Who Am I?

Toney, Alabama, United States
Software Engineer, Systems Analyst, XML/X3D/VRML97 Designer, Consultant, Musician, Composer, Writer

Monday, August 27, 2007

Replies to Comments

I have a sudden rush of comments on this blog. I am answering them in a single post to cope with my own lack of time, but also because some of these questions can be compared better when colocated. It's 3AM here so please forgive the typing errors.

Reed Hedges has left a new comment on your post "Reconsidering Second Life":

"Thanks Len, insightful. We're hoping that we can address all or most of these concerns as Interreality/3D moves forward (http://www.interreality.org), especially the problem of doing "private business in public phone booths", and connecting to existing standards like X3D."

I support Interreality. That is one group with good plans and a laser-like focus. Go!!

ian has left a new comment on your post "Standards for Virtual Worlds: Only Money Matters":

"Interesting ... you say that

'the rise of the private worlds hosted on the business systems of a company is inevitable and always has been' ...

I wonder if you see this trend being extended to individuals as well?"

VRML worlds started as private worlds. Many of the worlds hosted in the Blaxxun systems were originally private worlds. The technical issues there are private hosting and the bandwidth required. The economic issues depend on how services are provided. One can if one has the knowledge host on a local server, but realistically, this would a job, for example, for the cable system providers or other sources of Internet hosting who can manage the worlds, VOIP, any persistent data sources and so forth. Given that most server farm providers for the VRML/X3D worlds currently offer private residences, some variation on that with contract guarantees for privacy could work. Right now, I don't see the demand but all Internet products start from that position.

The challenge here is skill. Not many people have the right mix of artistic and technical talent to build and host a world. Starter kits for this are necessary as well as hosting services.

Alex has left a new comment on your post "Cross Breeding XML: Take A Walk On The Wild Side":

"Len, good point - we need simple open XML markup that can be parsed into X3D/VRML - hacking away prototype like that just now - X3D blog micro-worlds."

Good luck, Alex. See Ian's question. I've also seen prototypes for worlds that consume RSS and Atom. So far, none have been compelling visually. 3D tends to be bad at consuming and presenting text. In the SL vs There competition, I read that the search services are a differentiator as well. Integration of formats in 3D worlds is a major area for innovation particularly in the GUI. One reason the VRML movement began to fall apart was the lack of really well integrated text systems. VRML is spectacularly bad at that and so are the new generation of 3D clients. For now, the mixed toolkits seem to be the best answer. The Cortona combinations do a good job there.

Jordi R Cardona has left a new comment on your post "Worlds of Worship":

"I would be very happy to be able to include churches of SOME religions (not all, some are very untolerant) in my future 3d community, but I hope not to face too many 3d trolls annoying them. Your idea seems good."

The trolls we shall have always, to paraphrase the Good Book. This comes down to community leadership and practices. The web is a troll kingdom and has been since it was Usenet.

Worship oriented worlds may have a positive impact on world building because instead of starting from a position of 'all come; do your own thing', they start from rituals and and acceptable practices. This is exactly the opposite of Second Life. When you join a church, you are expected to behave accordingly and if you don't, you are expected to be asked to leave and if you don't, you are shunned. Tolerance and intolerance within bounded communities are the definition of community. A problem of private worlds is exactly that this is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Terrorists use private websites to conduct training as well. Don't expect the usual authorities not to create means to monitor them.

Jordi R Cardona has left a new comment on your post "Reconsidering Second Life":

As a general thought about SL, I find 3 things of SL specially annoying:
1) Pretending they are a NEW solution.
2) Pretending they are the ONLY solution.
3) Trying to MONOPOLIZE the market.

1) The 3d chat communities are not new. From Traveller to Blaxxun, Active Worlds, etc. all they were before it, and they all succeed to some degree. SL has not invented a new thing.
2) There are many 3d chat communities working at this moment and all of them generate money for their owners. Not millions of dollars, but enough for them.
3) I hate those visions about companies that jump over the Web3d concept and try to eat all the others behaving like big fishes. They should tolerate the existence of others.

"And regarding point 3, I think SL is very centered on cybersex, which is the reason for many people and companies to leave it. So they may offer themselves as a 3d sex chat, which is their strong point. That way they won't harm the image of ALL the other 3d communities"

Yes. SL and the metaverse mafia have been less than honest, less than ethical, and not very bright though very persistent in their disinformation campaigns to sell their wares. Some at least put their real names on them, others use anonymity and treat the real world as if it were the game world. It would be pathetic but it is too much like the radical talk radio people who convinced a nation to go to war based on fear and hate mongering.

Watching large companies help that effort has been disturbing. I am losing respect for them as they are becoming more manipulative than their competition that they take so much time to dis in other forums.

The cybersex aspects don't bother me although you are right that smart companies should put some distance between themselves and this if for no other reason than this is not their business and these are not their customers most of the time.

Possibly the worst abuse of humanity this side of physical violence or depriving people of survival goods such as food, water, shelter, etc., is to use sex or control of sex as a means of obtaining power. From the scale of one on one relationships to the attempts by States to regulate private consensual behavior among adults (see Alabama's law forbidding the sale of sex toys: most embarassing), this is one of the twists in our societies that causes far more problems than those caused by people having autoerotic affairs with cartoons.

The topic of modern morals or the lack thereof is far bigger than we can discuss here. One might note as others have, cybersex is the safest sex on the planet. Someone will write back to tell me about the infidelity made easy and yes, for individual marriages, it is a problem. Those marriages have other problems and cybersex is a symptom. Frankly, I'd be more concerned about a generation that considers marriage disposable as evidenced by the term 'starter marriage' and the rise in office affairs among the office geishas trading on youth to obtain status for power. There is a very funny but very accurate Saturday Night Live skit on that topic. As I said, sex for power is a sickness and it is epidemic. At least in 3D space, that sickness is quite limited.

Thanks for the comments!


Jordi R Cardona said...

Thanks Len for such an honor of replying in a post.

Your answers are very accurate and inspiring.
I just want to add a comment about cybersex and SL.
I wouldn't like to appear as a conservationist. I think people can do with their time and their sexual organs what they like.
I only assert that in most communities that are not adult, those who seek cybersex are a pain, just trolls for us all.
I mean, in private places, it is their freedom, but in public places they use to be a pain.

If they all go to SL and join there all together, we all could build quiet and happy communities, where no girl or boy is annoyed by them.

And if the concept of 3d communities is not MANDATORY associated with cybersex for the fault of SL, it would be also sooo nice...

Len Bullard said...

The best run 3D sex site I know about, in fact the only one I've visited, is Jewel of Indra. I've written and recorded some songs for their radio station. It was great fun. Some of the best VRML worlds are there. The combination of enchanting 3D and good company is good fun. Nonetheless, I don't spend much time there mostly because I do other things with my time such as recording, working on 3D, other art etc. I'm a happily married Dad with two great kids and no ex-spouses. I worked out most of my curiosities and kinks in meatspace long before there was such a thing as cybersex. We just had porn and pretty girls. :-) The millennials have so much more and maybe that is why they bore me. In sex, marriage, or careers, staying power is everything.

That said, I agree. It is a good idea in nightclub management to prune clientele. It is a bad idea to mix the jazz crowd with the country crowd, or the smokers and snorters with the hard core alcoholics. It simply doesn't work and the club goes broke. Similarly, I think that worlds created for people to get nakkie together and talk some stuff need to be in their own worlds and not hanging with the kids (definitely) or the non-stuff types. It comes down to the management. Good world managers like good club manages know how to sort at the velvet rope and a classy world needs a velvet rope. A bit more exclusivity improves the experience and often the bottom line as well.

The numbers are what they are. Sex is still a very powerful engine of the web and maybe that says something sad or terribly normal. I don't know which, but I knew it would happen. Life as a nightclub musician and a long habit of studying history and sociology taught me that.

There is a funny story of a conversation I had with a very important pioneer that begins my personal blog, Life Among the Mammals (http://lammamals.blogspot.com)

It is a true story and for me, it somewhat nails the divide between those of us who came to this medium from the street and those who came from the labs. We have a good time together and I love this gig.