News of the Metaverse

Last update: October 10, 2018

Media to stop denigrating virtual worlds?

 

(Added on October 10, 2018)

 

New: To note an interesting article, commenting a report of the Goldman Sach bank (yes, them) which foresees a huge «market» of varied uses of virtual reality, where their unavoidable video games would be reduced to a third. The journalist comments heavily on the «end of the prejudices», that however only the media created.

3D glasses: we are not here yet

 

(Added on June 16, 2016)

 

There is some confusion in the media these days: the term «virtual reality» is used to mean «3D glasses» while this object seems strictly reserved for violent or black video games. The real virtual reality, the one created by the users, is again ignored.

In addition, when you see «3D glasses»... made of cardboard, we still clearly are in the disappointing bricolage. So, let us recall the serious specifications of these fantastic devices:

-Have a solid object, practical, pretty, integrating all the functions.

-Avoid weight at the front, and for this prefer mirrors to lenses.

-Have the optic of each eye adjustable separately (ideally by software, which would allow to remember the settings for each user).

-Have a field of view significantly wider than the standard computer screen, otherwise this device serves no purpose at all.

-Have headphones and a microphone (yes, there are some without !!)

-Have a position and motion sensing.

-Thoroughly match the virtual camera motion to the head motion, to avoid nausea.

-provide a «virtual keyboard» that one can wear. Or the real keyboard is visible in the video.

-provide a software interface to integrate the device into a browser for virtual worlds.

Clearly, none of the currently available devices meets all these criteria. Solutions can be made available quickly, though, with one exception: the computing power required for high definition vision can not be embedded in a helmet, and will not be for several years (2016). Therefore we remain dependent on a large PC.

 

Technically, the most promising design seems the Microsoft Hololens, which replaces the cumbersome screen and lens system with a single thin layer of optical waveguides. Calculator, sound system and position detection are included. However the field of vision is very small (17.5°x30°, just good for augmented reality captions), and the price at $3000, with no mention of definition or adaptation to different eyes. This however gives a good estimate of the remaining path: divide the price per 10 and increase the definition by 15. After today rate of Moores law, we still need... 14 years before having this on the shelves in the supermarket. Even with classical screens, lenses and the graphic calculator deported in a classical PC, we still need something like 3 to 4 years to wait.

 

So please be cautious before making premature announcements which will just disgust people.

OnLive BrightCanopy video viewer compatible with SL

 

(Added on Dec 21, 2014)

 

Onlive realizes the idea I already proposed as soon as 2009 to visualise our worlds: send a video stream instead of the elements of the scene. The advantages are that we do not need a big computer, and that we do not send copyrighted elements on the Internet. The inconveniences are that we need a connexion with more bandwidth, and of more powerful servers. OnLive addresses this second problem with a subscription. At last, Onlive is a service of Firestorm, one of the most used 3D viewers. Thus they are competent to offer a viewer which matches our needs.

See here the debate on the Inworldz forum

 

(Added on June 4, 2015)

Well, Onlive was discontinued... but BrightCanopy restarts the system at once!

Only law is able to curb immorality on the Internet.

 

(August 2014)

 

As I say since years on my blog, freedom of expression on the Internet has an ugly backside: stalking, extremism, crime, pornography, etc. are free to taunt us on our very screens. In virtual worlds and other closely linked «communities» which «question moral rules», it is still worse: everybody is mixed with these things, and the reputation of all the members is sullied by the evil minority. Indeed good and evil are like water and alcohol: you can put 90% water and 10% brandy in a bottle, it is still an alcoholic beverage. Hence the reputation of Internet forums, virtual worlds, etc. as infamous places, and even dangerous, especially for children. And this is also why mainstream society feels excluded from these places. Not to speak of the advanced social alternatives, actively rejected as I saw several times.

Unfortunately for the ideals of self-management, the only positive advances came by law. It happened for instance with Second Life, when German authorities threatened to block it, after the publication of virtual paedophiliac images shot in this world. Since, nearby all the virtual worlds forbid this kind of content. Same happened for casinos, which were forbidden in Second Life after the FBI pulled their ears. So it is clear that only law was efficient, while citizen's requests for moral limits were angrily dismissed and called «intolerance».

So the best position is clearly a non-duality between freedom of expression and morality. And anybody «not understanding» any of these three words clearly needs to close his mouth, find an useful manual job, and never again tinker with law or communities.

 

Inworldz news, new year 2013.

 

(Added on January 31, 2013)

 

Elenia Llewellyn, CEO of Inworldz (from her name Beth Reischl in the physical world), gave the directions for the development of Inworldz in 2013. She announced the end of the deployment of physics, the release of meshes for the first quarter, and the start of Inworldz marketing. Especially the meshes are the last point where Inworldz is really behind Second Life, but they are already running in the test grid.

However this text contains a very original announcement: a partnership with DeMolay International, a para-masonic organization which purpose is to educate young people aged 12 to 22. Inworldz would provide the technology, in the form of a turnkey private world, while DeMolay deals with young people in a virtual experience inspired by the Templar Knights. I find that this news is very interesting in many respects. First it is a recognition of the seriousness of Inworldz. But above all, it is an interesting solution to the problem of the access of minors to virtual worlds. Despite the obvious educative and human interest of the virtual experience for young people, Inworldz cannot grant access to minors, because of too much legal liabilities. The proposed solution is that DeMolay does the admission and supervision of the youngsters into their private world, while Inworldz ensures the technical functioning of this world. So the minors can finally have a free and interesting virtual experience, in a world that they control, with all the necessary guidance and protections («offer to the youngsters a safe, supervised world that they control»)

 

Microsoft filed a patent on teledildonics!

 

(Added on Dec 31, 2012)

 

Microsoft filed a patent on devices which would allow «remote cuddles» through force feedback. This patent poses a serious threat on this type of application, from the simple childish hug to the sexual uses. We can indeed fear that Microsoft uses its monopoly to impose its bad quality products in this domain. We can imagine a hug to a kid, which suddenly turns into a slap... «Waaaaaaa!» Mommyyy there was a bug!». Well yes, force feedback is dangerous, it is only for serious software professionals.

However this patent is not valid for several reasons:

-These uses are known since many years, and amateur prototypes also work for many years. This is even proved by the word «teledildonics» (literally: dildos remote controlled over the Internet. Or the vibration of a strategically placed cell phone!) (Here a page of a well known computer media, dated from early 2012).

-It is not a novelty, but uses of force feedback technologies known since many years.

-Only a technical process is patentable, not the use which is made of devices resulting therefrom.

-The Microsoft patent encroaches on the GNU license for this site, which also describes the use of force feedback for game purposes, professional, social or sexual interactions.

 

Proof of anteriority:

00047530

 

Facebook funded by the banks

 

(Added on May 29, 2012)

 

Very expectably, the facebook stock collapsed as soon as the second day, despite the massive support of the banks, such as Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs (which are also involved into various scandals, like the subprime mortgage affair in 2008). In the instance, Morgan Stanley injected two billions dollars into facebook...

It is then blatant that the great capitalism funds a site like facebook, which threatens the freedom and integrity of Internet, while the free and interoperable project that I defend on this site did not received a single cent.

(Added June 6, 2012) To get an idea, a 50 persons team could ensure the basic developement of the WEM-Kailye project, for three millions dollars a year (This is about the size of the monthly «unexplained expenses» of Second Life). A foundation with 75 to 100 millions dollars would ensure the financial autonomy of the project (20 times less than the money wasted in facebook). It is then clear that this difference of attitude comes from, at best, the ignorance of the needs of the Internet.

 

Where we are in the beginning of 2012

 

(Added on Feb 08, 2012)

 

The birth of the hypergrid (To teleport oneself from a world host to another, as we do for 2D sites) raises the hope of having soon an union of all the miscellaneous initiatives which try to compensate for the degeneracy of Second Life.

However, this idyllic view hides a serious issue: the hypergrid has gaping security breaches, especially about identities and intellectual property rights. For insensitive geeks opposed to intellectual property, this is not a problem. However the gross result is that artists are absent of the hypergrid! So, no mean to build idyllic landscapes here... not either to run administrations or companies.

This makes that worlds concerned by the safety and rights of their users, such as Inworldz or SpotOn3D, have no intent to connect to the hypergrid, as long as this problem is not solved... which may never happen, given the ideological opposition to Intellectual property of the Open Sims people. Not to ease things, the closed architecture inherited of Second Life much complicates the technique...

So, my WEM-kailye proposal remains entirely up to date. However, the more we wait to implement it, the less the benefit will be, compared to the existing solutions. If it was started when I proposed it two years ago, it would be ready now.

 

«Poste Identic»:
French post office tests
Internet identity registration

 

(Added on Mai 29, 2011)

 

The French post office «La poste» starts to experiment a service allowing everybody to identify himself on any site being part of this system. Identity checking is based on bank account and a registered letter.

So the ideas expressed on this site are starting to concretize. (There is however no telepathy in there, only necessary ideas).

For this to work, we however need some contitions to be fulfiled, in more of the obvious security constrains:

-Interoperability (if we need 500 buttons on each site, it will not work)

-Possibility of associating some personnal data: profil, images, virtual body, virtual objects...

-The said data remains the property of their owner. For this, it must remain available while changing provider, or in case of a bankrupcy.

-Possibility of creating anonymized identities (pseudonyms), the real identity being accessible only on cour order.

These conditions will allow to transform the whole Internet into a gigantic Facebook, Twitter and Second Life in the same time, but self managed site per site, sim per sim! In more we get completely free of any advert stalking, without having to submit to the whims of autist geeks or new riches who look like falling from another planet.

 

The dismembering of Second Life continues...

The Noember 21, 2010:

We saw under a brief analysis showing that there is a huge financial drain in Linden Lab. A likely explanation would be that some of the «Investors» who more or less took control over Linden Lab, would be in facts financial predators, pressuring the «start-up» with taking huge benefits, and dropping them when they are bankrupt. Thus Linden Lab is engaged into a path of «simplification» and short term «profitability», at the expense of the indispensable improvements and long term investments, while Second Life is stagnating and its users are fleeing it.

The last blow to date, the suppression of the discount for the charities and universities, chased those who tomorrow will create the commercial and professional uses of virtual worlds, and a new tumbrel of social groups. For instance the «Fantasy Continent» lost the charming Sidhevairs, while one of my friends completing a thesis on education will not continue this activity into Second Life.

 

...while the alternatives are becoming viable!

The Noember 21, 2010:

However, with the difference of the ousting of the Open Lands two years ago, these people now know where to go: in only some weeks, the main groups of the «Fantasy continent» and the «sims» of the Sidhevairs, were recreated into Inworldz!

Inworldz seems the main contender into the competition for the succession of Second Life, even in front of the powerful Open Sims. The reasons would be the ease of access, and a team in close contact with the customers. However numerous problems are still to be solved, such as the access of minors and the re-hauling of the rotten software inherited of Second Life. Then we shall need to go ahead, with the meshes, federated identities, the legal re-appropriation of the inventories, scene hierarchy trees in URLs, etc. The three founders of Inworldz are for now committed into the stabilisation of the software, and this looks wise.

 

Open source and safety:
the Emerald disaster in Second Life.

The September 5, 2010:

Emerald, the most popular viewer in Second Life, was found to be used for a DDOS attack against another site (iframe tags in the logging page). In the resulting disputes, Linden Lab removed Emerald of the allowed list, and the Emerald team disbanded.

Good move from Linden Lab, you might think... However the facts are that the Emerald team was entirely anonymous (known only with Second Life nicknames), while the Emerald site, modularsystems.sl, was registered ANONYMOUSLY in Sierra Leone! So, at second thought, the fault falls on Linden Lab, who allowed this thing as a safe viewer!

 

This again makes clear that safety on Internet is still to be built, and people have yet to be honest and serious, and accept the necessary concessions on open sourcing and anonymity. We may use Internet for roleplay, but Internet itself is not a game.

 

The WEM system proposed here is a non-dual view encompassing both freedom and safety. It allows for a large freedom of design for the interface, while being closed and protected on safety features.

 

The battle for the 3D protocols has begun.

The June 29, 2010:

A new initiative, Onlive, proposes a small Metaverse allowing access to several games (but only dark and violence, no social places as in Second Life). For this they want a video streaming in the place of a local rendering (as in the plain WEM), and also a non random Internet protocol (as with my NRMP proposal). Of course the Internet access providers heard nothing... So the battle is launched, against the main technical lock of the Metaverse, and, beyond, against all who may want to block it.
It must be said that Second Life, with its 1995 technology, its bugs, and its fps of 0.5, is definitively ridiculized...

Uptated on July 14, 2010:

As to reply, in the Massachussets Institute of Technology, Vincent Chan proposes a solution similar to my NRMP, the «Optical Flow Switching», which bypasses the main obstacle of Internet (The bufferization of data in each node) with the use of «optical highways» which would allow to get free (at least let us hope so) of the random functionning of the network, and multiply speed per 100. The «game» industry is directly concerned, and could in some years invest into the modifications of the network.

 

The Metaverse refugee statute is started

The June 29, 2010:

Reporters Without Borders proposes a kit of «refugee hosting» allowing to surf anonymously on the web, intended for dissidents and journalists victim of censorship or threats. The technical realisation is offered for free by Xerobank, a citizen company of Internet security. So we have an interesting combination between a political initiative and a technical mean, in order to protect freedom of expression.

 

Linden Lab in trouble

June 14, 2010

Some days ago, Mark Kingdon, the much hated CEO of Linden Lab, the company running Second Life, announced the loss of 30% of jobs in Linden Lab (see Newswire.com or Yahoo Finances). So, probably, the company is starting to pay the cost of its foolish policies.

 

Facts reminders on why users leave Second Life:

In the end of 2008, after 5 years of continuous expansion of Second Life, Linden lab multiplied by 2 to 5 the price of the computer use for its most basic product, the «open lands». This was a disaster which brought a loss of 15% in the number of «sims». Worse, this price hike hit the most numerous category of users: the small «dream land» owners, who are small but dedicated users whom active presence allows for the main initiatives to run. Their departure brought: -a loss of 80% in attendance in two very different groups I lead («La Tribu d'Elfinesse», fantasy, and «Shedrupling University», science) -a 50% loss of attendance and 10% of «sims» in the «Fantasy Continent», one of the widest and most representative social place of Second Life
By the start of 2010, the Fantasy Continent recovered an unprecedented 100 «sims», although with a still weakened attendance. But new calamities hit, such as decreasing quality of Linden lab's service (especially chat lag, which makes many social or professional activities impossible), the ugly viewer 2, witch hunt on child sex and underage users, etc. In some months the Fantasy Continent lost again 15% of its «sims». Other grim signs are Manpower empty, or IBM suppressing its campus and half of its «sims».

 

Given the absolute opacity of Linden Lab accounting, there always was speculations on its financial situation, and a possible collapse (provision for this is made in the TOS, articles 11.5 and 11.6). A quick analysis gives about 20,000 «sims», earning each $295 a month to Linden Lab. Of this must be subtracted the cost of web hosting (about $50 per sim, assuming 1 sim = 1 CPU core) and employees (300 persons per $4000 each month, about $60 per sim). Remains $185 per sim, of which must still be subtracted some global costs such as offices or cables renting, etc. Even with very pessimistic estimates of these costs, that still lefts two millions dollars per month, which should make Linden Lab much more beneficial and able of expansion than many similarly sized companies... And they are in trouble? There clearly must be a huge money drain somewhere in Linden Lab.

 

Updated in June 29, 2010:

Oh, after all, it is him who is fired by the investors. Good riddance!

 

Virtual assassination
and the power of the geeks/technocrats

April 2010

Within only a few weeks, three of my virtual friends are «dead». Two were «assassinated» for unclear administrative motives, and a third committed «suicide» because of a stalker. One was the leader of a great group, which thus lost all its lands, as if a town stopped to exist, all its inhabitants expelled. Another was married, and I had to comfort the cries of the virtual spouse. Only people who totally ignore what virtual worlds are, will think that I exaggerate: I experienced both cases, «real» and virtual, and I -we- can state that the result of these virtual deaths is the same as a physical death. Whether we are made of meat or of pixels, we feel the same emotions!

That such terrible things are even possible, and in more there is no way to protect us, tells us there i a fundamental flaw: today the virtual realm is a zone with no law and arbitrary power, where any idiot can spy on us and waste our private life, or geeks-technocrats can impose their «morals» (or rather lack of morals) on us, as their technical means give them this power on us.

It is clear that technocrats devoid of any sense of reality have no right to decide what people have to do or not to do in the virtual realm. It is high time to react and impose basic principles of respect for the person and his/her identity into the virtual realm, and its indispensable basis of interoperability, freedom of expression, ideological neutrality and security. This is the purpose of this site, especially of the «manifesto of the virtual worlds».

 

Update on April 27: My friend died IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD some days after her virtual assassination. This person was sick for years, and could not have a normal life. She asked for nothing, she had no political agenda, she just wanted a bit of happiness, that her physical life was denying her.

I feel this is just going way too far.

Killed for a simple identity check...

So I allow myself to state that all the blah blah about addiction, the monitoring of Internet, seeing pedophiles everywhere, without forgetting the hackneyed «freedom» of piracy acts, etc. are, at best, braying by ignorants or imbeciles, and, in many cases, open fascist attacks against the fundamental freedoms and the respect of persons.

And yes, the geeks who did that, without a regret or remorse, with a simple mouse click, are fascists.

 

Closure of Lively and There.com:
to understand the lessons.

April 2010

That the almighty Google failed with Lively, or that an ancient like There.com closes, while the costly and buggy Second Life thrives, teaches us precious lessons.

Lively of Google was offering a poor and caricatural graphic style, without bringing the basic functions of the virtual life (groups, friends, search engine, lands, building...). So we cannot be astonished by its thorough failure, all the more hopeless when we know that Google owned the technical and financial means to do something good... But it seems that they «followed their idea», without taking the effort of asking us why we go into the virtual!

On the other hand, There.com was offering a pleasant world of varied landscapes, which makes its closing very sad. The causes of this failure are more subtle, but at last similar to the Lively case: why do people prefer Second Life, expensive, ill managed, buggy, exposed to griefer morons? Because in Second Life, we are free to build objects, create groups or manage lands, and to enjoy them instantly. On the contrary, the team of There.com was organizing itself the life in this world, proposing places, events, stereotyped leisure... So the first lesson of There.com is that, once more, it is up to the users to create the content of the Metaverse, not to the technicians. It is up to the users to organise their virtual life, their activities and their events: the Metaverse will never be like the TV, for passive consumers!

Also, the team of There.com was performing a strict a priori monitoring on the content, in order to eliminate any sex, profanity or violence. The experience of Second Life shows that, even if the majority of users do not want such content, in facts very very few can bear a nit-picking monitoring, as good willed as it can be! The security practices of the users of Second Life are more gradated, more subtle: to judge people on their intent, rather than mercilessly enforcing rigid rules. So the second lesson of There.com is that people prefer by far to manage themselves safety and content, even facing serious threats.

With such conditions, we can predict the failures of other companies offering partial or predefined experiences. The Metaverse will be, like the Internet, self managed site per site, ideologically neutral and interoperable, or it will not be.