Organizational, Institutional and Financial Aspects of the OpenSimulator Project

A recent thread about financial contributions to the OpenSimulator project touched on issues that we don’t talk about that often in the opensim-dev mailing list: organizational, institutional and financial aspects of the project. These aspects are all different, but they usually go hand-in-hand. I thought I’d share my thoughts on this, and get some input from the community. As usual, goes without saying, these are my personal thoughts, and not any official statement from the core devs (hopefully this will become clear if you understand this post, and we can stop adding this disclaimer in every email/post).

The OpenSimulator project is fueled by a small group of developers who produce the the vast majority of the code and who have commit access to the socially-accepted-as-main GIT repository. I say “fueled” rather than “led” for obvious reasons: there has been only a vague sense of leadership, but nothing that deserves that name, at least not the traditional form of leadership that we’re used to; a visit to the main portal for this project, the Wiki, illustrates this point: that’s the closest to a Bazaar of information that one can get, complete with perls of dubious origin and products well beyond their validity date. I say “socially-accepted-as-main” rather than “main” or “official”, because that’s what it is: a social convention. Anyone can take the code and fork it, and this has been made even more appealing when we switched to GIT, which has much more powerful merging facilities, so it becomes technically a lot simpler to maintain extensions or alternatives to what’s in the socially-accepted-as-main repository. Yet most people in the community look at the code produced by the core developers as the official code.

Like so many other open source projects, the OpenSimulator project does not have any formal setup. This doesn’t mean that the project is an anarchy, though. Internally, the group of developers follows a few simple rules of engagement for deciding on all important aspects of the project, such as new developers, significant patches, etc. The issues are first discussed, then voted upon. Technical discussions happen publicly in the -dev mailing list, so that everyone can participate; discussions about new developers happen in the -core mailing list. The outcome of all voting is positive as long as there are no objections — much more stringent than a majority scheme, it requires a fair amount of consensus. The core developers listen to the community, but the only votes that count are those of the core developers. These rules of engagement are similar to those followed in many other open source projects. These are localized, case-by-case decisions that, overall, define the direction of the project.

Periodically, the group of core devs has internal existential moments of the kind “should we create a formal organization?” a-la Apache Foundation, for example. Invariably, the answer always converged to “no”, at least so far. The reasons behind this “no” boil down to no one seeing enough benefit to compensate for the hassle. The last time we talked about this, the idea almost took off; but it quietly landed again for lack of interest/time for actually executing it. The idea of a foundation is still up in the air; maybe next time we have an existential moment it will happen.

If a foundation were to happen, it would NOT be for taking in and managing donations for code development — for reasons that will be evident below. Otherwise, the foundation would effectively be a small company, which would completely defeat the mission of the project. For anyone interested in this, take a look at the finances of the Apache Foundation. The money raised there is to pay for servers, organize meetings and cover legal expenses… which come as a consequence of a having created a formal organization in the first place…

About the finances, and to put this in perspective: according to Ohloh, the OpenSimulator project has cost $5.5M to get to where it is now; that’s with an avg. salary of $55K/year… (ah!), and this estimate doesn’t count anything other than code in the socially-accepted-as-main repository. It doesn’t count testing time or all the projects in forge and elsewhere. Even with those hugely simplifying  approximations, that’s a burn rate of $1.6M/year.

Where does this money come from? Like in all independent open source projects I know, it comes from the following sources:

a) Voluntary time contributions from passionate people who have stable day jobs and enjoy developing OpenSimulator in their free time, for free. The reasons why people do that are well known and fall out of the scope of this post.

b) Generous contributions from companies and organizations who have some of their employees contribute to OpenSimulator as part of their day jobs. Current and past examples are: IBM, Intel, the University of California, Reaction Grid, 3Di, and others.

c) Contributions from individuals and organizations who contract with individual developers, usually to produce something very specific.

Note, again, that this is a burn rate of $1.6M/year (with Ohloh’s ridiculously low estimates)… Does anyone here believe that this kind of money can be raised from voluntary donations every year, so that the project could afford ‘hiring’ N permanent developers (if that were a goal, which it isn’t)? Obviously, not.

Basing developers’ compensation on direct donations is an unsustainable strategy for a large open source project of this kind. It’s great to hear from people who are willing to donate $1,000 to the project, we appreciate the gesture, but, really… the numbers just don’t add up, and such practice would create a lot of unwanted tension that would force the project into becoming more like a small company, which is something none of us wants. So we have to say no. That money is better spent on other things, like paying artists to create freely distributable content that enriches everyone’s virtual worlds — a really important detail for that first-time experience.

An hypothetical Foundation would not engage in that kind of activity; it would also not interfere with the existing rules of  engagement, which work well. So the pertinent question is this: if not for raising money for development, what would this possible foundation be for? I don’t have a good answer to that question. In some perspective, a foundation looks like a self-generating hassle — having to deal with taxes and lawyers is not something any of us enjoys, and the money raised would mainly be to deal with those. Maybe that possible foundation could hold copyrights for those developers who don’t want to hold them, and take on the consequent legal liability. Again, more lawyers.

One benefit I see in it is that, psychologically, this possible foundation would give a warm fuzzy feeling to the community at large, more or less like a legal marriage.The fact that a small group of us would come together to confront a premeditated hassle would be a bonding experience for this small group of people, and it would send the message that we are serious about our relationship with each other and the community at large. Personally, I don’t believe in the benefits of legal marriage [for me], so I have a hard time convincing myself that such formality is really needed in this project too. We have bonded by having serious disagreements from time to time, and being able to overcome them and still be producing awesomeness.

Another, more convincing benefit, would be the possibility of involving non-coders in this foundation in ways that the project, as is, isn’t prepared to take. For example, we could take in contributors of good documentation as members of this foundation. Having a formal relation with a formal organization might be a good incentive for some people to do that task really well — as opposed to being yet another voice on the cacophony of Wiki. Similarly to documenters, we might take in people for additional roles such as testers and community leaders in specific topics. The foundation would be a means to get ourselves more organized, just like legal marriage sometimes is a means to take on more responsibility.

So, the jury’s out on this. It’s not obvious that a foundation-anchored OpenSimulator project would be any better than what we have now. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

But independent on that possible foundation, I hope this sheds some light on some of these important issues that are rarely discussed in the dev ML, but that show up implicitly in many posts. The fact that the OpenSimulator project isn’t a formal organization but a collection of individual developers (even if they are in the payroll of others) with their own motivations that must be relentlessly protected and respected; that it doesn’t accept monetary donations; where the roadmap is the collection of interests of the individual developers; that constantly reminds the community to take on their own initiatives; that sucks at doing PR; … in other words, the refusal to take on a traditional community leadership position … none of this happens by accident; it’s something that has been carefully considered from time to time among the core devs, and which we have agreed upon. It’s what works for us. So far. Like many marriages, we may end up needing  to create a formal unit because of external pressures.

17 replies on “Organizational, Institutional and Financial Aspects of the OpenSimulator Project”

  1. Kyle G says:

    Well written Diva. I think an amazing thing has happened with Opensim where a community has created something so complex that has touched the lives of so many that for various reasons cannot use other virtual world platforms. As with anything created out of experimentation and passion there comes a point when it begins grow beyond what the original creators imagined. Opensim is at or is approaching that point.

    I have been in awe, frustrated by and at times intimidated by this project. Sometimes you want to scream, why isn’t this fixed, why can’t we have that feature implemented, then I remember “nobody is being paid”. Our company tries to help fix some of these items but this project is so massive we can only chip away like so many others.

    So does this mean money would allow us to have somebody to hold accountable to our personal and business needs? No. LL has the exact same issues with its users and is worth hundreds of millions. So I feel our role is to promote the fact that anyone can download this software, that the core developers make this happen and to contribute any fixes we can manage to the core code. By openly acknowledging the work of the core developers our hope is that they will be who people go to for large projects with compensation.

    I think that the project works well now despite the controversy and strife that happens occasionally. It bothers me that some who do so much work on the core are not financially rewarded but I feel this can change over time as the project improves and those contributors learn how to position themselves to be paid for consulting, hosting, customization and more.

    So what does all this rambling from me mean? In short I think the warm fuzzy feeling from the community is best served with more public discussions like this blog about Opensim as opposed to IRC. I think for the time being most donations should go to OSGrid as those guys do the heavy lifting of showing what this project can do. If you raise $100,000 donate a chunk to OSGrid, hire some developers and testers from the community & get your needs attended to but also chip in some dev time for fixes everyone can use.

    Thanks Diva for bringing this discussion to a public place and for your amazing contributions to the project. Thanks you developers big and small for powering ReactionGrid & giving us the opportunity to succeed. I look forward to hearing many other opinions on this discussion. I am humbled by the work you all do.

  2. Peter host says:

    I too have followed the discussions on this subject on the dev mailing list, and have been wondering, along with other about the feasability and usefullness of raising funds for the opensim project.
    You state very clearly that not amount of indie funding will ever come close to the (monetarized) value of thousands of hours of coding by the core members.
    There seems to be two possible visions under the name “fundation” there :
    – fisrt an opensim fundation, which mostly concerns the “opensim brand” ( if you’ll excuse me talking brand in an opensourced world) and the opensim dev team, and the overall coherence of a public image.
    – second, and as important, is the need for many users to build a sense of “usefullness”, to find a way to contribute, and when you’re neither a dev or a talented 3d modeller, raising funds is not a bad passtime. But what would one raise money for ? Paying artists for content creation is as hazardeous as raising it to pay devs. Why pay this one and not another, who takes the responsibility, etc…

    However, that it might be high time for an opensim “modeler’s space” to exist, officially, on the web. A content repository, aiming towards interoperability with other similar platforms (and building tools) , agnostic and grid-independant, a user-based fundation, dedicated to users, with Creative Commons (attributive) licensing. Even paid SL content developpers can see a real benefit in having some of their creations released under CC, with the added visibility that such a userspace can bring them back in return. I personally, am involved in webcomics, and have never earned a dime directly from the webcomics. But most of our clients for day to day commissionned artwork contact us from our webcomics site, and all the more as the Site’s PR grows. (erh… This was just an example to point out that free content is not a bad move as long as you get the credit for it ; and then, as it’s free, who will bother to clone/hack it when they can just copy it as is ?). Something we sorely miss as comes to content production (and I know you dedicated a lot of efforts to that already, so this is by no means a criticism, all the more so as i’d be almost clueless as to how to do that) is a search engine with an equivalent of google’s PR system measuring an estimation of a specific content’s presence on indexable grids (i can hear opensource monks screaming already) which helps promote good content and give an organic/natural incentive to content creators.

    Ok, enough babbling 😉

  3. Troy McConaghy says:

    Another foundation to look at is the Mozilla Foundation. They got some early seed money and do accept donations, but the majority of their revenues now come from search royalties.

    “In 2006 the Mozilla Foundation received $66.8 million in revenues, of which $61.5 million is attributed to ‘search royalties’.” – from the Wikipedia article on ‘Mozilla Foundation’

    Search Royalties?

    “The foundation has an ongoing deal with Google to make Google search the default in the Firefox browser search bar and hence send it search referrals; a Firefox themed Google search site has also been made the default home page of Firefox.”

    The Hypergrid also needs search, and can also have search-based advertising. In Second Life, search advertising is basically the Classified Ads, and people will pay thousands of US dollars per week to get their ads on top… For example, at this moment, Unique Megastore (in SL) is paying L$451,000 – or about 1670 US dollars for a one-week classified ad.

    My point is that all the people who are currently working on OpenSim but employed by someone else… those people could someday be employed by the foundation and work full-time on OpenSim / Hypergrid.

  4. Diva Canto says:

    @Troy: there aren’t that many Mozillas in the world; they happen to have found a gold mine. For OpenSimulator to hit a goldmine like that, someone would need to sit down and think really hard about a business plan — i.e. overhead, i.e. how to make money, i.e. business. Really, even if OpenSimulator would hit a gold mine like that (unlikely), the Mozilla Foundation is a great example of something we *don’t* want to become. While I’m sure a few of the OpenSimulator core developers wouldn’t mind to give up their current jobs and be hired to develop OpenSimulator full time, others (like me and so many others) would not do that.

    I’m not entirely sure how development of the Mozilla projects works; I’m not sure there is money for development itself. In any case, personally, I would *never* (well, never is a strong word, but you get the idea) contribute to a project that is controlled by one single organization, where the bulk of the development is done by paid full-time employees/contractors of that organization, and where the code being open is mainly a PR move to attract a certain market of techies. There are many people like me. Those are ventures where individual freedom and creativity of the technical people are usually second to the organization’s goals.

  5. Marcus Llewellyn says:

    First, a big +1 on Opensimulator not being at a place for a formal foundation yet. I’m rather fond of the anarchy with a civic bent we have going on.

    As a user that runs OpenSim like a cat chasing a butterfly, I really only have one thing I’d like to see core do better. And that’s creating and keeping to a roadmap on the way to a 1.0 release. Specific goals really need to be set and met, whether it be features, fixes, or optimizations. There’s definitely discussion on OpenSimulator’s direction in the opensim-dev list, but as a mere user, it doesn’t appear to have any real long-term planning to it. There’s an informal organization in core for sure, but it doesn’t always seem *organized*. If that makes sense.

    In reference to the list message that inspired this blog post, I notice that OpenSim’s Mantis tracker has a roadmap thingy. Why not use it? Doesn’t have to be written in stone, or anything. Just a fancy to-do list.

    People can then see for themselves what’s being done, what is waiting to be done, and what work is completed, presented in a cleaner, much less cluttered view than a regular mantis bug listing provides. Make it things important to the core devs. If it ain’t on there, but someone wants it… well, they’ll know that they will have to look around for support to make it happen, and that it might not be core material. And the rest of us can breathe a little easier when we see that something like mesh support is listed, and should arrive during 0.8.

  6. Troy McConaghy says:

    I’m worried about the typical Joe Ordinary, some guy who has a store in an OpenSim-based world where he runs a small business that supports his family. Maybe Joe makes custom skins on contract for other OpenSim users (i.e. a business where it doesn’t matter if someone copies the skins, because he gets paid for their initial creation, once). Whatever Joe does, he’s not a coder. He’ll never be able to participate in the core dev group.

    Joe Ordinary has a particular problem with OpenSim. There’s a weird bug with skins that his customers constantly complain about. What’s Joe Ordinary supposed to do? He can’t code. He doesn’t know any of the core dev group, except for having a vague idea who they are. He filed a bug report on the bug report thingy but he suspects nobody gives a damn except for him (and he’s right). Is he supposed to pay a core developer to make the change (then pay the rest to get them to approve it)?

    For Joe, the meritocratic, coder-centric system of control / governance that OpenSim has developed doesn’t work. And remember, Joe isn’t some weird example that I cooked up. Joe’s just some ordinary guy who happens to use OpenSim, but he can’t code. People like Joe make up the majority of the OpenSim userbase. Who shall speak for Joe?

  7. Diva Canto says:

    @Troy: if the post wasn’t clear, no one is here to fix bugs for pay. That’s the most insulting insinuation this post could have, and I’m ashamed that anyone in this community would even suggest that. Are you serious? If I were in your position and would think that about the project, I would run away as fast as I could.

    I am aware of work that has been done under contract, but that has been substantial new features, not bug fixes. If any of my fellow core developer colleagues have taken money for doing customer support (something I’m not aware, but it’s possible that it happens), it’s not for fixing bugs per se; it’s for the time interacting with the person(s) who think they need such support. Costumer support is time-consuming as hell, and in commercial contexts it’s one of the biggest expenses of companies, and consequently expensive for costumers too. Furthermore, in the context of the OpenSimulator project, bug fixes don’t need core dev discussions and voting, they are always welcome; so if individual developers (core or non-core) care to do it… by all means, do it!

    Obviously, people like Joe, if they want support for free, they need to get support from somewhere else — user groups, forums, etc. The group of core developers doesn’t do that. Others should. If others don’t, then, that’s going to eliminate a lot of people from using OpenSim. I’m afraid we can’t do everything, and we need to make choices about how to best use our time. That’s life.

  8. Troy McConaghy says:

    So what *should* Joe do to get his bug fixed (in the main branch of the code)?

    If I see a fallen road sign on my (real world) street corner, I can call the city maintenance people and let them know. There’s a system in place to fix bugs.

    With Second Life, there’s a public site where people can post bug reports and where anyone (including Lindens) can comment on them. Sometimes bugs don’t get fixed because a fix would break existing systems, but at least the Lindens are considerate enough to come on and explain that. People can also vote on bugs to help set priorities. One of the reasons SL residents are so vocal about their complaints is that they believe Linden Lab will listen – because they often do.

    I have a lot of hope for OpenSim and the Hypergrid, but if it’s really going to become the foundation of the “open” Metaverse, then it needs to have a feedback control system that works for all users, not just a select group of people with special skills.

  9. Diva Canto says:

    @Troy: The OpenSimulator project is not an organization, mush less one like a City, backed up by thousands of years of evolution of processes, or Linden Lab backed up by hundreds of millions of venture capital funding. It is a collection of developers who are doing this because they enjoy developing interesting systems — among lots of other reasons, some of them quite self-serving, like wanting to start companies with it. Put that in your head. If you want this collection of people to stop doing what they like and start doing what Joe needs, you are essentially killing the project, because most contributions are donated in the form of voluntary time for personal reasons.

    The “open metaverse” hopefully will be related to OpenSimulator, but it is something that transcends this project by a long shot! It’s completely unrealistic to expect that the 9 (yes, nine, as of now) active core developers of OpenSimulator are going to: (a) design that metaverse; (b) implement the general-purpose server; (c) do costumer support; (d) write the documentation; (e) do community management; (f) write standards proposals; (g) do their other jobs and interests. (Really, I don’t know what some people are smoking, but I’d like to have some of that… :)

    WRT running into bugs. OpenSimulator is a server, and one that’s a lot more complicated than a web server like Apache. Clearly, not even the Apache server is for public consumption, it requires a fair amount of technical mastery. Not to mention the web applications themselves. “All users” don’t run web servers. “All users” should not run OpenSim servers — simple as that.

    This doesn’t mean that “all users” are out of the possible metaverse. Just like on the Web, it means that users are exactly that — users of services set up by software engineers on top of Web servers. Same here. So Joe should probably be using a hosting company instead of trying to run OpenSim himself. By paying, Joe can at least try to pressure that company to pass the message along wrt the bug. Hopefully someone in that company can talk the technical language that developers respond to.

  10. jon himoff says:

    Diva — interesting post and hitting at the heart of the project trade-offs for contributors and supporters. How to make some money and still maintain freedom/creative chaos is a hard balance to grab hold of. We really respect the efforts of the devs involved and are amazed at how far the project has come without any real organization. As Justin once wrote — opensim is a tough mistress to be in love with.

    My sense is that OpenSim should be able to be the center of vibrant ecosystem and contributors (code and otherwise) should be in good position to make decent money from work there. I guess the current status is to understand that user growth isn’t happening fast right now. What really are the issues there? We see a lot of activitiy, but getting mainstream use isn’t happening at a rapid clip. Is it just a timing thing or are there more complex issues blocking broader market adoption?

    People complain about Linden Labs, but still there is a lot of money flowing in there each month? Why aren’t more people diverting that cash to opensim related projects? Clearly the offerng of software vs a hosted service are different. Why are Intel and IBM not supporting OpenSim with more new commits or even cash in some form? Is part of the block the fact that dev commmuity is so independent?

    We are looking forward to the 7.x releases as we hope a more federated architecutre will allow more focus on performance and release use case specific functions out so they can be monetized more directly. Either OpenSim needs more resource or it will need to focus on fewer features better. Probably agreeing on what to focus upon is the hardest trade-off of all.

  11. Diva Canto says:

    @jon Thanks for the comment. As for why adoption is slow. I don’t have much data, believe it or not, we don’t keep track of downloads (!). But adoption of technology never happens the way that people think it’s going to happen — that’s the surest thing. People assumed that there would be a large number of SL-like grids popping up everywhere (as made popular by the Hitler video, now removed from Youtube), and that these alternative SL-like worlds would be large enough to be in direct competition with LL. That’s not happening; there’s only a handful (if much) SL-like worlds worth mentioning; a few more tried and were a disaster. Maybe there hasn’t been enough time, maybe OpenSim isn’t mature enough for that, etc., but I don’t think that’s the right way of looking at this. Most people who use OpenSim use it in other ways, and at a much smaller scale. If people are looking for the SL clones, they ain’t here.

    In any case, my personal view on this is that the Second Life model/story is a niche application of online 3D immersion that has no wings anymore — well, maybe small wings on certain niches. Second Life itself is dying, I don’t believe the numbers they put out — they laid off 1/3 of their staff, for Christ’s sake; that’s speaks louder than any “economy indicators” or whatever they call those PR memos. We can (and must) ride on SL for another couple of years, but we must be ready to jump off pretty soon, and join the rest of the Web, if we want OpenSim to be relevant.

    I am extremely positive about the future of OpenSimulator — probably even more than before. If you want to know the reason why, read this:

  12. Troy McConaghy says:

    After re-reading this post and the comments, I’ve become more wary of OpenSim. It now seems like a bunch of cowboy code slingers who don’t care about the users of their software or it’s long-term sustainability.

    It takes more than chefs to make a restaurant.

  13. Diva Canto says:

    @Troy: It’s better to understand how things work for real than to live under the illusion of something that you think is or should be. Once you are informed, then you can make the decisions that work for you. Using your metaphor, you’ve hit it in the head: it takes more than chefs to make a restaurant, but the project, as is of now, is not here to make a restaurant; it’s here to make the food that can then be packaged in all sorts of manners by restaurant owners.

    Obviously, we aren’t a bunch of cowboys and girls. We are fairly technical, though, there’s no question about it. And the project values time and talent above money, for the reasons explained, which can be a bit unsettling. The $1.6M+/year direct, no-money-exchanged, voluntary time contributions resulting from all sorts of motivations that this project is made of is an amazing and highly intriguing reality. If you ever tried to start a company and raise money for it, you will come to be in awe of this model. It’s not the only model to raise money, but it’s definitely a really intriguing [and effective] one. It establishes a common base, free of charge, upon which lots of commercial and non-commercial organizations can exist, without each of them having to raise that kind of money by themselves. Hopefully, some of those organizations will cater to users like Joe.

  14. Given recent events in SL, what with buggy server updates, roll backs, staff reductions and the likelihood SL will get more expensive to run a sim, I have to agree with Diva. SL is probably slowly dying while the powers that be at Linden Labs desperately try to make Viewer 2 workable for the future 3D web and their recent aquisition of Avatars United might be very telling here. Quite what their thinking is I don’t know but it stands to reason they sure as hell don’t want to lose their dominant position in the market and history shows once an empire loses its way panic sets in and the gradual decline soon leads to an unstable house of cards. But whatever happens to SL I do personally want to see Opensim become the ‘Apache’ of the 3D web of the future because it must inevitably generate competition and, where SL has the traffic now, I myself and I know many others are ready to jump ship and embrace Opensim, just as soon as a workable, secure and, above all, sellable hypergrid emerges.

    I have dipped my toe in the Opensim waters and keep abreast of developments. I know all about Openlife and InWorldz trying to emulate SL on the back of Opensim code. None of them remotely stand a chance of stealing the SL crown or even coming close. Lets face it, they are just as walled up as SL with their patents. But, all said and done, SL has set standards of expectation in the market. Opensim is reversed engineered and has a look and feel that is the same as SL but the developers do appear to be aiming to take Opensim far beyond the SL model. I own and run three RPG sims in SL and trade in goods so I am presently comfortable with the SL look and feel and, of course, the traffic it still manages to attract but I am not blinded by it and far from happy with that awful “Big Brother is watching me” feeling I get these days from Linden Labs.

    My hat goes of to Opensim core developers and Diva for their hard work and while I agree, no one Opensim grid stands any chance of rivaling SL, I do believe. however, within a couple of years a Hypergrid of many grids will rival SL. Indeed, I think it is already happening but it is still too fragmented and lacking any central association to set any standards or address the issue of customer support which Troy above was getting at. I don’t know how such an association will come about if ever but I do agree with Troy that the typical Joe Ordinary will be lost in a lose confederacy of grids if there is no auntie to ask for help. Today, Joe Ordinary can go to the SL web site and create and dress his avatar and jump on board and do what he wants in a diverse metaverse of connected regions and I guess what Diva is saying is that the individual grids will offer these services themselves and, no doubt, compete with each other to attract users. Yes, this is already happening and developing so I think Troy is answered in part since, by the time Opensim matures, the infrastructure and services a grid should offer will already be in place across many grids.

    I can imagine Joe Ordinary arriving at some Hypergrid enabled grid and find he can get his avatar fixed up and ready to go because that grid provides the service. Joe looks around this new world and soon discovers it is but one of many grids, not just regions as would be the case in SL. Very soon, Joe realizes he can do more than teleport to another region. He finds he can hyper jump to another grid in fact and, to his delight, he will look exactly the same when he arrives and what’s more have access to his inventory. He can buy new stuff and it all goes with him when he returns home. If Joe Ordinary needs help I believe he will find it where ever he goes and in some grids the owners will have implemented dedicated widgets of their own to improve the user experience. Nothing like this is possible in a closed grid like SL, InWorldz, Openlife or any of the other wannabe Second Life clones simply because they continue to wall themselves into a dead end street. The beauty of Opensim and the core developer’s vision is that they want it to be free for anyone to use and the task for us, the users and content providers, is to embrace it and do all the things that brings the Hypergrid to life. The traffic will soon follow.

    I don’t know but I do believe Linden Labs is in a state of panic. They made Opensim possible when they released the viewer code and now I think they might like to push the gene back into the bottle. Perhaps Linden Labs will find their way again and become what they essentually are, a sever hosting company that is actually well placed to meet the needs of the emerging grids. But I do see troubled waters ahead for them if they don’t wake up to the reality that a lot of us that still spend our money in SL are looking at Opensim and could soon be voting with our virtual feet.

  15. Breen Whitman says:

    @Diva “no one is here to fix bugs for pay”.

    I have, in the past, been a funding advisor between local bodies and community services organisations and foundations(some of these were 3 employees, some 1000 employees).

    In the 7 years in the position I noted a sea change. And that is the attitude of the general public receiving services. And that is:

    Regardless of size of organisation(even the 3 person services provider), the public demands Bank level services, data handling and response times.

    At the far end of this scale is the classic hospital situation “More administrators than doctors. We must trim the administrators”. Which of course just pushes auditing and tasks onto the medical professionals, limiting their patient facing time.

    Yet the number of administrators was in response to the publics demand for communication, transparency, and reporting.

    Small organisations or foundations are especially vulnerable to these trends.

  16. Diva Canto says:

    @Breen Interesting.

    The most important thing is to understand where we stand, and to be painfully clear and bluntly honest about it. Instead of trying to please as many people as possible. It’s better to have less users who are a good fit to the project, than more users who aren’t — that’s only going to create mutual frustration.

  17. Ener Hax says:

    well said. i tried to donate last night but PayPal tossed an error stating that the OpenSimulator account could not accept a payment at this time. i know my $50 isn’t much but still . . .

    it’s hard to create an organization like this and the only one i have a little familiarity with is Blender 3D

    i don’t think it is insulting to offer to pay to have something done in OS – doesn’t the money coming in from the few big companies drive direction to a point? i think it would be insulting to say that anything will be done for money, the goals need to fit the core groups vision

    a project like this has to run on that small vision, or else it would just sit and spin. if i feel that my voice needs to be heard, then i better put my code where my mouth is and prove it. it is all too easy to sit back and say “do this” or “we need that”. i have no problem with those that do the work having the most say in what is going on. thinking otherwise is naive and if that is how the world works, then someone please come shovel my driveway in winter – i won’t pay you but i would be appreciative =)

    all in all, a nice insight to what is going on and until i create something better, i am happy with how things are progressing

    thank you to the core developers for having enough passion to do this, most people think that playing Farmville is work!

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