is Opensim more a part of the social web than Second Life?


comparing OpenSim to Second Life will be an on-going thing for some time to come, especially by those that may have started in Second Life. that is slowly changing as the demographic continues to shift to people that start in OpenSim or only use OpenSim as their virtual world venue

Second Life continues, and probably will for years, to be larger and more populous than all OpenSim deployments combined. Second Life has certainly garnered more media attention than OpenSim ever will but media attention doesn’t mean much as far as adoption, usefulness, and being part of the social web is concerned

WordPress has never received mainstream media attention – it’s free and it powers 15% of the top one million websites and powers 22% of all new websites. it’s easy to use on an individual scale and takes under 30 seconds to install with even the least expensive of hosting companies (under $4 a month), and is also used by huge organizations like I Can Haz Cheeseburger (owners of FailBlog), The New York Times, CNN, Forbes, Reuters, TechCrunch, and ebay! there’s no denying that WordPress is a big part of the social web

is OpenSim better poised to be a part of the social web than Second Life?

because its community is smaller and because it is not a walled garden, OpenSim is a part of the social web and not an island onto itself. the nature of OpenSim being able to be deployed at home and being scattered all over the place might be frustrating from a content point of view but it also forces its community to be more involved in the overall social web than Second Life does

do you think that a greater percentage of OpenSim users participate and contribute in the social web than Second Life residents?

people who comment here contribute relevant and valuable information to the OpenSim community in a way that is searchable and a real part of today’s social web

your thoughts?

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written by Ener Hax

March 14th, 2012 at 8:17 am

16 comments to 'is Opensim more a part of the social web than Second Life?'

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  1. Yes, Ener, OSG surely is positioned better to play an active role in social networking, its members are more active, better educated and all that. Only they are not very social people. As you told me yourself, you’re mostly alone in your sim, tinkering on your stuff. Of course you comunicate to the social net via this blog … but that’s it.

    SL has a completely different demographic. Many, if not most SLers can’t give a hoot about the technical side of their grid. They come to SL with a more or less defined agenda, be it building, dancing, art, music, relationships, sex, RP or whatever. It doesn’t matter if SL is a walled garden as long as it’s a beautiful garden, a garden in which people can find anything they fancy.

    During a typical day in SL I met 20 – 30, often even more friends. Friends as being in my friendslist. Plus hundreds of strangers. That’s social networking, isn’t it?

    And don’t tell me SL isn’t to be deployed at home and scattered all over the place. Download the viewer, log on, voila.

    So SL is a social web in itself. And with the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of blogs about SL we’re reaching out into the greater net as well.

    Orca Flotta

    14 Mar 12 at 9:12 am

  2. I have always viewed virtual worlds like a back yard or garden. You might spend a lot of time working on it, but this is so you can share it with friends that come over.

    Also, just like in a back yard, you will sometimes have activities you can do (BBQs, swimming pools, etc).

    So, even if you only have “friends” (other virtual world users) come over once a month, it is still worth the effort you put into it.

    It is not the quantity, but the quality.

    As for a social web, well the name says it all: “Social” and “Web”.

    A web or network is about connections. With social networks they are a specific type of network called a “Small World” network. These are networks that have many short ranged links, but also have a few long ranged links. It is called a small world network because this kind of topology give the shortest travel times in the network with the fewest links.

    If they were all short ranged links then to travel the network you would have to go from local link to local link until you get to the destination. If they were all long links, then to get full coverage you would need to have many more links.

    With a walled garden, all the links effectively become short links (although there can be longer links within the garden, they are relative to the greater world only short links).

    With the hypergrid, this facilitates the Small World type networks. Each grid is essentially the short links, but the hypergrid links become the long range links.

    Some interesting things about small world networks is that information spreads quickly through them with the highest fidelity (lots of short ranged links give the “Chinese whispers” effect where as only long links doesn’t allow full coverage quickly) and small world networks seem to be the most common type of network in the natural world.


    14 Mar 12 at 11:59 am

  3. Ener wrote: “is OpenSim better poised to be a part of the social web than Second Life?”

    I really don’t think there is likely to be a difference between Second Life as a social web than Opensim or any other virtual world platform. Here is what I think…

    Creative people and imaginative role players tend to be more generally private and so not terribly good at social networking. On the other hand, the masses tend to be less creative, definitely more social and quite often only too happy to bare their souls to the world revealing the most intimate details about their real lives. Facebook loves the masses and courts them. Linden Labs attempts to do the same but is up against the “half-person” factor in virtual worlds where it is impossible to know who exactly an avatar is or how many avatar faces the individual has – it is entirely possible to meet the same person in a different avatar on the same day without you knowing it! This is a well known phenomenon and the source of much suspicion and drama in virtual worlds. Facebook and Google have all tried to ban the avatar as if there is no real person behind them.

    In my view Virtual worlds don’t make the best social networks for REAL people to interact through because they do so behind a mask. On the other hand virtual worlds are brilliant vehicles for role players who understand what it means to act a part – to be someone else.

    There is, however, what we call “Crossing” in role play circles which leads to an “Other” form of social networking in virtual worlds – the virtual soap opera. This is the free mixing of both game-characters with half normal activity not associated with any particular theme or game, ie. borrowed characteristics.

    The virtual soap is the practice and play ground of pretty much every avatar where they don’t consciously role play in any particular theme or storyline. A lot of people who are not even role players also, for one reason or another, use this mask to be what they are not in real life and, so long as they do not pursue any criminal intent, griefing or screwing with people’s minds, then there is nothing wrong with it.

    I think actually there are many REAL role players who hate being associated with the soap opera of the masses and actively shun social networking for that reason. In most role play games there is a constant source of tension and a drama that arises because people who want to role play are too often tainted with the bad habits of the soap opera. That is, mixing IC (In Character) knowledge with OOC (Out Of Character ) knowledge. We often say “These people are playing themselves”. Or, they play “Disney”. In BDSM circles there is a lot of tension generated by the ownership of “willing” slaves or between to so-called life-stylers of Gor and the serious role players. The world of Second Life is diverse but nearly everyone is role playing for to express their character. It’s just most don’t do it very well or understand when not to.

    The bottom line in my view is that virtual worlds are a great vehicle for creative expression and make believe but will never serve as a viable social web for the masses like Facebook dose. Second Life would have been up there with Facebook today if that were the case.


    14 Mar 12 at 12:05 pm

  4. Definitely. When you compare the two, you see that OpenSim has grown, in an organic fashion. SL was built. Social interaction happens best where people are comfortable. And people are more comfortable in surrounds that are as less artificial as possible. Even in such an artificial setting as a virtual world. Its like enjoying the company of others in a living room versus a shopping mall.

    Sarge Misfit

    14 Mar 12 at 12:06 pm

  5. @Orca. Indeed true. I sort of liken SL to a gated community with a country club in its midst.

    Residents carry out their daily lives in the community, frequent the club, pay a tier, dislike the lower classes(the non payers), occasionally face the wrath of the corporate committee if your garbage bag is left out too early(prim littering), sometimes can’t get back in thru security because they are flagged as bad debtors, disallow non approved people(ban lines), and often have dubious private security(the JLU), and bolster there own insecurities because they have an illusion of community spirit.

    And when alls well and done, through some breach of contract, you find yourself escorted to the gates, kicked out, and according to the contract, you incur all costs, and may or may not get your property back.

    Opensim is like an island paradise(where one could build two islands, with 10 more sea regions and sale between them, at solitary peace with the world

    Breen Whitman

    14 Mar 12 at 1:19 pm

  6. Hi,

    this might sound strange, but I don’t think you can really compare the two. OpenSim is a software, and as such can be anything, or nothing at all, while Second Life is a product, or a service, and therefor much more one-of-a-kind. To stay with your comparison: Is WordPress more social than Blogger? Well, both drive blogs, but with Blogger, you can only do blogs, whereas WordPress is used as very versatile CMS all over. Yet still: What does this tell us about the popularity of WordPress or Blogger sites? Basically, nothing at all. But even though it depends on the people using the software/services, WordPress offers – due to its high flexibility and customization – a much larger appeal, which leads to a much more widespread use. Let’s do a test: Name, off the top of your head, five great sites run on WordPress, and five run on Blogger. I don’t know about you, but I have little problem coming up with the WordPress sites, but with blogger, I can, spontaneously, just think of two.

    If we can draw a comparison, then it’ll probably be like this: People will use OpenSim as a backend for a lot of diverse services, running, eventually, many popular destinations, whereas Second Life may have a future offering a “service bundle” for casual users.


    14 Mar 12 at 2:14 pm

  7. yay Orca for OpenSim peeps being smarter =p but i would say that i reach out to more people in a more meaningful manner via the blog than i ever did inSL. i did have 300 people on my friends list and i met a dozen new people a week as a Mentor but now that i am gone from SL i would conclude that i have closer friends “out here” even though i am alone on my grid 99% of the time

    now the deployment side, i meant as in your own home region versus one owned by LL, just like this is my blog which i can move from website to website. with hypergridding, you can jump from your region to another person’s region on their own machine just like jumping around on the web

    but . . . neither SL or OpenSim are accessible enough to make them an intergral part yet. once we can surf to a person’s grid without needing an account, then it will be more a part of the “social web” and then i’ll be over for Paul’s BBQ! Yum! =D

    hypergrid capability is a significant difference and by definition makes OpenSim more open – for better and for worse

    wow Gaga! great dissertation and i believe you have a deep grasp of the majority of Second Life people but is that also as true for OpenSim? maybe my experience has been highly specific (Reacton Grid and the small group it had at the time – all educators, and of course my full-on hermit lifestyle now)

    nice perspective Sarge and i would agree that OpenSim’s growth has been a more organic and has been a more “real” growth. it “feels” very different to me now than it did a year and a half ago – more genuine feeling to me than SL was

    i do like my island paradise! my focus is so different now and it is more technical – i don’t miss much from SL except for physics (gated community def from wiki is a propos)

    nice point Vanish – OpenSm is vastly different and, in itself, is nothing. that lump of clay (blank canvas, or whatever metaphor you like) can be shaped into many things, including our use which is basicaly a 3D illustration for science topics

    now i am the opposite, i can’t think of anyone in blogger but that’s because i’ve only used WordPress (and setup a dozden WP logs for others)

    your summation is spot on, imo, SL is for casual users maybe a little bit like playing Farmville is. OpenSim allows fro many targetted uses

    Ener Hax

    14 Mar 12 at 6:45 pm

  8. At one time it was easy to make a simplistic comparison from an earlier example of 2d internet evolution. AOL was once the prime social network of its day, and it had a small window inside it (a browser) that AOL called “The Internet” :)

    SL = AOL
    OS = WEB

    It is clear that SL is becoming more limiting, while at the same time, OpenSim is becoming more unlimited.

    SL is a business with clients. It makes decisions for its self interest, and thus its clients are limited to social networking connections that the business allows. Each change to SL’s TOS (Terms of Service) increasingly constrict it and draw it inward upon itself.

    OpenSim, as an open system, growing in the inverse direction from SL, enabling an open-ended expansion, unlimited by business constraints. Already we are starting to see some OpenSim interoperability with other social networking platforms.

    OpenSim and SL may be competitive in some ways, but they are are not diametrically opposed:

    1. OpenSim is primarily influenced by SL’s business decisions due to use of the same viewers; and secondarily by technology developments.

    2. SecondLife is influenced by OpenSim’s lower costs and by OpenSim technology advancements, because SL needs to continue to move forward or it will lose more of its clients.

    Richer potential exists for many OpenSim users for social networking, somewhat due to the fact that unification of avatar identity and real world identity is not shunned in OpenSim. The SL business model, and even the name of the company is built on a culture of hidden real life identity, hence the social networking interoperability is reduced.

    Lani Global

    15 Mar 12 at 4:25 am

  9. To be honest, i found amazing person behind avatars, both on Open sims and Second Life.
    Some, don’t make a borderline about their Rl identity and their Avatar one, Others, Like Me, Will never let both be mixed nor related.
    Still no matter what path any chooses I would never consider a resident on one of them to be less educated or clever then on the other!
    Sure, it is easy to find the worst on Second Life.
    But is amazing how much more We often discover what makes Us proud of being part of it!

    ZZ Bottom

    15 Mar 12 at 9:03 am

  10. As it so happens my hubby and I are living in a gated community in RL as well. When we moved from Germany to South Africa we lived in a freestanding home for a while but just had too many break-ins. Then we moved to the suburbs and into a gated community, mostly because it’s much cheaper. Another reason being that our house/unit is so much more secure during our extended travels.

    The difference between SL and OSG isn’t that huge. I don’t see much of a philosophical difference between all the grids but huge practical differences: what I want from a VW I get much better and much more in SL. And that is my friends, my community, a market, an economy. And most important: vehicle physics!!! That is the only reason why most of us sailors are still clinging on to SL and don’t come to OSG, InworldZ or any other grid.

    My point is: I don’t see a competition between SL and other grids!
    What I want from a virtual world I get best from SL.

    For kinda the same reason I choose Blogger (powered by the evil Google) over WordPress for my own bloggy thingy. Prettier templates and super easy customification. And it does what I want. As a little blogging housewife I don’t need a CMS, I don’t need lots of managing tools. All I need I get from blogger. The freedom of limitation, I chose it.

    Don’t get my wrong, I love open source software (we even have a Linux machine as second computer) and use it as much as possible. I compare SL to MS-Office (which I hate with a passion) and OSG to Libre Office (which I use exclusively). Only that Libre Office offers me the same functionality and same user interface as the MW product and is totally comparable, while OSG is lacking in most everything LL’s grid does supply me with.

    There are certain KO factors which render OSG and other grids as unusuable for me and many others. That’s why we’re still paying LL’s outrageous tier fees. I know for my tier fee I get only 4096 m² in SL but could probably run a multisim setup in OSG. Only I wouldn’t know what to do with my OS sims. Doesn’t matter much since I’m basically never at home anyway.

    Orca Flotta

    15 Mar 12 at 9:19 am

  11. i did not think of that Lani “built on a culture of hidden real life identity”, but you are correct and just the name “Second Life” is literally intended to be about creating an alternate identity

    i’m with you ZZ, my avatar identity is separate from my real identity, not for nefarious reasons but it gives me permission to be more forward and more out there than my real self is. for me it’s a confidence issue and i can be more confident, and more my inner child, as Ener Hax than i can be as me

    very good argument Orca and completely sound reasoning. i’m not social and OpenSim is perfect for me, i really only use it as a 3D application, like Blender, with the benefit of having people be able to enter it and explore. i’m not interested in doing any commerce and we won’t even let anyone build in our grid. we may have a small sandbox so that someone can rezz something to customise their avatar but that’s it

    our grid is indeed an island onto itself with no need to be connected or to act as a complete world. i suppose we are more analogous to a picture book than to Second Life

    i have heard others also wish that sailing was more possible and, in time, that should happen. if sailing ever becomes as good, or better than, Second Life i would expect to see massive sailing worlds come online (especially with things like Aurora sim)

    thanks Orca for taking the time to share your uses and experience, it helps balance out the vitrtual world picture =)

    Ener Hax

    15 Mar 12 at 12:25 pm

  12. [i]more forward and more out there than my real self is. [/i]

    That makes you the most forward and out there hermit ever.

    Sorry for the pun ^.^

    Orca Flotta

    15 Mar 12 at 1:08 pm

  13. @Orca “Don’t get my wrong, I love open source software…”


    But a good point about vehicle physics. Havok is a very good physics engine.

    “When we moved from Germany to South Africa we lived in a freestanding home for a while but just had too many break-ins.”

    *blinks* Ah, South Africa. The only country in the world with road signs that don’t warn of speed black spots but of carjacking hot spots(fyi for others, this is not humor).

    We had a colleague come from South Africa. She couldn’t sleep because bars weren’t over the windows, Thought there was a fault with her (new) car as it didnt self lock when you started driving.

    Actually, I do stand corrected. Second Life is required in this world for some people.

    Breen Whitman

    15 Mar 12 at 1:20 pm

  14. i pride myself on being an out going hermit! =D

    second life has advantages for sure and i do believe that the demographic has some significant differences

    one isn’t better than the other, in general, and each is best for certain activities and uses

    and neither needs to be everyone’s favourite – i loved SL for a few years and now mu needs are different and OpenSim fits those very nicely

    Ener Hax

    15 Mar 12 at 6:47 pm

  15. Surf, ride my own build bikes and cars, race Nascar!
    That is what makes me still go to Sl.
    For the rest!
    Well, 99pct of the time im on im at Os grid, enough said:)

    ZZ Bottom

    16 Mar 12 at 10:50 am

  16. good use of SL ZZ – physics are pretty meager in OpenSim but hopefully will be better soon, maybe with the move to Overte there will be more licensing options (that’s the stumbling block for physics atm)

    Ener Hax

    16 Mar 12 at 2:00 pm

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