Back at the end of January, I posted instructions on how to verify your e-mail address. I did so, because the Lab was indicating that in future, outgoing e-mails (including IMs-to-e-mail, Merchant and information from the Marketplace) will only be sent to those e-mail addressed that have been verified by the owners. So, failure to verify would mean no more off-line IMs delivered to you (among other things).
While it’s taken slightly longer to get officially announced that anticipated at the time I wrote that report, on Wednesday, April 19th, the Lab did finally post notice of the upcoming change see Making Email From Second Life (More) Reliable) explaining the reason behind it pretty much as I did back at the end of January:
One of the most important reasons mail doesn’t get through is that many Second Life accounts have bad email addresses – when something in Second Life sends to one of those bad addresses, it generates errors. The number of those errors causes many network providers and spam detectors to block even perfectly good email if it comes from Second Life. To fix that, we need to cut down on the bad addresses, so… over the next few months we will be converting all the sources of email in Second Life to not even try to send to an address that has not been verified.
While the piece in Wearable doesn’t offer much that’s new to those who have been following the Lab’s conversations to the press and SL users about their hopes for the new platform, the article does offer some interesting insights to what the Lab is doing and some of their thinking behind Sansar.
Starting out with what we already know – the Lab is pitching the platform as “WordPress for VR”: an environment where people can come in and create virtual environments without the need to be a software engineer, coder, etc. – the article covers a lot of ground, with comparisons to Second Life, references to other pioneers in VR (Chris Milk, Nonny de la Pena and Jeremy Bailenson) and a further look at hoped-for time frames with “Sansar”.
The Lab has, on numerous occasions, indicated that initially, Sansar is being targeted at some very specific verticals where immersive VR has practical application. Education, healthcare, simulation, business, design and architecture have all be very specifically mentioned in this regard. So a point of interest for me was reading the specific example cited by Ebbe as to how Sansar is already been used, albeit on a test basis, by an architect:
An architect named Diego, who works for a big firm that is completing a major medical centre project, built the entire building in Sansar as an experiment.
“When he experienced it in virtual reality for the first time, he walked into the lobby and said ‘Damn, it’s too big,'” said Altberg. “It took him one second to realise that something was off and he’d been working on this project for a long time. That had value instantly.”
In this instance, the power of virtual realisation is clear, and having a platform which allows companies and individuals easily leverage this kind of visualisation, connect with other and have them shared in such visualisations / experiences / models is clear. In the example above, it is only a short step from Diego witnessing the flaws in his design (and being able to correct them as a result) to him being able to invite his clients into the model, so they can witness first-hand what his company’s vision for the project is. It also potentially allows his company to retain the model as a part of a virtual portfolio of projects they can showcase to future clients.
That the Lab had identified architecture as a suitable environment where Sansar could offer significant value for clients can also be ssen in the fact that the first public demonstration of the new platform took place San Francisco’s month-long Architecture and the City Festival in September 2015.
Hence why “Sansar” could, potentially, be a very powerful platform with the sectors the Lab has identified, particularly if it really does allow clients the freedom to create environments which can be standalone or interconnected, and / or which can be accessed directly through a closed Intranet, or open to all via direct web portal, according to individual needs.
Picture, for example, a university using Sansar to build a virtual teaching environment, access through its own Intranet and using it’s exiting log-in and authentication process so students and staff can seamlessly move into and out of the virtual space. They could then open a public portal to elements of that space, and / or link-up with other education institutions, enabling students to share in their virtual learning spaces, building-up their own “world” of connected experiences.
Not that Sansar is purely about these niche environments. The potential social power of virtual spaces and virtual opportunities has long been established by Second Life, and the article does make it clear that as things progress, the Lab does see Sansar as potentially being able to replicate a lot of what Second Life can already do and offering it to an audience as a much more accessible medium.
This obviously is something of a worry for those of us deeply rooted in Second Life – much has already been made of the potential for the “cannibalisation effect” Sansar might have on the current Second Life user base. It’s actually a valid concern, and something we should perhaps be prepared for at some point down the road, if Sansar proves to be a success and starts to pull SL users away from this platform. But frankly, it’s not something which should be held up as a reason for the Lab not to press ahead with Project Sansar.
Starting with the Project Bento announcement (a project I’ve been able to observe and will be bringing more background on in the future as well as tracking developments through regular project updates), the post provides a grab bag of technical changes to the platform.
These include the arrival of the Viewer-Managed Marketplace, which had its initial main grid beta launch back in April, following a long lead-in over 2014 / early 2015, with full migration starting in July, in one of the more successful Marketplace updates Second Life has seen. Also getting a mention are the arrival of Chromium Embedded Framework, through the CEF viewer, the notifications updates, and Hover Height, both of which were viewer updates suggested by users. Mention is also made of the 28 simulator updates made through the year,
Away from the technical updates, The blog post refers to the new “Classic” starter avatars, which were introduced in November.
PaleoQuest, the Lab’s dino-ish adventure game gets a mention in the official look back at the year, which i admit to rather enjoying
2015 saw a change in Premium membership perks, as they gradually turned away from the usual (and often basic) gifts and more towards more practical offerings, as the Lab’s blog post mentions. These have included things like the increase in the group membership allowance, and the removal of VAT on membership fees, which gave rise to speculation on what was going on to allow it.
Also getting a mention are the recent changes in land set-up and transfer fees, although how effective this will be is perhaps debatable, as I commented at the time, and also – with regards to grandfathered fees, seemed to have a slight edge of giving with one hand, taking back with the other.
Ending with a look at the Lab’s on-going engagement with the community through in-world meet-ups and other events, and giving a mention to forthcoming capabilities designed to help improve the user experience, such as Avatar Complexity, this may seem a lightweight look back at the year; however, it does constitute a fair round-up of the positives SL has seen internally through 2015. In the meantime, I’ll be offering my own more extensive review of things – SL, Sansar, VR, et al, as reported through these pages through the year, over the Christmas and New Year period.
On Tuesday, November 10th, the Lab announced the forthcoming launch of Lab Chat, “an opportunity for you to ask Lindens your questions during a live taping that will be recorded and archived for everyone to view.”
The new show has been in planning ever since SL12B and the successful Meet the Linden chat sessions hosted by Prim Perfect and which featured opportunities to meet Linden Lab staff such as Pete Linden (Peter Gray), the Lab’s Director of Global Communications; Xiola Linden from the Community Team; Patch and Keira Linden; Product Manager Troy Linden and Senior Director of Product, Virtual Worlds, Danger Linden (Don Laabs), and which featured a Q&A session with CEO Ebbe Linden (Ebbe Altberg).
The blog post announcing the new series, reads in part:
Residents from the Lab Chat production team – Draxtor Despres, Gentle Heron, Elrik Merlin, Petlove Petshop, Inara Pey, Aisling Sinclair, Devin Vaughan, Saffia Widdershins, and Jo Yardley – will pick questions to ask Ebbe from this forum thread – so be sure to get your questions into the thread no later than Friday November 13th, 2015. Authors of selected questions will be invited to ask their question live at the in-world show. Time permitting – additional questions from the audience will be answered.
If you are unable to attend the live show, a recording will be available shortly after the first Lab Chat wraps, so no one will miss out!
We’ll see you on November 19th at 10:30am SLT. Don’t forget to add your questions to the forum thread and mark your calendars to join us!
My own role in this series is relatively minor – I’ll be producing transcripts of each Lab Chat session, which will be available, possibly with audio extracts, on these pages most likely on a forthcoming Lab Chat website.
If all goes well, it is hoped that Lab Chat will go on to become a monthly series. So if you do have questions you’d like the opportunity to perhaps ask your questions directly to Ebbe Altberg, hop over to the forum thread and leave them there, as noted in the Lab’s announcement.