Wow … what a quick reaction … but not quite enough, in my opinion. Linden Research quickly announced the release of the Second Life client into Open Source. I actually love the name of this blog post by phoenix linden … Embracing the Inevitable. It announces the release of their client software into Open Source, and where to go and get it. There is an issue though … they are still holding onto the control of the virtual world by not releasing the server software … yet. As David Kirkpatrick at Fortune reports:
While this initial step will open up what is essentially the user’s
window into Second Life for modification, it will leave Linden Lab in
control of the proprietary software code for all Second Life’s backend
services – the server software that makes the world exist. However,
executives say that the company’s eventual intention is to release an
open source version of that software as well, once it has improved
security and other core functions. They say they have been preparing
for the open source move for about three years.
Yes … this is not enough to provide a free and open platform for virtual existence. I do see where this is a prudent business move to create even more of a lock on the entire market though. Linden seems to now be pushing to create de-facto standards of their client APIs and protocols by creating a group of developers who write to this environment.
My worry is if it took them three years to get the client out to Open Source, how long will it take them to get the server software out?
I believe that the pressure is mounting as other well-funded companies continue to explore the space … as this quote from IBM demonstrates:
IBM Vice President for Technical Strategy Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a
close student of Second Life, heard about the impending move toward
open source from a Linden employee. “They have the right thought,” he
says, “which is that open source things work with the marketplace. But
this is a field in its infancy that will be very competitive. Linden
Lab might end up with a huge leadership position in a certain class of
tools for virtual worlds, but those might not be the right tools for,
let’s say, a surgeon learning a new procedure in an immersive online
environment. Second Life can be wildly successful, but so can others.”
I do not think that IBM and others are sitting still. Neither am I. I’m heading over to download the APIs reference materials now …
P.S. I just thought of an interesting “client” to create for Second Life. What if there was an “augmented reality” client that was created that would overlay the Second Life world onto the real world? Maybe create someplace in the desert – like at Burning Man – that would allow you to have GPS tracking on yourself, and then wearing augmented reality goggles you would be seeing some portion of the Second Life world? As you wandered around the desert, your view would be augmented with the terrian of Second Life, and the other people wandering around in reality would be overlayed with their graphical avatar. Hmmmm …