, pushing people out of SecondLife into OpenSim starts making a lot of sense because it hastens the development of OpenSim so that LindenLabs might abdicate the throne, but still step down to a profitable position, rather than seeing the whole concept go down the drain.

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