It’s no secret that the Lab is working on a “next generation” virtual world(s) platform. Since the original announcement and follow-up confirmation, the matter has inevitably led to some controversy. Since that time the Lab has sought to give reassurance to users that doing so is not the “end” of Second Life.
Hence why the Lab are continuing to develop Second Life and continuing to plan for its future, up to and including a planning meeting which took place at the Battery Street offices during February 2015. Hence why the Lab continues to circulate manpower and expertise between Second Life and the development of their new platform, so that both might equally benefit.
Indeed, after recently advertising a software engineering position specifically for Second Life work, Oz Linden, the Lab’s Technical Director for the platform, was able to Tweet:
In this, it’s also worth pointing out that Oz has very much been the cheerleader when it comes to SL’s prospective future. In 2014, when the Lab was starting a process of aligning its resources to support both Second Life and its new platform, he actively campaigned for the post of Technical Director for Second Life. In July of that year he was happy to go on record saying:
I went through kind-of a process with Linden Lab management to try to get the new position I’m in now. This is something I wanted. I wanted this. This was not some kind of booby prize that was handed me. I got a couple of IMs from residents, I’m sure they were mostly kidding and mostly all in fun, but saying, “Oh, poor Oz. He got left behind.”
Poor Oz did not get left behind. Lucky Oz got exactly the job he was looking for.
He also takes a very positive attitude to the debate over the new platform and how it might or might not impact Second Life, noting that for the Lab as a whole, that such a debate is going on within the community demonstrates that they still have a very passionate and supportive user base for the platform:
People wouldn’t bother to criticise us for what they see as our flaws, and we can all either agree or disagree with whether or not individual issues are a big deal, and that’s a conversation I’m looking forward to. But they wouldn’t be bothering to criticise us if they didn’t think Second Life was worth having and worth improving.
This was again demonstrated during the February 13th TPV Developer meeting, when the subject of the new platform was raised in passing, Oz again emphasised that the future of Second life is far from over. In doing so, he also demonstrates the kind of pragmatic attitude towards the new platform we should perhaps all consider adopting. He’s further given me permission to reproduce his comments here in both audio recordings and as written transcriptions.
The folks that are working on the new platform would love to be able to say that they’re making something so amazing and so wonderful, and so much better that everybody will want to move over to it. And maybe that will happen; and if it does, then Second Life will be this vast, empty place, and there’ll be no activity happening here, and if we turn it off, nobody will notice.
I don’t expect that will happen, and realistically, none of them expect that will happen right out of the box, anyway. Because there’s an awful lot in Second life that will take time to to create equivalence for in whatever they end-up decided to call the new thing. So it’ll be time.
But if Second life continues to be a sound working environment for people, and they’re still enjoying it, and they’re still using it and it’s still economically advantageous to keep it alive – why would we turn it off? I mean, we won’t. It’s silly. And I think that’s going to be years and years. [That’s] just my personal opinion.
And in the meantime, my job is to continue to make it better. Not “keep it alive”; not, “keep it limping along” – to make it better.
And in terms of future activities related to Second Life, he went on to say:
It’s no secret we had a big planning conference in San Francisco last week; it wasn’t meant to be a secret, we did. We got everybody involved in Second Life get together; we had developers, and QA people and support people, and operations people and product planning people and business people….
And everybody got together and talked about what was working, what wasn’t working, various ideas for how to improve things, and it was fantastic. It was really fun; everybody there learned something they didn’t know when they got there, and we came away with a lot of great ideas. And we’re going to go ahead with some of those ideas. So, we’re having fun!
So really, there’s no reason to fear for the future of Second Life at this point in time. It’s liable to be around for a good while yet. Hence why I use another quote from Oz as the title for this article, one which I’ll paraphrase in closing. The Lab aren’t building a new platform instead of working on Second Life, the Lab are building a new platform in addition to working on Second Life.