warning: this is truly a rambling post
a few weeks ago Hamlet Au wrote an article about a guy doing store layouts with some version of sim-on-a-stick. i have no idea if it was the pseudo-official sim-on-a-stick (patent pending by SpotON3D – kidding!) or if he built it himself. i did not invent SoaS, i just saw it as such an easy way to get people started in OpenSim for zero cost. the easy and free aspects are important to me because Second Life is too expensive to really try out. sure, you can get a free account – but without land to mess around on, you can’t fully explore all the possibilities
when subQuark was speaking at conferences about Second Life for eLearning, i saw people get excited but then never get in-world. at one conference in Texas in 2009, people were standing room only for his session (he had made a five minute loop of Second Life builds that played in the hallways of this conference, so he got loads of publicity for his session) and people stayed for an extra 30 minutes just to talk about Second Life. attendees were clearly fired up and why wouldn’t they be? they saw how straightforward it was to create sets and actors, how easy it was to film, and how fast you could create video for eLearning
BUT . . . you need land to really do this and that’s expensive in Second Life
OpenSim changed all that and when i saw Roger Stark’s tutorial on setting up OpenSim on a USB drive, it showed that you could run a decent version of OpenSim for free (plenty good to give building a try). then through banter on this blog, it became evident that people thought this was an approachable way to try OpenSim – so, as a gag, i grabbed simonastick.com. that was almost 18 months ago!
because of the Hamlet Au story about the store layout guy, i prodded subQuark to blog about his project from last year. he had mentioned it lightly in a previous post but i wanted him to get into it more. subQuark did write about it last week and Hamlet Au picked up the story and that’s awesome because Hamlet is deservedly well respected and this helps get the word out (the entire reason for this rambling)
BUT . . . what i find weird is the “disconnect” i hinted at in last night’s post in which only a niche group within the OpenSim niche seem to know about running sim-on-a-stick (clearly only the innovators and uber smartie pants are informed!) =D
there are some major power users of the stick concept: like Beacara who did the art gallery, Erik N. who networks it to allow a classroom to work concurrently on one stick, and Dorena who uses it with hypergridding
this disconnect is best summed up with Hamlet’s own words
It makes me think there’s a great Kickstarter crowdfunding project here: Develop and distribute OpenSim on a stick customized for use in rapid 3D prototyping.
i read that and was all like “what?” =(
isn’t that what has organically happened over the last year and a half?
Diva makes the D2 Distro for home use, Roger makes a live stick version out of it, then several other people (DreamWalker, Sarge, Breen, WhiteStar, Beacara, Kate B., and almost all of you steady readers) all impact what is now “simonastick.com”
i think more can be done and i’d love to see others offer their own versions or maybe modules to add to it. an example would be the “studio” tools mentioned by Beacara in a post here or maybe some ed-specific OARs like Kate B. has created for her students. i purposely don’t go down the road of adding anything to sim on a stick for two big reasons – one is that i think it should be a blank canvas to provide the bare minimum that allows anyone to put their own mark on it, and two – i know it would be more work for me to keep a more “evolved” version up-to-date and i’d probably fall behind
for example, the nifty New World Studio version of a super easy way to use OpenSim (easier than SoaS, imo) but it’s a few versions behind (0.7.1.1). part of that is beacuse it’s a pain to keep it up to date. keeping it simple, for me, means i am more likely to stay on top of it
so what’s my point?
if someone like Hamlet, who makes a living blogging about virtual worlds, doesn’t know about the work and ideas generated by you that have made sim-on-a-stick what it is today, then how the heck can we expect the mainstream to stumble upon this easy way to dip your toe in virtual worlds?
that’s my fault, for all i know about online metrics and being OCD about getting this momentarily in the top 1.72% of global web traffic (oh yeah, ain’t i da bomb! too hot to touch! =p), i have not applied that same vigor to getting simonastick.com rated highly. for one thing, every version of the site (four of them!) has always been as an image map and that means there’s no text for a search engine to read! derr! =\
what do you think needs to be added to the SoaS site to make it “friendlier” to understand for virtual world n00bs? does it assume the user knows more about OpenSim than they probably do?
phew! thanks for bearing with my rambling and thanks to ELQ last night who helped frame this dilemma in my head and a huge thank you to Hamlet for getting the word out to his way larger, and more mainstream, audience =)