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A posting in Second Life, a Second Chance? blog helps me understand why I seem to hear so much less about SL these days.
The author, who only gives his/ her Second Life name, obviously looked on SL partly as an investment. "After 2.5 years of being an estate region owner in Second Life, I have now retired..... As an estate region owner, I did break even most of the time, but never really pulled a profit. I tried the SL land owner business, thinking I could make some money out of it....In the Fall of 2008, when Linden Lab pulled its Open Space sim betrayal, announcing the 67% increase in monthly tier, I too, like probably thousands of other SL land owners, searched for other alternative virtual worlds like SL."
The point of his piece is that entrepreneurs have jumped in and there are now several good equivalents to SL. He quotes an article in Hypergrid Business which lists (on my count) 41 sites using OpenSim grids. HB says: "By running a private grid rather than joining an existing, public one, organizations can control their own terms of service, user accounts, content, and limit or open access to any degree they wish."
Wikipedia says tht OpenSim is "an open source server platform for hosting virtual worlds. While it is most recognized for compatibility with the Second Life client, it is also capable of hosting alternative worlds with differing feature sets with multiple protocols. OpenSimulator is designed to be easily expanded through the use of plugin modules and several modified distributions exist, such as realXtend, additional plugins can be found on the OpenSimulator Forge. Multiple servers can be integrated into a 'grid' which allows larger more complex areas to be simulated."
The OpenSim project's own web page says: "Out of the box, OpenSimulator can be used to simulate a virtual environment similar to Second Life™ (including client compatibility). Other environments, protocols and features are supported via add on modules."
It's a kind of reverse network effect. The point about SL was that it was the first and the biggest, and everyone who wanted a virtual world joined it. There was even a Reuters office until 2008. Now it seems there are lots of alternatives. Presumably this will also make it more difficult to make money out of these communitis, since they are likely to be that much smaller.
On the other hand it ought to be exciting that you can now build your own private SL for your own purposes.... though somehow the idea still does not excite me.
I'm not at all sure whether the Brigadoon SL community for Asperger's sufferers is still there. That struck me as an excellent use of SL.