They always say that “Necessity is the mother of innovation & ingenuity”.  Well with regard to the idea I am proposing to the powers that be at Linden Lab in this blog posting, the inspiration for this idea truly came from this week’s out-of-the-blue situation upon my in-world operations / life in SecondLife.

A GRAND EXAMPLE OF THE PROBLEM !!
On July 22, 2012 my landowner whom I have rented a parcel of land from for 3 years to host my Sculpty Landscape Terrains store and my Art Gallery and even my home decided that she needed to consolidate her land holdings.  As such, she had to make the painful but understood decision to move her shopping mall and my parcel of land onto her newly acquired sim.  She knew it was a painful decision for both her and me moreso because of one main issue....

After all these years of running our mall and stores and galleries, we both have handed out 1000’s of LM’s to our mall, store, gallery, etc.  For me, my LMs are also in all my artworks that I sell or have sold.  My LMs are in all my sculpty terrain packs that I sell in-world and on MarketPlace.  My LM coordinates are on my blogsite and profile and email signatures, forum postings, etc. etc. etc.

I think you all already know the problem but let me spell it out anyway.  By being forced to move my store and gallery and home to my landowner’s new sim, all those LMs handed out to all my customers and documented in all those places and placed in all my art and selling packs have instantly become 100% DEAD AND USELESS!

Moving my store and rebuilding my art gallery to the new location is absolutely nothing.  If that was my only issue about moving to a new sim then I would have been jumping for joy as she is offering my twice the size in land.  But the biggest problem by far is that all my LMs will now be rendered useless!

So as I was punching the wall and gritting my teeth at all the work ahead of me on fixing my LMs all over, my innovative mind said … WHY IS LINDEN LAB USING PHYSICAL LANDMARKS ANYWAY!!  Why can’t LMs be virtually referenced like a DNS host references an IP address?

And BING!!  An Idea was born !

SUMMARY OF IDEA
A development and deployment / integration of VIRTUAL LANDMARKS or “VLM” for the entire SecondLife metaverse (in-world as well as any supporting services and technologies).

A VLM is basically a virtual common language pointer name to an underlying physically exact SecondLife geographic location coordinate - commonly referred to as a LANDMARK or “LM”.

The concept of a VLM would be identical to the critically important Internet service of DNS (Domain Name Services) in that Internet users can create and use easy to understand HOST NAMES to access all Internet services where the HOST NAME actually masks the underlying required IP Address that is needed to actually route and connect their computer to that respective host.

Well the same would hold true with VLMs.  A VLM would be the equivalent to a DNS HOST NAME and the LM that is configured to be associated to this VLM would be equivalent to an IP ADDRESS.

This idea proposes that users of SecondLife could use common friendly labeled VLMs in the same way that users currently use LMs every day.

BACKGROUND OF AN “LM” or “SLURL”

Before I begin explaining why VLMs would be such a critical new service / feature for SecondLife, let me provide a brief background of the current situation.

In SecondLife, LMs are a fundamental and basic operating component to how SecondLife works.  Without the function of LMs the ability to Teleport is dead.  SecondLife would cease to exist as a viable virtual world without LMs.  All users in SecondLife quickly and intimately knows what an LM is, why they have countless LMs as assets in their inventory, and how to read it and use it.

A “SLURL” is simply an LM that is expressed in a URL format so that browsers could read it and take actions on this LM.

An LM is an exact in-world coordinate of a location somewhere within the entire virtual world of SecondLife - right down to the SIM name, and the exact X, Y, and Z meter location on that named sim.  

Example is an bogus LM of  /TOYWORLD/23/55/200 or
a SLURL of http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/TOYWORLD/23/55/200

This LM places you exactly to a sim called TOYWORLD and at the location 22 meters out from the “X” axis, 55 meters out from the “Y” axis and 200 meters out from the “Z” axis.

Anyone that has this LM as an asset in their inventory or clicks on this SLURL would be be taken to this exact spot if the sim allowed it.  If you are the one that gave out this LM and you wanted to have everyone land at a different place now, your only option would be to make a NEW LM and give it out to everyone and tell them to throw away the old one.

PROBLEMS WITH LMs
I am sure you all know the problems with LMs if you are a long time user of SecondLife.  But you really really understand the pain and and frustrations around LMs if you have or are operating a business or highly public service in SecondLife where you want people to attend.

Problems:

  1. LMs are exact fixed location coordinates that stand independent and cannot be retroactively changed.  So if you decide to move your store, mall, club, sim to a new location, all past LMs you have handed out are now invalid and you cannot change the old ones that all your guests or customers have in their inventory.
  2. You would also have to locate everyplace that you have documented / promoted / advertised this invalid LM and update it with the new location.
  3. This problem is so significant for shop/gallery/club owners that even when overhauling or redesigning a store or sim, often the new design is built around the exact original location of the current LM so that the LM does not become invalid.  I completely overhauled my Art Gallery after 6 months and I made sure that the LM location had a bright prim on it so that my new art gallery will have everyone land properly into my new gallery.

I can safely say that because there is no concept of a Virtual LM in SecondLife, the huge functional limitations of LM’s has been the source of countless person years of wasted time for users of SecondLife whenever they need to be adjusted.

PROPOSED SOLUTION DETAILS - VIRTUAL LMs
Here are my suggestions for Linden Lab to consider as an invaluable augmentation to the feature/service of LMs and SLURLS

(In all honesty I am not sure why the founders of the basic concepts of SecondLife did not think of the development of Virtual LMs right in the beginning since VLMs and LMs are identical in concept to DNS hosts and IPs.)

  1. Develop a VLM Naming Service (VLM-NS) within SecondLife.  This would be very similar in design to a DNS on the Internet.  It would allow the creation of Virtual LM entries with direct mappings to an actual LM coordinate.
  2. The VLM-NS entry could also potentially future support the concept of LM round-robining or backup LM locations (i.e. recording multiple locations for a virtual LM so guest receive location alternatives to a concert and not land on each other at 1 location... or send VLM users to a backup LM if the primary LM failed to TP the user).
  3. With the concept of VLMs defined on this centralized VLM-NS, LL would code into new viewer code as well as any other client application or SecondLife service the acceptance and interpretation of VLMs to its corresponding LM from the VLM-NS.  (i.e. if a user in-world clicked on a VLM asset, the viewer would know to request the LM from the VLM-NS and use the provided LM.)
  4. LMs would still be completely functional in-world or outside of SecondLife in the same way that an Internet user could use a DNS Name or an IP address to go to a host on the Internet.

So here are the additional recommendations that would hopefully give Linden Lab some major incentive to consider developing and deploying such a major complex deployment of this VLM solution:

  1. VLMs would be able to be created by ANY SecondLife User.  An SL User would be able to create a limited number of VLMs via an interface on their logged in www.secondlife.com website.
  2. Arbitrary Suggestion on service:  If a user is a PREMIUM User then they are entitled to create up to 5 free VLMs - i.e. no monthly fee on these 5 VLMs as long as they are a premium member in good standing.
  3. Arbitrary Suggestion on service: All non-premium members can create up to a max of 2 VLMs and are charged a $100L charge for each creation as well as a $15L monthly fee for maintaining the VLM.  Fees are automatically charged and if the account cannot pay the fee then the VLM becomes disabled.
  4. Arbitrary Suggestion on service:  Premium members can can add up to 10 additional VLMs but are charged the standard monthly fees (although their setup charge is waived).
  5. SecondLife users can make any updates / changes to their VLMs at any time (i.e. if their store is moving and they need to re-map the VLM to a new LM) free of charge.  Only Premium members would be entitled to advanced VLM-NS services like round-robining or VLM failover LMs.

CONCLUSION
I know there are a lot of very smart SecondLife residents that will read this blog posting and be able to come up with a lot of additional ideas as well as come up with some potential problems to this proposed idea.  BUT I will tell you that if this service existed in SecondLife I would surely have been using this service even as a Guest account and paying the monthly fee for my Store and my Art Gallery.  With VLMs for my store and art gallery, this move I now need to do would have been as simple as rebuilding my new location out and remapping my VLM to my new landing spot on my new store.

If I were a club owner I would be able to host a major event with a new stage layout and have my guests land at a completely new location... EVEN AT ANOTHER SIM !!  Imagine having a major event that you are co-hosting with another venue and you want all your regular members to attend.  Simply remap your VLM to the new sim and location for the event then re-point it back to your sim when the event is over.

Anyway... I hope Linden Lab decision makers read this proposed idea.  What are the thoughts of my fellow SecondLife residents?
 


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