On May 4th, there was a lively Twitter discussion about many things SL, during which, Tateru Nino asked the following question:
@InaraPey @isfullofcrap Question. Should Linden Lab Rule, or should it Protect and Serve? Where do you see it on that continuum now?
This lead to a further discussion on just what people felt LL’s role should be. Given that the company itself has seemingly been trying to move itself more into the realm of service provider more than anything else, I suggested that Provide and Inform might be a better means of describing LL’s role.
I’m uncomfortable with the idea of “ruling” – although that is at times how LL appears to be operating (and outside of questions of ToS and arbitration*) – as that implies an autocratic approach completely devoid of any form of interaction with the user community, and if we’re honest, that’s actually far from the case. Yes, LL frequently suck in the manner in which they go about things, and they may not do things quite as we would like; but they are not entirely autocratic in nature. Were this otherwise, it’s doubtful we’d have the likes of third-party Viewers, nor would we have the likes of sim “donations” to the likes of the Linden Endowment of the Arts.
Similarly, I don’t think Protect and Serve entirely fits the bill because “protection” is something Linden Lab should be doing (and is, for the most part) as part and parcel of providing the Second Life platform, while “serve”, while warranted in terms of customer service potentially puts the shoe a little too much on the other foot when compared to Rule. Again, I’m not saying that Linden Lab has got either “protection” or “service” right, rather that both should be intrinsic to how they go about running Second Life.
Which brings me to Provide and Inform. I settled on these because to me, they are pretty much the two foundations upon which and service-oriented company should establish itself. “Provide” in this regards is pretty much self-explanatory; “Inform” brings us back to the issue of communications, which as we’ve again see this week is an area where Linden Lab pretty much sinks itself once again.
Much has been said in the intervening time between Tateru posed her question and I gave my initial response; some of it – such as today’s Metareality podcast for example, covers much of what I’ve been slowly cogitating over the last week and slowly forming into words for this post (so much so that I’ve actually thrown a large part of this post into the bin).
However, I’m not intending to turn this into another post on LL’s failure in communications (that may well come later, depending on what happens through today). What I am aware of is that even provide and inform is not entirely sufficient in defining what the Lab should be about, as both tend to perhaps point to an outward flow, rather than something more bi-directional in nature.
So, at the risk of appearing to be jumping on Tateru’s bandwagon with her recent, and excellent post / question relating to Linden’s Lab’s message, I’m going to throw this question out to the wind and see what comes back:
How do you – as succinctly as possible – see the Lab’s role, and how would you sum it up into a suitable expression?
*ETA as I totally forgot to ensure that remained after editing this piece. Mea culpa.