The phrase “the free Metaverse” gets thrown around a lot these days, especially among OpenSimmers.
What does it actually mean?
I’m not sure there is a correct answer to that question. It seems different people have different intentions when they use it. And the phrase hasn’t been around long enough for a universal meaning to have taken over.
Some people use “free” to mean users have natural rights that MUST be recognized by the owners of a grid.
To some, “free” means “open” as in unrestricted. To these people, a closed grid cannot be considered free. The ability to travel from one grid to another would be necessary.
For a lot of people, “free” applies to content and services as in “free of charge.” Everything should be free. These people don’t think there should be any currency in virtual worlds because there is no need for it.
This last group seems to think that anyone who wants to sell them something is a bad person who is not using virtual worlds appropriately and is infringing upon their natural rights to have everything for free.
Well, sign me up for that last group! In fact, why stop with virtual life? I think everything in real life should be free too. Do away with money. If you make something that I want, you should give me a copy of it. I have a right to it. What? You’re keeping it just for yourself? Who the hell do you think you are?
In RL, I live in a “free country” but that doesn’t mean that all the products or services or land in that country are free.
To me, “the free Metaverse” refers to users having rights and choices, It does not refer to everything being free of cost. I think people who want everything to be free are being silly at best. Selfish and greedy could also apply. Ironic there, as these people think the operators of closed grids are the greedy ones.
Everything is not free. Some things cost money and someone has to pay it. For example, servers cost money. Running a large grid costs money. If these things were not true, then all of those who think they could be doing a better job than Second Life or InWorldz or Kitely would be doing it.
What most of the people who speak out against SL or other closed grids and talk about “the free Metaverse” really are saying is: they want somebody else to pay for it so it’s free for them. They think this is some sort of right.