A lot of people are bewildered by the actions of Linden Labs over the last six months. Where are they going? What are they dong? It's all pretty clear to me though.
One of the biggest factors restraining the growth of the metaverse may be that it never grew much beyond the boundaries of Linden Labs. OpenSim has been available for a couple of years, but it's still pretty anemic.
I can remember when nearly all on-line content was hosted and managed by a few companies like Compuserve and AOL. There was an Internet at that time, but the content on Archie and Gopher was pretty slim.
Mosaic (now Firefox) changed all that. Compuserve doesn't even exist anymore. Web users often don't know or care who hosts and manages the content they're viewing. Who hosts Wikipedia? Do you care?
Perhaps this is the model we should be going for with the Metaverse. Right now OpenSim is pretty anemic and Linden Labs hosts everything. Imagine a Metaverse where you don't really need to know who hosts the sim you're in, a sim where you don't even have to use your log in data unless you intend to build or buy something.
In a system like that, Linden Labs would have a host of opportunities to perform valuable and profitable functions, like search, hosting, banking, and currency trading. They're in the perfect position to become the Amazon, Google and PayPal of the 3D metaverse, but only if the metaverse grows beyond the bounds of their own servers.
Imagine shopping on Secondlife Marketplace (nee Xstreet) and have the content delivered to whatever server you're on, be it Linden Labs or Open Sim. Imagine the Linden becoming the common currency on all grids, not just those operated by Linden labs.
Like Compuserve, Linden Labs has probably grown as much as it can under the current paradigm. The next stage of growth will only come by pushing the SecondLife experience out of the nest that is Linden Labs.
I think Phillip knows this and has given us several clues that's the direction he's heading in. Making the viewer Open Source was a big clue that he intended people to use the technology on data hosted on systems other than Linden Labs'. Moving shopping to a web based experience was another and pushing the Educational Sector to Open Sim was another.
Moving the Educational Sector out into the OpenSim environment may prove the most important step in growing the metaverse beyond the bounds of Linden Labs.
Recently, Phillip said in a speech how he saw a time when many of the different aspects of SecondLife would be performed by different companies. He always said, his model for SecondLife was the novel SnowCrash, and this distributed hosting model is how the metaverse worked in SnowCrash..
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