This page is written with the software developer in mind.
The first impulse many Internet public software developers have, is to look at Second Life like they would look at IRC.
The attitude might be something like:
See? Read those lines with IRC in mind, and then read those lines with Second Life in mind, and it actually works out pretty well.
That said, the same said software developers might also say the same things about clubbing or going out on a Friday or Saturday night.
Different strokes for different folks, I guess. There’s no need for us to be prematurely judgemental. But this is not actually the point.
The point I want to make is that, even though IRC has a negative reputation, it’s still useful to developers.
(And by developers, I don’t just mean “programmers,” I’m also talking about artists, wikipedians, thinkers, etc., etc.,.)
It turns out that, it actually is useful to meet in real-time. Despite what other people do with their real-time that you may or may not disapprove of.
Let’s assume that you are with me this far. Let’s assume you’ve walked over the rejection of: “OMG it’s IRC! Like, totally kewl!” Let’s say we’ve softly admitted, “Okay. Maybe IRC is cool. I know that Freenode, at least, is a nice place.”
Our next question is: “What can Second Life give the developer?”
Well, at the moment: not much. Not much for the generic software developer, that is. It does do things for some collaborators, and I will talk about that towards the end. But for the generic Free Software developer, at the moment: You’re better off with IRC.
But don’t touch that back button! Get your paw off it! Settle down! I’ve got something important to say!
You need to look at this, because there are valuable things here that you will use. One day. There are seeds of ideas here, that will grow fruit.
Here are some interesting things for dev’s to think about.
This may sound “weak.” But let me point out: People used to believe on WardsWiki?, way way back when, that anything that wasn’t OnTopic, anything that wasn’t about programming, was OffTopic, and should be deleted. People said, “No, no, no! The OffTopic stuff is important, it helps build social cohesion!” They were dismissed as drooling romantic idiots who couldn’t program. But then there was a change of heart, and people realized that people were human and cared about cohesion and wanted to interact with each other and it would help things move forward. Now some OffTopic is a staple of C2.
All this said: Second Life is very unusable as a free software collaboration site.
Let’s talk about some of the major weaknesses, compared to IRC:
There are others. I’m just not thinking of them right now.
On 2007-01-08, phoenixlinden announced that the Second Life client would be released as open source. ( "Embracing the Inevitable" by phoenixlinden 2007 ).
Later, some (most?) of the server code was released as open source. (Some of the people who commented on this post claimed that making things open source was “bad for security” and “smacks of just being too lazy to do your own work”, and “opening it up for every Tom, Dick and Harry to tinker with hardly makes for a “safe” environment”. Fortunately, other posts correct these mistaken perceptions.)
(FIXME: those 2 blog posts mention other open-source projects similar to Second Life – make a list here, perhaps with a brief description).
The Second Life wiki “Open Source Portal” discusses how to download, inspect, and run the Second Life source code on your own server.
I wrote most of this in DevelopersVirtualWorld.
The idea is that we can fix all of those limitations. If the Second Life were completly moldable, we can envision powerful new environments. We can envision:
But, I don’t want to get carried away. DevelopersVirtualWorld should be the collecting point for these ideas.
I’m putting my name next to this section, because this is my personal testimony. I know that it is not unusual. What I am hoping is that JulianKrause will write up his experience as well, just below. It was a great joy, and, I think, is a great explanation for why SecondLife is so valuable, and holds so much incredible promise for us, as a model for future developments.
When I first entered Second Life, after doing the tutorials, and after just sort of wandering around, and exploring the vastness of the created world, talking with random (and very helpful) people, I discovered: The Sandboxes.
Sandboxes are, not surprisingly, something like our SandBox? here!
Sandboxes are regions of the game world where anybody can build anything. Well, most anything– some have restrictions. (The one I spent some time at had a restriction: “No weapons.” You could make fake show weapons, but not functional weapons. I didn’t understand how you could even make a functional weapon, since you can’t die in Second Life. But I didn’t care to ask, since I had no intention anyways.)
Right off the bat, I want to point out that Second Life has very intricate social structure. There are rules. It’s very large, it’s very vast, it’s very intricate and interesting. Not unlike wikipedia’s large, vast, and sometimes byzantine social structure.
So, I discovered a sandbox. By accident, basically.
And I saw a bunch of people in it. Probably like, 4-7 people. Something like that.
And they were making stuff. And when I say “making stuff,” I mean that in the biblical sense. You know, like Moses striking a stick on a rock, and water comes out, or droping a stick, and it turns into a snake. Supernatural like, right? (If I got the biblical reference wrong, somebody, please correct it.)
And you see people building stuff, and you wonder, “Gee, I wonder: Can I do that too?”
And you right click out there, and notice that your “Create” button works here. Most places it doesn’t. But here, in the sandbox, it does. And, the next thing you see, you’re avatar’s got his hand sticking out, pointing to some point you clicked on, and it’s like he’s using the Force to make a cube appear in space. “Whoah.” Yeah. It’s Keanu Reaves, or whoever played Neo, all over again.
And then you start making lots and lots of boxes. All over the place! It’s a lot of fun.
I dinked around with it for a while, getting a feel for the basic controls.
Modeling, texturing, it’s all built into the environment. It’s all right there.
Later I deleted everything. I logged off.
Spent a day doing other stuff. Whatever.
Next day. Log in. Go to the sandbox. Start dinking. But then, I OverHear a guy talking with another guy. They’re talking about making stuff.
The one guy, looks like a robot, and he’s making these very small, very special shoes. Custom designed. It’s very intricate work, you can tell- bolts are floating in mid-air, he’s making these futuristic looking but very intricate boots. (He’s a robot, after all. Go figure!)
He’s talking with two others. I forget the one, the other was a bat-winged gothic type person.
And the robot is skilled, and explaining things to the other person.
He noticed that I was looking and listening in. Attention is transparent, after all, in Second Life. As you look at things, your head moves. And without having to tell people, other people can transparently tell what you are looking at.
I sincerely wish that the importance of ideas such as these were more readily apparent to people. I swear to God- please forgive me, but: People can be such idiots about this sort of thing. They are so immensely short-sided when it comes to understanding just how incredibly important all these subtleties are. Yes, it really does make a difference if you can communicate something without (A) having to say it, (B) having to fill the conscious communication spread, (C) without the other person having to concentrate on it. In Second Life, suffice to say– there’s just so much unconscious communication.
My favorite example to rant about is the example I call the “I am givinkst it to ju now” spy-vs-spy example. This is named after the stereotypical secret agent KGB spy who is telling the other agent what she’s up to. “I am givingkst ju ze package. You have ze antidote, da?” And the reason I call it this, is because it’s exactly what it’s like, being in IRC: “I am looking for the web page. I have found the web page. I am giving you the URL now, the URL is X. Are you looking at the URL? Is it working for you?” “Ah, yes, I see it now. I am looking at the URL. I see it. Oh, wait, what part am I looking for, now?”
You see? You see how rediculous it is? The ability to see others’ attention completely obviates the need for the entire above passage.
In Second Life, that doesn’t happen. You can see people’s heads turn. Granted, you can’t see people looking at web pages in Second Life, because there are no web pages in Second Life. (Though they do have documents in-game, that people pass around.) But, we can (in our imaginations) extend the world to include this sort of thing. So that when you’re looking at a document, people can see the document and the part you’re looking at in it. Perhaps it’s summoned in front of you, while you look for the particular part you’re showing to people, and then you can push it in front of view, when you’ve found the part.
No need to communicate that you’re searching, no need to communicate all this stuff, it’s just there.
Ahem. But I digress.
So the robot noted that I was listening, (because he could see that I was listening,) and asked if I was interested in learning to build. (I think they have some method of knowing that you are new.)
I eagerly said “YES!” …and spent the next 3 hours with him, learning how to build. It was a very interactive session. He would teach me a technique. Not just by telling me how to do it, but by showing me how to do it. By just doing it himself, right there, right in front of me.
He would stretch out his arm, summon a cube, size it, hollow it, rotate it, and do other things with it. Then I would follow along afterwards, doing the same thing. And I’d have a question, and I’d ask him, and he’d see exactly where I was at (because the whole environment is right in front of us,) and he’d immediately have the answer.
Actually, this isn’t totally true: He can’t see the user interface I’m using. This did lead to some confusion. There’s no way of sharing my screen with him. This is a problem that we can imagine solving though. It would be obscenely cool if there were a way to do the equivalent of a VNC with him, for the virtual environment. If I could give him permission to see my UI, and then watch over my shoulder as I worked in it- that would be incredibly cool. (And the same in the other direction.)
But, as far as IRC goes, this is light-years beyond.
It was so easy, so transparent, so automatic. I didn’t have to do anything to discover him, he didn’t have to do anything to observe that I was observing him, and when we watched each other work, it was just a basic integrated part of the system.
Let me tell you something: I am shocked at how casually collaboration happens on SecondLife. It’s just: “Oh, let’s see. What do I feel like doing? Let’s help a newbie learn how to build.”
The robot was giving me and this other guy lessons between working on his own project, his shoes. He finished it while I was working on building a cave.
Oh! And here’s another thing: Encouragement! I mean, encouragement and praise came immediately. He would say like: “Oh wow! That’s really cool,” and he would say, “You are developing very quickly.” He made me feel really proud about what he was doing.
Compare vis a vis the Free Software world.
I mean, there’s just nobody there.
Is there an applause when you commit to SVN? Yeah right! You’re lucky if somebody even notices a week later.
The atmosphere of collaboration at SecondLife is irresistable. There’s just so much energy. And people are always encouraging. People are saying, “Oh, I know this mentor, he’s so good, you’ve got to meet him, he’ll help you out.” Everywhere I was going, people were saying, “Oh, you want to build? Oh, I know just the place.”
And there are like: Catalogs. I don’t know what to call them. There are catalogs of groups and things and stuff. And there are people who are like: “We’ll build stuff for you for free! We love to build. You tell us what to build, and we’ll build it for you!” It’s just this incredibly active, energetic place.
It’s totally wild, and I think: “One day, programming Free Software is going to be like this.”
I think: “One day, we’re going to be making Wiki-freaking-pedia in here. We’re going to be writing the Free Curriculum in here. We’re going to be figuring stuff out, making things together, collaborating on texts, teaching each other things, drawing, making games, and just having an honest to goodness party in here.”
The Free Software world is a dead baren wasteland in comparison. And I think the Free Software / Free Culture world is one of the more lively worlds on the Internet.
One day, people will be observing people assembling code in mid-air. And they’re going to realize: I can do that.
A compiler will be a machine that you see in this world, and you’ll witness the person putting the arguments into the machine and turning the crank, and you’ll see the binary come out the other side.
I don’t know if it’ll literally be like this, but in effect, it will be at least something like this.
And new people of all types from all backgrounds will start making little programs, and those little programs will grow into bigger programs, and those bigger programs will one day be huge programs, and we’re going to have this beautiful, wonderful, creative world.
This is what I think. This is our future. This is our destiny. This is what we should be working towards. This is what we should, at the very least, be thinking about.
I strongly encourage all of you, if you can, to spend a day or two in Second Life. Just see it. Get a feel for it. Do the tutorial. Go see elf-land. Go see a disco. Go to a sandbox, and see what you can make. Do something that I didn’t do- it’ll be easy, since there’s so much vast space out there. I’m convinced you gotta see what this thing is. You just can’t say you’re into Internet public communication systems, and not see one of these incredible virtual worlds.
Note: I plan to be adding to this over the past few days so it might be small now, I’m going to be expanding it little by little as I have time.
I joined Second Life because of a friend of mine had been talking about it for a while and referrals give you L$1000 per person. I had been thinking about it since my friend has joined and I finally had all the prerequisites, credit card, fast enough machine, and so on. Only issue was that I run Linux and I had only heard the smallest amounts of luck running it under Wine. Linden Labs was running a 7-day free trial at the time so I decided to check it out and see if I could get it to run. Lucky for me, there was a patch against vanilla Wine in the forums that made it run perfectly under Linux and I was off and running.
You have to give them a credit card number. I know two people now, who have said that they won’t participate, because they are afraid. That’s really, honestly, sad to hear.
Because there’s no danger in doing this, and it’s a really cool place.
Once you download the client, register your credit card, pick your name, and authorize your password, you run it. And… you’re in.
Do the tutorial, it can take you anywhere from 15 minutes (if you’re impatient) to 6 hours (if you’re fascinated, like I was,) and then you’re in. You start at a teleport hub.
I recommend just looking around, seeing what people are doing, exploring a bit. I also recommend finding Elfland, because the music is good, the people are friendly, and the environment they’ve created is amazing. After that, go back to the teleport hub (“home”) and start reading some of the posters on the wall. They will point the way to awesomeness things. Or, talk with people. If you aren’t shy.
Soak it in for a couple days, and then reflect.
Ask yourself the question: “Okay. What would something like this be like, if it were made for developing software?”
Reread some of the things I’ve been writing here, and see if they make any more sense.
I was looking at second life earlier today. I guess I’ll have to try it.
Main reasons for not trying it out right away :
So, I may find a way, but not right this second. Though I am intensely interested in the subject. I do spend a lot of time working on my pet project, a “second-lifeish” game. 2D, open source, in python … I want collaboration to be a major component
Damn, I tried Second Life a few days back and stopped when I got to that huge registration screen and they wanted my credit card number and all that. Seeing your exitement, Lion, I’ll have to try again!
OK, now I’m connected Just borrowed my girlfriend’s laptop My in-game name is Emile Hauptmann … I’m checking it out, it looks neat, though it’s a bit slow :P
Emile: A graphics card, sound card, and connection of about, say, 512Kb/s, are essential. Without them, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense- it’s paralyzingly slow.
I tried it that way, first. The day I got a graphics card, I tried it out, and it was (A) a relief, and (B) awesome.
I would just wait until the day a computer with Windows and a graphics card passed my way; It shouldn’t be too long now, graphics cards have been standard issue for a while now on desktops.
But laptops don’t have them.
I’m real busy until after WikiSym but I’ll try it then, and before if I have time. Or you can show me there.
Hmm, I wasn’t thinking about it, but I suppose I could bring my desktop computer. No one else in the family uses it, and it holds no servers. (I’m not referring to Tao.)
I’ve been wondering about how second life would work if it was decentralized and open source: people can run their own server (open source or not), and the client is open-source.
One thing that would change would be that the intellectual property couldn’t work the same way: In second life, intellectual property is “hard coded” - you can create things, and decide how other people can use them, a bit like CreativeCommons, but, when you decide whether someone is allowed to copy or modify your creation, it’s enforced by the code.
But, in an open-source system, you could copy whatever you could see. And maybe the server wouldn’t be trusted.
What this means is that: - Either you have a wiki-like system, where giving up some of your rights is a condition to contributing, - Or you have to rely on exterior definitions of copyright, a bit like the internet works today. You have to tag things, and hope people will stay legal enough, etc.
If the main goal is to use it as a collaboration platform, it doesn’t matter as much. But if the goal is to have a real second world, with a community and a culture, then, being open source will mean things will work differently from second life; and it’s quite likely they’ll have more in common with Wiki culture.
Don’t you think it’s easy to resist this enormous temptation! I do not like to enter my CC Number. This is predisposed hierarchy at it’s best and the antithesis of wiki. It carries concentrated bad magic and second life can’t become but a mirror of this initial seed (compare it to what ward’s invention turned into). No. It’s a personal decision.
omidyar.net people including pierre and pam as well as tom munekke and sue braiden have spent a ton of time and money at second life - they even have an o/net group about second life - sue created a better world island there, as a way to work on real-world stuff - anyway, saw this post from Tom tonight and thought about OverHear and CommunityTiedToOneTechnology and all sort of other stuff. The content isn’t free so I won’t bring the quotes over. Just check it out and maybe it’s of interest to talk more about.
We tinged with thecrypto today http://slwriters.cust.nearlyfreespeech.net/wiki/index.php/Virtual_Reality_Architecture_Standard is about the developement in second life.
Since finally second life doesn’t need a credit card number anymore to even try it and I never sell my soul at the entrance door unless I really have to when getting a flight for example and as I had gotten me a graphics card already before which else didn’t serve me exept for a bit of “flight gear” but caused a time consuming installation ritual I learned a lot from I installed second life and wandered some country lanes, thinking. It’s surprisingly rich for paralanguage. I learned how to sit down. I did so on a chair in a sandbox, and “chatted”. Chat in second life is like irc only your words don’t disapear after hours but after 15 seconds. People sat down too. We chatted a bit. It is rich in paralanguage. It is not only 6 % of more information (computeable in your brain) that it would add to “sheer” collab-editor- and VoIP-tinging, it’s more, 12 % maybe, my feel, we should try it out. So: Gobby (on sheep’s new 0.3.x standalone server), teamspeak (push to talk configured) and second life. A nice ting-place, day-time, like under a big tree on a hill, that’d be the classical place from 3000 years ago. I’d like that. Sit, stand up, body language. We have to learn that. Didn’t explore how rich gestureing is yet. Emile, Lion, Thomas when and where do we meet in second life? Is Sunday 18:00 UTC ok? (ting-time)
I just had what a lamer sees in some hours, sry. But I have the impression al this building stuff is complete nonsense. What is a house good for? Even with a bath-room. You do not stink in second life. You so not sleep, you do not eat, You do not die. What is this all good for then? I can’t believe it!
One stupid meadow to meet on is enough.
Think it’s neat to have ting in SL. We will not be alone : some others are currently speaking of avatar based marketing in this platform. Is this a form of CommunityMarketing?… Hmm, the “decorum” should be reviewed…
Yesterday night, the atmosphere was cool and hot in the prairie. Just had some drinks with bimbos on a simple meadow :
For our tings, the air could be good for GeekHealth. How about dropping our SL handles on our hcard /claim-id /homepages ?
I’ve been spending time on second life going around with sheep. Fun, doubtlessly. I’m still doubtful if if does any magnetism worth to coming together and creating something valid in wikilandia or if it’s just detracting. We should try. Second life runs reliably but only in a 600 x 800 window and not fullscreen on my ubuntu dapper.
What I believe we want, I’ve been calling a “DevelopersVirtualWorld.”
Things that are hard to do in SecondLife:
Pretty much everything “text” is missing.
I suspect that we’d like to see a “text-verse,” or a “MassivelyMultiplayerOnlineTextEditingGame” (MMOTEG?).
… Something like that.
… and then, with picture, and music, and sound.
… and then, with zoom levels, and skew orientations.
… and then, with 3D avatars and environment, or something.
It’s too slow on my puny machines. Massive multiplayer text editing game? Sounds like a MUSH to me! As for who’s online, I liked Peekko Chat. Except that nobody except me and Mattis seem to be using it.
I’ve been investigating SL for a few months now. I am acquainted with some of the folks who administer Linden Labs and SL (their avatar last names are “Linden” if you ever run across them in the SL world). I am also acquainted with people who think about these things in general. One of my online friends writes for Terra Nova, a blog about massively multi-player onmine worlds (gmae or no game).
I also wrote a little blog item about SL-type environs and their possible usefulness: secondlife topic in SocialSynery Weblog
I have considering the idea of getting together with some other people to create buy an island in second life for the purposes of experimenting with different ideas, and for enterprise purposes (such as hosting virtual conferences,meetings, presentations, movies etc), and micro-enterprise ideas (such as 3D co-design, community virtual co-designing, etc). Also, I would want to use this same space to experiment with collaboration-oriented uses of virtual realms, such as the ones we are discussing here. I am also interested in ideas involving agent-based modelling in these 3d environs. People already have algorithmic scripts for simple flocking, for instance. And, as an experimental musician and recording artist, I am interested in virtual/live multimedia performance experimentation, experimenting with visuals and visual experiences combined with live music performance. So, if I can get enough people interested in these ideas, we’ll co-purchase an island under some type of cooperative agreement, yet we will likely open up the island space to the public to experience as well (although we may not allow them to modify it without some sort of trust-metrics, this would be open for discussion, of course).
I have a longtime friend who has been working on virtual world ideas similar to Second Life. His project is an open source virtual environment, called Interreality. I am also interested in trying these same experiments in with interreality at some point. In fact, I’d rather do these experiments in an interreality setting than within SL, except that Interreality simply does not have the same user base and ease of access as SL does (perhaps that is something that will or could change in the future).
Just a very quick response to Alex, though I want to reply to Sam too:
Massive multiplayer text editing game? Sounds like a MUSH to me!
Sort of, but not quite what I was imagining- I’ll continue on MassivelyMultiplayerOnlineTextEditingGame.
We’ve been giving second life a try on ting68. No remainig results, as handling second life is complicated enough if you’re all new to it - which we were. Running a collab-editor and VoIP along with it was too much for the first time. People gathering in second life atract others to take a look what’s going on - so we actually had a vistor joining us on our ting. Do topics for the tings make sense? How to create public text with clickable url’s in second life? Such were the topics.
Not that I’m entirely overwhelmed but I definitely think ting in second life should be explored more in depth. We’ll repeat it.
(click to enlarge)
Cool Mattis and Sam. May I poll you and all the cwistes here to set date and hour for a first “second life ting”. An experience for a BarCampBank? community seeding. I need to learn first the way to live in SecondLife and would be pleased to dive with some friends and guides. Lion, I’d be very happy if you could join us too ?
Reading your contributions to this VR-world, I feel with your emotions. It would be great to have something like that for the first life too. Before diving into it, I ask you. Is this only a spare-time world for consumer hobbyists, having to pay for land (if they are enough persuaded to do so) or is this a realworld-integrated environment, where real income for creative collaboration can be realized? Playing is nice, but I prefer the integration of play and work. What do you think about a OneAndOnlyOneLife?? – FridemarPache
Yes, it integrates play and work, for people who work there.
I don’t know that One & Only 1 Life is possible, since we’re alive in all these different contexts, and easily make more with our minds. Our relationships all have different objects (see SocialNetwork,) leading to different manifestations of our identity, and thus becoming “different lives.”
Incidentally, I just now, like 5 seconds ago, saw an e-mail in my inbox of someone (a ruby hacker) who read this page, and was asking if I would make them an avatar for the game. (They’re going to give a talk in the world, and wanted something that resembled themselves.) They were wondering how much this-world money I request, to make the avatar for them.
There it is.
This is both shocking and amazing: Second Life Blog: Embracing the Inevitable
They’re open sourcing the client.
And, we already know that they’re working incrementally on open sourcing the server. (Jabber for IM, Mono for scripting,) with the stated estimate that the whole thing will be open source around the end of the decade.
Not at all surprising, considering that Linden Labs is under incredible pressure, which will inevitably intensify. For example …
Earlier on this page you said that you had been paid in $us to create an avatar. Let’s extend this a bit …
There is a second life voice (beta), currently win and mac, no linux version yet.
It might be precious for the SlCamp.
Less days later than fingers on a hand: There is also a Linux version supporting voice.
Voice is push-to-talk, also configureable to toggle mode. Choose any key or the middle mouse button. Hear from the avatar or the camera position. When you approach a group of talking avatars it gets louder. A button to tell you whos’s close to your avatar having voice support exists too. You hear if a female avatar has a male user (unless he uses Helium). It is all to an almost frightening degree more realistic. Talking people can hurt you to the bone with one sentence, I mean. Buut: In combination with a CollaborativeEditor supplying a web-preview and exporting results to wiki-pages afterwards I guess we’re rather close to what it takes for some big fun global-collab. All the rest is - surely - “only” s o c i a l …
Currently the Linux version doesn’t recognize the sound devices on both of my boxes, what the heck. We should meet soon.
Thought some NintendoWii? fans might appreciate this: