The Manifesto of the Metaverse

Introduction

 

The success of the Internet is based on a small set of tools and conditions:

-A common HTTP protocol and HTML language for all the sites, allowing to see all with the same viewer.

-The hypertext links allowing to jump from any page to any other related page.

-A complete set of what is possible to display on a 2D page (texts, fonts, images, animations, movies, interactions, sounds).

-Affordable hosting, indexing and accessing of any site or page.

-Efficient search engines giving access to all the sites without ideological selection.

-No ideological control on the content of the sites.

 

The Second Life platform fulfilled similar conditions into the virtual worlds domain, providing with a complete (and still unmatched) set of tools and conditions useful for our lives and activities into the virtual realm. However its absurd management by the Linden Labs company arose acute concerns on its future and suitability for any purpose. The most commonly proposed solution is an open source version of Second Life, thinking that open sourcing would magically fix all the problems, and even mend bullyers or copyright thefts.

So this Kailye manifesto was at first an outcry of the suffering Second Life community, but it soon evolved into a constructive and complete proposal, encompassing all the technical aspects of virtual worlds use. It also wants to be a clear reply to all the human, moral and legal issues which were left open by Second Life and before by the Internet, while excluding one-way thinking and ideological proposals. It is intended to be an easy to read document, but people wanting to analyse or criticize it should be aware that it is not just a list of recipes, but a functional structure.

 

Here is the short version of the Manifesto:

 

 

 

Manifesto of the Metaverse

Short version
For a fully useable virtual worlds system

 

Creation date: December 25, 2008.

Last update: August 15, 2009. Modified elements indicated into the text.

Links are toward the detailed version of the manifesto, for more technical discussion

This manifesto is about listing all the conditions and tools for having a fully useable virtual worlds system, whatever its intended uses. These tools and conditions will ensure that the 3D Internet, or the metaverse, will expand and live as the 2D Internet did. For this, a plurality of software solutions and content sources revolving around a common specification will ensure that everybody will be able to freely express in the virtual space, or will be able to find and see any available content.

 

 

The purposes of the virtual worlds users

At first, most today potential users today have no specific purpose when trying virtual worlds. But when they realize what they can do with them, and have enough learning, they engage into actions to fulfil a purpose: they have appropriated the virtual worlds system. It is often a serendipitous process involving learning and exploration of our inner self.

 

Motivations can be many, and often unexpected: socializing, having fun, games, having a dream place, gathering into groups, learning, science, work, business, etc. But the most striking possibilities of virtual words are:

1) We can BE what we cannot be in the physical world, and do things we cannot do in the physical world

2) They allow like-minded people to meet

3) They allow for interesting social experiences, or artistic, cultural and spiritual experiences, which may be a very good help for the evolution of the individuals and of society as well.

 

So the virtual world system, like the 2D Internet, must serve each purpose or motivation on an equal basis, and allow for everybody to visit and create virtual worlds, whatever their purpose, tastes, opinions, philosophy, religion, life style, etc. like the 2D Internet does. This is further referred as being content neutral.

 

Another key rule is that any user must be able to have his own virtual place, with a suitable neighbouring, or without having to bear any neighbouring.

 

Technical requirements

The basic technical condition for interoperability of virtual worlds is a common communication system, referred here as the WEM (named WEP before August 15, 2009), between the viewers and the worlds. It must be free, normalized in the W3C, stable, and interoperable with the URL system of the 2D Internet.

 

The viewer must be modular, for ease of adding new functions, and have interfaces with most common programming languages. It must be able to work in a full window, on all important systems, including game consoles. It must be as reliable and good quality as allowed by the good programming techniques. It must be free, without advertising, easy to install, see native on the systems.

 

In a general way, this manifesto aims at implementing the capacity for any content creator to actually find an interesting solution, about prices, but also about rules, philosophy, themes and ambiance of each world. For this, experience showed that we must provide a plurality of hosting methods and hosting companies:

1) The simplest hosting solution is to have one's world on the local computer. Basic solutions must be affordable and easy to use.

2) Individual servers can host simple worlds, or be gathered in a network for larger worlds. This allows for individuals or groups to host their own worlds independently. Basic solutions must be affordable and easy to use.

3) Hosting companies could host large collective worlds or platforms, where individuals and groups may have each a place, at a better price or without the hassle of running a server. Second Life is the prototype of such a platform. However it makes no sense to oblige the users to live close together and hamper each other. Thus each individual user must be allowed to own his own island, even if very small. However communities (groups) of owners may have neighbouring lands, with common rules, to share a common purpose, vision or way of life. The purpose of having several such companies hosting worlds is to have a globally content neutral system, offering the possibility for everybody to implement or find his theme, like on the 2D Internet. Cost for renting place should be based on rendering cost and disk space. Some world owners or host worlds may request a fee for entering into the world.

4) Independent character and inventory hosting companies may manage our connection, inventory, body shape, money, authorizations, age or sex flags, etc. in order to ease the teleporting from a world to another.

5) At last learning companies would offer help to learn the virtual world's ways. A good learning is a key for the efficient appropriation of the virtual worlds and an appropriate behaviour in world.

 

The virtual appearance

It is important for the user to feel good and welcome into a virtual world. Shaping his virtual body is a crucial step into the user's appropriation of virtuality, at a time where he still has no skills or self confidence. Success of appropriation much depends on the ease and flexibility of building a loveable body shape. So the creation of the virtual body has to be made as fast, flexible and simple as possible, according to various methods: -simple selection of numerous ready made shapes, -interchangeable elements -more complicated edition of elements. Gender and other tags must be easily identifiable. It must be possible to create any desirable shape, and even no shape.

 

Today animation of the virtual body must prepare the era of exoskeletons and multivators, which will ensure a much more complete and sensitive immersion than just sitting before a computer. For this a fast communication protocol must be created, referred here as the NRMP:// protocol. Right now it would add much realism to animations.

At last the simulator software must have interfaces for animations with most commonly used programming languages.

 

Building shapes and landscapes
is the first basic activity of content creators.

We must account with very different degrees in building skills, and provide a variety of methods.

The Second Life's method of «primitives» is easily appropriable by non-skilled builders. But there are more difficult methods, which give much better results. The use of common editing tools must be possible. The shape rendering system must be modular.

Use of best rendering technologies and state of the art viewers should be the standard.

Basically, all objects created by an user must remain his property. Only the actual creator must be able to set permissions for copying an object, modify it, use it in a group, give it or sell it, etc. Copyright is among the legal protections which must be true even in virtual worlds, and this needs tools to be implemented.

 

The creation and running of every kind of communities
is the second major occupation of content creators in virtual worlds.

For this a full set of social and communication tools must be provided, in world and between worlds, such as chats, messages, groups, binding contracts, profiles, powerful search, authorizations, etc.

 

Legal issues

The very first purpose of virtual worlds is to escape the limitations of the physical society and life. From this very purpose, and also from virtual worlds being only simulations, many laws and moral rules lose their justification, and must be discarded as irrelevant into the virtual worlds, where they uselessly hamper the user experience. So laws about virtual worlds must at the very first recognize this fact and protect this practice, as an extension of the freedom of expression into a new situation and with new means.

However there is still a need for some general protection of the person, or when virtual activities have consequences into the physical world: -fundamental right to a stable and protected virtual identity, -protection of copyright and property, -protection of the person against moral violence, exploitation, etc. -A specific issue is about the simple representation of some extreme content, without the physical action.

To correctly legislate in this domain requires to understand the non-duality between freedom of expression and protection of the public.

So there is a need of an appropriate international set of laws, similar to the ones used aboard a space station or in Antarctica.

This manifesto opposes laws encroaching on Human Rights, or uses of the virtual worlds for war purposes.

 

In world behaviour issues

It is very important for users to have a safe and pleasant experience, free of any small or large annoyance. They must also be able to achieve their purposes or desires in confidence. It is also important to know what they can do or not, and where. From this the use of, for instance, gender flags, sexual flags, combat flags, style flags, etc.

 

Each world owner can set his own rules, but the basic rules being often the same, it is interesting to propose a Common Behaviour Rule Set, known by everybody, which requires three parts:

-Be nice with other users.

-Not cheating in roleplay.

-Respect the theme of the world.

This lefts as only needs to define some additional rules or exceptions, and to set the theme.

Disciplinary actions in world aim at more or less limiting the power of an user who infringed the rules of a world. For this a variety of tools must be available, like ban, booting, marking the account, etc.

It is also important to set age categories for users. However this must not frustrate the youngest of the most interesting contents, which must be available to all. For this we must rather push potentially hasardous contents into peculiar places, rather than excluding the youngest from the society at large.

Roleplay may lead to consensual exceptions of some laws on respecting the person, such as in fight, some sexual plays, etc. However not all laws should have such exceptions, even in roleplay, such as for instance extreme violence or paedophilia.

Robots (Characters animated by software) can be very useful, or very harmful. Especially it is a great disparaging of our human experience to let them simulate friendship and love. So robots must be clearly identified as such, and a world owner may ban them, or on the contrary hide some robot identifications, for instance in a roleplay.

 

Fostering virtual worlds

There is nothing intrinsically bad or questionable into virtuality by itself. Some questionable contents may be addressed by law. Implementation of some discipline tools will result into a very safe virtual experience. Virtual worlds are not a kind of political or moral revolution, they even not claim to change society, right on the contrary they can bring many good things, for individuals and for society as well. So the opposition to virtual words is just the usual idiotic opposition against any novelty. So advertising virtual worlds must emphasise on the (really achieved) safety and the realm of possibilities they allow.

 

Business model

We cannot sell virtual life by itself, and every attempt to impose such a model will fail. However companies can successfully sell software, hosting solutions, building, and services like disciplined worlds, themed worlds, games, character hosting and identity check. But above all the most important service to sell is being content neutral.