2008 Predictions Reviewed

1:58 pm child avatars, economy, forecast, last names, research, software development

On January 1, 2008 I made 10 predictions for the new year. One of them was voted #3 most popular in New World Notes a few days later. Now that 2008 is nearly over, let’s see how I did with all of them. If I did well enough, I’ll post something similar for 2009 shortly.

1. A RL celebrity will sue for the rights to use their own real first and last name on Second Life, which someone in Second Life has already reserved months or years ago either on purpose or by coincidence. If the settlement is reached within the year, then the outcome will be that the defendant will have to give up the name but can keep the avatar.

If it happened, I didn’t hear about it. Score: 0

2. A major virtual stock exchange, perhaps The World Stock Exchange (WSE) will close or will be shut down. Customers will lose money. It will re-invent itself in another form, in a move widely seen as a way to avoid paying liabilities associated with this failure.

I was right about everything except the very last part. Indeed, WSE closed within four days of me making this prediction. It reopened in August, definitely in a different form. Ordinal Malaprop had the quote of the day, saying, “I’m sorry, but after this lengthy downtime, I expect an unusually entertaining form of con-job to have been developed. I will not be mollified with the usual tripe; I demand something particularly complex and imaginative, and not just ‘hello perhaps you have forgotten that we are crooks’.”. However, the reopening was not “widely” seen as a way to avoid liabilities. There was my error. Aggressively de-listing companies, while the WSE itself was closed mind you, whenever the management of listed companies spoke poorly of WSE in third-party forums, was more closely associated with reneging on liabilities. In any case, it is currently closed again, after a November announcement with almost identical wording as the January 2008 one. I should have made the prediction twice. Lots of news happened in-between these closings and openings, but who cares. Honestly, I’m glad I don’t have to pay attention to it anymore. Score: 0.75

3. There will be a significant change to the “Community Standards” document. Specifically, section 5 will be significantly changed or removed.

Wagner James Au gave me a bit of a freebie in January 2008, saying,

Trailing in third is Adz Childs’ prediction that there’ll be “Significant changes to Community Standards”– though arguably, the Lindens’ closing of unlicensed virtual banks this week is already a drastic change to its “Buyer Beware” clause in those Standards, which state, “Linden Lab does not exercise editorial control over the content of Second Life.”

but I’m not going to take it. There were several other virtual edits to the CS document, for example, there was a definite change in advertising rules on the Mainland. However, with this prediction, I had in mind that the text of the CS document would be revised. It wasn’t. Score: 0.

4. Child avatar boy and girl shapes and outfits will be added to Library available to new users, or a 3rd-party registration portal that includes such shapes or specifically markets to adults wishing to join a community centered around child and family simulation will emerge.

I’m going to declare a small victory with this one. Only a child would be able to fit into a costume this small:
kid_costume_in_library I’m going to ignore the second-class status lent to us on the eve of SL5B, since this policy was eventually reversed, and grant myself a win just for the cardboard robot costume. Cute! Score: 1

5. Total residents will not exceed 16million. Refers to http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy_stats.php Number of users logged-in in the previous 30 days will continue to hover around 1million, its current average for the last six months, until next summer, when it will take-off to 1.25million by the end of the year. It will not exceed 1.5 million. Or, the way the statistics are calculated will change in an intractable way.

No and no. Score: 0

6. New last names available for new accounts will be released sporadically in 4 batches of 150 to 500, for a total of 1200 new last names available to the general public. This includes last names exclusively provided by alternative registration portals as long as they are open to the public.

Here is a recap of last name release episodes in 2008.

  1. After a three-month dry spell, Linden Lab released a whopping 1254 names in mid-march. Second Life users criticized LL for selecting names all from one ethnic group. An observant SL Forums poster isolated the list of names to a website of civil records of the town of Podwoloczyska, which was evidence of a copy-paste job. Another consequence of the hastily copied and pasted names was that they were riddled with homophones and single-letter variations on names. It was a mess. All of the names were retired by April 1st, 2008, which is quite lucky for anyone registering during this time; the average usage count for these names wound up being near 100. Usage counts as low as this hadn’t happened for public names since before April 2006.
  2. Another batch of 953 came on March 26, 2008. These were kept open until May 16-ish. Since there were so many names to choose from, new SL registrants during this relatively short period now enjoy being locked in to roughly a mere 640 other avatars sharing their last name.
  3. The next batch was relatively small, size 100, released on May 16th. These are still open, but sometimes the registration page does not list them. Since only 100 names replaced nearly 1000 retiring ones, and since the names are still available at the time of this writing, an average of about 14,000 Second Life accounts were created with these last names so far.
  4. Another smallish batch of 88 names came on August 8, 2008. These names are still available as well. Average usage is about 10,000 each.
  5. Linden Lab released 195 names on November 21, 2008. These are still available. Average usage is about 1,890 each right now.
  6. Linden Lab released 175 names on December 12, 2008. These are still available. Average usage is about 323 each right now.
  7. Linden Lab released 189 names on December 26, 2008. These are still available. It is too early to count their popularity in a meaningful way.

There were a total of 7 batches with 100 to 1254 names in each. The total number of names released for public consumption in 2008 was 2,954. I was quite off with the predicted numbers, but I was correct that the names would be released in irregular batches. I’ll give myself a Score: 0.25

7. Very few mainland regions will be released. LL will not return to auctioning new mainland regions until Q2. It is difficult to find statistics about mainland supply. But, supposing such statistics are available, however many regions were added to the Mainland in 2007, only half that number will be added to the Mainland in 2008.

This prediction was about Mainland, not Private Islands or OpenSpace. I said LL will not return to auctioning mainland regions until Q2. I was off on the timing by six months. LL did place a hold on Mainland auctions, but was delayed until June. The hold on Mainland auctions was pledged for only one month at first, but was renewed for two weeks, then another month at least, then despite a promise of an update nothing was posted on the subject again. The economic stats show there have been few if any full region auctions. I think Jack Linden should read my blog. As far as net Mainland growth goes, let’s compare years. In 2007, Linden Lab added 98 million square meters to The Mainland. In 2008, Linden Lab added 41 million square meters to The Mainland (pending December 2008 numbers not yet released). (Source: Key Metrics Downloads). I was dead on with the overall numbers, but I overestimated LL’s responsiveness and got the timing wrong. Score: 0.75

8. The distance between the world of Second Life and the Second Life Grid technology behind it will increase. (blah blah)

None of this happened. Score: 0

9. This will be the year of intellectual property in Second Life. My specific prediction is that a patent will be issued on a virtual invention. (blah blah)

This didn’t happen the way I expected. In March, Linden Lab decided to enforce some of its trademark rights. It was a big story that I don’t feel like writing about. With the threats of trademark enforcement, it shaped up to be the year of IP in Second Life by mid-year. I think I get partial credit for it. However, I can’t really call it that, since Linden Lab did not exercise all of the trademark challenges against individual SL users some of us anticipated it would. That said, there was some IP-related news this year. Most of it was related to trademarks, namely the SLArt controversy. Also, I’ll give myself partial credit for this patent granted in 2008, though. Score: 0.50

10. There will be a breakthrough in technology that allows integration of 2D and 3D Internet. For example, there might be a Second Life plug-in for Firefox.

The HTML-on-a-prim feature was stagnant. Maybe there were some technologies I didn’t hear about. Dusan Writer recently wrote about the awkward marriage of 2D and 3D, here. There are many neat ideas brewing, but there is nothing I would call a breakthrough in 2008. Are we stuck? Score: 0

Total Score 3.25 out of 10.
Feel free to comment if you feel I’ve missed any 2008 news affecting this analysis.
– Big Adz ))

9 Responses
  1. Graham Mills :

    Date: December 28, 2008 @ 18:13

  2. Vint :

    Date: December 28, 2008 @ 20:36

    Adz, maybe you were right here: “The distance between the world of Second Life and the Second Life Grid technology behind it will increase.”

    River Run Red’s err.. what are they called again… immersionalist workspaces? They use SL grid technology, but are not connected to it? :)

  3. Adz :

    Date: December 28, 2008 @ 22:14

    oh, yeah.

  4. Adz Childs :

    Date: December 30, 2008 @ 15:57

    More VW patent news:
    Virtual Worlds News
    Worlds.com Files Suit Against NCsoft for Patent Infringement

  5. Adz Childs :

    Date: December 30, 2008 @ 15:58

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