Is that it?

predictIt’s that time of year again… the calendar equivalent of that last battery bar flickering off, whilst a big glowing message lights up the sky: ‘Please connect your charger’.

It also means that you are to be once again subjected to my irritating and annoying review of the last 12 months, along with my equally irritating and wholly inaccurate predictions for the coming global apocalypse year. Exactly how innacurate they are likely to be can be gauged from my success rate for 2013, for which my predictions were – mercifully – a rather short list. Bearing in mind the big changes that had taken place in 2012, together with it being the tenth anniversary of sl, you’d imagine i’d have been quite excited about the prospects for the year ahead, but somehow i managed to completely skirt around that to come up with some, frankly bizarre predictions for this past year:

Reclaim the Sims! Militant residents will stage a take over of sl – camping in safe hubs and Welcome Islands and insisting that sl belongs to them and that the Linden Capitalist scum are evil.

Well, not an inspiring start – i think the term ‘militant’ must have an entirely different meaning in sl. Certainly there’s been plenty of slagging-of of the Lab by mouthy and opinionated residents throughout the year, and plenty of the usual posturing and gesturbating on the forums and blogs, in the most predictable fashion, but few people ever seem to put their money where their mouth is and actually do something by way of protest. In retrospect, this was a wholly daft prediction that was never going to cut the mustard. Would have been nice to see some sort of real affirmative action from those who supposedly feel so strongly about the issues they’re always moaning about though!

kowloon16_001I’m a Linden, get me outta here! The Lab will experience a mass exodus of employees who, fearing the dreaded Skype call from HR for a minor infringement of the Tau of Linden, will jump ship and sell their souls to Cloud Party, leaving only Torley and Rodvik behind to feed the meeroos that power the servers.

Oooh, a modicum of success here! OK, so maybe it wasn’t a mass exodus as such, and it will have passed under the radar of many residents altogether, but 2013 was the year we saw Philip Rosedale stand down from the Linden Lab board – (and if you really don’t believe he has gone, try doing a people search for Philip Linden) – to be joined at Hi-Fidelity by sl veteran, Andrew Linden earlier this month. Both founding members of the sl phenomenon will be focussing their efforts on what is hotly tipped to be its natural successor… myself, i’m not so sure. To be fair, both went voluntarily, rather than out the back door, and it’s Hi-Fidelity, rather than Cloud Party, that’ll reap the benefits – but cut me some slack… i was sort of a little bit right!

Economy Drive. With no prior warning, LL will suddenly announce that gambling and banking are to return to sl. In the subsequent sudden rush of new sign-ups that completely fails to occur, several hundred land barons and sl institutions lose a fortune in speculative investments, going bankrupt and destabilising the Linden Dollar to such an extent that the Lab is forced to reduce tier in an effort to stay afloat.

Erm, got that hopelessly wrong.

Shock, horror! In an interesting and unexpected development, a gridnaught system will be trialled, allowing sl residents to TP to other grids, including those hosted on their own computers. The only drawback will be that – due to restrictions on IP rights – unless avatars happen to be wearing clothing they created themselves, they’ll inevitably end up naked on arrival, leading to a huge media scandal that sl is all about sex. Sign-ups will go through the roof!

And that one!

Not a resounding success overall, but at least i won’t have to eat my virtual hat, as i’d promised to do, had i managed to nail all of them. Let’s see if i can do better for next year. So, without further ado, here are my sl predictions for 2014:

There is but one Viewer, and thou shalt have no other viewers before it!
i won’t predict the death knell for TPVs, but it wouldn’t surprise me if forthcoming server-side changes favour the official viewer over third party offerings, maybe even to the extent of the Lab licensing certain aspects of their code in a way that third party developers will struggle to work with. i think we’ll see far greater third party involvement working with the Lab to develop the official Viewer, with TPVs lagging ever further behind.

kowloon14_001Shop till you drop
Before we’re too far into the new year – say around mid March – Marketplace will be re-launched… and it will be awesome! Content creators and shoppers alike will love the new design, which will have none of the bugs and glitches of the current Marketplace and will give buyers the flexibility or true Boolean searches, a wide range of filters, watch lists and a simple and effective rating and review system.

Wipe away your tiers
Going to go out on a limb here with a rather wild prediction – perhaps towards the end of next year. Tier won’t necessarily be reduced but will be radically overhauled to become fairer and more straightforward, and will make it far more attractive to those with less capacious pockets to own land.

Mere technicalities
On the technical and development side of sl, we’ll see greater integration with other platforms and networks: maybe groups exportable to Facebook, (along with the attendant privacy uproar), greater connectivity to Flickr, Twitter and Tumblr, perhaps? How about an inworld email client, and improved APIs for web connectivity? Most of these won’t be appreciated by the majority of residents, but they’ll certainly make sl a more viable platform for some parts of the community. Oculus Rift integration is a definite by the summer, but will probably flop, despite all the hype.

lea5_001Not gonna happen!
And let’s have one wild, crazy prediction that definitely won’t happen, but would make a very interesting turn up for the books, if it did – i predict, tongue firmly in cheek, that the Lab will introduce a residents’ forum – moderated and limited to selected individuals, who meet the desired criteria – which will serve to give residents a voice in the ongoing development and direction of sl. Chances of it happening… slim at best.

So, there you have it – 2014, i think will be an extremely interesting year. Then again, i could easily be wrong!

s. x

Went to the fortune teller
To have my fortune read
I didn’t know what to tell her
I had a dizzy feeling in my head
The Rolling Stones – Fortune Teller

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