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Zuckerberg Comes for the Metaverse


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There's a lot I could say on this topic but at this point, I think it's likely unstoppable. I do think that we of Second Life have learned an awful lot about virtual reality that we should be sharing -- actually urgently messaging -- to these big guys and their staffs because they act as if nothing came before them. As if we haven't been going to conferences titled "Whither the Metaverse" and "Virtual Worlds Winter" since like 2004. Really. I find articles like this fantasizing about what sort of things the FB Metaverse "should do" which in fact are already a fact of life in SL and easily accessible on YouTube if you can't log on. And the author ignores a  Twitter comment to him explaining this.

People scorn me for saying the Metaverse will include my hospital chart and already does (perhaps that's why those epic Epic programmers lost it like my SL inventory) or parking tickets or vaccinations.gov and not just fun things, but Zuckerberg's vision, if you want to call it that, is more about virtualizing everything as Facebook has already virtualized human relationships, especially of family and close friends. I think it's safe to say that while Second Life has been incredibly destructive at times to human relationships, it has also been tremendously enhancing -- people have found their lifetime partners in SL; they have found their true identities through virtuality; they have overcome disabilities; they have enriched their economies, their culture, their emotional life. And part of this miracle was accomplished because the Lindens did not monetarize the chat and the interactions in any way by scraping data and selling it to advertisers. If I sit on my virtual deck and wish I could have a vanilla ice cream cone, I don't see an ad for that on the roadside or in my chat in Second Life in the way I do after saying it in Messenger, where vanilla ice cream will follow me then for weeks on air, land, and sea.

Yet I don't harbour the venom for FB that so many do because I see it as highly valuable for staying in touch with my children and my close relatives who are all on there, some of them posting constantly, some not at all. Strangely, my very closest relatives and best friends in RL, many older than me, and I'm already 65, aren't on Facebook at all, or indeed, the Internet for the most part. They still send regular snail mail. So for me, Facebook, like Second Life in some ways, is always going to feel like a kind of shadow world, superficial mainly, because the real communication and communion just takes place in real meetings or on the telephone for the most part, although to some extent on Messenger and Facebook.

Facebook is hugely important for human rights and democracy movements in Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia -- it's like a free web site for people who can't pay developers; it's a free means of communication when Roskomnadzor and other state censors get in the way. I can follow the war in Ukraine because the Ukrainian military posts everything on their FB page much faster and with more pictures and maps than on their own web site which probably remains a bureaucratic funnel. I can read about what is happening to the Crimean Tatars in Russian-occupied Ukraine and gays in Chechnya can find refuge. I can see what is happening in Turkmenistan and Belarus where censorship is heavy and there is a massive movement for freedom. None of those people scorn FB or sit around having these esoteric discussions about privacy or data scraping or the ad model because it is their very lifeline. Belarus isn't on Zuck's radar (not after all that Russian investment!), who fastens on other movements now and then he imagines his invention helps and then forgets about them. He has a ton of very bad ideas which I've blogged about for years and I expect all of these will be engineered into whatever Metaverse Mall he makes, with the help of people like former Cory Linden who now works at FB helping him. Maybe Cory will make it less worse. 

If I had 30 minutes with Zuck, I would stress the following:

1. If you think governance on a flat Internet page was a challenge, wait until you see it in 3D. Plan accordingly. Do it right. Have tons of staff. Set policies arbitrated by real, skilled people as well as hard-fast rules electronically solved. Make sure there are good AR forms and appeals processes.

2. Give creators IP rights and ensure permissions stick on their creations. Don't expect to gouge 30% off them; take a lesson from the Lindens who have a very reasonable tax on the Marketplace of 10%, and don't take a tax from sales inworld, person to person. People discussing "the Metaverse" as some kind of programmed world they hope they will influence if not control tend to talk about the mechanics of it, engine this or that, FPS this or that. But the governance and the economy are more important for their to be success. Don't shirk them.

3. Let people have RL as well as pseudonymous identities while having accountability with a payment form.

4. Let people create parts of the world themselves but police it, and also have controlled areas where you build the content -- in short I think SL has a lot to teach any wannabee Metaverse wranglers as they have been in this business at least 18 years now and know more than anyone. And that means yes, more than IBM, more than Google, more than Microsoft as none of those companies ran virtual worlds. They did it. They should be recognized -- we should -- and have a say in it.

5. The Metaverse cannot be controlled by one company, but the standards for it can't be controlled by industry societies like IEEE, "the humming engineers" and other forms of techie authoritarianism. The non-tech input is vital and indeed, the failures of the Internet and of Second Life as an early virtual world could be avoided if developers took users as equals and built to their specifications rather than talking down to them and punishing them. The customer has to have a say and has to have equality and equity especially if their every gesture is going to be a marketing proposition.

6. There should be profit as well as non-profit and no aversion to commerce or illusions than the tycoons are the only ones who get to do non-profit. And there shouldn't be aversion to the government and military in liberal democracies, either. Google extremists getting the company's ear on in-house bulletin boards who don't want them to build AI for the US military ought to contemplate life under AI built by China and Russia.

7. A number of key, damaging, destructive features were built into -- nay, engineered and welded into -- the original 2D Internet. They are:

o failure to recognize that virtual has consequences, that yes, 4chan !@#$posters can go out and kill real people; it is not a unicorn realm and should exist under the rule of law;

o failure to protect privacy and integrity of the person;

o failure to welcome and plan for commerce and not expect everything to be "liberated" and "steal this book" and "steal like an artist". The Internet costs money. People need to live. The Metaverse must be a place where people can make their living normally, whether skilled or unskilled, and not exist as merely peasants at the Renaissance Faire while only elite creators and programmers earn a living;

o failure to protect national security, like individual security and a belief that governments exist only to be hacked and gutted -- not planning and discussing this means that Putin's Sovereign Metaverse, not just Mr. Lee's Hong Kong are brought into being with your help -- because they have the ability to deploy legions of programmers and budgets and lawlessness to make it work their way..

Tim Berners-Lee thought the best of humanity was "science" and "scientific collaboration" was the best form of activity and really the only one for the Internet,  and everything should be "free and open". He didn't predict or like the appearance of Amazon let alone Second Life. Let's not have him or others with these illusions like the late John Perry Barlow and the Electronic Frontier Foundation run things.

Many people including on this forum will object to Zuckerberg running the Metaverse because he runs a business based on data exploitation, or because of the commodification of privacy and communications, and just get stuck on their anti-capitalist gloriousness. The real danger of Zuck though is his belief that all of FB users were his for the bettering of the world according to his techno-libertarian ideology, as I pointed out in a blog post when I said "we are not 69 million of anything" -- back when there was only that many of us, 13 years ago. When a woman reporter from Business Week asked some hard questions of Zuck, who was the geeks' favourite back in the day, in a room full of techies, she spent the rest of her life fighting off their harassment and ridicule. She wanted to know the figure for the FB IPO. Basic stuff. This was considered a travesty. What a long time ago that was. Zuck used to appear at the same conferences Lindens went to and snicker about how Facebook was about "finding friends". As if it weren't really a dating service for him in his first iteration. He enthused about Middle Eastern youth having a channel to find out about "the rest of the world" (you mean girls? rock music?) on FB, and therefore cease from their terrorism. I'm not kidding. He said these things, which were stupid, racist, and wrong. Meanwhile, his lovely platform went on to become an engine for terrorists of left and right, at home and abroad.

 

 

 

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31 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

Meanwhile, his lovely platform went on to become an engine for terrorists of left and right, at home and abroad.

The reason that his platform got big was because it was backed some establishment that threw a great deal of money and resources at it. I remember watching it at the time and it was weird to see a startup get elevated that large that fast. But had a service that could bind together all these people and keep them generally unsated and coming back and (at first) put them under a microscope, but later, wire them into mechanisms and machines. I poked around with a fake account once. The games mostly seemed to take up time with no actual reward. You wound with quotes like this in the press:
 

Quote

if Farmville is laborious to play and aesthetically boring, why are so many people playing it? The answer is disarmingly simple: people are playing Farmville because people are playing Farmville.

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-cleverest-explanation-as-to-why-zynga-is-a-multi-billion-company-you-will-ever-read-2010-4


But it looked like they were given wheelbarrows of cash and mission to be creepy and it all went downhill from there. At first I figured, "Well, that's a good way to lose a lot money and get laughed at." They did spend a lot of money, but their investors got the return they wanted, didn't they? They established a new colonialism on the Internet.

facebookgraph-r7big.jpg

(From The Rise Of Facebook’s Valuation From 2004-2011 )

FACEBOOK%20MARK%20ZUCKERBERG_0.jpg?itok=

 

Edited by Chroma Starlight
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Most of this stuff goes way over my head, in the stratosphere in fact, but whatever the next big thing is in VR, it will need to be extraordinary to tempt me away from SL.

And don't ask me what extraordinary even looks like.

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I've been making somewhat similar points in the topic "The Metaverse and All That" for some time. More to raise awareness among SL users and LL staff.

Key points:

  • Four big companies, Facebook, Roblox, Epic, and Nvidia, each with billions of dollars and millions of users, have announced their intention to build "metaverses." All are hundreds or thousands of times bigger than Linden Lab and have track records of making large systems work.
  • There's also the NFT branch of "metaverses". That is, so far, a sideshow, but might go somewhere.

My main point has been that LL management no longer controls the pace of progress in this area. The relaxed pace of SL development may not be good enough any more. Linden Lab may be Left Behind.

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1 hour ago, animats said:

My main point has been that LL management no longer controls the pace of progress in this area.

Did they ever?

1 hour ago, animats said:

The relaxed pace of SL development may not be good enough any more.

Was it ever?

1 hour ago, animats said:

Linden Lab may be Left Behind.

They haven't been perpetually 10 years behind the standards ever since they introduced mesh?

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I really resented FB coming in and dominating the market when I liked MySpace so much better.  FB forced everyone's page to look the same where MySpace allowed everyone to be creative with HTML.  And that insistence on only real people being allowed was such a drag too. 

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2 minutes ago, Lucia Nightfire said:

Did they ever?

Was it ever?

They haven't been perpetually 10 years behind the standards ever since they introduced mesh?

LL is behind video game technology, but still ahead in virtual worlds. Because nobody big was doing virtual worlds.

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And the sky keeps falling and falling.

Of course SL will close its gates sooner or later, but it has a steady user base, with a ton of people who don't like changes too much, who partly invested a lot in their inventories and have dear friends and a lot of their love life going on in SL. They will not lightly go away over night.

But yes, one day SL will close. That is the nature of games and user platforms. But my guess is the future will be at least another 5 years.

And no, it is not easy to bring/keep SL up to par with all computer graphic possibilities. It is easier to start from scratch, but if you don't do it the right way (*cough Sansar *cough) it leads nowhere easily.

Companies like Facebook remove pictures if a nipple is showing, but virtual romance and sex are two of the essential motors that keep SL afloat.
The Barbie thing and the house dressing up are the easy parts for all these big companies to get a lead on SL, but the other two mentioned above are millstones around their necks, but they are essential for success IMHO.

Edited by Sid Nagy
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1 hour ago, Doris Johnsky said:

Zuck and FB can kiss my

Burro butt | serenadraws

There's a move in Netflix called The Social Dilemma that should checked out.  It talks about the sneaky ways FB uses to keep people on it's platform. I really hope the governments or something can get those big tech under control.

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This is big. This is a technological shift that will take you regardless of what your opinions are. This is exactly what Philip was thinking. Only now it’s Mark. Imagine everyone using Second Life and that is the inevitable future. We should be happy about it. 

Edited by Bree Giffen
Speling
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What ever happened to Facebook Horizon?  Not that I ever thought it'd be better than SL...I just like to check out new things.

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2 hours ago, animats said:

I've been making somewhat similar points in the topic "The Metaverse and All That" for some time. More to raise awareness among SL users and LL staff.

Key points:

  • Four big companies, Facebook, Roblox, Epic, and Nvidia, each with billions of dollars and millions of users, have announced their intention to build "metaverses." All are hundreds or thousands of times bigger than Linden Lab and have track records of making large systems work.
  • There's also the NFT branch of "metaverses". That is, so far, a sideshow, but might go somewhere.

My main point has been that LL management no longer controls the pace of progress in this area. The relaxed pace of SL development may not be good enough any more. Linden Lab may be Left Behind.

As I noted already, the other thread tends to focus more on TECHNICAL issues of engines, infrastructure, FPS, graphics, etc. It is not about governance and economy. Big companies are big. They can run circles around LL. But only LL has the vast and deep experience of governance and an economy. LL has created a village with rules and brought people to live in it, then created another more concentrated village and brought people to live in it. It's not a game and not connected easily to social media.

It doesn't matter if LL "can't control" what giant companies do in terms of engines and graphics. The polices and practices that they and we created in 18 years really matter and are replicable and scalable and they have a voice in this. They don't even have to struggle to be in all the right meetings and expensive tech conferences if they can get journalists -- and not merely tech journalists -- to cover these issues.

It's also not something that has a window that closes  necessarily, as 20 years from now, when these big countries are re-inventing the wheel of governance and economics LL already invented, they may be prepared to look at it, and SL itself will be advanced by then.

These big companies are more likely to replicate the bad experience of big game companies than little SL but that doesn't mean you can't point it out. That bad experience includes all sorts of things that LL sidestepped, to its credit, like "You can't criticize the company on the forums" or "you can look the other way when a climate of sexist bro culture dominates" etc. As Hamlet pointed out, LL has always denounced racism and early made a statement about BLM and against hatred of Asians; what other metaverse has a representation of BLM within it now? It's not the first thing they think of when they focus on frame rates.

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1 hour ago, Luna Bliss said:

What ever happened to Facebook Horizon?  Not that I ever thought it'd be better than SL...I just like to check out new things.

Probably failed.  Anything Zuck gets his hands on he want to monetize the bleep out of it. FB can't go poof fast enough.

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all I think I ever worry about is one of the big guys coming in, plopping billions onto the lap and going "here, we are buying you out"  and well,  that's all it will take and than we know what happens to the userbase,  scrambling for opensim and those grids, which might massively improve once forced to do so.

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The biggest challenge to SL now is relevance in a space it helped to define, and all the core fluff that SL enables could well end up inconsequential as massive tech companies get to redefine what's important.

We're MySapce, still excited about being able to make our pages look like angsty teen unicorn vomit, and laughing at all the other social websites that don't allow embed music.

We're Tumblr, one policy shift away from purging all the porn because it doesn't focus group well.

We're weeks away from becoming Plurk.. whatever the hell plurk was.

 

The only good thing about FB championing this is that a raising tide lifts all boats, only we're a little toot toot and they're bringing a Titanic.

We don't need a steady hand and more of the same, we've been coasting for far too long, we need vision, a roadmap and LL ramping up to meet that challenge. 

What worries me is we don't see any of that.

1 hour ago, bigmoe Whitfield said:

and than we know what happens to the userbase,  scrambling for opensim and those grids, which might massively improve once forced to do so.

Opensim shares our fate and falls at the first hurdle. Those grids need a shocking amount of investment in infrastructure and development and that wont happen nearly quick enough to keep us. I would be amazed after the dust settles and months of development work if 5% of the SL population make it though to an opensim life raft. There will be bigger groups of "SL Refugees" in FF XIV setting up home and playing potato dress up.

6 hours ago, Kimmi Zehetbauer said:

Probably failed.  Anything Zuck gets his hands on he want to monetize the bleep out of it. FB can't go poof fast enough.

Facebook is too big to fail and has enough momentum to reinvent itself a dozen times over. The only thing they have to fear is governments breaking them up.

Facebook are #33 on the Forbes Global 2000 for 2021. https://www.forbes.com/lists/global2000/#46e5dcbf5ac0

They aren't a competitor. They are a planet eating kaiju covered in decorative laser sharks.

We're an uncommon catfish with fancy hat and a monocle.

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4 hours ago, bigmoe Whitfield said:

all I think I ever worry about is one of the big guys coming in, plopping billions onto the lap and going "here, we are buying you out" 

This just will never happen. Second Life is not worth any form interest from big tech companies. Second Life's code, graphics engine, viewer and user assets are just to old and bad to even be worth using as a base for big tech to build a metaverse. Facebook, Epic or what have you will just start from scratch and Second Life will be starved out.

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Just now, Drayke Newall said:

This just will never happen. Second Life is not worth any form interest from big tech companies. Second Life's code, graphics engine, viewer and user assets are just to old and bad to even be worth using as a base for big tech to build a metaverse. Facebook, Epic or what have you will just start from scratch and Second Life will be starved out.

SL's value is in it's user base and theoretically tilly. The rest is what it is.

Buying SL to close SL and migrate it's users would be an entirely normal bizness numbers bizness decision.

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13 minutes ago, Coffee Pancake said:

SL's value is in it's user base and theoretically tilly. The rest is what it is.

Buying SL to close SL and migrate it's users would be an entirely normal bizness numbers bizness decision.

which I have been apart of with 2 games I was heavily invested in.   bought out, closed up,  one of them was brought back several years ago by the company that bought it, but it's not the same and they added that failure punkbuster to it.

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3 minutes ago, Coffee Pancake said:

SL's value is in it's user base and theoretically tilly. The rest is what it is.

Buying SL to close SL and migrate it's users would be an entirely normal bizness numbers bizness decision.

If some company builds a metaverse exactly like Second Life with inworld creation, endless regions that dont lag or have region crossings, a scripting engine that allows game quality building to take place, an economy that you can cash out to rl money etc and that works both with VR, non-VR, AR and is like ready player one, I am almost certain the majority of people in SL would jump ship, All without that big company needing to buy Second Life.

Sure you will have the sticklers that say "I have invested to much into this" but that wont be enough to keep SL afloat and would certainly be a reason why the new company wouldn't want to buy SL.

The very fact that almost all articles that talk about these companies wanting to create a metaverse (and the companies themselves- they talk about Roblox etc) and dont even mention Second Life should go to show that SL is on no body's radar at all.

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8 hours ago, Drayke Newall said:

This just will never happen. Second Life is not worth any form interest from big tech companies. Second Life's code, graphics engine, viewer and user assets are just to old and bad to even be worth using as a base for big tech to build a metaverse. Facebook, Epic or what have you will just start from scratch and Second Life will be starved out.

Question I have is whether Secondlife has patents that would prevent another company from creating a similar world or with at least some aspects of it. Looking at how worlds.com has been successfully patent trolling other Virtual world entity's including S/L, I would suspect that LL must have some leverage in that regard.

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1 hour ago, Arielle Popstar said:

Secondlife has patents

Linden Research holds 11 patents. The classic Philip Rosedale patent is

  8,612,196

 

 

System and method for distributed simulation in which different simulation servers simulate different regions of a simulation space

 

slregionpatent.thumb.png.65c3eada64f6faa1eb26b690ed53cd85.png

How SL works, in general terms. Expires early next year.

There are more recent patents, which mostly describe technology that never made it into SL. Recent patents have to do with tracking provenance of items, recognizing unauthorized copies.

Edited by animats
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