The Telegram Discussion Groups for the Various Blockchain-Based VR Projects Have Been Endlessly Entertaining…

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There seems to be some sort of rule that blockchain-based virtual world projects must have a discussion group on Telegram Messenger. I am a member of the Telegram discussion servers for various blockchain-based VR platforms:

And the endless stream of discussion, argument, and sometimes outright vitriol has been quite entertaining at times. For example, one impatient wag posted this animated GIF to the VIBEHub channel:

There appear to be a lot of disgruntled VIBEHub investors and spectators, who are upset with the lack of communication from the company on product development.

And then you get the endless propositions from people who are peddling cryptocurrency and ICO promotion schemes:

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I’m glad that I don’t have to field all these requests …it’s overwhelming!

Then you get the flat-out spammers:

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If you’re interested in following the ongoing circus, you can find links to the Telegram servers from each of the companies’ official websites (there’s usually a link to all their social media near the top or bottom of the page, just look for the paper airplane symbol):

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Of course, you don’t have to subscribe to all these groups; you can just subscribe to my blog instead! I promise to keep you all up-to-date on the latest shenanigans in this area. I’ve just updated my blog to make it easier to subscribe.

If you’re not already a blog subscriber, just look for the FOLLOW RYANSCHULTZ.COM VIA EMAIL section on the left-hand side panel of my blog (right under the Search box), enter your email address, and press the black FOLLOW button. Then you will receive an email message every time I make a new blogpost to this blog. Easy as pie!

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A Crypto Journalist Critiques Mark Space

Cryptocurrency journalist and author Ian DeMartino has written an (unfortunately undated) detailed critique of the blockchain-based virtual world Mark Space on the AllCrypto.com website.

Mark Space 23 Jun 2018

Ian decided to do some investigation of Mark Space, and he answers a question I had had about the company’s previously-announced links to Land Rover and Jaguar:

I decided to investigate them with a critical eye, this is what I found.

I first noticed a Jaguar/Land Rover logo on their main page, claiming them as a partner. They also announced the partnership in a press release posted on Medium. I found this claim to be somewhat dubious because I couldn’t find a corresponding press release from Jaguar/Land Rover or its Russian division.

I contacted Jaguar/Land Rover’s corporate office and they told me they were not aware of any partnership with MARK.SPACE but got me into contact with their Russian division. The Russian department did say that they talked to MARK.SPACE but also confirmed that they have no such partnership.

The next day, the Jaguar/Land Rover logo was removed from MARK.SPACE’s site, though the Press Release remains unedited on Medium. I asked MARK.SPACE’s Editor and Community Manager Boris Baranov about this and he told me that they had discussions with Jaguar/Land Rover Russia and had a signed document. I am currently waiting for proof of that document to be emailed to me and will update this space if I receive it.

The second thing I wanted to look at was the concept of the project itself. MARK.SPACE foresees a future where people buy real estate in virtual reality, real estate that can only be purchased with their token.

In their vision, there will be different districts, like residential and business, and users and businesses would customize their spaces to entice virtual shoppers to their virtual stores. Customers will walk around mall-like virtual environments and purchase goods using the MARK.SPACE token, all inside the virtual space.

I have quite a few issues with this plan. First, virtual space, by its definition, should be limited only by the cost of storage. Artificially limiting it through a blockchain seems like a solution with no problem.

Ian goes on, as I had blogged about back in February, about what Mark Space calls “VR”:

In the creation section of the demo, you can pick from a few preset apartments and add flat pictures and add various objects. The problem is that there is no 3D space represented at all. You just place flat images on other flat images. If it doesn’t look natural, that’s fine. In fact, it rarely looks natural. They give you the option to “rotate” an object, but currently that just flips the image. Likewise, pulling the object closer to you simply makes the image larger, with no scaling or definition.

The entire article is well worth a read. Ian wraps up his critique by saying:

Having some dubious connection to the blockchain doesn’t change anything. I’m obviously a big believer in blockchain technology, but it isn’t just something you can slap onto any emergent technology and expect it to make everything better. There must be a use for it that other services can’t provide. Adding another layer of payment by artificially limiting virtual real estate isn’t fixing a problem, it’s creating one.

VR is cool, Blockchains are interesting. That doesn’t mean investors should throw their money at anyone who says those industry buzzwords. The MARK.SPACE demo is really bad VR and the MARK.SPACE token is a really [bad] crypto.

Stay away at all costs, or at least until they come out with a product that actually has some potential.

Mark Space Apartment Decoration Contest Winners

Well, I still don’t get the attraction of Mark Space, but for what it’s worth, here are the contest winners of their recent Apartment Decoration contest (this is a YouTube video made by one of the contest judges):

Best Design

Check them out and decide for yourself whether Mark Space is worth the millions of dollars that cryptocurrency investors have poured into it (all the apartment links above should open in your web browser). As I said, I just don’t get the appeal here. Maybe I’m missing something… but this is NOT “virtual reality”, as they keep calling it!

A Weird Promotional Video for Mark Space

Mark Space is lauded in a very strange video by a YouTube user channel called BuzzStyle, promoting the company’s apartment decoration contest. Jaguar and Land Rover are among the many companies name-dropped in this video as having “cooperation agreements” with Mark Space (whatever that means).

In this promotional video, read from what appears to be a press release by a creepy computerized British male voice, Mark Space is referred to as “VR startup”. As I already noted in a previous blogpost, arranging flat images of furniture within 360-degree photographs is NOT virtual reality! Visit my apartment in Mark Space and see for yourself. That’s all there is to see right now, just 360-degree photographs. No actual 3D spaces.

Why people are investing in this virtual world start-up is a mystery to me. Again, as with Decentraland, it seems to come down to people jumping aboard when they hear the magic word “blockchain”. They’ve already raised a fair bit of cryptocurrency, according to this screen capture from their website:

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According to this page from their website, Mark Space has already raised over 8 million dollars (US):

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And, unlike Decentraland, Mark Space actually has places you can visit now. But what they are currently offering is not terribly appealing. I don’t get it. I really don’t see what the attraction is here, why people are investing millions of dollars. Compared to what virtual worlds like Sansar, High Fidelity and even 14-year-old Second Life has to offer, this is a product of questionable utility. How are the trendy boutiques in the Mark Space demo any better than a fully-featured website using Shopify?

Mark Space is another blockchain-based virtual world to watch, from the sidelines, as it evolves over time. I wish them well, but like Decentraland, I predict a bumpy road ahead.

Decorating Your Mark.Space Apartment

Mark.Space is a Russian company which bills itself, according to its white paper, “an open source platform for the creation of 3D- and VR- compatible online spaces (sites) and objects, powered by Blockchain”. Like Decentraland, another blockchain-based virtual world, they are issuing a cryptocurrency in an initial coin offering (ICO) called the MRK.

You can actually go and visit a browser-based demo of Mark.Space at this address:  https://demo.mark.space/, where you can point and click your way through a simulated shopping mall, among other places. There’s not much to see or do, yet. You use your arrow keys or click the mouse to move around, left-clicking and dragging the mouse to rotate your view. You do get an annoying white screen as the scene redraws every time you click your mouse to move around. It’s all 360-degree photographs.

On their Telegram chat, which I recently joined, they announced that they were having a Best Apartment contest, where they were giving out prizes to the people who had done the best job of decorating their free apartments, and sharing the resulting pictures on social media. So I thought I would give it a try.

Here’s what “decorating your apartment” actually consists of:

  1. Choosing a 360-degree photo which represents your empty apartment (walls, windows, floor and ceiling). Not a real three-dimensional space.
  2. Dropping and dragging flat images of furniture around your apartment. Yes, that’s right, there are no actual three-dimensional objects, just pictures. The menu does let you “rotate” them, which essentially means flipping the image from left to right.

Here, I shot a one-minute video of me decorating my Mark.Space apartment, so you can see for yourself:

Rather an underwhelming experience. I think I’ll check back in six months to see if anything has progressed since then. If you’re interested, you can visit my apartment in your web browser.

The Sansar Newsblog Has Changed Its Name to RyanSchultz.com

The SansarNewsblogis now

I have decided that I’m not going to wait for Linden Lab to issue brand guidelines for Sansar. I am rebranding the Sansar Newsblog under my own name. (I’ve held the domain name for well over a decade, and this is the perfect place to finally use it!)

All of the old blogposts are still searchable and accessible, and almost all the Sansar-related blogposts have been tagged with the tag “Sansar” to make them easier to find. All the old URLs should still work as before.

Along with the new name comes a new focus. I will no longer be focusing near-exclusively on Sansar in this blog. Instead, I will be expanding my coverage to provide “News and Views on Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse”, as my new blog tagline now states. Platforms covered will include, but not be limited to:

Note that I do not plan to write much about Second Life and its many Opensim-based spin-offs; there are already over a thousand avid bloggers who do an excellent job of that! I plan to focus on the newer platforms, especially those that support virtual reality.

I will be closing the Facebook and Google+ groups I created for the Sansar Newsblog, and creating new groups for this rebranded blog.