Further Thoughts on Open Virtual Worlds

I was just lucky enough to be a participant in the Open Source, IP and Privacy in Virtual Worlds Life 2.0 panel in Secondlife. I would have to say being on the floor with such incredibly big names as Zero Linden, Eben Moglen, and Zha Ewry was rather humbling, even if I know Zha pretty well in real life. All of them have incredible thoughts on the space, and I personally learned quite a bit through the panel. An additional thought occurred to me after the panel, which isn’t all that fleshed out, but worth at least jotting down (I’m sure I’ll have a few more of these random thoughts over the next few days).

Freedom to Leave in Virtual Worlds

Eben talked very eloquently on the two powers provided by participants in an environment: Voice and Exit. While we explored both of them on the panel, something occurred to me is that Exit is really not all that possible today in any Virtual World sense. You can decide not to participate, but you don’t really have the freedom to leave.

“freedom to leave”, an open-standards based assurance that users can move their data easily between interoperable platforms and services.

Today, if you decide to leave any virtual world platform (even OpenSim), you pretty much have to leave you data behind. I think that one of the features people will be looking for in the virtual worlds of tomorrow is the same freedom to leave that they get from any standard web or mail infrastructure provider today. Part of what has made Google successful in the application hosting space is by ensuring it’s easy to leave the platform.

One of the biggest reasons I left LiveJournal was that it was hard to leave, and the longer I built up content in that environment, the harder it was going to be for me to get it out.

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