19 February 2007

Integrating with the web

LL is looking for ways to take tasks done on the grid to the web. Inventory management, chat, etc... When I can, I already manage my sales outside. I'd like to be able to do $L transactions outside (pay someone), be able to change my profile, make a classified ad, or post a parcel of my land for sale.

Integrating with the web can go both ways. It isn't just about bringing the web into SL. Being able to bring parts of SL to the 2D web allows people access without the high computing and bandwidth requirements. It allows SL to become more integral with daily routines and business practices. Walls can protect something new and fragile, but with success comes a point where those walls are restricting growth.

I agree with Mark Wallace that it would make all kinds of good sense for LL to take advantage of the technical skills of its enthusiastic user base and focus on APIs for the web functionality. Build the APIs and a sample, do a beta to get feedback, then see what those creative people come up with. I know building strong APIs isn't usually easy, but between the costs of maintaining the entire suite of services and the lost opportunities they're worth the investment.

The open source client community is already pushing around the idea of creating a plugin interface so that people can add chosen bits of functionality to their SL experience without waiting for LL to decide if will be incorporated into the official client.

Why bother doing it yourself when you know if you open up web APIs that someone will come along and make the cell phone access versions for you? Or deal with GUI and web design issues when you can let your users work them out? Stop staring at WoW's subscription numbers for a moment and look at the development of their user interface - they designed it to be modifiable by their user base, and over time they've incorporated several changes to the official interface that came from this.

You've seen what user content does to the inside of a world. What do you think we'll come up with when we're connecting them?

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