After a long period of discussion at the Architecture Working Group, which was trying to establish the ground-works of the Open Grid Protocol — a set of communication protocols defining a way for grids ran by different operators to interconnect and allow people to jump (teleport) from one to another, as well as to exchange content among them — Linden Lab has decided to make a big, bold step ahead: after 16 months of discussion, mostly led by Zero Linden (at his office hours) and IBM’s Zha Ewry, they submitted the discussion over the metaverse interoperability to one standards-defining body, the Internet Engineering Task Force, which is credited with establishing the interoperability protocols that made the Internet what it is today.
There had been some speculations early this year about an imminent “grand announcement” that was forthcoming. Zero had been quiet about it, and declined, for about four months, to comment on it. Recently, in January, after another set of discussions about how to establish trust relationships across grids from different operators — basically, how different operators could trust policies about each other, and revoke the interconnection between both if the policies were not enforced (by either side). This has taken months of discussion; and no single line of code had been written. The Open Grid Protocol only allows teleporting between Linden Lab’s Preview Grid and Open Grid-compliant grids (today, OpenSimulator-based grids), and that’s all.
Discussing the future interoperability protocol that will empower the Metaverse to be a “grid of grids” (the analogy with the Internet as a “network of networks” is obvious) was apparently felt to be too “limited” to be restricted to a small group of SL residents. Historical moments require a little more pomp and circumstance, and Linden Lab made the decision to continue the discussion at a proper standards body. By doing so, they are simply passing on the message that LL is not going to be the sole organisation responsible for defining such a protocol, but releasing it for discussion and implementation as an open Internet standard, using a proper methodology appropriate for an Internet protocol. The MMOX (MMO/Virtual World Interchange [MMOX] Working Group) will be the new group, under the IETF’s aegis, to continue the work that the AWG has been doing so far.
At this point, it would look like the building of the Metaverse’s “grid of grids” would enter a more mature stage. But, alas, the road is not going to be a smooth one.