Weaning Myself Off Facebook

Well, my iPhone tells me that my screen time has dropped significantly:

But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Facebook. I do. I miss the Virtual Reality group and all the Second Life groups, especially Second Life Friends, which was always good for a debate or a chuckle. And I know that there are certain acquaintances whom I will lose touch with. Hardly any of my former Facebook friends followed me over to the #facebook-friends channel I set up on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server.

But I remain steadfast in my decision to quit Facebook. The company has allowed some morally dodgy things to be done on its social network, and I refuse to continue to passively support Facebook by staying a part of it. I’m only one person, but if enough other people get similarly fed up and decide to leave, maybe the company will make more ethical decisions. But I doubt it.

Mark Zuckerberg and his team have been so focused on aggressive growth that they’ve blinded themselves to what a threat to society Facebook has become. No one company should have so much power. No company deserves so much power.

The only possible problem my decision may cause in future is if/when Facebook launches a new social VR platform which requires a Facebook account to access, like Facebook Spaces. It’s still theoretically possible that Facebook could launch a new product (or strike a partnership with an existing metaverse company). My worst nightmare would be Facebook buying up High Fidelity, VRChat or even Linden Lab.

One way to fight back against the Facebook juggernaut is to do what I have done: create my own personalized communities using tools like WordPress and Discord. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the over 2 billion people on Facebook. But it’s a start. I’d like to think that I am reclaiming a small part of my personal freedom.

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Editorial: My Social VR/Virtual World Predictions for 2019

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? Come join 170 avid users of various metaverse platforms, and discuss social VR and virtual world predictions for 2019! More details here


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Time to peer into that crystal ball and make some predictions!

First: Second Life is going to continue to coast along, baffling the mainstream news media and the general public with its vitality and longevity. It will continue to be a reliable cash cow for Linden Lab as they put a portion of that profit into building Sansar. And I also predict that the ability to change your first and last names in SL will prove very popular—and also very lucrative for Linden Lab! Remember, they’ve got seven years of pent-up demand for this feature. (I have a couple of avatars myself that I’d like to rename.)

Second: An unexpected but potentially ground-breaking development in OpenSim was the announcement of the release of a virtual reality OpenSim viewer to the open source community at the 2018 OpenSim Community Conference. There’s still lots of technical work left to do, but if they can successfully pull this off, it could mean a new era for OpenSim.

Third: I confidently predict that one or more blockchain-based virtual worlds are going to fold. Not Decentraland; there’s too much money tied up in that one to fail. But several cryptocurrency-based virtual worlds are starting to look like trainwrecks of epic proportions (and I’m looking at you, Staramaba Spaces/Materia.One). Somebody still needs to explain to me why people will want to pay to hang out with 3D-scanned replicas of Paris Hilton and Hulk Hogan. The business model makes absolutely no sense to me. Another one that I think is going to struggle in 2019 is Mark Space.

Fourth: I also predict that one or more adult/sex-oriented virtual worlds are going to fail (yes, I’m looking at you, Oasis). I’ve already gone into the reasons why even the best of them are going to find it hard to compete against the entrenched front-runner, Second Life.

Fifth: High Fidelity and Sansar will continue their friendly rivalry as both social VR platforms hold splashy events in the new year. (I’m really sorry I missed the recent preview of Queen Nefertari’s tomb in HiFi, but it looks as though there will be many other such opportunities in 2019.) And High Fidelity will continue to boast of new records in avatar capacity at well-attended events (it certainly helps that they’ve got those venture-capital dollars to spend, to offer monetary enticements for users to pile on for stress testing).

Sixth: the Oculus Quest VR headset will ignite the long-awaited boom in virtual reality that the analysts have been predicting for years. There; I’ve said it! And those social VR platforms which support Oculus Quest users will benefit.

Seventh: Linden Lab’s launch of Sansar on Steam will likely have only a modest impact on overall usage of the platform. I’m truly sorry to have to write this prediction, because I love Sansar, but we’ve got statistics we can check, and they are not looking terribly encouraging at the moment. And where is the “significant ad spend” that was promised at one of the in-world product meetups back in November? Now that they’ve pulled the trigger and launched on Steam, it’s time to promote the hell out of Sansar, using every means at Linden Lab’s disposal. Paying bounties to Twitch livestreamers is not enough.

And Facebook? If they thought 2018 was a bad year, I predict that we’re going to see even more scandals uncovered in 2019 by news organizations such as the New York Times. And more people (like me) will decide that they’ve had enough of being sold to other corporations and data-mined to within an inch of their lives, and jump ship. The public relations people at Facebook are going to face a lot of sleepless nights…

And, still on the same topic, we might yet see the launch of a new social VR platform backed by Facebook, after they decide to ditch the lamentable Facebook Spaces once and for all. Maybe it will be based on Oculus Rooms; maybe it will be something completely different. But despite my negative feelings about the social networking side of Facebook, they still have the hardware (Oculus), the money, and the reach to be a game-changer in social VR. (Just not with Facebook Spaces. At this point, they should just kill the project and start over. Any improvements will be like putting lipstick on a pig.)

Finally, I predict that the RyanSchultz.com blog will head off into new and rather unexpected directions (that is, if the past 12 months’ activity is any indication!). I never expected to cover blockchain-based virtual worlds, or Second Life freebies; they just kind of happened.  Expect more of the same in 2019, as various new topics catch my interest.

Zepeto: A Brief Introduction

I have Strawberry Singh to blame for this one! She wrote up a blogpost and posted a YouTube video about an avatar-based mobile social networking app called Zepeto:

Now, Zepeto reminds me a lot of another mobile app I had covered before on this blog, called Avakin Life, only it doesn’t seem to have as many features (for example, you can’t move your avatar around inside an environment). It takes a real-life self-portrait using your cellphone’s camera to create your default avatar, which you can then modify as you wish. Here’s what I came up with after only a few minutes of fiddling:

And here’s a couple of selfie poses:

Work that camera, gurl!!! Cute, but overall I found there’s not really a lot to do in Zepeto. Basically, you pose for photos alone or with your friends, and you chat… and that’s about it! If you find this sort of thing interesting, then you might want to check out Avakin Life first, since it lets you do a bit more.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Altamura Clodet Full-Body Female Mesh Avatar

As you might have noticed, I am taking a bit of break over the holidays from blogging, but I did want to mention yet another free full-body female mesh avatar from Altamura, called Clodet. You can pick up Clodet at three vendors located behind the Christmas tree at the Altamura store (just pay the vendor L$1 and it will be refunded):

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As with past freebies from Altamura, you cannot remove the head on this one, but with such a beautiful head, you might not mind so much! To my knowledge, Clodet is the first of the free mesh bodies from Altamura to have a blonde hairbase (which you can remove).

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Here’s an overall look at the avatar:

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This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head and Body: Altamura Clodet full-body mesh avatar (free)

Hair: Green Tea by Navy and Copper (free group gift; group is free to join)

Dress: Guapa holiday minidress by Altamura (free 12 Days of Christmas gift #3 under the Christmas tree at Altamura; the Altamura group costs L$25 to join during the holidays, 50% off the regular price of L$50)

Shoes: Jai pumps by Rowne (free gift at the Shop & Hop Christmas Mall; also a free group gift at the Rowne mainstore, along with many others; the Rowne group is free to join)

Body AO: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (free from the SL Marketplace)

Hands AO: included with the Altamura Clodet body

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: L$25 (the group join fee for Altamura)