#1. Building Openlandia: The island arrives

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Several days ago I mentioned that I sold all my private land and took the money I got out of Second Life. One of the reasons I gave was that I was planning to get an island for IBM that we would dedicate to open source and standards. The island arrived tonight, and it is called Openlandia.

The island of Openlandia

In a non-hurried way, I hope to have my team use this for a number of projects, both internal and external. I have a lot to learn about sim management and this will include terraforming the land, setting textures, dividing up some parcels, and so forth. It should be fun, especially after my hassles with zoning issues near my old land.

I plan to blog about the various design and construction issues for the island as this all comes together. My current model is that part of the island will be reserved for internal use, probably the center, and then the outer portions will have both permanent and changing functions.

Before getting into all that, I did something fun and quick, and that was sticking a small pond right in the middle, hence the picture. The island is private right now, which means it doesn’t come up on searches or on maps.


5 Comments

  1. Nice tree and sky.

    But standards? I have to ask the tough questions.

    When a company with the size, reach and financial clout of IBM enters a market such as 3D on the web, how should it be regarded vis a vis standards activities? It invested in content but it doesn’t build 3D browsers or servers. In fact, it offers no 3D services at all. It as a company, is dabbling. Is that enough?

    Initially, some are enchanted by the thought of that much money being put into the effort, but where does it go? It is good to have them as a member but what do they contribute beyond the membership fees?

    Traditionally, the browser makers have had the most input to the standard itself. That made sense in terms of technical knowledge and experience. They understand the no-compromise qualification that is frame rate and the twin peaks of rendering and behavioral fidelity, how to achieve that while adding features, the trade off and so on.

    Then a well-heeled company with money to spend decides it wants to invest in the 3D market. It gives that task to some of its staff. Well-placed articles are bought or given out to position them as experts representing their companies. The company purchases services from a non-standard but popular platform. Does this provide sufficient experience to be accepted as an equal in the technical contributions or as another content-provider similar to how the authors are accepted in the W3DC?

    I understand the rules for participation in the W3DC because I helped write them. I don’t know how well they will work in a situation where everyone desires the investors but haven’t asked the hard questions about equity of contributions or the need for them to be appropriate to the goals of the existing standards.

    IBM has money. It will be gratefully accepted everywhere. What else does it have to contribute in terms of real world experience where it counts in a standard? Editors we have. 3D graphics experts we have. Existing standards we have.

    What are IBM’s goals for itself as a contributor to the 3D standards?

  2. IBM’s goals ? Same as ever. Selling hardware, selling services, providing solutions for IBM’s clients. Ideally in high-growth businesses, where high prices can be achieved.

    If that means developing hardware, developing standards, developing software, along the way, then that’s what is likely to get invested in.

    Trusted everywhere, I hope. Not necessarily welcomed everywhere. The salesmen compete fiercely but hopefully fairly.

  3. Len, to be clear, I talked about the need for standards for interoperability as we all as an industry further implement ideas for virtual worlds. I did not say “we don’t have the standards we need” and I also did not say anything whatsoever about what IBM plans to do in this space with any new standards, if anything. Right now, I very much think we are all in the experimental and early adopter phase. So we need to brainstorm, develop possible requirements, work out scenarios, and–from a standards perspective–figure out what we’re going to need.

  4. To respond to Chris: definitely welcome. And I’m speaking as an individual. I’ve experience with 3D standards, obviously, but I represent no one except myself in case that is misinterpreted.

    I’ve seen early statements from IBM about the lack of standards in this field. I’ve responded vigorously because that is a mis-perception. Where there are non-IBM statement such as existing standards fail to meet requirements, I vigorously request clarifications or cases because a) this is good feedback to existing standards and b) it is a meme that spreads fast and does damage to those who have worked very hard since the early 90s to provide those standards.

    Please understand that being an “early adopter” is a local perception for you, Bob and possibly IBM. There are plenty of veterans and companies who do have experience working with the technology, developing the code and other infrastructure and who have considerable experience with the standard editing as well as the requirements for 3D standards. We are NOT to 3D what SGML was to HTML or XML (too early and out of focus with new infrastructure). We have the existence proofs, the running code, existing content and so on. This is as true of the game makers. IBM gets this feedback from me because from the first announcements by W-B of his mission from Palimpsano, all that is discussed in the public articles is Second Life. The topic is bigger than Linden Labs and Second Life.

    So I want to get past that here where there is understanding and brainstorm with you.

    The tough part of this to accept for those of us with markup backgrounds is the inadequacy of markup for a complete standard. Markup is actually not that good for 3D and 3D is where a lot of my preconceived notions about the universality of markup were tested severely. Yes, it can be used with some costs, but the tradeoff is to get to the other toolkits available because of XML. The existence proofs for using the DOM, XMLHTTP etc., with for example, the Flux browser from Media Machines are there to look at, but the decision to use XML was a bitter pill because frankly, the original VRML97 curly syntax is better. That aside…

    Format is not enough. It’s true of any format, but with real-time 3D, particularly so. As Tony Parisi put it, the polarities of rendering and behavioral fidelity have to be managed and format is not enough. For that reason, X3D provides a true object model and profiles. The bottom most can’t be ignored requirement is frame rate. Without understanding that, both the infrastructure developer and the content author will load a scene with more features than can be rendered faithfully at the absolute minimum of 15 fps. Ideally, you want 24 or better, but you can get moreorless acceptable animation at 15.

    Another issue is where a standard needs to bifurcate. For X3D, profiles enable different applications of 3D to use different features of X3D. This is critical. Not all applications are ‘virtual worlds’ aka, “immersive”. Not all applications require server support (eg, sequencing systems for mapping that can run on the client, single user art applications such as VR Music, etc). So while virtual worlds fascinate us, a 3D web standard either supports all or one. Collada for example is targeted to interchange of models among tools. X3D can do all of those but within the constraints of a scene graph design.

    I stop here for now. I comment that it is good to think about features you want based on the experience with the SL platform, but this is a way to get a vision, not necessarily a place to start looking for or discussing true interoperability standards. That is a much tougher task and as I note elsewhere, similar to the problems of OMG.

  5. Amen. I could go on, but I take no issue with anything you said. Regarding “early adopters,” I was speaking about virtual worlds in particular and not 3D technology in general. Clearly there are a lot of very smart people who have already done superb work in this space, and have done it for a long time. I could go on, but I would just be repeating myself.

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