The Wisdom of Pavig Lok

Learning from Pavig Lok

We’re now on the aftermath of the OpenSpace drama, as thousands of owners of OpenSpace sims, after weeping and moaning, are dropping their sims or consolidate them into “regular” sims. My friends report that almost a thousand sims were immediately discarded after the announcement (there is no market value for them), but I have no clue if that’s true: we’ll have to patiently wait for LL’s “official statistics” to see the results (most of these “sim counters” out there don’t take into account non-visible land, of course).

I think that dropping so many sims was a bit premature, though — after all, people will enjoy the same price until the end of the year, and OpenSpace owners could simply drop it at the end of December (timing it right so that they wouldn’t pay more monthly fees). But, alas, like the worldwide financial crisis, it’s the perception of a crisis that counts…

As usual, Linden Lab is counting on residents to calm down, bite the bullet, and focus on other things. They know that Second Life® residents have short memories: once a few thousands have left SL, nobody will remember any more what “OpenSpace simulators” are. As a proof, take a look at the vote count at the JIRA: after a huge exponential growth in votes in the first few days, it just got some extra hundred votes in the last week. People are forgetting.

In the mean time, I was looking for an answer for my own question on the last article on the subject — the question of why Linden Lab suddenly dropped the OpenSpace product and replaced it with something pretty useless. And by chance I have met Pavig Lok; we’re often together at the Thinker’s meetings (every Tuesday at 3 PM, in case you’re interested — it’s announced on the Linden Event list) and this was an opportunity to learn about his ideas.

The Three Types of Geeks

Let’s be clear here: Pavig Lok is one of the wisest persons I ever met in SL. Sadly, he hasn’t felt the urge to continue his well-thought blog for a while (“writer’s block”) but he’s always delightful to listen to. On this particular day he was quite inspired and very willing to share a bit of his vast wisdom to a tiny audience of two (LittleToe Bartlett being the other one!).

His first evaluation was discussing the changing population of Second Life. One thing that becomes clearer to me as I get older (in SL 🙂 ) is that “Second Life is not for the masses”. We’re sort of an elite of very special human beings, the ones that “get” SL, and we’re different because of it. LL’s purpose as established on their mission (“to improve the human condition through the use of virtual worlds”) will probably not work well — because SL is not a mass-market product. When you read people on Slashdot — many of which are expert computer programmers and system administrators — totally bashing SL, year after year, you start to think about the why. Why is a normal, intelligent, open-minded person so against SL? I asked this quite often when seeing my closest friends and former business associates to have such an aggressive anti-VW stance. But we worked together; we “understood” the Internet; we “got” the World-Wide Web. We shared the same ideals; we promoted open source software together; we were all for communities, social web sites, and reaching out for an audience where race, creed, nation, age, or gender were irrelevant; in many cases, we dreamed the same dreams and shared ideologies and beliefs. But I stood alone when embracing virtual worlds; they remained on the scornful side, laughing at me. Why?

I had no answer, but Pavig Lok has a very good one.

First and foremost, Second Life is, ultimately, GeekWorld — we might claim otherwise (I, for instance, am too old to be called a “geek” 🙂 ), but what we “special” human beings (a.k.a. “residents”) share is a certain amount of geekishness. It might not be too much. For some, it just means replacing Internet Explorer with Firefox on their desktops. Others use old CD cases to hold their jewelry but would never look at their faces on a mirror and admit they’re geeks too. Not all geeks are white male late-teenagers/young adults with glasses, living in basements and attics, getting sun tans from the glow of old CRTs. In fact, a certain geekishness is even a bit “fashionable” these days. You can fancy Prada or D&G and still be geek enough to text to your sweetheart. You might just watch soap operas with your friends, but when they go away, you secretely turn your Wii on — even if it’s just for the aerobics software.

But just the slightest touch of geekishness, even if surpressed, makes us log in to SL. As opposed to a “mainstream” product. And that’s why SL ultimately can only grow to fill a niche of “slightly geeky people” and not expand much further.

Having a product for a niche is not bad. After all, that’s what Apple (or Harley-Davidson) does. They still are profitable companies — and they make it quite clear that their products are “only for an elite”. An elite that buys the brands’ message and feels a certain belonging to the group of people that uses that brand, and behave accordingly (PC users refer to their computers as “their desktops” or “laptops”; Apple fans have Macs, MacBooks, iMacs, not “computers” or “machines”. It would just feel weird calling a Mac Pro a “desktop computer”. It’s a Mac Pro!). I refer you to Douglas Atkin’s The Culting of Brands, which was for me an eye-opener explaining how successful a certain brand can become if it appeals to a certain elite status of its users, which feel “different” from the mainstream, and how companies can so successful exploit niche markets without having a mainstream product. (Robin, if you’re reading this, pick that book!)

Now, the successful cases have, indeed, found their market. And this mostly means: addressing a product to a niche of people who are willing to pay (premium) for a service or product that makes them feel different from the rest of the masses.

Is Second Life such a product? Assuming that its niche market are geeks — computer geeks, designer geeks, architecture geeks, fashion geeks, social geeks, music geeks, you name it — the question is: are they willing to pay for this product, and, if so, how much?

Under Pavig’s model, geeks come in three flavours. I can’t remember the actual names (and my apologies for Pavig for forgetting so much so easily…), but the first type is the libertarian geek. These are the wild Californian types that embrace any kind of computer technology that will allow the world to become a better place (notice LL’s mission…). They obviously will flock to SL like moths are attracted to a flame — this is the place to be for libertarians, in a world they build with their own hands, with few laws, a lot of freedom (to create, to express yourself), and “a dream come true”. SL is the libertarian utopia, specially so when the client was released as open source, and there are open source servers available too. Nothing could be more perfect than SL — and that’s why these types are faithful until the bitter end and will never exchange SL for anything else, because there is nothing else like SL.

Unfortunately, these are also the type of geeks that are not willing to pay for such a service. They’ll eagerly become Basic accounts and use as many freebies as they can, and, of course, also create their own freebies to share. Sharing — not corporate economics — is one of their drives. SL is the ultimate sharing platform, so they live in it like fish in water. But they couldn’t care less about economics. If LL fails, that’s too bad, they’ll switch over to OpenSim-based grids and continue the sharing there.

The second type is the capitalistic geek. They certainly “get” SL, and totally understand the motives behind its existence, as well as being very good evangelists to promote the use of virtual worlds to their corporate bosses and clients. Unfortunately for LL, these are the types that will almost always just sell their bosses a different virtual world — one that is closed, proprietary, and far cheaper (and yes, it might mean Google Lively, or OpenSim). This basically means that LL won’t get a huge income from this group, since most will quickly leave and bring their business elsewhere.

And the third type is the clueless geek. They will come to SL because it’s the place to be. They’ll roam the world in search of that special thing that SL is supposed to be, but can’t find it. Nevertheless, they’ll still be good residents, always searching (in vain) what makes SL so special.

Unfortunately, while they search, they’re not going to spend much, until they’re sure they find out why SL is so special, which will be — never.

So this pretty much explains why SL can have 15.5 million registered users but only a handful — less than 1% — willing to pay for it. As a business model, it’s terrible. Searching for a “market” among a certain class of users (geeks) that is mostly unwilling to pay for it is not very scalable, unless, of course, LL figures out a way to extract from those 1% enough income to pay for the 15.5 million to have fun.

Which is exactly what LL does, of course.

And this is ultimately the reason why nobody else is using this business model. It’s too risky. For the “competition”, a less risky model is not making a simple “copy” of SL, but something entirely different.

Lucky us.

CC BY 4.0 The Wisdom of Pavig Lok by Gwyneth Llewelyn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

About Gwyneth Llewelyn

I'm just a virtual girl in a virtual world...

  • Note that in spite of everything, Linden Lab had an exceptionally good month of October, as reported by Gene/Ginsu Yoon: http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/11/20/linden-labs-finances-our-situation-very-good

    So, no, LL was not going broke…

    Thanks for Tateru Nino for the link.

  • Bromo Ivory

    Nice article – well written and thought out as ususal!

    I would have to point out that you are not too old to be a geek. Sorry. Nice Try. 😉

  • Andabata Mandelbrot

    Maybe the current geek-ruling over SL is only a moment in time. There was a time when people would scorn those with cellphones. There was a time where people scorn those that relied on Internet-based media (“yes, you published on the Net, but have you managed to publish in a printed journal?”).
    Heck, not so long ago – up until 4 or 5 years ago – the big rush in primary teacher training in Portugal was vans moving along the countryside explaining how to use the Web, e-mail and similar basic stuff. Now we see secondary teachers starting to try out virtual worlds!

    It’s soon. Way too soon. Give it time. And try to survive that time.

  • mireille

    Gwyneth

    What is the Thinkers meeting that is the held every Tuesday at 3PM

    Would you have link to it?

    thank you

    Mireille

  • Ichabod Bagley

    In my humble opinion the residents of SL are foremost weird not geeks.
    To buy prim hair and sculpted shoes, pay 200-300 US dollars a month for a tiny sim, and for what? Chat chat chat. The real problem of second life is that there is nothing exciting here for “end users”. If you are not a content creator, (If you are not into doing sex with avatars,) SL is a boring expensive place for you and you will not stay here long.
    Why are there no resident created game continents in SL for end users to play in? Because every thing is too lagy for a good action game, the game engine is too limited, and land is far too expensive.
    Why is SL limited? Because most resource consuming functions are on the servers, and the whole architecture doesn’t scale. Too many servers for too few residents. The servers of SL can handle the load of an adorned chat world, and no much more.
    If SL is to attract a larger game-oriented population, it needs a major architecture change. It needs to shift most of the computing and assets to the client side, so it will become mostly p2p.

  • Both the OpenSpace catastrophe and the contiguity issue are examples of Linden Labs’ acute inability to plan or understand even the most basic economic impact of their decisions, and belies an utter inability to think in the abstract or consider the long-term. I have already commented on the OpenSpace issue, but, as regards private islands, the real problem was not having islands in the first place, but making the ocean between them and the mainland non-traversable (which itself might be a result of bad architectural planning in the past that made it far harder than it really needed to be to scale hardware so that one server could run dozens of empty ocean sims).

    The problem is, ultimately, a lack of consistency of approach. Why have a contiguous mainland supplemented by non-contiguous islands? Why use a world metaphor for simulation (a map with locations and contiguity between them), yet have isolated islands with non-traversable oceans? Why put those isolated islands in a different position as regards estate control and pricing as distinct from the contiguous land? It is very unlikely that the reasons for each decision are consistent with the reasons for each other decision.

    The better approach would have been: make no distinction between private islands and mainland. Have a fully contiguous world, including continents and islands. Have some areas owned by Governor Linden and rented to individuals directly (as in the current mainland); have other areas owned by residents and possibly sublet to other residents indirectly (as with current private islands). Have some areas with some degree of planning control enforced by Linden Lab, and other areas with so such control. Introduce tools to enable groups to have their own planning and other governmental controls over certain areas (making such tools flexible enough to encompass the whole range of levels of co-operation, from the current model of either no co-operation or voluntary co-operation to a far more precisely rule-governed system, which rules can be enforced effectively with such tools). Have a mix of different settings (with respect, for example, to telehubs) on Governor Linden land, and permit private estates to do the same. Have a map with visible borders between the different territories.

    Such an approach would have generated a consistent, readily comprehensible, economically stable and maximally efficient land market and outline. The current system is fundamentally inconsistent, unstable and inefficient, and the whole of SecondLife – indeed, virtual worlds in general – have suffered greatly as a result. The development of virtual worlds may well, as a result, have been set back by many years, if not decades.

  • @Andabata, so true — we’re eons away from a mainstream product. The question is if SL will ever become truly mainstream. Our friend Pavig Lok sort of hints that it won’t. Ever. Like, for instance, Apple’s computers will never become mainstream either (they were once — in the Apple II era — but Apple changed its message and marketing too much, so that it can only appeal to an ever-growing “elite” group of users, but never the mainstream). Having a product for an elite isn’t, however, a problem at all, so long as LL is profitable (and that they certainly are!).

    @mireille, you can read a bit more about the Thinkers group on the Second Life Wikia.

    @Ichabod, what you call “weird” I call a “geek” 😉 I dislike the negative connotations of the word “weird” — it implies someone excluded from the mainstream society, which is certainly not the case with most geeks. A fashion geek will certainly spend insane amounts of money in shopping for clothes, and a substantial amount of time as well, which for other people might sound completely unreasonable. But fashion addresses a huge “geek fandom” 🙂 No wonder the same happens in SL as well.

    Interesting how you describe yourself as a “games fan” and your reasoning is that SL is not good for a gaming platform. 😉 (yes, I’m being ironical; game geeks are also a substantial part of SL’s resident population, but SL definitely doesn’t cater to their needs). I found it also amusing that you think there are not enough servers for the amount of users. Ironically, SL has about 1 server per 9 users online (32,000 regions on about 8,000 servers for about 77,000 simultaneously online users). World of Warcraft has 1 server per 22,500 users. What gives?

    @Ashcroft, ultimately, you’re right. My little finger says that this is exactly what will happen in 2009. That’s my prediction 😉

  • Ichabod Bagley

    @Gwyneth
    What I meant to say was that SL architecture doesn’t scale. SL needs too many servers because physics and scripting are processed on the server side, and assets are served JIT from the servers.
    Therefore land is expensive because servers cost money, SL is lagy because the servers are overburdened and error prone because the servers and networking between them are a large complex system.
    Because of all this, SL current architecture cannot support a decent game engine, and is closed for game geeks.
    This is horrible for SL not because I am a “games fan”, but because the vast majority of online players are “games fans”. SL is loosing most of its customers.
    What happens in SL is that content creators are creating content mostly for each other, instead of creating content for the “game fans” that should have been the natural end users of SL.
    SL architecture should change so that it will be more p2p, more computing and storage resources should be supplied by the clients.
    Hence the ratio of servers to residents will be as you said in WOW.

  • Extropia DaSilva

    I would just like to say that Thinkers actually starts at 3:30pm, not 3pm.

    Extie- She chairs Thinkers you know.

  • @Ichabod, you’re right on your description of why Second Life is not really the most appropriate platform for games design — specially fast action games, first-person shooters, or things like racing games and flight simulators.

    Two comments, though. First, those do not represent the totality of all possible gaming environments — although, granted, definitely a large slice of the market (I’m old enough to remember that “3D games” and “action games” where just one tiny part of all the possible games being played on computers 😉 ).

    Secondly, you claim that the “vast majority of online players” are “games fans”. Well, I don’t know about that — statistics tend to show that there is quite an overlap of both “gamers” and “socialites” (as well as articles such as this one), and that both have dozens of millions of users world-wide.

    Granted, after 2003 Linden Lab gave up on SL as a “games developer platform”. Indeed, as you claim, five years ago, LL really thought that game fans and game designers “should have been the natural end users of SL”. But they weren’t. LL quickly gave up on them, and let them find other platforms to design games (specially, as said, 3D action games — other types work reasonably well in SL).

    It’s also true that “content designers” create content for other content designers, or, well, at least for the ones willing to pay for content (who are most often users that happen to earn money through SL, and that mostly means being either in the content business, the land business, or the event hosting business). The problem here, however, is different. Most (and that means a bit over 99%…) of the registered users have no interest in spending money in SL to buy content. It’s a very small economy. I could certainly agree that if SL was more appealing for game design, it might have paid games working inside SL, and these would be another source of revenue in SL’s economy.

    Granted, it won’t be thanks to p2p networking (that’s all very nice to say, but virtual worlds with user-generated content require persistence, which is something that p2p networking doesn’t provide), but possibly, as you mentioned, by pushing more of the work done by the servers into the clients. However, there are some things that definitely will always have to come from the servers: textures and prims.

    WoW can get rid of all that since all content is installed/downloaded by the clients — including pre-generated and pre-rendered scenes. WoW servers do little else but tracking avatar data. You simply cannot use a similar model in SL. It doesn’t work that way.

    Extie: oops, you’re sooooo right. I’m sorry!

  • Ichabod Bagley

    @Gwyneth,
    P2p makes many aspects of the system design more complex and less secure. There are solutions, and where there is no good algorithmic solution the right design compromise should should be taken.

    We don’t have any reason to insist on a pure p2p solution. A hybrid solution where servers will supply registration, tracking and other services like money, groups will be good for me. Servers should also be used as “support users”; persistent users with large upload speed to enhance performance.

    What we need is that most of the static content will be stored in the clients ahead of rendering. That all the computing related to scripting and physics will be in the client. That most of the communications and coordination between avatars will be p2p. Lag will be minimized, and the number of servers will not have to be proportional to the number of sims. (I would scrape the sim concept altogether.)

    I don’t have the full specification of how to make SL p2p, and even I had it, this is hardly the right place. But since you mentioned storage, lets consider some guidelines for handling storage.

    User created content does not mean that any user is able to create where ever he wants and the content will be always persistent. This is definitely not the situation in SL as it is now. If you are not a group member then almost always you are not permitted to create anything, and if you are permitted to build, usually your creation will persist for 10 minutes or so, and then returned to you.

    There should be two tracks for content loading.

    1. Just In Time – Similar to what happens now. p2p and client cashes could help here.

    2. Ahead of Time – Each community or developer group owns a big content file that contains the terrain buildings and any other object or clothing that is part of their environment or game map. The group members create and publish updates. The group behaves like any game publisher that allows its customers to download its games from the web before using them.

    Everyone can create huge spaces, residential, commercial or game maps. Model builders are free to use any technology and create very detailed and heavy models.
    In this regime land is free (save the fee to be paid to the developers), and the company running the world should get its revenue from services and VAT on any inworld transaction.

    We are pragmatists. We want a fast world, user created content, an economy that will make us rich fast :-), and most importantly an advanced game engine. On all else we should compromise.

  • There is no way on this earth that you’re getting away with claiming to be too old to be a geek. Nice try!

    There are a couple of problems with your flocking to mainland idea. One of which is that people who have a bad experience remember it for a hell of a long time, and the openspace experience has been a bad one. People are doing something with their openspaces, whether they’re abandoning them or converting them, there has been a significant drop in the number of islands on the grid, according to economic stats -1977. As growth was generally over 1,000 a month during the boom this is a large reduction.

    Two things will happen, people will either abandon now whilst there’s no resale or hang onto January when a new homestead will cost USD$375 which may or may not introduce a viable second hand market as there’s not one at the moment.

    As for mainland, a new private product, that joins the mainland content but has no waterfront could be viable. This would need to be less expensive than a private island but more expensive than standard mainland. A third party managed mainland sim, giving owners estate tools on the understanding that they must always have public access. That would have potential.

  • Robin Linden

    Great analysis Gwyn! And I’m definitely looking up that book. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

    Robin

  • Darren Williams

    I see SL as doomed, I only spent a couple of months there before deciding things would be better elsewhere.

    I now use OSGrid and will am now moving to a grid of my own.

    OGP seems to be pretty much dead in the water. From the OpenSim side of things a team at UCI has created an alternative called hypergrid which took around three weeks to do. We already are able to TP beteween each otheres grids and you have access to your inventory and assets whulst you are in a “foreign” grid. You can even pick up freebies and return them to your own grid.

    Bandwidth and server space is getting cheaper all the time. I have two servers at the moment, one is a dual core with 2GB RAM and unlimited traffic, this only costs me around $40 a month.

    I currently run 11 sims on it, granted only around 10000 prims in total but I have the flexibility to configure it the way I want etc. If it gets too overloaded I can move a couple to another server.

    OpenSim is still quite young but is moving along at a rapid pace, nearly daily, another new feature is implemented. It is only a matter of time before OS reaches the same levels of funcionality and stability of SL.

    I know I will never return to SL, everything that SL has will come in the end at a far lower price tag. In the meantime it is exciting to be part of a project that is moving with such momentum.

  • Darren, your comment mentioned something I wasn’t aware of — the hypergrid! It looks very exciting, and I think that instead of writing another long and boring article, I’ll be upgrading Beta Technologies’ minigrid to the latest OpenSim release and see if I can manage hypergrid to work on it… Thanks so much for the heads-up!

    Oh yes, OpenSim has a bright future… in about two or three years 🙂 For now, what amazes me most is that it works at all. My team has just completed a major building project, still using OpenSim 0.5, and after a month of work, it was presented at a public conference. We never told anybody that we did it on OpenSim and not on LL’s grid 😉 (the client didn’t have a budget to pay for LL’s servers’ monthly fee, so this was the alternative) The fun is that the whole grid just required 5 or 6 reboots in a month or so — not too bad, for this early generation of software. And it allowed the builders to stay long stretches in-world on a poor, low-powered server (a mere 512 MB of RAM on a low-end dual-core, running 4 sims with about 10,000 prims among them). I wish I had asked you for the name of the provider that gets you four times the RAM for pretty much what we pay 🙂

    Still, SL is by far not “doomed”. To be honest, and although it doesn’t look like it for most of the residents, SL has barely started. Granted, in my view of the future, the MetaGrid will encompass sims from both LL and a whole host of different providers. OGP might be seen as “dead” because LL moves ever so slowly — a patch of two or three lines of code that was submitted to the JIRA can take up to half a year to be implemented, due to staggeringly complex Quality Assurance testing. OpenSim doesn’t require that — patches are applied immediately, and if something breaks, a new patch will be out after a few hours. That allows for an insane pace of development, and it’s fair to say that OpenSim today resembles Second Life in 2003 (in terms of stability), but with half the development time. It has far more developers than LL had in the 1999-2003 period, though, and, if you add up the OpenSim residents on all the different grids, they’re about 4 or 5 times the number of residents of SL in late 2004 — and they all accept far worse performance, far more glitches, and less stability than we had in 2004. So, yes, the future for OpenSim looks bright, and OpenSim improving way faster than I actually believed to be possible!

    What LL has — and will continue to have — is a momentum. If right now they fail to attract more residents (or, to be honest, fail to keep those 10-20,000 new daily subscriptions in-world), it’s mostly because they find SL too cumbersome to use, too flawed, too demanding on old hardware, too slow, and, for many, too boring. OpenSim is all that — and worse. So even if tomorrow 10-20,000 new users joined OpenSim daily, the ones remaining would be far less than the 1% that LL still manages to capture in spite of everything. OpenSim will thus grow much slower.

    It is an old adage of the software industry that any software application requires about a decade of heavy use by hundreds of thousands of users (as opposed to a handful of beta-testers) until all bugs are ironed out and the application is robust and stable. That’s why these days Unix users don’t laugh at Microsoft as hard as they used to — Unix might be 40 years old (next year), but Windows is around for a bit more than two decades, and it’s becoming stable enough for regular use. Second Life’s first lines of code were written back in 1999 — so by the end of next year, it’ll become stable, too (well, it’s getting there!). While OpenSim still has some 8 years ahead to rough out all bugs. And it’s not a question of having more people working faster (which they have) — Microsoft also used to think that way in the late 1990s, and found out that it’s not the number of developers that count, but the complex mix of years of use by hundreds of thousands of people reporting bugs and having them fixed. Software gains maturity like a good wine.

    However, I can imagine that by 2020 Linden Lab will have no choice but to switch over to OpenSim as well 😉

    Just take a practical example. If LL’s server software implemented OpenSim’s hypergrid, they wouldn’t need the insanely expensive fibre deployed between their two co-location facilities. They’d just run two asset servers on each co-location data centre, and use hypergrid to teleport between both. Simple. So, even in 2008, bad implementations are already hurting LL financially. At the end of the race, in a decade or so, the winner can only be OpenSim, and as soon as LL figures this out and actually uses OpenSim internally, the better it will be for their business as 3D content producers.

    Alas, it’ll take a few years until they realise this 😉 Nothing at LL ever happens “quickly”. 🙂

  • Darren Williams

    My reasoning behind saying they are doomed is I compare them in a way to IBM in 1980.

    Everyone was making computers and no one was getting anywhere. IBM had this new idea, we will create a computer but instead of guessing what everyone wants in it we will just create slots that prople can make things to slot into and we will make the architecture public.

    This they did, and the PC did take off but everyone soon cottoned onto the fact that the IBM “clones” could do exactly the same job as an IBM PC but were far cheaper. How many branded IBM PC’s do you see nowadays?

    I think LL has done similar by making the source code for the viewer available.

    I don’t know which geek category I fit into but being an IT manager I was immediately intrigued by the way SL worked and OS gives me the chance to look under the hood.

    The service provider I use for my servers btw won’t sell to the US as the transit links are not that good.

  • Scarp Godenot

    Quite a lot to comment on, but I’ll just say a couple of things: First of all if geek means technically competent, then I will agree with the geek thing. But only in that context.

    I and most of the people I interact with in Second Life, find the community (i.e. friend interaction), the intellectual stimulation and the creative outlet to be the compelling reasons for being there. The level of interaction is far greater than any 2d application, and I am SO TIRED of people saying that SL is another chat group. They are beyond clueless.

    Face it people, SL is the best most compelling as well as entertaining PLACE, (and yes Pavig is spot on as describing place as critical), in cyberspace.

    Everyone loves to want the ideal that satisfies their ultimate desire of what things should be, but I would ask you to take a step back and see what is here now: something that is a far more intersting interactive replacement for passive entertainment of the past. (i.e. Television)

    OK, that said, here is a concrete suggestion of how to make premium membership grow. Double the number of groups available to the premium member and uncap IMs. I also suggest to add more profile picks, allow unlimited (or substantially greater) text in profile picks, about, 1st life etc. Everyone I know who uses SL regularly wants this stuff and will pay for it. Having a couple of hundred thousand premium members is NOT trivial economically.

    OK, Good work and excellent analysis as usual Gwyn!