Sunday, November 9, 2008
The nature of the open grid
Yesterday, an interesting discussion evolved on the OpenGrid mailing list. Participant Thomas Grimshaw brought up the subject of cross grid currency exchanges and trust between grids; how are we going to do that?
Intranet or Internet
From the discussion that followed I gather that several OpenGrid beta participants think individual grids will establish their own economies, and currencies which should perhaps be exchanged in some sort of way. It seems they expect grids to be very independent from one another; connected perhaps, but essentially standalone at the core. Connected intranets, so to speak.
Personally, I had a much more interconnected grid in mind. One grid, consisting of individual sims or gridlets (a sim hosting one or a few regions) operated by many different parties, but with a lot of shared properties like a currency. Very similar to the internet, which consists of countless web servers hosted and operated by perhaps millions of entities.
Currently, many people experimenting with OpenSim are geeks, hobbyists who run one or a few simulators, hosting a handful of regions. Gridlets, so to speak. On that scale, it does not make sense to invent your own currency. You can't normally get a meaningful economy going there. For those people, having one single currency and micropayment system to plugin to, makes much more sense.
How many currencies?
From and enduser perspective, it doesn't seem very userfriendly to create a multitude of (probably low trust) currencies either. They'd have to track ever changing exchange rates, and perhaps buy currency on each grid they want to buy stuff on. That's hardly a scalable solution, which also requires a lot of technical and procedural attention with regards to setting exchange rates and facilitating cross grid exchanges. And if you bought SeredBucks on my grid and I decide to pull the plug, where's your money then? I'd rather have an account with one reliable authority, which doesn't depend on one grid operator. Adam Frisby suggested as much when he mentioned Amazon's micropayment system in this discussion.
Whatever the grid will end up to be, it will probably be a little of both. We've got interesting times ahead of us!