Sansar™ is something people are having a problem getting their heads around. Depending on how you use the web and virtual worlds and reality, you’ll likely perceive Sansar differently. You’ll also likely run into problems understanding how others see it and why. So, we still ask, what is Sansar?
Inara has a good analysis up on her blog, SANSAR: Preview 4 And Thoughts On A Wider Reach.
She makes a good point in regard to who is posting about and making videos of their experience in Sansar. For now, it is mostly Second Life creators like Blueberry and Maxwell Graf posting and making the videos.
It is natural these people would make videos showing what they consider important and pertinent. But, they tend to use Sansar just as they use Second Life™. Also, few of these people are web developers. So, the complexities and possibilities of how Sansar will be used mostly elude them.
Consider the web. Initially, most web sites were custom made sites built from scratch. The basic technology was HTML with primitive formatting. Paraphrasing:
[Title – top level – Font: Arial – Style: Bold – Color: Red]Free Sex[end]
Next formatting was improved and simplified… well, the simplified can be debated. This was and is the era of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
[Style 1]Free Sex[end]
As time passed dynamic database driven sites were developed. Think WordPress, Joomla, and other applications. In those, we type our text, click a format choice, and move on.
In WordPress developers develop plugins (scripts/programing) and theme designers develop the ‘looks’. The end user or site owner uses the built-in editing/writing tools to compose content. The result is we don’t have huge sites like AOL and CompuServ that try to be the Internet-all-you-need sites. We have millions of small individual web sites. There are other sites that we call social networks, think Facebook.
This shift in site design has allowed much easier building site of sites that work on the desktop, laptop, tablets, iPads, and phones.
Second Life is like the early web sites. Everything is custom built, think regions. Over on OpenSim there are entire regions and sets of regions that are rolled into backups and sold as pre-built regions. But, they had to be custom built first.
With the current SL tech, we are at a stopping point. The sites that can be built, the graphics, and rendering can be improved and that is what the Lab is doing. As Internet speed improves and computer power grows more complex rendering tasks can be moved into the SL real time rendering environment.
But, we are stuck with the viewer. All attempts to replace the viewer with the web browser have been clumsy kludges that people haven’t adopted. Cloud Party made it the farthest down that road.
Sansar changes the basic configuration of the system. It is like moving from the pure HTML primitive formatting of SL to WordPress. So, building places in Sansar will start out like early WordPress. There were just a few WordPress looks and limited features. Over time that will change for Sansar just as it did for WordPress, at least that is the hope.
The big change is in being able to add the ability to replace the viewer. How well that is being implemented is debatable.
While we can use a web browser to run the WordPress editor and compose posts, I am not sure that will be possible for Sansar ‘region’ design.
To build a theme (look) for a WordPress site I use Dreamweaver and Photoshop. I write CSS and PHP (think of them as special languages something like the Linden Scripting Language) to make a new theme. While it is POSSIBLE to do that theme thing using just WordPress, it is really awkward and tedious being suitable for just the simple changes and tweaks.
Once one has built a theme, it can be sold to others for use on their WordPress site. This is sort of what we are hearing Ebbe Altberg saying will be possible for Sansar.
Back to the viewer thing… We have been told that Sansar will start out being way more modular than SL. So, if they have held to that plan, the output from the main render engine can be formatted for or the engine adapted to various devices, think phones and web browsers.
If people can get into a virtual world without having to install something, there is the possibility of mass acceptance and use.
As developers begin to build environments (being similar to SL regions), as they do WordPress themes, more people will be able to quickly build sites using VR.
Inara has recognized what we are seeing of Sansar for now is rather limited. The possibilities are greater than most SL people realize. We are still looking for a large social world similar to SL. Most people on the planet have no idea what SL is. So, Sansar will be a totally new experience for them. It is those without too many preconceptions that will likely come up with novel uses.
When SL was created it was to be a platform for prototyping games. Users turned it into a world and social experience. The Lab is again trying to build a ‘development’ platform. We have no real idea how it is going to be used.
The Lab or someone may build a Third Life experience similar to Second Life. Only then will SL users see Sansar as “LIKE” SL and recognize it.