Monday, October 10, 2005

First thoughts on the SLCC

Yesterday’s Second Life convention (which I approached with some trepidation) turned out to be quite enjoyable. There were enough familiar names from in-world and the forums to prevent me from feeling entirely lost at sea and the overall energy was good. A few take-away thoughts…

Cory’s Talk
Cory gave the most enjoyable speech, even for a non-engineer like me. He spoke about scalability needing three things: 1. the better SIM resource allocation we shall see in 1.7; 2. HAVOC 2 (still no ETA, and he dared anybody to say that this was more painful for them than it was for him); and 3. Mono and the accompanying increase in script execution speed. He also spoke about some other enhancements
  • Robin’s focus: group tools and a new reputation system (he stated, and I agree, that DRM does not work and social / reputational pressure may be the only effective protection for creators),
  • the new rendering engine (which he believes will transform how people view SL when their view horizon becomes so much bigger and they realize they are really part of a huge world)
  • enhancements in the use of 3D technology, such as vertex and pixel shaders

Philip gave a fun pep-talk, even if it was a little light on substance. But then, he gets to be the “big picture” man. Both he and Cory talked about open-sourcing parts of SL, and enabling people to host their own sims. They did not detail out this future business/pricing model, but hinted that they have something in mind. Naturally they all loved Jerry Paffendorf’s (Acceleration Studies Foundation) J-curve growth chart (1 million users by 2007). Of course, every venture capital pitch in Silicon Valley shows a J-curve, and few actually achieve it. Can SL?

2007 feels aggressive, but it may be possible if both sides of the boat pull their oars. LL needs to solve technical problems, and users need to create truly great content. If there is one thing that Prokofy and I agree on, it’s the desperate need for better group/collaboration tools. Prok (who I enjoyed speaking with yesterday, even if we go toe to toe on a number of issues) has some excellent land management reasons. For my side, I look around the world and largely see solo productions. Bigger, cross-skill (building, texturing, coding) projects require teams, and teams need to be more than groups of trusted friends like Bedazzle (why? well that model simply won't scale). Residents will also need to create team projects/businesses if they have any chance of competing against the inevitable inroads of RL corporations, who can sell a product at a loss simply to gain the branding benefits.

Jeska spoke for a few minutes on the volunteer program, and how it needs to expand as SL grows. I am skeptical that this will scale adequately if SL starts to grow exponentially. I think Robin and Jeska still need to put more effort into getting “how-to” tools and exercises in the hands of new players. The wiki and the forums are not enough because few new players know about those resources. LL needs to build self-education tools into the client.

That’s all the time I have for immediate comment… more later.


  1. Thanx for your sharing your experiences from the SLCC, For! I look For-ward (hehe) to seeing future installments. I once had a crazy dream that Philip, Robin, and Cory were like "the three bears". Papa, Mama, and Baby! And when Havok 2 was finished, Cory said it was "Juuust right".

    I don't hate to say this and the harsh reality is that people who don't help themselves help others are going to suffer. This is where the real shining light of SL as a community beams in. With more and more Resis scaling to volunteers, people who come into Live Help or on the SL Forums who aren't good at asking for what they need help with or aren't terribly articulate in chat will not get responses as effectively as someone who lays things out and clearly says, "Okeydoke, I know so-and-so, but I also want to learn this, and that". Even moreso than today, since it's like:

    "HELLO LIVE HELPER! You have 10 people IMing for help and you've got 15 minutes. Half of them are rude, three of them want you to do all the work, one is confused but seems to be on the right track, and the last one has a really driven self-initiative. MAKE YOUR CHOICES NOW!"

    And so, the gameshow sounds begin . . .


    I mean, what's ultimately rewarding? Who wants a poor pupil? I remember slackin' off in my piano lessons, and my old teach, Dr. Dale Reubart, he was a fiery man (used to be a boxer and in the military and all that jazz). He was very honest about how lazy I was, and that woke me up. Keeping this in mind, some are gonna clamor, "But SL is supposed to be fun!" but aye, like edutation would lead us to believe since the advent of the CD-ROM, it CAN be fun. A healthy, positive attitude, infectious enthusiasm despite the adversity, and always wanting to grow and better yourself—optimally so you can help better others!—are all powerful punches.

    Such is human nature, and the lateral magic of having even GREAT "How-To" tools is they will be a fascinating psychology test of sorts depending on whether a Resi proverbially learns to fish for himheritselves or whether they'll be dependent. It also feels very rewarding to learn little things: after stumbling through the build tools, I was amazed at how I could texture sides of a cube individually! :)

    Another thing is that: self-defeating attitudes in some will weed them out. I've come across some peeps who I've encouraged to post on the SL Forums, and not only is it not their thing (which is alright), they go one step below that and proclaim things like "Internet forums suck!" or "I never get replies!" but the results aren't gonna change unless their attitudes do a 180. They are digging themselves into ditches. They are well aware of resources; they just aren't making good use of them. But those who will flower, will flourish!

    Help files under F1 need an overhaul. I'll say that bluntly. It's true. And why are they hypertext but no where else in SL really is? ;) If only we could even create notecards like that, but here comes again, on the road to Mozintegration. Patience! And more hands-on too stuff, LEARN BY DOING. Cubey Terra's DIY plane kit was as good as it gets for me at this stage, and I hope we get image thumbnails and maybe "inworld replays" of objects moving around so we can see, within SL itself and not via proxy like video, WHAT TO DO O GLORIOUS WHAT TO DO!

    I'll never forget community consists of groups of individuals. YOU made the "merry draft". (Hey, are there going to be new versions?)

    And curious—on a sideroad, there is an old billboard in Oak Grove showing Lisse Livingston and Toy LaFollette. It's been almost a year since that was erected.

  2. I think that volunteerism is great and will probably continue to grow. Live Help is a challenging job, as you pointed out. If SL continues to grow, I just think that LL and the volunteers won't be able to keep up. My mantra is, at least make it easier for those who can help themselves to do so.

    Yes, I have to finish v.2 of the building tutorial. I started it and have to stop being distracted :)

  3. addendums to post:
    1. forgot to mention that Cory said that HTML on a prim is almost ready

    2. other blog comments on SLCC are starting to come out. Maxx Monde's is here.