I'm a glutton for punishment. I love reading the 435,233,324 comments posted on a Linden Lab blog entry, particularly the ones that invite fiery debate-- pick any-- and the tremendous range of opinions and expertise (or non-expertise) about any given technological change. Since there are far more non-techies than techies, it seemed appropriate to make an attempt to illustrate (in layman terms) how the world (and worlds) might look if Linden Lab released the software that makes sims exist, into the great wild internet.
Let's use a famous band to make this point: Green Day. You, the resident, are Green Day.
You live on a grid, with a lot of different people. A big, wide open land mass where you can see others, add them as buddies, look at their profiles, visit their stores-- the whole world we know it today.
The Grid as we know it today, is like mySpace. Built in functionality, the same basic tools for everyone, one-two click, add, buddy. Searches, forums-- it's all in the single world of mySpace. Green Day has some land on mySpace. It's http://www.myspace.com/greenday.
Green Day also has a grid of their own. It's disconnected from mySpace. This grid, what it connects to, and everything else about it, is built from the ground up. This land would be http://greenday.com
And GreenDay.com is the example I use for running your own sim on your own.
Green Day has to do quite a bit on their own, but their official website looks nothing like their mySpace page. It lacks the functionality that is built into mySpace (on mySpace, Green Day has over 5.5 million 'friends'). If Green Day wants to put a list of their friends, forums, link to other websites, they have absolute control to do so--- and are not limited by the structure of mySpace. In fact, I'm sure Green Day might have a little bit less than 5.5 million links to their friends. ;-) And some might say that the Green Day site looks far, far better than mySpace. In grid terms, a private sim might look better because there's a sim owner-- someone in control, and can zone and make all the rules in the world. The mainland? Your castle might have a pink casino next to it. Some love this. Others hate it.
SL Server, hypothetically speaking, would be like managing and controlling your own website. You run the show entirely and may have more work to do.
SL Grid, hypothetically speaking, would be like having your own "sort of"-website on mySpace. You run the show in a predefined space, in a world with others, and this may work for a good number of people.
The issue of trust and reputation of someone's own personal grid? I'll save that for another post.
Phone lines are open!