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November 20, 2006


Len Bullard

Until SecondLife or any chat community can prove or are willing to indemnify the security of the chat logs and server logs, you are taking an incredible risk.

Some of us have been in 3D meeting rooms for over a decade. It adds presence and that is a powerful spice, but otherwise, it is not an advance on communications over the Internet. The size of the subscriptions to a community is not the best indicator of its investment worthyness. It is the ability and sagacity of the company itself at predicting and preventing the problems that occur when server farms are used as communications dispatch centers: primarily, security of the communications.

This is the same old Internet: loose as a goose and fleecing the unsophisticated customers.

bob corrigan

Issues of entitlement management and security notwithstanding, this next wave of 3D applications needs to be more than glorified teleconferencing - it has to provide a context for true socialization and customization. This done, we'll feel as comfortable in our "second life" skin as we do in our "real" skin.

One of the challenges with this entire movement is our expectations are far, far ahead of our ability to deliver today; we want our online experiences to emulate the Black Sun in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and they don't. I hope some of the $100M investment coming out of InnovationJam will focus on how to create persistent, functional social settings that are as credible and consistent as they are virtual.


It might help if they start with the open standards that exist today instead of rewriting history to claim the IP while they are claiming to innovate.

Black Sun advocates drove the early VRML adoption. The Net wasn't up to it then and even broadband hasn't fixed the problems of latency given the very large files it takes to support it. Sound is still a problem. Movie textures are still a problem. Reliable MU is still a problem and the heavyness of XMLhttp only makes that quality go down even as it improves the interoperability of the messaging.

Take it a step at a time an you are much more likely to improve what is already out there today for free, for the grasping, for the code savvy. Otherwise, rent space in a proprietary server farm and wait for what you want to come along. Then claim to be a prophet for predicting what has been being worked on for decades now.

Neil Stephenson is a writer. You need technology. Try programming.

I hope some of the $100 million goes to improving X3D, the standard for 3D on the web. That way, the very expensive 3D content they produce to give you that persistent functional social setting will still be persisting and functional in ten years. Today I am working on a new version of a world I created ten years ago in VRML97. It still works in the latest release of several standards-compliant browsers. The proof is in the running code, not the text of a fantasy novel. The sooner the pundits enthralled by the latest 3D world on the web get that, the sooner you get the Black Sun (which BTW, as Blaxxun discovered, is a name you can't use for your world).

What will help enormously, and I say this with respect, is if you and Irving will become familiar with the existing running systems, standards and organizations before you seize the past and claim to be the experts in a market and a technology that you are simply experiencing but not building. Then perhaps some of that $100 million will go to good use to improve open standards so you can have your persistent social connections instead of trying to rewrite history to justify a fatter IP portfolio for IBM.

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