I finally did it. I finally ventured off my oh-so comfortable roost in the virtual world of Second Life and jumped into a new virtual world, courtesy of the newly established Jokaydia Grid (the Open sim run by the tirelessly creative Jo Kay, from Wollongong, Australia).
For those of you not familiar with the concept. OpenSimulator (often referred to as “OpenSim”) is an open source server platform for hosting virutal worlds. So anyone with a server and a bit of elbow grease can run their own virtual world, right there in their own living room. The virtual worlds that OpenSim simulates look quite a bit like Second Life – only rougher – sort of like the wild west.
OpenSimulator can operate either in “standalone mode” or in “grid mode”. In standalone mode, a single process handles the entire simluation – this works fine for a small number of users. In grid mode, various aspects of the simuluaton are separated among mulitple processes, which can run on different machines (better when you expect to have a growing number of users). OpenSim uses the Second Life protocol for client to server exchanges but the user interface looks a bit different.
In a really exciting twist, OpenSim uses an architecture known as “Hypergrid”, which allows avatars to teleport between different OpenSim-based virtual worlds, no matter where they are housed (like hyperlinking, but between worlds – cool!).
I didn’t make this journey alone! My dear friend and colleague, Chimera Cosmos (RL= Liz Dorland) took me by the hand and walked me through it.
Here’s what was involved:
1. Download the Imprudence viewer (this is a very friendly, open source version of the Second Life viewer)
2. Sign up for a free Jokaydia Grid account.
3. Open Imprudence, hit the “grid manager” button and input the following information:
Grid Name: Jokaydiagrid
LOGIN URI: http://jokaydia.metaverseworlds.com:8002/
Hit “Get Grid Information” and the blanks will fill in.
And now, Log in with your avatar name and passcode, making sure that you’ve selected the Jokaydiagrid from the pull down menu listing of grids. And – poof! – you’re there.
Here is Spiral Theas (my avatar’s name in SL) making her first appearance on Jokaydiagrid:
Once there, Chimera showed me around. Per usual with anything that Jokay builds, the place is chock-full of helpful support – a new avatar dome, lots of signs, posters, and instructions. We located our little patches of land (since we are already Jokay-tenants in Second Life, our current SL rental includes a small patch on this new grid) and then did a fly over to see what else was there. As you can see the map looks a bit different on Jokaydiagrid:
As we flew, Chimera located John Lesters’ (aka Pathfinder Linden’s) island (she knew it by his telltale “be cunning and full of tricks” rabbit (see his fabulous blog by the same name) which is emblazoned on the sail of a viking-like looking ship near his island. We landed to have a look around and were warmly greeted by John Lester himself who just stopped by to put up a few pictures. He had been hypergriding with a touring group from Sweden and wanted to post a few snaps taken during the occassion. He was completely gracious and welcomed us to his corner of Jokaydiagrid.
So why all of this moving around and migration to other, new grids? Recently, the creators of Second Life, Linden Lab, announced an end to discounts (50% reduction in rental fees for private regions) for eduators and non-profits in SL . There has been a loud outcry from the education community – everyone was rightly concerned and worried about their ability to sustain the presence they currently have. But inaddition to all of that angst, there’s been a whole lot of creative exploring going on. I love all the blog posts, tweets, and buzz I’ve been hearing about OpenSim, Cobalt, ReactionGrid, SpotON3D, and other virtual worlds.
My wee venture today into OpenSim reminded me of stories I’ve read about the pioneers, heading out to the western territories. Sure, it’s a little rough out there (it is, afterall, a new platform), things are buggy, and there’s not a lot to see (yet), but I am pretty confident that that will change. As creative educators and non-profit folks test their wings and migrate to new virtual worlds, we’ll all quickly see that the skills, intuition, creativity, and chutzpah that we’ve acquired during our time in Second Life translates very well indeed. Onward!