I have no doubt though that for another generation of highly networked youth, spaces like Second Life will be where they prefer to inhabit, where they play and where they work and learn. I just think that a highly centralized, proprietary and highly commercialized 'service' is not where it's at - it didn't work for the internet as we mostly know it today, and I don't see why it will be what the Web3Ders of tomorrow will want either.
For this reason it was interesting to see Tim Wang's post: Arts Metaverse Constructed on Open Croquet. Tim's group at the University of British Columbia, who have already done work on the UBC island in Second Life, are now moving into developing for the Open Source Croquet system. Croquet is:
an open source software development environment for the creation and large-scale distributed deployment of multi-user virtual 3D applications and Metaverse that are (1) persistent (2) deeply collaborative, (3) interconnected and (4) interoperable. The Croquet architecture supports synchronous communication, collaboration, resource sharing and computation among large numbers of users on multiple platforms and multiple devices.There are a lot of advantages to Croquet over Second Life (some are mentioned in Tim's post) but the most obvious and powerful has to be that it is truly Open Source and that there is the possibility for the server power required to run these kinds of enivonments to be distributed over the network, ie. decentralized. If Croquet can start getting some real backing by developers like the UBC is doing and other organisations who start looking beyond the fancy graphics and more at the long term implications of supporting proprietary and centralized services then this platform could make Second Life look second rate.