From the movie Time Bandits:
“You see, to be quite frank, the fabric of the universe is far from perfect. It was a bit of botched job, you see. We only had seven days to make it.
And that’s where this comes in. This is the only map of all the holes. Well, why repair them? Why not use them to get stinking rich?”
Or, you could use them to build a foundation for the future of Virtual Worlds.
Time Bandits is one of my favorite movies. It’s a dark comedy full of rich visuals and memorable characters. But my favorite concept from the movie is “The Map.”
The Map shows the locations of spacetime portals in the Universe. By accessing these portals, you can travel instantly to other locations in time and space. In the movie these portals are often found in weird locations, and the characters use them to explore and collect treasures from exotic places.
The idea of owning such a map is compelling. I remember first watching the movie as a kid and getting a tingly feeling when I imagined the ability to travel the Universe like that.
And I got that same tingly feeling again when I recently started exploring the Hypergrid on OpenSim.
From the wiki on Opensimulator.org :
The hypergrid is an extension to opensim that allows you to link your opensim to other opensims on the internet, and that supports seamless agent transfers among those opensims.
The basic idea for the hypergrid is that region/grid administrations can place hyperlinks on their map to hypergrided regions run by others. Once those hyperlinks are established, users interact with those regions in exactly the same way as they interact with local regions. Specifically, users can choose to teleport there. Once the user reaches the region behind the hyperlink, she is automatically interacting with a different virtual world without having to logout from the world where she came from, and while still having access to her inventory.
Hypergrid technology has existed for only about a year. But in that short time, it has evolved very quickly.
Maria Korolov from HypergridBusiness has created a whole directory of Hypergrid destinations called Hyperica. You can use the directory to find Hypergrid teleport addresses between almost a hundred different OpenSim grids running around the world.
There’s also a Hypergrid Teleport Network system called The HyperGates. Just rez a HyperGate object on your land and it will automatically connect to the HyperGate network, allowing visitors to click on the gate inworld and immediately begin exploring a wide range of locations on different OpenSim grids.
All of this is an evolving technology. As such, sometimes thing simply don’t work. But in my experience over the past few days, things work much more often than not. Maria has also written a very helpful guide on How to Hypergrid for beginners.
I recently set up my own OpenSim region on jokaydiaGrid. I named it “Pathlandia,” and one of the first things I did was rez a HyperGate and start exploring. Over the course of a few hours, I found myself jumping between different OpenSim grids, exploring strange new lands and finding lots of fun freebie items.
I felt like a kid again. That same kid who fantasized about having a copy of The Map from Time Bandits. When I finally returned to Pathlandia, I rezzed all my freebies on my own land and sat dumbfounded under a tree.
It’s one thing to theoretically understand the concept of a network of virtual worlds and the ability to carry your identity and inventory between them. It’s a completely different thing to actually do it.
Now, more than ever, I am convinced that the cornerstone of the future Metaverse will involve such connectivity. Walled gardens will become stagnant tidal pools. Interconnected gardens will flourish. New Maps to discover and travel these locations will be the tools that tie it all together.
And the speed with which technology like OpenSim and Hypergrid is advancing along these lines is, in a single word, breathtaking.
Oh, in case you’re wondering who invented the whole Hypergrid technology, it was a someone named Crista Lopes (aka Diva Canto).
Professor Crista Lopes.
A pioneering academic and educator.
She’s an Associate Professor in the Department of Information at the University of California, Irvine. And before that, she was a research scientist at a little place you might have heard of called Xerox PARC.
Crista is also an OpenSim core developer, and the main person behind the diva distribution of OpenSim that I recently used in my USB key project.
Educators and academics today are closely re-examining their strategies for using virtual worlds. Large numbers of them are turning their attention for the first time to technologies like OpenSim, exploring its new affordances and quickly organizing in groups to coordinate their work.
I wonder what they’ll come up with next?
Whatever it is, I suspect it will be very clever.
And full of Maps.
-John “Pathfinder” Lester