Listening and hearing

On Friday, Rod Humble kicked-off what he promised (via Twitter), to be a resumption of communications from the Lab regarding what is going on around SL and the Lab’s efforts relating to it. At the same time, we also got an update on what we can expect in terms of news on Mesh by the end of the month.

Many have critiqued LL – and Rodvik – for their use of Twitter; a commentator on this very blog took issue in the way communications are being handled –  claiming LL had “missed the boat” in their efforts. I’ve also been critical of the Lab, not just recently but throughout the life of this blog, for their lack of prowess when it comes to listening and engaging.

But, as Tateru today points out – things are changing. Rodvik is not only listening, he’s hearing and reacting- and kudos to him for doing so.

Just a few weeks ago, Theia Magic and others were making constructive blog posts and Tweets on the state of the new user welcome areas (notably Ahern and the lack of coordinated help for new users. The abuse is something a group of us had a round-robin on one evening (again via Twitter), when two of us pointed out the absurdity that when it comes to the official forums, LL are so paranoid about language and misunderstandings, that they actually blanked the use of the name “Dick van Dyke” for fear of upsetting the teens (or their parents) – and yet anyone arriving like Ahern risks being subjected to the most foul written and verbal (if Voice enabled) abuse which LL apparently deemed as “acceptable”.

Whether it came about as a result of Rodvik’s involvement in Twitter exchanges is 100% clear (although his intervention in issues is a matter of record), he has confirmed the return of the Resident Help Network. This cannot be anything but a good move – providing it is properly managed and coordinated. LL cannot be expected to keep their thumb on the pulse of everything in SL, so the proper used of something like SHN could be of major benefit – and it hopefully represents a first real step towards practical re-engagement with the user community – something that has again been something of a bee in my bonnet.

Also on Twitter, and while it received largely positive feedback, the new user sign-up process was critiqued because it only features human avatars. Again, Rodvik took time out to respond to these comments – and in his latest post he advises us that LL are expanding the available choice of avatars, “We know that the beauty of Second Life is the diversity and richness of how we choose to represent ourselves inworld. So, we’re adding 12 animal and 12 Robots and soon we’ll have Vehicles too. Then, we’ll also commission another set of human avatars that represent a wider, more diverse audience.

Both of these responses indicate that not only is Rodvik – the man at the top  – listening, he’s hearing what is being said and reacting to it.

A critical part in communications – again, as Tateru notes – is feedback – and this is something that, while there are still frustrations over a number of issues – Rodvik is paving the way. His blog posts are refreshing as they provide information and feedback clearly, and place him squarely alongside Frank Ambrose (FJ Linden) for providing quality communications. LL aren’t out of the woods where the entire issue of company / user interaction / engagement is concerned, but Rodviks efforts on Twitter, and he openness in blogging are certain steps in the right direction.