The coal man cometh…

“But on us both did haggish age steal on. And wore us out of act!” Yep, going all cultural today and quoting Shakespeare at you – ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’, according to the Bard, but is that really true? Just because something works out OK in the end, does that mean that whatever has occurred previously is immaterial? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that point.

We are, however, coming to the end of 2017 and in terms of SL, I’d venture to say that it’s ending pretty well, with some significant enhancements and improvements having been introduced to SL over the course of the preceding year and some exciting times ahead of us to be realised in the coming months.

It’s around this time that I usually do a bit of a retrospective and come up with some predictions for the coming year, however I’m shying away from doing that this time around for a couple of reasons, firstly – my predictions in recent years have been so wide of the mark that it’s embarrassing to revisit them, and secondly – with the impending changes to the SL architecture that we’re looking at next year, I honestly couldn’t even attempt to guess at what this might mean for us residents.

So, let’s get the embarrassing bit over with – the things I predicted for 2017…

  • An inworld mesh building tool. Nope. Didn’t happen; I’ve been way off the mark with this prediction for two years now.
  • A simpler model of land ownership & payment. Also a big miss there.
  • Sansar success. Erm, I didn’t do so well on this either. Yes, the open beta came and went and as for my prediction that the majority of interest would come from outside SL, it’s hard to say, since we have no figures. However, in a desperate attempt to snatch some solace that I did get something right: I did predict Sansar would have little impact on SL concurrency, and in that regard I was absolutely correct. Yay, go me!
  • Linden Historical Project. Did I seriously predict this? What was I drinking at the time? A complete non-happening.

So, if anything, you can see I have a particular genius for failing to predict the future. Never ask me to come up with your lottery numbers – you’ll always lose!

A lot of things happened in my own personal SL story that I never anticipated too, the most surprising of which was my sudden excursion into the world of running a music venue (well, several actually), and becoming a virtual DJ. That’s something I vowed would never happen, and when it did, it was only supposed to be a one-off. Fat chance of that… It now forms part of my regular inworld pursuits and will probably continue for the foreseeable future. However, if there’s one lesson I’ve learned about virtual life, it’s never say never.

As for the future, from my personal perspective, the only certainty I have is that for the first quarter of 2018, at least, my inworld activities will continue to be curtailed due to work commitments, so I can’t see much happening until the springtime, beyond that, who knows?

From an SL perspective, I’m expecting a huge amount of change, and positive change at that. Most will arise as a result of the infrastructure and architecture changes that the Lab will be pushing forward with. As to what exactly that will mean to us, I don’t really know – with SL becoming cloud-based, the possibilities are endless, in terms of content, performance and potential. I expect a completely different approach to the management of assets and how the viewer works, but I really have no idea just what we can expect in that regard. The other, perhaps more complex influence that may bring change to bear on SL is what’s happening in the wider world of technology. Certainly, nobody really seems to know how virtual 3D is going to evolve in the coming months – it was supposed to be this year’s Big Thing, but it never really came to anything, perhaps 2018 will be the year that we see it become mainstream? Personally, I don’t anticipate that 3D SL is ever really going to take off – that will be the domain of Sansar – and we may even see 3D viewer support dropped or simply deprecated over the course of the year, but I do think that we may see an influx of new blood as a result of the wider 3D renaissance, and that will bring its own challenges and considerations.

Other technology too, not just the Cloud and 3D, will no doubt influence the future development of SL, and – perhaps more importantly – society’s attitude towards virtual technology, as will political agendas and policies. What that will mean for you, me and virtual life, is very hard to predict – there are so many variables and possibilities that to try and predict what things will look like in the future is pretty much impossible.

Back in the day, when for me New Year’s Eve used to mean big family parties at my grandmother’s house, it was always my father’s job – as a dark-haired man – to bring a lump of coal with him and undertake the first-footing, to bring good luck for the coming year. So, rather than make any predictions, I’m instead just going to take the opportunity to deliver you this virtual lump of coal in this last post of 2017 to wish you all the luck in the world, and a very happy, productive and maybe a even a prosperous future, in both your real and virtual lives.

See you on the other side!

s. x

I want me and you both to join hands down at the front
So the next time I see you, remember these words so
We’ll sing like the barricades are down, and we’ll dance like no one’s around,
Singing four simple words
Frank Turner – Four Simple Words

 

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