Sharing Creativity

(Copyright Linden Lab)

“From a customer perspective, it’s a virtual world, [but] it’s a shared creativity tool.” So speaks Rod Humble during a recent Bloomberg interview I’ve commented upon previously.

A shared creativity tool. This is not the first time Mr. Humble – Rodvik to us all – has referred to Second Life in this way. It’s been his means of referring to the platform virtually (pun intended) since he arrived in-world and started pushing prims around.

And it is perhaps the most concise (if somewhat dry) description of the platform I’ve come across in recent times – at least where LL is concerned.

Yes, of course there are the obvious elements that underpin the description; Rodvik himself touches upon them when he refers to the fact that everything (well, almost everything!) within Second Life is created by the users for the users. All of us who spend any amount of time in-world get this, so on the surface it is perhaps easy for some to dismiss Rodvik’s comments with a, “D’ya think?!” shrug of indifference. There is also much that the description misses out on as well, such as the immersive, 3D aspects of Second Life; after all, a “shared creativity tool” could equally be used to describe something like Microsoft Sharepoint as much as SL.

But the fact is, his description uncovers a much deeper truth about Second Life that tends to render (no pun intended) the more obvious aspects of the statement (and what it potentially misses) moot. This truth is that SL allows us to create and share in ways beyond what might be called the “physical” aspects of SL – prims, sculpties, textures, and so on.

I’m referring to everything else that exists in-world, which is equally created by users for users, but which we rarely consider to have been “created” in the same was as our houses, clothes and attachments. Look at the Groups you belong to; look at the activities you join and enjoy when in-world; look at the opportunities presented to you to engage in activities, roles, situations and opportunities within Second Life that could never – for whatever reason – be a part of your “first life” or “meat life” or whatever you want to call it. All of these are part and parcel of the shared creativity tool.

This has always been Second Life’s USP – unique selling point – that it can be whatever we chose it to be, however we chose to come together and engage with one another and create both through the physical medium of prims and through the other capabilities presented to us through the Viewer. This is also something that Linden Lab themselves seemed to lose sight of during the “bleak years” between mid-2008 and the end of 2010, when the company appeared to focus solely on the coin rather than the creativity, ignoring the obvious connection between one and the other.

So it really is comforting to here Rod Humble publicly describe SL in terms we can all appreciate and agree with. It may not be as dynamic as Your world, your imagination and fails to rate as a strapline for advertising, promotion or (re)branding; but it is a step in the right direction. One that Linden Lab need to key an eye on as they and we move forward and things like mesh start to make their presence felt across the grid with the risk that it may well cut a swathe across the ability for many to create sellable content from within SL, simply because prim-based content cannot always compete with the look and “feel” of mesh-based creations.

But in the meantime, kudos again to Rodvik for cutting to the heart of what Second Life is and can be. Shared creativity tool may be a dry, “techie” term unsuited to actually promoting and selling SL to a wider audience – but if it helps the new LL Director of Communications and the Marketing Dept at Linden Lab to more accurately put a finger on what SL is and empowers them to by more dynamic around the concept when promoting SL, then Linden Lab just might find themselves getting further back on track when it comes to gaining and retaining users, and growing the platform.