LL: reaching out creatively

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.

Camp-ire: the vampire-in-a-snowstorm log-in page 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.

Strawberry Singh’s SL log-in page artwork, featuring herself and Prad Prathivi

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.

Harlow Heslop’s evocative image

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.

18 thoughts on “LL: reaching out creatively

  1. I love the new images but I still think Vampires and other alternative avatars need to be represented on the Splash pages! I definitely volunteer!

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    1. Hopefully, we’ll see a whole range of themes visited – any perhaps with closer links to the Destination Guide as suggested, or at least some means of people connecting from the the splash page to the theme of interest.

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  2. Reaching out to specific artists isn’t reaching out to the ‘community’.

    Otherwise, it’s a nice thought…But it’s not the same, and it’s extremely subtle to a majority of players
    (people have a tendency to not read things) – They need to do something much more apparent, to a much wider audience, before they gain any favour.

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    1. The important thing is that LL has heard the criticism levelled at them from within the community and are seeking ways of engaging and developing ideas.

      This music theme – and the fashion theme before it – are hopefully initial first steps. Sure, LL have a good way to go on matters, but that’s no reason to slap them for making the attempt. Let’s see what comes.

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      1. I don’t see them picking out specific artists as confirming that they are actually going to do something about the criticism leveled at them. I don’t see this as any way of them seeking ways to engage with the userbase, nor for developing ideas with the community at large.

        (Sorry if that’s basically repeating myself).

        I’m not here to be super-duper negative on LL, but they are a business that needed some pictures, so they hired somebodies to take some – Like I’d go to the Local Ad pages to hire a landscaper to mow my lawn and trim my trees. That’s more or less what they did – in digital form.

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        1. The point is they are looking in-world. not just with this project as well. So what if they are shortlisting – it shortens the process, and they’re moving between groups of artists, not putting out repeat orders.

          And it is responding to constructive criticism. Not responding is continuing with the same ol’ same ol’ – which LL could have opted to do. Similarly, given that have the capability in-house (or at least outside of SL) they could have simply pulled in that resource and continue to use it. They didn’t. They initiated an approach to artists in-world. That’s engagement – the scale of the engagement doesn’t matter.

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        2. I don’t see it as responding to the criticism that they don’t engage with the community, because they aren’t engaging with the COMMUNITY. They are engaging with a handful of artists that do commission/contracter work it sounds like.

          It’s the same as saying Pixar or Disney engages with its community, because they are making a new movie and need a few more people on staff to produce the pixels.

          Now remember when you (I think) posted about how LL was requesting popular bloggers (like yourself) to provide them with blog posts that they could feature? They billboarded that, they put out expectations to (I think) anyone willing, and would have to actively engage with the community to get that done. THAT is engagement. I applauded that…even if it seemed a little shifty.

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          1. The blogging offer had issues in and of itself – notably exclusivity of posting and the implication that editorial rights would be one-sided, rather than consultative. But in essence, yes it was reaching out. It was bungled, there were better ways of going about it, the idea was based on a false premise, but it was reaching out.

            This is still reaching out – albeit on a smaller scale. It’s baby steps; and I’d rather see LL proceed step-by-step than commit another faux pas. As I’ve already said, lets see what else comes.

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  3. The “community” cannot create an outstanding login page, or an ad. Individuals FROM the “community” can…and did. Bravo, LL. Keep making use of your greatest resource — your Residents. We WANT to help, we’re passionate about our world.

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    1. Absolutely, we’re all in and ready to help. We’ve been wanting to help for a long time. I was thrilled to be a part of the SL Halloween/Horror Blogs and I think it got a lot of great feedback. I hope they keep it up.

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  4. I -guess- that guy in the first image you’ve sampled is supposed to be a South Asian since he has caucasian features and hair on bistre brown skin.

    But, of these images, some of the ones you did -not- showcase here have anatomy issues – mostly with short-arm syndrome (the magenta techno dancers and the woman in black both have this). You can take great photos and have them ruined by choosing a bad shape…

    There’s one with a woman holding a mic, but oddly, a little white triangle floating in the air and pointing at her crotch. This looks like a glitch that can happen is you try to ‘move’ or ‘resize’ mesh clothes. They can’t be moved if they are jointed – BUT any prims attached to them will be moved. Many mesh makers include a prim inside the body for some reason (I’ve not tried making mesh clothes yet – so I guess this is a technical reason I have yet to discover) – and this triangle might be that, having been accidentally dragged out of the body.

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    1. I should say that despite my comments I also see this as a HUGE step forward from where things were. Now we’re getting down to fussing over the details – which is a lot better place to be in that fussing over the whole situation.

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  5. It’s a welcome change, from amateur crap on the main page to expert locals featured.

    I hope they’re properly compensated.

    I also hope that if music is going to get bannerspace, they have something on the back end that connects people to ways to explore music in SL as well as get to current active music events.

    -ls/cm

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    1. Absolutely on the back-end / connectivity aspect for this (and future themed splash pages).

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