Fast Company: OpenSim as a Model for a Truly Decentralized Metaverse

The article was published on the Fast Company website on Jan. 5th, 2022 (image source)

Steven Melendez has written an interesting article for the business website Fast Company, about how OpenSimulator (OpenSim for short) could be viewed as a model as to how a truly distributed metaverse, not owned by a single company, would look.

Among the people Steven interviewed for this article are:

I would strongly urge you to click over and read the article in full, but here’s a quote:

One open question, assuming the metaverse proves popular, is whether the technology will be tightly controlled by a handful of companies operating their own incompatible systems—as social media apps and video games basically work today—or whether it will be possible to jump from one metaverse world to another, the way it’s possible to send email from one site to another or follow links across the Web today.

These questions aren’t new, and, to some extent, a vision of a decentralized metaverse already exists today through an open-source project called OpenSimulator, which has been around since 2007 and is still in active use. OpenSim, as fans call it, allows anyone with some technical knowledge to set up a server to host their own virtual world that they and others can connect to (or to pay one of multiple hosting companies to do it for them). The project was designed from the beginning to be compatible with the technologies behind Second Life, the virtual world created by Linden Lab that became an object of media fascination in the 2000s but never quite hit mainstream status…

“I did something that is unique to OpenSim that doesn’t exist in Second Life, which is sort of a federation architecture so you can teleport between virtual worlds,” says Cristina Lopes, who developed the technology —dubbed the hypergrid— and is a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, where she has taught some virtual classes using OpenSim. “You can hop around between worlds that are in different places and operated by different people.”

All of which goes to prove my point that companies building the newer metaverse platforms would be well advised to learn about both the successes and failures of Second Life, and its spin-off, OpenSim! A study of both will no doubt inform, illuminate and elucidate you, and you will find learn valuable lessons and perhaps even gain some inspiration for your own projects and products!

As well, I decided that I should finally create a new category on the blog, called OpenSim and Hypergrid, and go back and add it to the many blogposts I have written in the past 4-1/2 years about OpenSim and Hypergrid, to make them easier to find. Again, this will take me a bit of time, so please be patient… 😉

Thank you to Sitearm for the heads up!

UPDATED: GET FOUR FEMALE MESH HEADS FOR ONLY L$22! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: the FREE Sofie Bento, Bakes on Mesh-Compatible Mesh Head by Genesis Lab

Yes, yet another free female head! This time the generous store offering this group gift is Genesis Lab. Here’s what the image on the box looks like:

Just join the GenesisLab group (yes, it’s all one word) for free and check the group notices for the attachment:

Click to save the package to your inventory, then find a sandbox to unpack the box. Here’s a look at the contents of the box:

According to the notecard in the package:

Update 3.8.0 – Sofie head supports Omega and Baked On Mesh Project ( BOM ) functionality, added eyes with BOM support and separate texture application, 2 layers for each eye, fixed Omega texture blending settings, optimized scripting.

When using BOM, remove the alpha mask!

If you do not want to use BOM for the eyes, use the Split version of the eyes without BOM.

Here’s what the head looks like, with the Elvira skin in the fudge skin tone from 7 Deadly S[k]ins, paired with the dollarbie Classic mesh body from the Meshbody, using the eyebrow shaper and head/body shape included in the box, with zero adjustments to the sliders. Please note that no skin is included in the package, but this head will work with any regular Bakes on Mesh skin.

You will have to load the Genesis Baker button and click on it to enable Bakes on Mesh on the Sofie head. For some odd reason, the (separate) ears are not Bakes on Mesh, and you have to use the included HUD to tint those to match the rest of your body! Very odd.

After I spent a few minutes fiddling with the head and body sliders, and adding hair, shoes, and a dress, I am quite pleased with the result!

And as much as I hate to complain about a free gift, this is one of those Bento heads with a perpetually open mouth, no matter how you adjust the sliders, just so you know! Also, the animation HUD that comes with the Sofie head is very basic, with hard-to-read light-blue icons on a white background which make it hard to figure out the animation for each button! It would appear that if you click a few buttons, it randomly moves from one animation to the other:

This is just a quick blogpost to spread the word; for further information please read the posts from the Dreamer’s Virtual World and Fabulously Free in SL blogs. Apparently, Genesis Lab is also offering several free group gifts of skins and such at their in-world store location.

UPDATE Jan. 8th, 2022: If you teleport into the Genesis Lab store (SLURL), there are two female Bento mesh heads available for L$1 each, which I have reviewed previously on this blog, when they were first introduced:

No group is needed, just buy the bags indicated by the green arrows below:

There are also three free group gifts if you join the GenesisLab group for free: two skins, and a pot containing a multitude of cheerful, colourful flowers with a hold pose.

Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATE Jan. 9th, 2022: Dreamer tells me that Genesis Lab is offering yet another female mesh head for only L$20 to group members! So for a grand total of L$22 , you fan pick up no less than four female mesh heads at Genesis Lab, which is an insane bargain!

She tells me:

It’s near the body appliers. There are free ears on the shelf where the body appliers are.

So 4 heads, skins, ears and flowers 🌸

Here’s where the free ears are located; just buy the bag for L$0 (no group needed):

And the L$20 Eva head is just on the wall to the right of the skin appliers (you must be a member of the free GenesisLab group to get the discount; otherwise it’s L$2,000):

Here’s Dreamer’s blogpost. Thank you, Dreamer! I can highly recommend visiting her excellent blog as a part of your daily freebie fashionista scouting duties! 😉

Metsploitation: Companies Abusing and Misusing the Word “Metaverse” Will Render the Term Meaningless

When historians look back at the current metaverse mania (and you can bet they will!), they will note that Facebook’s October 2021 announcement that it was rebranding as Meta and repivoting to become a “metaverse” company as the point at which the silly season truly began.

As somebody who has been writing “news and views about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse” (as the tagline of the blog states) for almost five years now, I routinely roll my eyes as some of the abuses and misuses of the term metaverse I come across lately. For example, the CES 2022 press release for a cutting-edge contact lens regularly namedrops the term “Metaverse” (with a capital M) for a product that clearly currently doesn’t have anything to do with the metaverse—and is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future.

Everybody is suddenly jumping on the metaverse bandwagon (especially in the blockchain, crypto, and NFT space), and I fear that the many corporations breezily throwing the term about (and, in many cases, stretching, misusing, and abusing it) will eventually render the term meaningless.

A Jan. 3rd, 2022 CNN Business article written by Kerry Flynn featured an interview with Gideon Lichfield, the global editorial director of Wired:

The word “metaverse” is popping up everywhere. Facebook recently changed its name to Meta Platforms. Nike bought a virtual shoe company to help it expand to the metaverse. And other brands like Gucci and Ralph Lauren have been considering the future of fashion with digital personas.

With all the attention, it can be difficult for general news consumers to parse through what is a marketing gimmick versus what really matters. It requires journalists to approach the tech industry’s new favorite buzzword with an open mind and with nuance, something that the media hasn’t always been consistent with in years past, according to Gideon Lichfield, global editorial director of Wired.

“Every time the industry goes after a new name for something and tries to pivot, something new inevitably comes out of it. It’s just not clear yet what it will be,” Lichfield said. “I think one has to be really critical of this tendency and call out what is just marketing and hype, which is a large part of it, whilst remaining open-minded to the fact that something new does emerge.”

I recommend you go over and read the entire interview, which covers many topics in addition to the current metaverse craze.

I will leave the final word to Brian Heater, who wrote yesterday in a TechCrunch article about the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show:

This year, the halls of CES may have been fairly devoid of human life, but from the looks of things, one couldn’t walk a few feet without tripping over the metaverse. Just over two months after Facebook rebranded to Meta, a little metsploitation is to be expected at a show like CES, where companies are every bit as invested in a good hook as good product. In a show like this, it’s understandable — if you’re not a company like, say, Samsung or Hyundai, it’s difficult standing out. Of course, both of those giant brands never met a that they didn’t want to verse.

I’ll spare you the specifics on the smaller companies. This thread is a pretty well versed in the aforementioned meta. Frankly, I don’t want to blow up any startups for hoping they glean a little bit of that shine (though, if I’m being honest, “Goart Metaverse” is a phrase that is going to wedge itself into my psyche until my body releases the DMT into my brain in my final moments on Earth).

What I will say, for sure, is that if you didn’t know what a metaverse was prior to the start of CES, the show didn’t do a particularly good job clarifying — beyond the fact that it probably definitely includes some goofy looking Memojis and probably some VR equipment. And, actually, now that I’m typing that, I recognize that it’s probably as good a description of metaverse as any…

It must be a confusing time to be among the most bullish on the metaverse. Everyone from beauty brands to wearables. It’s at once hopeful to see such excitement around the concept, but also frustrating to witness what may be an emerging metaverse of shit. That is to say, will the metaverse lose all meaning before there’s a metaverse to metaverse in? Your metaverse is as good as mine (metaverse).

Be sure to check out all the pictures in Nima Zeighami’s Twitter thread mentioned in Brian’s article as a further support for my arguments here. And Brian’s portmanteau metsploitation is officially my favourite new word of the day!

P.S. Starting with this blogpost, I have given in to the inevitable, and created a new category on the blog, called Metaverse (General), as a sort of catch-all for posts which discuss the metaverse and don’t neatly fit into another category.

I will in due time go back and add this tag to my blogposts about the metaverse written in the past 4-1/2 years to make them easier to pull up, but (as you can imagine) this will take me some time.