Mitch Kapor’s talk, a.k.a. Things I’m Putzing Around With

I’m home for a couple days.  Don’t ask what happened to my vacation.

Being untethered to RL work, I was around at noon (Vig Standard Time) and thought I would partake of the mashup known as SL5B.  As such, I had the distinct pleasure of sneaking my avatar into the Mitch Kapor closing comments for SL5B today.  Yeah, I really snuck in.  All of the sims in this 4-sim stage that had seats were full, so I was able to bang my way into the sim where Kapor himself was speaking.  Hence the outstanding SL photography on the posts immediately below this one.

Anyway, I had a few immediate impressions upon getting situated on the wall off to the side (they said, “Grab a seat…” – so I did!):

  1. I read too much Prokofy Neva, because I was cross-referencing the attendees against Prok’s latest FIC list.  Let’s just say that there was more than 1 FIC’er in attendance.  I couldn’t help but chuckle.
  2. It was really odd that Phil Linden took a chair out in the cheap seats rather than stand up on stage with Robin Linden, the emcee for the event.  Man of the peeps, that Phil…except that the peeps got nice prim hair a while ago.
  3. Big events mean BIG lag.  I’ve haven’t seen that much grey and blurry textures in a LONG time.  Events like this surely bring fame and glory onto the vaunted Second Life grid.  (Yow!)
  4. Dusan Writer ROCKS.  If you like reading his blog, imagine chatting about something like this in real time.  Optimistic, somewhat.  Realistic, definitely.  Fan-boy, never.  I like this guy.
  5. And, for my last big observation: We should consider ourselves lucky to be playing in Mitch & Phil’s hobby.  Because that’s what Linden Lab and Second Life ™ are – a hobby.

Now, why would I say that one of the globe’s top virtual world environments is a hobby?  Simple.  Look at the closing comments by Kapor.  In his talk, he covered 4 items:

  1. He suggested that Second Life is about to take off in users (largely corporate and educational, if I read it right), and that we early adopters are coming to Second Life from the fringes of society – somewhat like the misfits and oddballs that pioneered the American West.  (Looks like others found this thread of the speech amusing as well.)  Oh, we early adopters were supposed to get over ourselves, too.   I am now wracked with self-loathing.
  2. He’s been toying around with photo-realistic skins for avatars.  Apparently there’s a big corporate reason for this.  (Um….Mitch, can I introduce you to Chip Goodnight and Pumpkin Tripsa?  These guys have been making photo-skins for a while now.)  Interestingly, the video demo of this work used a technology platform unrelated to Second Life.  But it was fun to watch Mitch’s faux face go through all sorts of contortions.
  3. He has also been messing around with tying avatar movement to human movement.  (But, no, no XBox or PS3 tie-ins….guess Mitch likes his steenkin’ keyboards.)  I saw this video on YouTube back when it was released in April, and it was somewhat impressive.  Practical…not really.  But impressive nonetheless.  And, considering this was a closing keynote, it was somewhat dated.
  4. Lastly, the big announcement.  I am on record with my wish-errrrrrr-prediction as to what Kapor was going to say, and I could not have been more wrong.  The big announcement was the creation of an annual Linden Prize, which will recognize users and/or organizations that innovate to use the grid to “advance the human condition” per the mission of Second Life.  Stand out amongst your peers, ladies and gents, and you could get US$10,000….in Lindens.  That’s right, the value of game-changing innovation in Second Life is worth just less than the setup costs for 14 void sims…which is probably pizza money for Kapor and Rosedale.

And that was it.  A gentle slap with the proverbial wet noodle to the SL community of residents, a couple science experiments from Mitch’s basement and the announcement of a prize that I’m genuinely surprised didn’t exist already…but whose lack of prior existence probably says a lot.  Nothing more.  Oh – he didn’t take questions, either.

So it’s all clear to me now.  I’m a wacko/”sad clown” early adopter that is privileged to spend my money on Mitch & Phil’s technological hobby-land.  And seeing how Mitch didn’t bring up issues like lag, memory leaks, crashes, asset server/login failures and maximum concurrency at levels so low as to inhibit growth, I guess I should just shut up and enjoy their hobby, thankful that they have chosen to share it with me.

If you want a much better review, go read Dusan Writer’s post on the talk.

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