Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Data Back-Up and a Good UI: Secret Sauce for Educators
Location: Climbing Out of Gartner's Trough of Disillusionment
image credit: Inworldz, from Daniel Voyager's Flickr photostream
Reading this story about InWorldz at Hypergrid Business got me to thinking about how OpenSim worlds should not replicate two of Linden Lab's biggest failures.
No virtual world will bring in mainstream educators and students without a client as intuitive and simple as Unity (or the Jibe client based on Unity from Reaction Grid). I don't know why more grid owners fail to grasp this. Is it a tyranny of thinking like an engineer? Admit it, coders: you often have the same sort of disdain for users that my Physics colleagues have for we bumbling, windy Humanists.
I know this disdain is correct, but could you make it a little more private?
At least the Physicists don't depend on us for a living. Coders working for a grid do, if the grid is a money-making enterprise.
I'll say it until I keel over: Educators must be able to import AND export content they create. Backup of entire sims would be even better--something one cannot do in SL.
InWorldz fails here worse than SL, where I can export my own IP, bit by bit, to do with as I please. In InWorldz, "users cannot export their regions or inventories as OAR and IAR archives — a function offered by most OpenSim hosting providers."
I'll know more about InWorldz, which is not truly an OpenSim grid but one following its own path, when I visit to review it for Prim Perfect. But they've already lost my recommendation to other educators. That said, I don't think that is the customer they are chasing, and if so, that's not a problem. What irked me about Linden Lab's recent move is how they courted us for a while, then effectively scorned us.
Hell hath no fury like a bald-headed freak scorned :)
For now, however, InWorldz seems a great choice for social users wanting a friendlier and more responsive provider of virtual-world services. That's a different secret sauce altogether.
Coda: Bring on That Tasty Sauce! Somebody...
Not all of us can host our own servers. My idea to do that (for next year, anyhow) got a thumbs down.
So we need a grid that permits backups. As for the UI, that's up to developers in OpenSim and walled gardens such as InWorldz, SL, and Blue Mars.
Virtual-word providers who can get this secret sauce right: for educational builders data backups and for educational newcomers an easily mastered UI, you'll get a lot of business from us that Linden Lab is now losing.
Update: See Lalo's comment. I'm hoping for OAR backups as well as IAR. Thanks to Lalo for the clarification that individual export/import works fine. It's slow and it's how I'm pulling content I made out of SL right now.