You've just added a book (or several books) to my very short "to read" list. Thanks!
We see that, in some ways, our influence helps in the shaping, and it gives us a sense of ownership that has little to do with the hardware it lives in, the code that creates and sustains it, or who owns and maintains that. We are jealous of that connection;
If LL can realize this, and articulate that realization in how they act and what they say going forward, they would create a user base so fanatically loyal it would make the hordes of Genghis Khan look like couch potatoes by comparison.
Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that they will pick up on this. LL is first and foremost a software company. They are used to dealing with bytes and programs and computers, which are very predictable things. This bias comes across in what Prokofy tends to call "embedding morality in the tools". Simply put, LL is not used to governing people.
So far, they have tried to govern simply by giving the tools certain capabilities. But this approach as serious limits, which is quickly shown by griefers and copybot et al. To remove the possibility of griefing one must lock down the region so it's no fun for everyone, and in the case of copybotting, the toolset LL developed and the morality embedded in it is completely circumvented.
Anyway, based on what they do with user input to their blog on certain topics (Zindra, copyright protection, etc), it seems they have decided that having a fanatical user base is not worth the trouble of actually giving us meaningful input.
In the long run, they are probably correct since the changes that must take place are so incredibly drastic, almost everyone will disagree on some point and they simply don't want their hands tied.
At some point in the future I think one of two things has to happen: either LL hires a bunch of politicians and public administration folks to actually govern their world, or they set up a citizen's government - a democracy. The latter is fraught with difficulties, but I think in the long run would prove to be a better choice and result in improved citizen engagement and participation.
Because I feel like going on a technical rant here are my biggest issues with SL currently. This is kind of OT, but pertains to changes that need to happen, so here goes.
1. Sim crossings.
What can I say? They suck. For me, they make me very reluctant to explore because I know at some point, even on foot, I'm going to hurtled bodily through either the air or ground at mach 3 and then unceremoniously plunked down at some random coordinate in the new sim, usually 5 seconds or more later. There are 2 easy solutions:
o Make sim crossings faster and more predictable. Possibly make the child connections to adjoining sims start sooner and transfer more data, so all of the av data is in two sims at once, and just waiting for the handover. Maybe optimize the physical layout of grid servers, so certain high-load sims are on the same physical server.
o Make sims bigger. If the sims are bigger one will encounter fewer sim crossings and the problem is reduced. In a big vehicle, (I've got a 80+m long zeppelin, for instance), you run through 256 m awfully quick.
This absolutely needs to improve, it's so archaic it's embarrassing. Indexing by traffic instead of keywords first? Please. By making it hard to find places and things, residents have more difficulty getting engaged in the world. SL is primarily a social medium, and having a search that actually inhibits
connecting with people is downright idiotic. I hear this is going to be better in the new viewer, so we'll see.
3. Data Transfer and # of Avs on a sim and/or cache improvements.
These three go hand-in-hand. When you revisit a sim, it seems like the viewer re-downloads an awful lot of data even with a previous visit cached. What would be better is to download a differential file, so the only thing you have to transfer are things that have changed since your last visit.
Now this doesn't work very well with live editing, so perhaps a special "mode" is needed when someone is altering the sim. This is poorly thought-out (what about rezzing simple objects?) but you get the idea. If the viewer needs less object data av data can make up more of the bandwidth, but av concurrency is mostly a server-side issue.
And finally in this category, organize the cache better and make it more of a "permanent" download. More like Blue Mars maybe. This has its own host of issues of course, but currently SL is very bandwidth hungry which is not a great thing.
Okay, that's the end of my rant. I am VERY sure I'm not making sense now! :-)