Recently there has been a rash of what's referred to as "grid bashing"... and a publicly-perceived concept that OpenSim / OSgrid / Inworldz / whatever grid are somehow mutually exclusive, contrary to one another's interests and somehow competitors.
This concept is most unfortunate and imo is only true because individuals make it true.
On opposite ends of the spectrum are two very notable blogs, the second of which I agree with very much. Although disagreeing strongly with the first, I admit it did get everyone chatting. I post these here merely as food for thought, not to point the finger at anyone. They are opposite ends of the spectrum.
WE'RE NOT ENEMIES. WE'RE NOT OPPOSED.
The reality of this is simple: OpenSim/OSgrid and Inworldz (or closed grids in general) are not opposed in purpose, nor are the concepts contrary. They are not mutually exclusive. In truth, both concepts have a common purpose: to offer people low cost or free alternatives to Second Life. In this, all grids accomplish that purpose to one degree or another.
There seems to be a tendency among some users to believe that anyone who uses OpenSim code in any form and "doesn't contribute back to the community" is somehow in the wrong. There is an opinion that closed communities are "just another Second Life" (whereas of course, OpenSim can't possibly be so).
We must realize however that not everyone wants OpenSim. Not everyone wants or needs a closed grid. Some people prefer a little security and the greater professionalism offered by for-profit grids. On the other hand, not everyone wants or needs the closed security of such grids. As has been often stated, there is room for more than one business model. There is need for more than one business model.
WE'RE NOT COMPETITORS. WE'RE NEIGHBORS.
Like AT&T of yesteryear, for years Second Life ruled as a virtual monopoly. What Linden Lab said was the law, what they decided to charge was the fee, what policies they set made or broke their customers. Profit came first, corporate interest was the rule of the day, and many of their customers felt strangled and stifled.
Today we have numerous telephone companies and even better... cell phones. Can you imagine what things would have been like if AT&T had continued to rule unchallenged? Or even worse... what if their monopoly had been replaced by yet another monopoly... one without any restrictions and control whatsoever. Would that have really been beneficial? Do we really want no security on our phone lines?
Someone decided to do something about the SL monopoly and created OpenSim. The OpenSim license basically stated "you can use this software however you like". That same license allows people to develop proprietary code without submitting it back to the OpenSim project. If that's not what people wanted or needed or intended... we should have created a different license. We didn't, the license stands as is... and we have no reason to complain when someone decides to use that license as stated.
Grid companies came along and said, "Hey, we think we can offer people something special and make a buck in the process." That my friends, is how American enterprise works. There's no obligation to "return to the community". There is no requirement, legally or morally, to feed code back to the main project. Doing so is totally voluntary. There is an obligation to customers-- to meet our needs and fulfill promises. That is where LL failed miserably.
OpenSim was an open-source, user-created project, and as such it's fairly good. It's full of bugs and problems but hey, that is how it often is with open-source projects (for the record, everyone is full of bugs and problems, including SL). The pros of open-source is it's cheap, it's open, available, and can be fun for the participants. The cons are it tends to be disorganized, a hodge-podge of contributed code, and buggy. That's the nature of the beast. As such, it can't meet the needs of everyone. Nothing ever does.
To take up the slack we have professional "closed-wall" grid companies that, for a fee, offer a more powerful, more professional, more secure, more organized and more debugged product. For those bonuses, people are willing to give up a bit of freedom and cash. The negatives: well, it's closed-wall. By its very nature code must be kept proprietary and inventory protected... or the company goes out of business and customer efforts are destroyed.
Both concepts are valid, mutually-compatible, and mutually-supportive. Believe it: OpenSim doesn't want the customers that prefer closed-wall companies. We can be quite demanding. Grid companies fill our needs. OpenSim and OSgrid fills the needs of those who want an open and "free" environment.
LISTEN UP: EVERYONE IS "ANOTHER SECOND LIFE"
If OpenSim didn't want to be "just another Second Life", we shouldn't have cloned SL software. If we wanted to be unique and different, we should have created a unique and different environment rather than using the Linden Lab open-source Viewer. We are all imitating Second Life. That's was the point, wasn't it... to prove it could be done for less than $300 a month.
One problem with OpenSim is lack of regulation. There is greater security on private grids. As stated in the second blog above, there is a lot of piracy that takes place on OSgrid. To be honest, no one can regulate that to any successful degree. And who's in charge of doing so? Private companies have a better chance of controlling piracy because they have more control over their users, but even they can't secure their grids 100%. With either situation there is going to be abuse and griefers and drama queens and the problems inherent in virtual reality. There's some scummy, twisted people out there and neither OpenSim nor closed girds can be totally successful in controlling them. That's just the reality of life.
The point? We're all in the same boat. So why are some paddling in opposite directions? Aren't we all headed the same direction? Isn't OSgrid and Inworldz both working hard to provide people a lower-cost VR alternative? Don't we all cheer when OSgrid fixes a major bug? Don't we all applaud when Inworldz creates a nifty new thing like Phlox?
WE SHOULD BE FRIENDS, APPLAUDING ONE ANOTHER
Rather than being at each others throats we really should be encouraging one anothers efforts. These grids are great. If not for Inworldz, Elf Clan would either still be stuck on SL... or we would be off of VR altogether (the latter being the most likely case). OpenSim could not have met our needs. But without OpenSim, thousands of people would not own their own regions. As inexpensive as they are, not everyone can afford a region on Inworldz. As cheap / free as they are, OSgrid doesn't offer all the features and stability many people need. There is room in this for all of us.
Rather than in-fighting, we should all be clapping each other on the backs. We have done it people. We have created alternative VR worlds. We have broken the monopoly.
Shouldn't we all be cheering... for everyone? :D