I was reading Au’s NWN short post on vehicle communities at http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2014/07/second-life-vehicle-communities.html and it occurred to me that I really miss the concept of “neighborhood” in SL. More generally, SL/Opensim/etc started with a single, non-sharded, contiguous world and through the addition teleporting, rapid flight, and disconnected “islands” have ended up with a functionally very fragmented pile of much smaller spaces - in general, your parcel’s location on the SL grid is darned close to irrelevant. SL lost something in that shift, I think - info hubs are hangouts but no longer places that most everyone goes through on occasion. The “bustling hubs of activity” are loosely defined more by social commonality than any spatial metaphor and there is no drive to connect with neighbors since everyone arrives by TP anyway. Long ago in SL, there was real economic value in having land near a hub… then a road… then protected spaces… now the value seems mainly in having your own region.
On the other hand, I think there is something really attractive about The Street (Snowcrash), The River (Otherland), and even unavoidable covering of distance (any number of MMOs, actual or fictional) that require time, effort, or money to traverse. Growth of interrelated spaces happens naturally. You can see what is nearby and you care about where you are in the world.
On the third hand, it is really convenient to TP from place to place to shop, visit, or sightsee… to step through a portal to a completely different world with different rules of physics or access/privacy/visibility… or even just to assert real ownership of your own chunk of the metaverse. The opensim hypergrid has some aspects of this still, even now that the 4096 bug is fixed, because you might need or want to make several stops along your path to get from one place to another.
So, I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, but I’d be interested to hear what others think - is continuity important or not at all? It it worth using architectural or economic effects to encourage it? Should we dispense with the whole notion of a euclidian world? Or maybe it is something that might arise from and be enforced from social contract?