11 January 2007

Open Sourced Client musings

So I read over the Town Hall transcript. Full of interesting stuff. With all the Open Source announcements I keep seeing comments about how people don't understand what it means, and whether it will affect them. I keep being reminded how many not-cs-technical people are involved in SL.

And I'm musing about Prok's anger at the client being open sourced.

On one hand I'm thinking "WTF? We're getting a bigger say than we ever had." No more waiting around hoping that someone at LL thinks of the same thing, or reads something you wrote and gets ideas. No more wasted effort on the almost-pointless "proposal" voting system. I like the idea of not only being able to make a client with what I want, but to have the chance that those features and enhancements will be rolled into the main version so other people can share the benefits.

But if you don't code... this does nothing for helping you change SL. You'd be a benefactor of the efforts, but not a contributor. All those other people affect it, but you can't because you don't have the skills. They can change how SL happens at a very basic level, and you can't.

I'm pleased that letting non-coders' voices be heard has been a conversational topic from the day of the open source announcement. There's the coding bounties idea - if you want a feature, offer lindens for it and let the interested parties get to work. So the financially well-off people have a voice. There's the possibility of suggestion lists, maybe with a voting mechanism and discussion areas. Blogs. Forum posts. If you're good at selling ideas, you've got a voice. Depending on how things settle out, you may be able to vote on others' ideas, adding a little popular pressure.

A lot like the real world. Whether you consider that a good or bad thing depends on how you look at it.

More people will have a voice than did before the client souce was opened up. Unlike before, those voices will be weighted on more than just the ability to sell ideas to people at LL. Change will happen faster because there are more people to do the work. LL still has final say; all changes to the official client must be approved by them.

SL is at a point where I think the overall benefits of opening the client will outweigh the detriments. I'm excited.

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