The open source metaverse

Opinion: What’s a Grid?

[Editors note: This was posted on the main OSgrid Website by resident Marcus Llewllyn, however I feel it is a good overview on why OSgrid isn’t Second Life® (and for the most part, wont ever be). It is reprinted here with permission.]

I was perusing the wire on the OSgrid site tonight, and a number of comments in it caught my eye. Someone had noted that OpenSim does not have feature or reliability parity with Second Life®, and so could not “compete”. Many replies to this comment noted that OSgrid and OpenSim are not intended to be, and will never be, a Second Life® competitor.

I can’t really blame people new to OSgrid for having this attitude, though. Because we currently use the same viewer, OSgrid and OpenSim look like SL®. They also use the same nomenclature as SL™, with “regions,” “sims,” “grids,” etc. Unless they’ve hung out on IRC, followed the mailing lists, and attended the office meetings, these people have very little reason to think otherwise. Well, that’s not completely true… the website for OSgrid definitely sets itself apart from SL®, and already has some features that are interesting to the average user that SL™ lacks. But the in-world experience still carries a whole lot of weight.

Terminology is an interesting thing here, I think, particularly the semantics behind the word grid. The grid on OSgrid really is a different animal than the one Linden Lab® hosts. LL’s grid is a controlled environment. This affords certain expectations about reliability and grid-wide feature availability. Unlike OSgrid, not just anyone with a spare machine and enough bandwidth can join their grid. OSgrid does not and cannot guarantee reliability or availability for two reasons; it does not have control over the vast majority of the regions on it’s grid, and its experimental nature means that features may be incomplete, may have different behavior, or may just be plain unimplemented.

The difference here is as one between, say, your phone company and the web. When your phone or the phone of someone you’re trying to call stops working, you can reasonably blame the phone company. If they change the way you expect your phone to work, you can also blame them. When Twitter goes down however, you blame Twitter. You don’t blame the web. If Google does search one way, and Yahoo another, you don’t blame the web.

Second Life® has occasionally said it wanted to be the 3D web, but as long as they are a closed grid, they will never be. OSgrid’s open style is already much closer, feature parity or not.

There is your competition.