Redefining the message

Back at the turn of the year, Mark Kingdon posted a piece on his vision for the future – near and far. The piece received much discussion and critical feedback. As a result, Kingdon promised to hold a series of in world meetings with all who responded to his post through the discussion thread.

The first of those meetings has just been held – and to be honest, it is a real eye-opener.

Sadly, Linden Lab themselves, in what can only be described as a completely myopic view of the meeting – failed to even consider recording the event and making it available for wider consumption than the invited audience. This is because may of the issues raised have themselves been the subject of heated debate, angry forum postings and outright rumours over the last several months. This being the case – any opportunity to deal with them head-on should have been aggressively grabbed by Kingdon’s team, and every effort made to ensure what was said is communicated more widely to the community as a whole.

Fortunately, Angela Talamasca was not so short-sighted, and she recorded the event for playback – and it makes fascinating listening. Admittedly, the audio commentary isn’t always brilliant – but it is worth sticking with.

Much of what Kingdon says puts a lot of what has been going on recently into a more balanced perspective. Not only does it help allay some fears, it also clarifies a lot of thinking going on at Board / executive level within Linden Lab and gives one some encouragement that those in charge at the lab are not so divorced from the realities of Second Life as recent blog posts and activities may imply. Indeed, Kingdon goes so far to acknowledge that the choice of words and the phrasing of messages have both been poor. While this is not something that is going to go away overnight (indeed, his choice of words during the meeting was in places poorly considered, and gave rise to a lot of gnashing of teeth within the forum thread on the meeting). But, given the fact that this is not the first time LL have admitted their failure to communicate what they actually mean – that they are aware of the problem may hopefully see them take steps to improve the situation.

Of course, there will be those who continue to nay-say this (and future) meetings as little more than an exercise in PR. I’m certainly not swallowing all the reassurances lock, stock and barrel – at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. However, It is worth giving Kingdon a listening to free of any preconceptions; the results might be surprising.

It’ll be interesting to see how SL develops against the backdrop of these discussions, and I very much hope that the remaining meetings in this series are also recorded and published for posterity.

If nothing else, the last five minutes lays to rest the completely unfounded rumour (seemingly started by one resident – who has previously demonstrated a sizeable personal bias against Linden Lab) that Viewer 2.0 will not include the in world building tools: Kingdon is most emphatic in stating the tools will be in the viewer, and that user generated content is very key to Second Life.

Addendum

Sice posting this, it has emerged that Blue Linden tried to record the session, but had an eleventh hour software issue that prevented this from happening. In the interests of fairness, I’m only too happy to correct this point.

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