Unsurprisingly, the fifth broadcast from the attic-over-the-former-post-office-next-door-to-the-police-station studios of The Drax Files Radio Hour focuses on the announcement of Mr. Ebbe Altberg as Linden Lab’s new CEO (profile here, for those wanting background info).
As well as this, the show takes a fascinating look back at the teen grid through the eyes of two people directly involved in it throughout most of its lifespan, and pokes at Project Spark for the Xbox and Windows 8 (and a few other things).
Communications forms a central theme of the coverage of Mr. Altberg’s appointment as the Lab’s new CEO. Hardly surprising, given it has been at the heart of the vast majority of Tweets and blog posts about his imminent arrival at Battery Street.
Robin Harper, formerly Robin Linden, provides insight into what has contributed to Second Life’s longevity, and offers words of advice for Mr. Altberg. I confess, I’m not entirely comfortable with all that is said, particularly with analogies between the CEO and a “mayor” of Second Life.
But overall, in terms of communications, I agree with sentiments, and very much hope that one of the first tasks Mr. Altberg will try to tackle is the complete reticence within the Lab for broad-based, pro-active and consistent communications with the Second Life user base.
As Vic Mornington points-out in his comments on the show, Mr. Altberg doesn’t have to do it all himself (although the occasional update blog post from him would be nice), just so long as an individual (or team) is put in place to ensure communications are used as an effective, positive and informative means of engagement, one which can go an awfully long way towards preventing upsets, misunderstandings and even miscommunications (which have been somewhat prevalent of late).
Mr. Altberg’s lack of experience (or possible lack thereof in terms of in-depth exposure to VWs and games) has already been pointed to as a “negative”, and the show touches on this. My own feeling is that judges based on his past experience are premature, and I can only again agree with Canary Beck’s comments. A nice excerpt from an interview with Frank Zappa certainly reminds us that “corporate types” are not necessarily out-of-their-depth just because we perceive them as “not understanding” something.
Elsewhere in the show, Drax (rightly) pokes at Mitch Wagner for referring to Second Life in somewhat derogatory terms which have little to do with the subject on which he is writing. True, SL didn’t achieve the dizzying heights which it was expected to reach (heights heavily over-hyped by the media as much as anyone else, I might add), but that’s no reason to take a swipe at it in the tone taken. It’s a shame, as I’ve said before, that noted journalists and commentators prefer to fall back on cliché rather than exercise their grey cells when visiting the subject.
Project Spark for the Xbox One gets a mention. This is a digital canvas on which users can create games, movies and other experiences, either from scratch or using pre-defined levels for the Xbox and Windows 8. As well as providing the ability to create original content, users can download other user-generated content and mix it into their own work. It offers an interesting on mixing creativity with gaming, and could be one to watch.
The interview with Mike Mikula is a fascinating piece on a number of levels: history of the teen grid, the accidental wonder of “early” Second Life, the issues of copybotting, and the painful realities that can accompany the transition from teens to adulthood aren’t only confined to real life.
Similarly, Barry Joseph offers a unique and informative look at Second Life, past and present, the teen grid and the work of Global Kids within SL.
For me, one of the most fascinating elements of Mr. Joseph’s comments are on the psychological aspect of engaging with Second Life, and he uses his son’s use of Minecraft as an example, noting that his son initially played that game in its creative mode, with all the resources he needed but quickly switched to using the survival mode, in which resources must be acquired. He goes on:
There was something that motivated him to find value in creating and finding things. There is nothing in Second Life that is structured in the same way from a psychological perspective, from a motivational perspective, that helps users engage in the space and find meaning in it. Its magical promise has always been that you can do anything, but i think that’s always been a heavy burden to lift.
Interesting food for thought, particularly when it comes to his follow-on comments about the manner in which young people are being taught today. As i commented on the show’s blog page, there’s enough in this interview for an entire programme.
Another well-balanced, informative piece, particularly with regards to the interviews with Mike Mikula and Barry Joseph – both of which really should be listened-to even if you’re not that interested in thoughts and feedback concerning LL’s new CEO.
Have you experienced bullying / harassment in virtual worlds? Whether it has happened in-world or through the SL feeds or forums or in other on-line communities / platforms, TDFRH would like to hear from you via Skype, Draxfiles Resident or e-mail.