Microcosms, Second Life and the Giant Zero of Distributed Media

a twitter msg sent by me from within sl

Second Life offers a grid that is a microcosm of the connectedness that the Internet, operating as a pervasive, worldwide grid, promises.

Second Life offers a peek into possibilities of what the world might look and feel like when the internet-as-grid connects all facets of how we live. I’m not talking about how it may look visually, don’t get too hung up on that, but how it functions – or more-so, supports how we as humans choose to function. At a time when it does so in the way that it almost becomes invisible. 

Doc Searls talks about the Giant Zero – how the internet potentially puts us zero distance from each other. Second Life, because of its contained grid nature, provides interesting glimpses into that giant zero existence.

One such glimpse I experienced the other day while in SL.

I was trying out a media browser in-world that offered a screen where you can choose to view different things like youtube and google videos, see images you load into the browser, open a url, play streaming audio. Nothing overly special. You are able to also add anything you watch as a favourite, like bookmarking. Where it gets interesting is these favourites, your favourites, go with you so that if you are at another of these media-browsers anywhere else in SL you can step up and see the things you’ve favourited at any other browser. There’s no login or signup or password. You are recognised as you and your favourites are available (the owner of each media-browser has ability to set permissions).

Now just imagine that. You are at a friends place and you say, “gee mate, you should see this great youtube vid I saw” then you pickup the remote to your friends TV and the remote automatically recognises it’s you, knows your a friend and as you press the Favourites button on your friends remote it’s your favourites that appear on his screen, ready to select the youtube video you’d saved yesterday … at yet another friends place or your home or a public library or on your mobile on the way. The same could apply for any digital media that fills your life.

Instantly you have access to your own set of data that is user centric and goes with you .. even though you don’t actually ‘carry’ it around. In a sense it ‘follows’ you on the internet connected grid that exists by connecting all the devices we encounter as we go about our lives.

Now okay, none of this isn’t anything people haven’t written or spoken about before. Certainly though the discussions around identity and intellectual property and personal data portability became very clear to me. But there was an enlightening moment as to how all these things could work together, and how in doing so our lives would be made richer, and just how very close it is.

All this in a fleeting encounter in a virtual world that many consider just a game. 

In my view it’s much more for those who choose to look, and, as I said in the beginning, one of the things it certainly is, is a microcosm of a future connected world.


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