I got asked to do the SL11B cake stage this year (Second Life 11th Birthday). While the event seems to get smaller and smaller every year compared to the mega events of the first era of SL, i still find great honour in building the central stage of the anniversary event.
This year the theme is more predominantly focused on the future of Second Life, and i find myself conflicted with the theme. While all the evidence is there that Virtual Reality and Virtual Worlds are again proposing exciting innovations and futures, it’s only assumption that Second Life will be part of it.
Im watching HighFidelity propose and demonstrate really exciting ideas. Fresh and new with the goal of actually being the underlying protocols for an open 3D internet from the start, it’s hard not to get excited about it. In a few years time you could find yourself hosting your own virtual space like you would a wordpress blog while also contributing computing power to the greater grid. The possibility might be there for entire builds to be exported from apps such as Blender or Unity to use on HyFy. The Cyberpunk in me grins at the prospect of having my avatar saved on a chip embedded in my arm that can wirelessly connect to my iPhone so where ever i am, my virtual identity is with me in the decentralised metaverse. Ok i might be getting a bit far fetched… maybe.
So the future of Virtual Reality is revitalised, but SL11B is about the future of Second Life and here i’m somewhat stumped. The future of Second Life is…. erm….. ok i’m sure there are lots of plans and ideas the Lindens have. I know for instance that The Experience Permissions system will eventually arrive and change how we experience stuff in SL. The addition of the Oculus will be awesome along with the changes to controls. But where does SL fit in with the bigger picture of the metaverse?
If HyFy (trendy marketing rebrand of HighFidelity) becomes a proper successful underlaying protocol for a 3D internet, will Second Life remain a separate grid or join the proposed metaverse? I would imagine some of the Lindens groaning at the prospect of trying to adapt the Second Life Grid to a new open metaverse. But with all their experience i can’t imagine Linden Lab just sitting and do nothing while a new metaverse grows beyond the numbers of Second Life and OpenSim.
I can’t help but compare the possible situation to that of AOL before CERN released their WWW technology. AOL used to supply internet connectivity on their own system, but eventually like everyone else joined the World Wide Web. Is this a situation Linden Lab are likely to face in Second Life’s future?