The Linden Business Plan?: Pwning the Metaverse the Chef Cantu Way

by Alphaville Herald on 17/08/07 at 11:00 am

by Urizenus Sklar, food critic

Cantu1_3Chef Cantu at Work.

Since I am the ultimate metaverse insider with a profound grasp of new media and the economics thereof, it is natural that when Media Playahs and Venture Capital Guys and Grrls meet me they want the 411 on Second Life. “Uri”, they ask me “exactly what is the Second Life business plan anyway?” And who can blame them for asking? The money isn’t coming from subscriptions, or sales of Linden dollars, or virtual property sales, nor will enough revenue ever come from those sources, so what in Sam Hades is the plan?

And the craziest thing is that instead of securing the platform and working to make it better, Linden Lab keeps adding more and more bells and whistles and gizmos and gadgets – stuff that no one asked for or ordered or for that matter really even wants. 5000 users have vented against the strategy in a sharply worded open letter, but… News Flash:.. the petition fell on deaf ears. Why treat your customers that way? And why keep adding new crap to a platform that needs to be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up?

I too puzzled over these questions, until two events transpired – events that in conjunction made it all clear. Crystal. Clear.

The first event occurred one day as I ate at the restaurant Moto in Chicago, run by Omaru Cantu. Chef Cantu is the Inspector Gadget of the restaurant bizz. Like the other post-modern molecular cuisine chefs he does the usual thing with foams and gels and … you know… dumping juiced peas and carrots into liquid nitrogen at your tableside. Then too there are the edible menus. He rigged up a Canon i560 inkjet printer to print with edible dye on edible paper, which he has flavored somehow. You are instructed to crumble up your menu and dump it in your soup – it’s Chef Cantu’s version of “Alphabet Soup”. One course, called “filet mignon” is a piece of paper with a cow printed on it. It tastes like beef. (Not chicken.)

Chef Cantu previously worked as the sous chef at Charlie Trotter’s – a place where he began experimenting with cutlery. Break the handle off a fork, replace it with a screw from a cork screw, stuff it with herbs and voila! – aromatic cutlery. Chef Cantu’s kitchen is nothing if not the laboratory of a mad scientist. The New York Times offered this description of some of the mad scientist toys he is using to cook:

Mr. Cantu is experimenting with liquid nitrogen, helium and superconductors to make foods levitate. And while many chefs speak of buying new ovens or refrigerators, he wants to invest in a three-dimensional printer to make physical prototypes of his inventions, which he now painstakingly builds by hand. The 3-D printer could function as a cooking device, creating silicone molds for pill-sized dishes flavored, say, like watermelon, bacon and eggs or even beef Bourguignon, he said, and he could also make edible molds out of cornstarch.

He also plans to buy a class IV laser to create dishes that are “impossible through conventional means.” (A class IV laser, the highest grade under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s classification system, projects high-powered beams and is typically used for surgery or welding.)

Mr. Cantu said he might use the laser to burn a hole through a piece of sashimi tuna, cooking the fish thoroughly inside but leaving its exterior raw. He said he would also use the laser to create “inside out” bread, where the crust is baked inside the loaf and the doughy part is the outer surface. “We’ll be the first restaurant on planet Earth to use a class IV laser to cook food,” he said with a grin.

He is testing a hand-held ion-particle gun, which he said is for levitating food. So far he has zapped only salt and sugar, but envisions one day making whole meals float before awestruck diners.

Since that article was written, Cantu broke out his laser in an Iron Chef America competition against Iron Chef Morimoto, using the laser to carmelize packing peanuts made from edible starch. (He beat Morimoto.)

Another source claims that Cantu has even found a use for Nasa’s Aerogel:

Cantu is also developing a course that floats. He starts with a cube made of a special kind of whipped silicone (invented by NASA) and, in a smoker, imbues it with various food aromas. The server then holds it above the table and spins it to release its designated fragrance. The material, which contains air pockets, become lighter than air when heated, so it remains suspended for a short time.

Cantu claims that we have been cooking with basically the same technology since the invention of fire, and he wants to move us into the future. He wants us to rethink the possibilities for food preparation and cooking technologies. Very noble.

Now when I ate at Cantu’s restaurant I could not figure out how this guys was making money in his tiny restaurant, churning out these technology intensive concoctions. He certainly wasn’t going to get rich like Bobby Flay or Emeril. Or was he? Months later I met someone who was doing patent work for Cantu. It seems all the crazy ideas are being patented.

For example, one of his signature dishes is a heat retaining polymer box that is taken to the customer’s table and a fish is placed inside where it is cooked at the table. The patent application for that is written broadly so that it covers any heat retaining box (those heated river rocks therefore don’t count). The apparent patent application for his cork screw enhanced utensils is also written very broadly.

According to the New York Times, he has 30 such patents pending. This guy is going to own the future of new cooking technologies. Move over Bobby and Emeril. Some day Emeril is going to pwn you. Crimey he’s going to pwn all of us.

Then it struck me. This must be the Linden business plan. And if it isn’t, it should be.

They know they are never going to have an economically viable platform, and they know that dozens of competitors are on the way and that existing competitors are starting to muscle them out of the way. One thing that the Lab has going for it, is that it is on the cutting edge of developing gizmos and gadgets and add-ons and widgets and whatchamacallits for virtual worlds. Why not patent those, sit back, and collect the royalties as other metaverse corporations adopt and/or accidentally stumble onto your technology?

There is just one problem with this theory. It is hard to locate patents (or pending patents) that have been filed by Lindens. Here are some that I was able to dig up.

Philip and Cory and Andrew Meadows have a patent application that promises:

“a distributed continuous simulation of a three dimensional simulation space. The simulation space is partitioned into a set of regions. The system includes a set of simulation servers. In one embodiment, each simulation server is responsible for simulating one of the regions of the simulation space. Users interacting with the simulation communicate directly with the simulation server responsible for simulating the region that the user is currently interacting with.”

In other words, “we pwn the metaverse”.

In another very interesting patent application by Philip, filed last year, that promises …

“An input and feedback system for use with simulator devices immobilizes a portion of the user’s body using a securement device which holds the immobilized portion in a fixed position. Pressure sensors are disposed upon the securement device to detect the force resulting from any attempted motion of the immobilized body part. Signals describing these forces are sent to a processing unit which applies this information to a simulated environment and provides sensory feedback to the user of the this simulated environment. Feedback is provided via vibrating elements which provide a sensation to the user corresponding to the motion of the user’s muscles which occur in the simulated environment.”

In other words…well…I guess this must be for a teledildonics suit.

Question is, are the Lindens or their agents locking down other patents that we don’t know about? Are they trying to pwn the metaverse? Is that their business plan? I don’t know, I’m asking!

14 Responses to “The Linden Business Plan?: Pwning the Metaverse the Chef Cantu Way”

  1. Astonished Reader

    Aug 17th, 2007

    It took a bit to get to the payoff, but this is an article that is finally worth reading!

    Kudos to you, Uri!

    And I suppose that means we’ll be returning to the usual crap with the very next article…

  2. Coincidental Avatar

    Aug 17th, 2007

    Their business plan is not that complicated.

    According to the code, LL started as a short term scam which was never intended to live this far. The code says that they never planned for success (scalability etc.).

    Anyway, the user space started to grow driven by perverts (porn created the internet too as we know it. And VHS).

    LL noticed that they can make money by selling virtual land and private islands. Thus they created misleading press campaigns to inflate the user space. This is where LL is now.

    The next thing to happen is that the sales of private islands starts to stagnate like the growth of the user space; there will be competitors and this VR thing will be diluted to the internet.

    Hookers, perverts, small crooks in casino business and teens will run their own dedicated small grids from their home computers. “Normal ordinary” people will be the prey of advertisers and business. Private landlords will be stone dead.

    Before that happens LL will enjoy California sun. Everything is temporary, hey.

    And what comes to those patent applications … ROFL

  3. StallionSeven

    Aug 17th, 2007

    “They know they are never going to have an economically viable platform”

    Once again Peter Ludlow demonstrates his commitment to maintaining the sharp line between conjecture and fact.

  4. Doug Randall

    Aug 17th, 2007

    So Linden Labs wants to be to the Metaverse what SCO was to Linux ? Gosh ! I had no idea ! :p

  5. Wowza

    Aug 17th, 2007

    Interestingly enough the first BIG patent was filed in Nov, 2002 … isn’t that a bit long for it to be granted? – I am thinking that it might have been denied given that the file is over 4 years old …..

    And, yeah, it is a typical “poorly planned” Silicon Valley company.

  6. Patent Attorney

    Aug 17th, 2007

    Patents take typically 7 to 12 years to complete

  7. tp

    Aug 17th, 2007

    I gotta laugh at that patent, that has been an open source idea for as long as the web. It’s also been part of the virtual reality experience and gaming already (see rumble sticks for Nintendo 64 and feedback mice->another fail btw) as far as I know that basically flopped in the later 90′s due to motion sickness during extended romps and overpriced equipment.
    Here is a better patent idea… contact lenses with wireless monitor capabilities. Nanotech for the win here.

  8. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 17th, 2007

    Really Prok? Patent attorney was commenting on how 4 years is not a long time for a patent to be examined in relation to Wowza’s comment about the patent probably being denied based on the file date. Not on any effect of the patent pending process on people’s use.

    So is it all lawyers you don’t like? Cause Patent attorney didn’t say anything against you.

  9. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 17th, 2007

    That’s funny how Jessica can be responding to a post of mine here before it’s actually posted, that only can mean one thing: she’s able to look into the comments even on posts she didn’t post. Now that’s interesting, eh?

    Patent Pending’s remark is nullified and voided by my comment that “patending pending” is all anyone needs to do their pawning, as FlipperPAY and anyone else can tell you. If it takes 7-12 whatever years, what of it? It’s pending. And having that fact made known is a chilling factor all its own. We all knew that the minute someone said the file date seemed to be aging, some other smartass would come up and smugly explain that patents typically take longer, something we are long familiar with, from other gleeful-gotcha Herald studies. We waited five minutes, checked our watches, and yes, someone came to ankle-bite about patents. Yawn.

    The concept that someone has to “say something against me” for me to respond must be rooted in a literalist notion that I will only come here to respond to attacks — this is the little baby gotcha game that FlipperPAY plays on me at the SC, imagining that he is really brilliant and clever, although of course he looks like a total ass.

    However, this gives me an idea. Rather than just come here to respond to attacks, or post links to my blog to shamelessly drive traffic to my blog if I have something really important to say in response to articles here (I’m going to get as cynical and blatant as the Herald, watch):

    …what I think I will do is becoming a professional ankle-biter like the other people in the Herald comments.

    Let’s see how Pixeleen likes it when someone professionally ankle-bites the reporters she *does* like and fawns over — like Jessica — and see if she’s willing to stand up for her reporters *then* — and not only pre-emptively comment before a comment has gone in (or has it been deleted?) but also write editorials. What will it take?! I’ve had such long practice fighting *off* anklebiters that it shouldn’t be too much trouble *becoming* one.

    So let me start my ankle-biting career by saying, no, it’s not all lawyers I don’t like, it’s just those who are particularly arrogant assholes and who actually have nothing really that intelligent to say at the end of the day. Like Jessica. Who hasn’t passed the bar, has no RL legal experience, but imagines that she pwns everybody, and if they object, that she can happily threaten them with libel suits — that she imagines she’ll get tried in the virtuality of SL, where she can hang on to her anonymity.

    Let’s not be *nice* here — after all, Uri, Walker, and Pixeleen aren’t *nice*. They are out for themselves, and Jessica fits right in with them. Niceness is as niceness does.

    If this sounds petty or spiteful, keep in mind that it perfectly matches the petty and spite of Jessica and her comments, and of course Pixeleen’s overall course. Like draws like.

  10. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 17th, 2007

    Umm Prok, didn’t you say that you *did* have to come here in order to respond to attacks? That these attacks were the reason why you came to post on the Herald? That the “Voice of Pixeleen” was so offensive that you devoted an inordinate amount of space on your blog attacking her?

    And one way you are attacking her now, is suggesting that I responded to your post in a manner other than seeing it posted on the Herald in the normal course of business. Which I did. I have no special access to this web page as a freelancer.

    You also make it sound like I’m trying to threaten you with a libel suit in order to pwn you. You may not recall, I said that if my RL identity was linked with my SL one, then I would sue you for libel because you would have defamed me, and not my pseudonym. The words that you posted, stating that I was engaged in illegal activity and prostitution, without proof of either, is libel per se. I don’t have to show damages. I don’t have to go through the public figure analysis. Even though you have stated that “realifism” is a bad thing, you don’t seem to want to pwn me and show how little I know about the law, and how much you know, by appearing before a third party neutral of *your* choice in SL.

    And if I wanted to play “gotcha” like you seem to enjoy, why would I chose a situation where your response to Patent Attorney didnt’ have anything to do with what was being said. I noticed you had no reply to what I said based on patent attorney’s comment.

  11. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 18th, 2007

    Jessica, stop your tantruming, it’s not attractive.

    Yes, I come here to respond to attacks. If I have something really important to say on some other topic, I’ll say that, too, but I don’t feel that the Herald is my “regular place” or “home” given the really awesome nastiness that both editors and readers have subjected me to.

    If you’re keeping literalist gotcha score and saying, oh, but YOU SAID you were only going to come to answer attacks, and here you are posting on something else, nyah, nyah, then let me virtually slap you in the face for that sort of insolent assholery. If that’s all you can do, you deserve a slap. People who are TOTALLY out of answers and alibis and intelligent responses do shit like say, BUT YOU SAID YOU WOULD ONLY BLAH BLAH. It’s really a sign of terribly impoverished mentation.

    I didn’t say you were engaging in illegal activity. That’s pretty retarded. There’s nothing whatsoever saying that. I’ve been over this a number of times, so your really redundant return to it only makes you look bad — and suffering from a guilty conscience.

    It doesn’t require *me* to say that you engaged in prostitution; you wrote it yourself. Is there something shameful in prostitution? Well, it’s degrading. And women often get out of it when they find something more economically viable. Of course, working at Rite-Aid is degrading, too, and I’ve done that. So it’s all relative.

    I raised the question as to whether in fact escorting is proved as legal. It isn’t, really PROVED because it’s vulnerable to attack by regulators who may merely pounce on something like the age issue to try to get SL to shut it down for moral reasons. Proof that is *isn’t* illegal is being offered. Proof that it is and will remain legal, given the vulnerability of LL now to lawsuits by all sorts of forces, is not really supplied.

    Threatening with libel suits is threatening with libel suits. It’s infantile. Adding later “if I link my RL name” or attempting to try to get a kangaroo court going in SL with an SL is about as lame and pathetic as it gets.

    Libel of fictional characters in SL hardly seems to rise to any RL test of libel. You’re invoking libel, like Benjamin Duranske does, as an attempt to shut up someone criticising you. I don’t feed that sort of bad behaviour by showing up to kangaraoo courts in Second Life.

    I indeed DID have a reply, that evidently you haven’t been able to comprehend. Indeed it IS relevant to tell Patent Attorney to stop being a smug gotcha gamer, as we all know patents take time, and what he’s not willing to concede is that ‘patent pending’ is all you need.

    Jessica, go work out all your parental issues on your RL parents, please, it’s unseemly to keep being a bitch on forums.


    As anyone can see, my post about the patents has simply been removed; I can’t imagine why. I thought Jessica might have the option to see it early (any one even with only drafting powers could in fact). So she’s responding to a *removed post* as the record here clearly shows ROFL.

    I don’t know why Uri doesn’t get exercised about Pixeleen’s removal of posts. And this post merely said something about “patent pending” being a way in which people try to pwn others.

    Again, there’d be no need to appear before any “third party neutral choice” in SL, when even any half-brain-dead reader of these posts can see that Jessica is not accused in the way she hallucinates. She infers and interpolates in an accusation, no doubt due to a troubled conscience.

  12. Jessica Holyoke

    Aug 18th, 2007

    Funny thing Prok, I still stand by the statements that I made on your blog based on the things you said on your blog. My claim of libel is not based on things that were said here, nor on your failed methods of trying to wiggle out of it. Also, you were the one who brought up the libel accusation without bringing up all the facts. So I don’t have a guilty conscience, its just that you shouldn’t be allowed to make statements without basis without being challenged on them.

    And the claim wasn’t about getting you to stop talking in general, it was to get you to start being more responsible with what you say. You make statements all the time without basis and when people call you on it, you cry foul.

    And again, your lame attempts of finding a conspiracy against you everywhere fails again here. I responded to a *removed* post. That means it was posted, where I saw it and responded to it, and then your post was removed. Amazing how the world works.

  13. Cocoanut Koala

    Aug 19th, 2007

    Whats FRICKIN AMAZING is that these posts are being REMOVED!!!!

    Uri, where are you, dead? And are you turning over in your GRAVE????


  14. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 19th, 2007

    I can’t imagine why the post, which was a few lines, and merely said something about how, duh, haven’t you ever heard of “patent pending” was removed. The perlustrators must have itchy fingers.

    And again, there is nothing “libelous” in any remark I’ve made here, on my blog, or anywhere. I don’t “wiggle” out of anything. I’m happy to see you in court — real court, not fake court. And I don’t at all mind being challenged, but pick a good case — this isn’t one.

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