Interview – the SLCN TV Team – Part 2

We finish up our Q&A with the effusive SLCN TV team with a discussion on SL competitors and what’s inspirational about SL. Part 1 of the interview can be found here

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Lowell: So what do you see as the biggest challenges for the SL platform in the coming 12 months?

Starr: Living up to the inflated expectation of the broader population as they realise what cool fun they are missing out on… and leap in without true commitment to it.

Wiz: The biggest challenge for Linden Labs is to stay focused on their mission. I believe they have done a remarkable job doing that already. In fact, I am stunned at how focused they have been despite what must be an enormous industry distraction.

Starr: And all the other scandals and crisis’ happening… they have become masters of the universe, and hey, that’s a busy job.

Lowell: What are your thoughts on potential competitors like Project Outback?

Wiz: The “secret” that makes Second Life work is the economy and the intellectual property model. Many people, like Project Outback, have the mistaken impression that “it’s about technology”, but it’s not. It’s about people and their possessions and their world. That is the challenge for any competitor, and Linden Labs won’t have too much to worry about until somebody undertands how to quickly escalate the creation of a vibrant virtual society.

Starr: Peer to peer is an exciting thing and if virtual worlds can run as smoothly as the full screen video for Joost, then a p2p system sounds great…. but I agree with Wiz, the challenge will be filling it with interesting people and things, because that is going to win over a better resolution suntan.

Lowell: But you’d agree that if a competitor manages to create a vibrant community whilst offering much larger concurrency per area that they’re likely to cause some concern for SL?

Wiz: True, technology supports such a society, and makes it possible. But, when you look at SL, it’s amazing the “trivial” features related to ownership, IP, permissions, that, if missing, would cause the economy to collapse. There are fundamental problems with “larger concurrency per area” that are not easy for anyone to solve. For example, no matter how much money and technology you throw at it, there is a limit to how many people you can throw into a phone booth. There are limits, based upon graphic complexity and “activity on your screen” to how many people you can actually manage in one space. I think the “limits per area”, while too low now, are not a “make or break” feature for competing with Linden Labs.

Lowell: True – but whether it’s SL or a competitor, being able to have more than 100 people in an area is likely to be an attractive proposition.

Wiz: I think the biggest “competitor” will come from those who have the vision to embrace the LL open source viewer, and create stunning and usable alternative grids. It’s a lot like the web. Embracing HTTP as a standard was essential. For virtual worlds we need a standard. and the LL open source viewer is light years ahead of any other attempt.

Lowell: Do you think that SL’s dominance now makes it likely to remain that way?

Wiz: Standards-based virtual worlds are the “holy grail” that will cause adoption to spread like lightning.

Lowell: And open source is much more likely to deliver that. Is SLCN set up to service other virtual worlds?

Wiz: Well, a STANDARD will deliver that. There is nothing even remotely close to a standard. There is the second life open source viewer in first place. Second place? Nobody. SLCN can provide virtual coverage of any virtual world. In fact, we sort of joke about the “Second Life Cable Network” name and figure that some day people will say …. “SLCN, what does that stand for?” and have no idea

Lowell: Have you done any non-SL virtual work to date?

Wiz: We don’t see any other virtual worlds as even marginally important right now.

Lowell: Why is that?

Wiz: No other virtual world allows content creation even close to what SL offers. Content creation is what CREATES people’s virtual identity, otherwise they are just “going to a virtual movie” and have no participation. People’s stories are derived from their participation. We will wait and see whether other environments accomplish that and will not hesitate to cover such worlds when they do. Sure there are “niche worlds” like World of Warcraft and we are considering whether WoW “events and news” may be potentially interesting, but that is, in my opinion (you may think me crazy) a small market.

Lowell: I think you MAY be crazy on it being a small market.

Wiz: WoW isn’t a small market…. the WoW market who ALSO will watch a virtual TV show is a small market.

Lowell: But I’d imagine the huge cohort of heavy users would jump at a virtual TV show on WoW – nothing to back that up of course.

Starr: Well there was that WoW clip on Youtube that got squillions of hits about the funeral massacre. Not wanting to contradict you Wiz! hehe

Wiz: %population-who-gets-curious-when-they-hear-the-words-second-life > %population-who-gets-curious-when-they-hear-worlds-of-warcraft …. quickest summary I can give

Starr: I think that a lot of SL users where users of the Sims online and other virtual worlds and they are looking for the next level of sophistication, which SL offers. People love the making, the selling and the interactions

Lowell: So linking to that – what events / areas in SL have excited you the most?

Texas: I’m inspired by some of the people we have met in SL. The patience and time they have shown us from day one have just blown me away. These people are creative with their imaginations, their time and their hearts.

Wiz: You’ll laugh when i say this, but somehow, SLCN has a “mind expanding” effect on people. I am very excited when I see that effect. For example…people who have been working hard to build “something they find important” in Second Life, they work, they amass friends, they blog about it, they love it. Then, they participate in an event where their “loved thing” is brodcast on SLCN, in-world maybe, to other sims, or archived so tht experience is “captured” so they can tell their story better with pictures. It opens their minds to new possiibilities, the world seems bigger. Suddenly what seemed SO hard seems easier because they can share the experience with others not in-world. The Best Practices educators were the best example of that, and I am inspired by every one of them.

Starr: I get inspired by seeing people jump up and perform when the camera on them, just like in real life. People have such avvie-empathy, they want to be up on the big screen as much as the next avvie. I do think media plays an important role in-world like it does “out” here.

Wiz: Absolutely. One analogy I make alot is that Second Life is like a “new country” being born. It needs a cable network to document what happens, to tell the story, to share it. It seems obvious to me.

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