Back in the mists of time, I wrote several pieces centred on Linden Lab, one of which in particular, Business, Collaboration and Creative Growth, focused on the Lab’s relationship with the pool of talent it has at its fingertips: the user base.
In that piece, I bullet-pointed a number of ways in which engagement with the community could directly help market and promote Second Life as a whole, noting in closing:
“In short, Linden Lab needs to start collaborating with the user community once more and thinking more holistically about their product. Doing so isn’t going to solve all of SL’s woes (would it were that easy); but it will represent a major step in the right direction.”
Well, it appears that at least some of the holistic thinking is taking hold at the Lab, as the SL website log-in / splash page has been quietly undergoing an overhaul of late.
For a good while, the screen comprised a series of images that fell somewhat short of enticing – if not outright ugly. Perhaps the most famous of these was the “vampire in a snowstorm” image.
Several commentators took LL to task over the images selection – which could at the time best be described as “vapid” – and earlier this year things started improving, with crisper images of avatars appearing, together with picture credits.
Now LL have gone the extra mile and not only engaged with some of best photographers and artists in SL to produce some really outstanding images for the log-in screen, they would appear to have started working on a theme-based approach to advertising SL through the splash page – the current theme being music. I caught sight of the new pages while browsing Strawberry Singh’s blog, but got sidetracked away from the new art by things like Havok sub-licencing and Marketplace updates, which became the focus of recent blog posts.
Strawberry is one of a number of SL artists who were asked by LL to produce music-themed images a few weeks ago, the other being Harlow Heslop, Miaa Rebane, siXX Yangtz and Harper Beresford, and Ivoni Miles. The results are simply spectacular.
All of the images capture the heart of music entertainment in SL in all its diverse forms, with Strawberry’s in particular hinting at more – friendship and relationships. This is a fresh move from Linden Lab in combining user-generated images on a thematic basis to help promote SL and it is one to be applauded – and one I hope we’ll see more of – for how better to capture the rich diversity of Second Life other than by working with those intimately involved with it?
With efforts like this, it would be nice to see some kind of Destination Guide tie-in as well: perhaps with a special sub-category of “What’s Hot” appearing on the log-in screen carrying information on locations directly related to the image theme: in this case, a list of the currently hot live music venues in SL.
After all, if music is being used to promote SL – then it makes sense for LL to provide the follow-through and help those drawn to SL as a result of the theme to actually connect with the in-world music scene – or whatever the chosen promotional theme is.
Of course, this isn’t the first time LL have sought to work with members of the community, and it would be unfair to cast it as such. But given the way in which LL has been perceived to be retreating from direct engagement with the community over the last few years – a perception they have contributed in no small part themselves – this move is to be commended. Hopefully, it’ll be the first step along the way to the Lab working more directly with members of the user community to better promote SL and reach out to potential users. Certainly, there are many powerful tools that can be used in this regard – such as machinima, something I’ve again discussed elsewhere – and the talent to leverage those tools is rich within SL itself. I’ve little doubt that were this talent to be harnessed, the results would be beyond anything LL have themselves been able to produce using this incredible medium.
In the meantime, credit and thanks must go to Strawberry, Harlow and the other contributors to the artwork for their time and effort. So why not take a look at their work for yourself? (Remember you’ll have to log-out of the SL website in order to display the log-in / splash page and see the images.)
With thanks to Strawberry Singh.