May 30, 2011

Watching the Wheels

One of my favorite songs has always been Watching the Wheels by John Lennon. To me, it speaks volumes. I can understand where he’s coming from with the lyrics, and alternately with the original lyrics when he was toying around with the song as a demo.




I’m just sittin’ here watching the wheels go round n’ round… I really love to watch them roll.



He talks about people thinking he’s somehow lost his mind, how he couldn’t possibly be happy stepping away from it all and watching (occasionally dabbling). In the original lyrics he talks about how people give him advice about how not to throw his money away and try to save him from (financial) ruin, how he’d be happier if he owned the whole damned world.


But in the end, John Lennon was right.


He was much happier the way he lived life. From songs like Across the Universe (which Craig Lyons in SecondLife does amazingly well as a cover) to Strawberry Fields.


Nothing’s gonna change my world.


There’s no problems, only solutions.


I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. I really love to watch them roll. (Alternatively: I’m just sitting here watching the flowers grow) No longer riding on the merry-go-round. I just had to let it go.


I’m in a similar mind-set when it comes to virtual worlds and research. I don’t really have a stake in the outcome any longer, and stepped off that merry-go-round years ago. Sure, I dabble here and there, and even continue with research (and even have my hand in various development from time to time) but not like I used to; not like when I was on the full-time bandwagon and had a direct stake in the outcome. Now I simply write the research and participate in order to seed the fundamental ideas into the minds and move on. I already know where the future of virtual worlds will end up, and I’m just sitting here doing time (quite happily I might add) as I smile and watch the short sighted banter continue.


A lot of great ideas stemmed from my involvement in the industry over the years, and just as likely many near disasters were foretold in the same breaths. Conversely, however, I see the same things from both sides of the fence now. IBM has a natural stake in selling more powerful servers and virtualization technologies, maybe even facilitating cloud computing because, quite obviously, it’s feeding a mistaken need for more power to these centralized virtual environment systems. Of course they’d never tell you there is a better and cheaper way to go about it, because it’s against their best interests and bottom line.


The same goes for existing companies already in the virtual environment industry. There is never a better solution than the one they are willing to sell you. This is likely why we’ll not see a standard in place anytime soon – at least not concerning existing companies like SecondLife. No, Linden Lab is responsible for quite a lot of atrocities against their own community which the serious developers know about but Linden Lab sweeps quietly under the rug. You’d be amazed how many third party solutions LL quietly destroyed to stay ahead.


However, I’m not pointing this out to bash Linden Lab or any company, really. I’m merely pointing out that they are a company, first and foremost, and are willing to stab whomever it takes to stay in the game and on top. That’s just the nature of the business empire itself… and maybe people like Mark Kingdon (but that’s a private anecdote).


I realized something many years ago, which made me smile and move on.


You start to notice that the record begins to repeat after you listen too long. I already know there isn’t much that is going to change as time marches forward, but I still love to toss in the occasional ideas here and there and see if we’ve reached a point where the people who are in a position to benefit most are ready to listen. Most of the time those ideas will sit around on a shelf for four or five years before somebody suddenly thinks it’s a good idea and runs with it.


Or maybe not. It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I don’t have a board of directors breathing down my neck to produce results at all costs, or millions of dollars sunk into a technology design that was built haphazardly. I simply don’t have a stake in the game, so I suppose you could say that I have no corporate influencer behind me. That’s always a good thing, except for those who do have corporate influences guiding their decisions.


I’ll make an amendment, though. I do have a stake in the outcome – a 100% stake in it, to be precise. But it’s an outcome that will come about on its own, and no existing company is likely going to make it happen. I just like to speed up the process a little bit, that’s all. I’ll live to see this outcome, and I’m willing to bet it’s not going to have a Linden Lab logo on it, either.


You’d think I’d be mad about the situation, but I continue to smile. The (virtual) world will continue on, regardless, and one day (maybe) it’ll catch up to the big thinkers in the field. Until then, we’re on the merry-go-round.


Except me. I’m watching the wheels go round and round.


I really love to watch them roll.


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