Everyone’s doing it – and I’ve only been vicariously tagged for my “eight things you don’t know about” post. I guess I mighta missed that boat. Nobody reads my blog anyways so I got nothin’ to lose from this weeks obligatory blog post. Here goes – predictions for 2008.
- Linden Labs will experiment with other service providers:
Telstra Australia comes to mind but there’ll be more. My money’s on Japan or Brazil as the folk they want to get on board but my money’s on Australia as the beta.
Folk in the internet industry understand that they need a strong technology partner with a small population so Australia gets used as a beta for phone systems, broadband and other such experiments which often go nowhere. It’s eager and tech-progressive enough to be interesting but small enough to lose should things go pear shaped. LL’s technology partner here has money to burn and is hungry to retain monopoly so they’ll make it attractive to LL.
The lindies already run colabs so they’ll be looking at this from a technology perspective as well. They want to understand how database replication will work transcontinental – their “het grid” project is about making this easier (among other things). Trans-continental colabs will make Cali-Texas seem like a dream. Some sensible engineer at LL will tell them “please don’t do this in Europe or Asia if you want to keep your team” and they’ll take notice. Though I say Aus’ is a good bet here, if your country fits the criteria of progressive but disposable it could be you.
- SL service will continue to improve:
“What what WHAT?!?” you say. You heard me right – things are getting better. Het grid work is like restumping a sagging house. Cracks appear in the walls, things look really bad, the roof leaks, you end up having to spend weeks living at your aunties while the builders do something heinous and scary, etc… I’ve tossed my coin and come up optimistic about this. When the work is done it’ll look a lot better.
The reason I say this is because LL has competition now and they’re obviously tinkering with their team, direction, partnerships, and of course the nuts and bolts. They’re not kids anymore, and not so reactionary – they’re growing up. A year ago anyone in the industry (and it’s not virtual worlds like we think it is, it’s relational database hosting) was shaking their heads in disbelief about how they were doing things. Now they’re not – they may not like performance but they’re not criticising LL’s approach.
This will start to pay off this year in stability and scalability. Naysayers will still say nay, commentators will continue to say “the damage has been done” – but it will be improvement, and it will take more than one damage to break this thing. By years end it will look a lot better.
- Many new entrants will come… and go:
You don’t have to be a massive SL fanboy to realize that the newcomers into this market have a lot of mistakes to make before they get anywhere. LL has made their share of mistakes – heck they’ve made almost every one in the book – but they’re still writing it. Newcomers will avoid some of the mistakes LL has made but most of them will (after initial hype) trip on their shoelace and fall on their face. Some will do quite well thankyou: which brings me to….
- Google will release a VW which will be wildly successful, then disappointing, then wildly successful:
Everything google does these days is “the end of” whatever – as if some lumbering giant could come into the market and eat all the young. Six months to a year later “google office disappointing – will not replace MS office”. Honestly who writes these things? Let me answer that rhetorical question. Pundits write these things, and they’re clueless (though well circulated and paid thanks).Linux is slowly eating MS, OpenOffice is slowly eating MS Office, Apple is slowly eating the record industry – Sony hates this. But all this stuff happens slow enough that they shouldn’t sneak up and take anyone by surprise unless their head’s buried in the sand. Google will do good with their vr eventually, but sketchup hasn’t replaced autocad yet, and neither will google’s launch replace SL.
- Vastpark will do well:
They got some things right – they’ll do ok in the long run. It’ll be slower than fanboys think, but they’re a strong contender with the advantage of developing without too much legacy code. There’s still a content creator vs. resident divide though so we’ll have to wait for some kids raised on counter-strike level design to tinker with it and give anyone a compelling reason to be there.
- A national government and a major corporation will engage in a legal action related to SL and make complete fools of themselves:
Erm… both of those have already happened several times, but the public eye will be watching. If it’s towards the end of the year it may involve another VW on the upswing of it’s hype cycle – watch out google 😛
- Media pundits will coin a new phrase to describe SL and VW’s so they can stop cramming it into the same box as web2.0ish social media:
Well, bloggers will do this, but cheapskate journalists will finally take notice – that’s where they source all their stuff anyways these days. The term “social media” and other vogues in reference to VWs will start to take on the distaste we currently have for terms like “cyberspace” to describe the internets – an outmoded term from the olden days only used by your clueless auntie trying to sound cool, or institutionalised academics writing their fourth doctorate. Discourse on the real impact of virtual worlds and social web applications will be enlivened by this change. It will also help business understand how VW’s fit into their marketing and customer contact model.
- The first SL based internet meme will enter the public vernacular:
YES! WE CAN HAS OUR OWN LOLCATS. Some joke or started in SL will jump ship and turn up in your aunties mailbox, facebook or myspace. It will spread like wildfire. We will briefly fall in love with it as our own, but eventually lose respect and hate it so much we look fondly back at those innocent days of nigerian mail scams and dramatic chipmunk crossposts.
- Health and support for the disabled will be a growth area in SL particularly, and VW’s in general:
This will have mainstream media support… eventually. A series of copycat articles will flood news channels at some point, repainting the model of VW residents from pasty socially bereft young males, to your aunt, sister, grandfather and others who might have non-gamer reasons for being there.
The use of SL by the disabled or infirm to “get out of the house” will be lauded as a positive. The converse, of allowing care givers and counsellors access to those who can’t get to their offices will also be leveraged and publicly documented.
This will be a part of a larger trend to recognize the social value of technologies previously considered isolating – like giving old folk a nintendo wii at their old folks homes, it aint about playing solo quake, it’s about engagement in a group. The public and the media will finally start to “get it”.
This trend will play out in education as well, but the more rigid requirements of the edu arena will mean isolated uptake – not all the tools they need are there yet for widespread adoption outside narrow applications.
Well there’s my predictions for ’08 – in no particular order and so on. I hope you get something out of them, if only waggling your fist and sayin: “That Pav’s got no idea!” I’m sure someone’ll burn a few calories doin that before this post hit’s the wayback machine.
Well happy new year anyways. May it be a good one. Toodle Pip!
This is why, though I don’t agree with all of Prok’s views on things, I think he’s worth watching. A very well thought out group of predictions here. Unfortunately typepad think’s I’m spam – which may well be true – so I’ll have to post here instead.
1) LL will not opensource in 2008 – I think they’ll partially opensource but they’ll never completely opensource their server tech. Their business model rides on it. But they will opensource enough to allow interoperability, under the influence of the IBM parthership on technology, as that IS in their interest and gives their platform competative advantage.
2) Yups – they’ve announced interoperability and they’ll move on that as quick as they can, which will be slow 😛 But given a year I think we’ll see something.
3) Indeed 2008 will not be the year kaneva and other neiche worlds take off, but will be the year that folk figure out that there may be some kinda use for them. It’ll be the year that these startups start to realize that their walled garden aproach is going to stunt most of their growth and start making moves on inter-world connectivity. New worlds are more effort to join than new web2.0 apps and nobody want’s to deal with all the multiple clients. Phones will grow this year as wap2.0 takes off. If i had the money i’d be buying stocks in thumb medication and spectacles.
4) LL will open up another grid. FIC theory asside I think this is a solid prediction. I’d bet you a lindy IBM might be a “special friend” in this instance. Folk say they have their own grid and tech, but they’re well known for developing multiple technologies that compete for the same space anyways.
5) A blackout will mess with virtual worlds – I think there’ll be some kinda disaster, these things happen and statistically we’re due for one. When it happens I think virtual worlds will be the least of our problems. Local banking and comms chaos, and financial markets reacting to say the sudden disapearance of wall street for a day, would probably distract folk long enough from VR that they wouldn’t miss it too much while it was gone.
6) Rumors of the demise of SL have been greatly overblown. It’ll keep chugging along and the lowered expectations will allow it to continue to do what it does best rather than beeing seen as the next big thing. People will start to use it for useful stuff rather than exciting stuff (and social things are useful too from a utilitarian perspective.) So SL will steadily grow in a meat and 3 veg kinda way.
7) an attempt WILL be made to sue for fraud regarding the banks in SL. This is because at some point someone will have forgotten to tick all the indemnity boxes in their “contract” for services in sl. Further to Prok’s prediction I think a parliamentary probe will prompt a government to try and legislate in some kind of way regarding virtual worlds and property, currencies, buisiness practices. This will cause leftie activists to get up in arms about said legislation. This will not be because they’re lefties, but because governments just don’t get it, and everyone will be a bit upset about it. That is unless they’re the litigous types that stand to make a buck out of suing folk because of the changes in law, or gain competitive advantage due to increased legislative burden on their competition.
8) a libel suit will be filed – considering how litigous folk are becomming about next to nothing I think this is a good bet.
9) I disagree. There seems to be no slowing in the growth in litigation around IT contracts, intellectual property, and general legal opportunism. There will be other Stroker Serpentines who do have a legal leg to stand on who will win, and that’ll renew the hopes of those folk who seek to legislate or legally poke virtual world businesses for revenue.
This includes governments, and while some will seek to tax virtual worlds the competetive advantage will go to those countries that leave them alone (as vw business bottom lines will be 10-30% better off in terms of running costs, which can be passed on to their clients/consumers). Those who implement VAT will find that the cost of implementing it, accounting it, and the impossibility of enforcing it produce significant competetive disadvantage as it drains money from service provision into accountants pockets and prompts offshoring.
10) I’ll have to trust Prok when it comes to speculation on the real estate markets.
11) China !!! but not SL. South East Asia too – there will be virtual worlds with much higher per capita penetration and truly staggering populations – but they’ll be isolated to language groups that use non roman or cyrillic alphabets (ie ones that use characters for words rather than an alphabet). This is more due to the funamental difference in the way folk type and the difficulty of adapting language services to the many idiosyncratic input methods these languages use.
12) big corporations will not be using sl more. Yups, but small corporations will. Big corps already have strong slow moving communications infrastructure full of legacy systems and culture. They’ll need McKinsey on it for a year before they figure out their key messages for their internal comms rollouts and will have spent hundreds of thousands before they even move on these things. Their workers may develop local ad-hoc cultures that involve VW’s but that won’t be on the corporate radar.
Small fast moving or cash strapped companies will begin to use SL for internal communications (or other worlds). There are some things it does cheap and cheerful that cost significantly more for a pro non roll your own solution – telepresence and ad-hoc presentations for example. This will be a growth market – well not really a market, more DIY.
13) Something like a csi style murder or suicide will happen. The world is big. Just about everything happens somewhere, sometime. The odds are in it’s favour and I think this is a good bet. I shudder to think what the gonzo media will do with it.
14) The mainstream blogsphere will start using sl – yup. Non geeks are arriving in sl now. I think there’s plenty of folk who, if they have time for blogging, have enough time on their hands and are chatty enough to hang out in VW’s. When your aunt is doing it then it won’t be long before it’s well represented amongst non-geek bloggers.
15) Age verification will proceed – well a bit. For americans who seem to have the world’s largest data footprint it won’t be surprising that some company you don’t know has everything they need to verify who you are. This is information that, if you lost your wallet you would panic over, but if some company you don’t know has it it all seems ok. Most countries in the rest of the world have extremely strong protections against that kind of data on the public record and how it can be used. So I predict that for most of the world age verification will be slow, buggy and arduous for the next year.
As for red light center, I think that is a great idea. It also got me to thinking about the “use” of kaneva and “social” worlds of that sort, and when they’re purpose specific (such as this sexy one) perhaps the market isn’t as small as I initially imagined. Neiche specific pluggable worlds such as this might take off – particularly if there’s sex or dating involved.
17) advertisers will continue to flop and corporate sponsored arts will continue to rise. I think this is very likely – push media doesn’t work so well on the internets and particularly in VW’s. The current corporate model on the web is to leverage existing communities (such as web2.0 or interest groups) and leave customer service to their main websites – this will happen in SL too. Sponsorship of arts, letters and communities is the cheapest bang for buck in that kind of situation.
18) The emphasis on corporate sponsorship of the arts will take the stress from having to be concerned with copyright theft as events and experiences will become more important than objects and textures. Hear hear! Though corporate folk will also come with their own IP baggage when they put their cash and name to things. The trend however will be against worrying so much, and about time too – the focus on stuff in virtual worlds rather than people as the main revenue model devalues their main strength.
19) TV will feast on SL for free content – this is a given. The residents of sl will not be moraly challenged by it so much though as they’ll get their fifteen minutes, which represents social currency in world. They will still wake up in the morning feeling dirty and cheap.
20) Everyone will have a metaplace. Folk who currently base their revenue model on Your Attention(TM) will hate this as they don’t own it. Folk will monetize it effectively, but you’ve never heard of them. Some will be bought for obscenely inflated prices, and later disapoint their new owners. By that time we’ll be distracted by another shiny thing and not notice.
Well that’s my two cents 😛