Lab invites residents to the Isle of View for Valentines

secondlifeThe Isle of View, the “official” destination for Valentine’s Day reappeared on the grid earlier in the month (my thanks to Bixyl for poking me about it when it appeared), and on Thursday, February 12th, the Lab invited people to consider spending a part of Friday, February 13th visiting the isle.

The blog post with the invitation reads in part:

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is just a few days away! Pink and red dominate, chocolate sales sky-rocket, and we’re reminded that the true hallmark of love is in the quality of time we spend with our loved ones.

Come to the Isle of View on February 13th for some Pre-Valentine’s Day fun. Meet up with other Residents and enjoy all the romance that Isle of View has to offer – boat rides, fireworks, kissing booths – a treasure trove of memorable moments just waiting to be made with someone special.

Why Friday, February the 13th? That’s a good question. Once upon a time, the Lab used to participate in Valentines Day through things like kissing booths (yes, you could get to kiss a Linden!). So, given the invite is for a week-day visit, does this mean those popping along might just find a Linden or two within the Isle’s kissing booth?

Will there be Lindens in in the Isle of View kissing booths?
Will there be Lindens in in the Isle of View kissing booths?

The Lab is keeping mum on that; instead, all they are saying is:

Why February 13th? Because we believe in love, and there is still time to find a special someone for the big day.

If you’ve got a Valentine – bring them to the Isle of View.
If you’re currently looking for a Valentine – come to the Isle of View.
If you have several Valentines – well lucky you – bring them all to the Isle of View!

But you never know, after all, they did recently re-launch another staple of Lab / resident fun, the snowball fight. So, if Valentine’s day is your thing, why not pop along to the Isle of View on February 13th and find out. You can always visit again on the 14th with your loved one, if you don’t want them to spy you loitering around the kissing booths…

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One year on: Ebbe’s Linden Lab

On Monday, February 10th, 2014, Ebbe Altberg officially took-over the reins as the CEO of Linden Research Inc. (aka Linden Lab).

The news of his appointment, which had been released not too long before his arrival, and after the Lab remained steadfastly silent after the departure of his predecessor had entered the public domain, tended to bring retorts of “who he?”, promoting me to pull together something of a profile on him from various sources, which tended to draw largely positive feedback. I also took the liberty of offering a couple of suggestions on the day he arrived at LL, which appeared to be appreciated:

So, now we are a year on, how have things been, overall?

For me, given I originally wrote that “open letter” to him on the subject of communications, the turn-around has been both noticeable and appreciated. At the first of his many public appearances with bodies of users and groups which marked his opening months at the Lab, Ebbe effectively announced at the 2014 VWBPE event that the door is once again open, and demonstrated as much by spending almost 90 minutes addressing questions from users.

Following that, we saw re-engagement through forums, further bridge building with educational and non-profit organisations, the re-opening of the JIRA, the lifting on the ban on Linden staff entering SL using their Linden accounts unless they were on official business, and fresh (and persistent) use of the blogs once more to present news, information and updates – such as Monty Linden’s superb range of posts on the HTTP work, or Landon Linden’s equally informative posts such as The Recent Unpleasantness. As the year progressed the Lab continued to open windows as well as doors, seeking to re-engage with the community through a variety of means, from pro-actively seeking input from users on potential improvements to SL through to something as simple as the return of the annual snowball fight.

Ebbe Altberg: one year in the Hot Seat
Ebbe Altberg: one year in the Hot Seat

All of this has been to the good, even if some approached this “new” openness (actually more of a return to how the Lab used to be) with suspicion. Some of it was perhaps understandable; at the start of his tenure at the Lab, Ebbe’s predecessor seemed to initially breathe life into matters of communication (even then a priority in many people’s eyes) – only for the door to been slammed shut again within a few months.

Some might even argue that such re-engagement is trivial “in the scheme of things”; I’d say not so. Engagement and communication lie as two of the foundations of trust between a company such as a Lab and its user community; therefore putting them both back in place does do much to stem the erosion of that trust.

Elsewhere, things may seem to have been a little slower. While there have been changes for the better for SL in technical terms, it’s fair to say that these have been more incremental and evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. But then, SL is a decade-plus old platform; getting truly revolutionary with it isn’t that easy. Instead, what we’ve had is a continuation of approach started prior to Ebbe’s arrival at the Lab – and quite rightly, too.

Far better to allow projects of proven likely benefit to continue to their conclusion and then build on them, than to suddenly try to jump tracks and do something else entirely, even if it does promise lots of new shiny in the process. As it is, the improvements this work has brought to the vast majority of users are undeniable. What’s more the approach has meant the thorns long ignored, such as group chat issues (another pressing problem put to Ebbe when he arrived) are also getting attention.

The Engadget Expand NY panel for Back to Reality: VR Beyond Gaming. For left to right: Ebbe Altberg, Matt Bell, Marte Roel and host Ben Gilbert
Ebbe Altberg also worked to put Linden Lab and Second Life front-and-centre of the debate on the future of the metaverse through opportunities such as SVVR’s Creating the VR Metaverse panel, and in discussions about the future of VR outside of games through opportunities such as at Engadget Expand NY in November 2014  (above)  where he joined Matt Bell, Marte Roel and host Ben Gilbert.

Where things have perhaps been radical have been outside of Second Life, such as the dropping of almost all of the products that marked the company’s attempts to diversify its portfolio and potentially generate additional revenue. Again, this was actually something started before Ebbe’s arrival, but which he supported – hence the axing of Creatorverse, dio and Versu, to be followed later in the year by the closure of Patterns development and the sale of Desura.

In truth, when first announced, the idea of the Lab looking to diversify its revenue stream through a broader product base was a good one; the problem was the follow-through never really matched expectation and became too much of a grand experiment.

Of all the products the Lab developed or acquired, only Blocksworld has demonstrated it has real legs, while Creatorverse and dio, always appeared to be far too limited in appeal to ever gain deep and lasting traction, so trimming them was a sensible move. It was also hard to see how the acquisition of Desura could offer the Lab practical revenue growth outside of meeting its own needs, or without on-going investment and development which would in turn offset the value of revenue gained. Even so, Patterns and Versu, did appear to offer potential. Versu has certainly since gone on under its own steam (full kudos to the Lab for allowing it to do so), while Patterns, even though still under development, built up a small but loyal following on both Steam and Desura, and the announcement of its passing did give rise to upset.

The little "Dorito man" headed off into the sunset in October, as Patterns followed Creatorverse, dio and Versu in being axed from the Lab's nascent product portfolio. It was followed in November by news that Desura had been sold.
The little “Dorito man” headed off into the sunset in October, as Patterns followed Creatorverse, dio and Versu in being axed from the Lab’s nascent product portfolio. It was followed in November by news that Desura had been sold.

Continue reading “One year on: Ebbe’s Linden Lab”