SL17B Meet the Marketing Lindens – a summary

via Linden Lab
On Thursday, June 25th, 2020 at the SL17B celebrations, the fourth of five Meet the Lindens sessions was held, featuring Linden Lab’s Marketing team, led by Brett Linden, the Lab’s Senior Director of Marketing, Darcy Linden, Maverick Linden, Tara Linden and Strawberry Linden.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided for ease of reference.


Table of Contents


  • Due to the random approach taken in presenting subjects, this summary attempts to offer a logical flow to information by topic, and so does not follow the chronology of the session video.
  • Audio extracts, where included, have been cleaned-up and balanced to remove pauses, repetitions, etc.
  • Audience questions were taken at the end of the session (from the 52:00 mark in the video). However:
    • As some were related to the core discussion topics, responses to them have been given under the appropriate topic heading below, with a time stamp to where they were asked in the video.
    • Others – such as land fees, educational use of SL, etc. – were more thoroughly answered in the sessions with Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, summarised here, and / or with Patch Linden, summarised here. I therefore refer readers to those summaries.
  • In places, information that is supplementary to the team’s comments is provided in square braces (i.e. [ and ]) are used in the body text below to indicate where this is the case.
  • For more information on the Marketing Second of Life, please also refer to the following:

About The Marketing Team

[Video: 1:28-10:00]

  • Brett: joined Linden Lab in 2007, and is a former music journalist who has interviewed David Bowie, Bjork, 2Pac, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder and more.
  • Darcy Linden – Senior Marketing Manager – joined the Lab in 2018.
  • Maveric Linden –  Marketing Analyst – joined linden Lab in 2014, refers to himself as “the data guy”.
  • Tara Linden – Marketing Content Specialist – joined Linden Lab in 2019.
  • Strawberry Linden  – Marketing Content Specialist – joined Linden Lab in 2019 (formerly resident Strawberry Singh).
The Marketing Team
  • Primary focus is the acquisition of new users and retention of existing users in SL.
  • Also work closely with other teams within LL such as Product and Engineering, and may be consulted about various SL features – Name Changes, user on-boarding processes, avatar customisation, etc., but the team is not necessarily the decision makers on such aspects of the platform.
  • User acquisition takes a number of forms such as both paid and unpaid advertising campaigns using both traditional and digital media outlets.
  • The team’s experience is broad-ranging: web analytics, advertising, public relations, journalism, e-commerce, editorial, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) – both of which (and their differences) are explained here -, social media marketing (SMM) and social media community management.
  • More information on the team’s individual backgrounds and roles can be heard between 3:53-8:21.

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What Impact has the Pandemic Had?

[Video: 10:10-12:13]

  • Brett: on a human level, there have been a variety of reactions throughout LL.
  • In terms of SL, there has been something of a resurgence of interest in the platform as a result of people having to maintain physical / social distancing / being in isolation.
  • Whilst many are discovering / returning to the platform have done so because it offers a safe haven for social interaction and fun, some have been drawn to the platform due to its utility.
  • The upturn in interest is being reflected in the media.
  • Makes for an awkward dichotomy: on the one hand the world is caught within the throes of the pandemic, but professionally, the Lab and SL are benefiting.

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Active User Numbers

[Video: 12:14-13:57]

  • Brett: In April 2020 – regarded as the “peak” of the resurgence at the time of the event – the monthly active user count was “just shy” of 900,000.
    • [Note a You Tube comment from @Secondlife Official indicates for June, the figure appears to be around the “lower mid-800,000s”.]
  • This increase has been both new users and returning users who have not logged-in for some time.
  • Darcy: Second life has actually been “growing steadily” in user numbers for the last few years, even with surge resulting from the pandemic, so the focus is on maintaining that broader growth trend.

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Marketing and Second Life

What Are the Challenges Marketing Faces With Returning Users / New Users?

[Video: 14:19-17:48]

  • Darcy: Residents tend to come in three “buckets”: new users; returning with little prior engagement; returning with significant prior engagement.
  • Overall the issues new / returning users who have been absent a long time are facing are not any different during the pandemic as prior to it. They are generally all issues of which LL has been aware of and is trying to address.
  • Part of the approach to issues is a case of “learn by doing” as much as anything else (just how hard is it to create and dress a new avatar?).
  • However, as with much else with SL, until the Uplift project has been completed, there are unlikely to be significant changes that will further assist the new user experience / growing the number of retained users.
  • Steeltoe Linden [referred to as being “back” on SL, so potentially a returnee from Sansar?] has a lot of ideas for improving the viewer UI in this regard.
  • Strawberry Linden: the official Second Life You Tube channel includes a playlist of “official” tutorials  and a playlist of community tutorials that can help new / returning users.
  • [1:01:02-1:03:53] Darcy: tests have been going on directly and with community gateways (notably Firestorm) for the on-boards “first hour”. As a result of this, additional back-end technology that will be used on the learning islands to better monitor approaches to how new users learn and engage – what helps move them towards sticking, etc.

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Diversity and Representation in Second Life Marketing

[Video: 22:13-23:32]

  • Tara: LL has always believed that inclusiveness is an important element of Second Life, as is the freedom for people to positively express themselves.
  • Events such as Black Lives Matter have helped underline the need to further emphasise this in marketing the platform.
  • Representation is not just a matter of presenting images featuring a diverse array of avatars but also in normalising identities that exist outside of the “accepted” [e.g. straight, white, able-bodied] and accepting and presenting the outlook of minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, etc., is a valid position / proposition.
  • Doing so helps those who identify recognise SL is a safe place for people to be where they are welcome to express themselves.

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Continue reading “SL17B Meet the Marketing Lindens – a summary”

Artfully Yours in Second Life

Artfully Yours

Artfully Yours is the name Sandi Peterson has given to her gallery space in Second Life, where she displays the work of invited artists as well as presenting some of her own 3D artwork.

For June, the gallery presents the work of five artists under the umbrella title The Dynamic Edge, which Sandi defines as:

We live in a world of “edges”. We think of the edge of twilight, at the edge of one’s seat, falling over the edge, or the cutting-edge of an idea. As the price of seashore homes will attest, we love to live on “edges”. The artists in The Dynamic Edge explore different ways that this concept expresses itself: the edges between places, choices, times, and spiritual realms.

The lower floor of the gallery presents a joint exhibition by John (Johannes Huntsman) and Tempest Rosca-Huntsman (Tempest Rosca) entitled Vintage, and which “shows us ‘edges’ of our perceptions of time by showing vintage/antique things viewed through the ever changing modern eye.”

Artfully Yours: Tempest Rosca-Huntsman

Tempest is an accomplished fashion orientated / blogging photographer who has been extending her boundaries and style. Here she presents a series of landscape images from Second Life that, through their subjects, hook directly into the over-arching theme not by focusing on what we might classically regard as “vintage” but by focusing on their evidenced age and careworn existence. Using a rich palette of colour, she adds a depth of warmth to each of them, a warmth that gives them a sense of invitation whilst highlighting their natural beauty that might otherwise pass unnoticed.

John’s pieces focus on what might be called the more “traditional” aspect of “vintage” – the classic car, aeroplane, camera, period costume, etc. But by taking the images and presenting them as paintings, he again adds an depth to each: not only is their subject matter “vintage” the nature of the pieces themselves is suggestive of this was well. He has also captured a sense of dynamic tension in each. This is perhaps most evident in the picture of Spitfire MH434, perhaps one of the most illustrious of that famous aircraft to survive to the modern age, but it can also be found in the other images as well.

Artfully Yours: John Huntsman

Also on the lower floor, Corcosman Voom presents the very understated Interaction, which comes as a practical demonstration that less can often be more. Just six pieces are offered (don’t miss Dragonfly #12 on the far wall of the stairs to the upper floor), but they perfectly reflect the artist’s intent; whilst their considered spacing within the hall where they are displayed, allow us to properly focus on each in turn and consider in terms of the exhibit’s liner notes:

On the theme of interaction, it struck Corcosman from his earliest days in Second Life that as he explored parcels and encountered people in their variety of avatars, the 3D experience was like stepping inside a person’s mind. Everyone had built or purchased things and arranged them in a manner that had some meaning to them.

Artfully Yours: Corcosman Voom

On the upper floor, the two exhibition spaces present Tom Prospero’s Rocks & Water: Interplay of Form and Light and and Sheba Blitz’s Mandalas – Mystical Symbols of the Universe respectively. Although entirely individual displays, they are perhaps also thematically linked beyond the core theme of dynamic edges.

Within his selection, Tom provides uploads of original art he has produced that are very much focused on nature and the “dynamic edge” where ocean and land meet. These are dramatic images (two of them particularly so, given the inclusion of particle scripts), that present the majesty and power of Nature and her ability to use water to sculpt land over the ages, while the richness of colour underline Nature’s implicit beauty through the play of sunlight on clouds, the motion of the sea, the aforementioned sculpting of coastal lands and the simply heartbeat like ebb and flow of the tide.

Artfully Yours: Tom Prospero

Mandalas having many meanings, particularly in eastern mysticism and within the New Age movement. In the latter, they are often seen as metaphysical representations of the cosmos and our relationship to it and infinite that extends through out it, and which exists within each of us.

Sheba’s art is very much as reflection of this: pieces designed to evoke feelings of piece, harmony and oneness. They draw on many of the traditional aspects and symbolism found within mandalas and within the eastern cultures that gave rise to them, whilst also embracing the more New Age aspects of their use. It is also in their reflection of the cosmos that they have the subtle link to Tom’s theme: in the former we have a consideration of Nature and her majesty here on Earth, with Sheba, this idea is expanded to encapsulate the cosmos as a whole, whilst both offer the chance for us to consider the dynamic edge between the lives we lead and both the natural world around us – and the universe in which it sits.

Artfully Yours: Sheba Blitz

Having opened on June 12th, 2020, I’m not sure how much longer Dynamic Edge has to run at the gallery, so a visit sooner rather than later is recommended.

SLurl Details

SL17B Meet Oz Linden – a summary with video and audio

via Linden Lab
On Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 at the SL17B celebrations, the third of five Meet the Lindens sessions was held, featuring Oz Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Engineering.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided for ease of reference.

Note that this is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.

Table of Contents

Audio extracts, where included, have been cleaned-up and balanced to remove pauses, repetitions, etc.

In places, information that is supplementary to Oz’s comments is provided in square braces (.i.e. [ and ]) are used in the body text below to indicate where this is the case.

About Oz

  • Oz Linden

    Joined the company in 2010 specifically to take on the role of managing the open-source aspects of the Second Life viewer and managing the relationship with third-party viewers.

  • He came to Linden Lab out of a desire to do something “fun” after working in the telecommunication arena, notably with voice over IP systems (VOIP), which he defines as being “really interesting technology with some really fascinating challenge”, but in terms of it being fun, it really didn’t do what I wanted it to do.”
  • For the first two years of his time at the Lab, he was primarily focused on the open-source viewer work and in refining the overall viewer maintenance process, before his role started expanding to encompass more and more of the engineering side of Second Life.
  • When work on Sansar started in earnest, he pro-actively campaigned within the Lab for the role of  Technical Director for Second Life, working to build a team of technical staff around him who all shared a passion for Second Life.
  • In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Second Life Engineering (Vice President of Engineering following the sale of Sansar in early 2020), and joined the Lab’s management team alongside Grumpity and Patch Linden (see: Linden Lab’s management team expands: congrats to Grumpity, Patch and Oz).
  • Together with Grumpity and Patch, he forms what Grumpity calls the “troika” overseeing Second Life’s continued development.
  • Classifies his attraction to working with Second Life as perhaps falling into three core areas:
    • The open-source nature of the viewer and being directly involved with how SL users are using the viewer and what they do with it – which can often times take the Lab entirely by surprise.
    • The challenge of trying to implement new technologies alongside of (rather than simply replacing) older technologies.
    • Working with the operations team and others to ensure SL constantly evolves without (as far as is possible) breaking anything – a process he refers to and rebuilding the railway from a moving train.
  • Note that his avatar appears bald in the Meet the Lindens publicity shot at the top of this article, as he and his team participated in the 2020 Bid a Linden Bald event to raise money for RFL of SL, and has the team raising the least, that had to spend a month in-world sans hair.

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His Team

Has it Expanded Since the Sale of Sansar?

[Video: 4:47-5:48]

  • He did persuade a number of people to move back from Sansar to Second Life [those known to have moved back at the time were Runitai Linden (graphics) and Maestro Linden and Monty Linden (engineering), although they obviously may not be the only people to move / move back to work on Second Life].
  • Hiring of new staff has also continued [notable within this are Ptolemy Linden and Euclid Linden (graphics) and at least one Android development specialist].
  • At the time of the event, also looking to hire a further systems engineer working on the back-end Linux systems.

What Impact has the Pandemic Had?

[Video: 6:02-8:07]

  • “Pretty minimal”
  • The Engineering and Operations teams and his developers were already “pretty distributed”, with some of the teams working out of three of the Lab’s offices – Seattle, San Francisco and Boston – but around one-third to half of the total staff reporting to him (Oz included) have generally worked from home as “Moon Labbers” [the “Moon Lab” being LL’s term for remote working].
  • So teams already very familiar with remote working, operating across time zones and holding meetings in SL, as well as tools like video chat, and the transition for the rest has been “pretty much” seamless.
  • Probably the biggest impact is that the team isn’t getting together for their summer meet-up where they socialise and lay plans for future work on SL.

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Cloud Uplift

Why Is It Being Done?

[Video: 9:00-13:01]

  • Historically, Linden Lab has operated its systems and services the “traditional” way: dedicated hardware, and infrastructure running in dedicated facilities [at one time three data centres, but for the last several years a single co-location (co-lo) centre in Arizona].
  • Actually had to develop a lot of the methodologies the company now uses to manage all of the SL services simply as a result of the speed at which the platform initially grew, building capabilities for which there were no “standard” solutions.
  • Time has moved on, and Amazon and others have developed the means for systems and services to be run / provisioned through the cloud. These services allow Linden Lab to leverage a range of options and capabilities in a number of ways.
  • A particular aspect of the move is that LL no longer has to invest time, effort and money into hardware and infrastructure, but can essentially hand these off to AWS, allowing them to concentrate on SL’s operations and development.
  • With hardware in particular, it has been a number of years since the Lab upgraded their servers, so transitioning to the cloud avoids an expensive capital expenditure in new hardware, and similar expenditures in the future.  For example:
    • In the current environment, if the Bake Service [a collection of servers use by the Lab to generate and manage avatar appearances and ensure they are consistent across viewers] needed upgrading to more powerful servers, LL would have to acquire, test and implement that hardware, and then transition the Bake Service to it.
    • Running via the cloud means picking the required hardware from a catalogue provided by Amazon, who then take care of the heavy lifting to ensure the Bake Service works as required on the selected hardware.
  • Overall, the priority of the work is such that the three goals Oz has set himself : Uplift, Uplift, Uplift.

How is the Uplift Progressing?

[Video: 16:46-19:05]

  • It’s stressful but going well.
  • All of the inventory databases were successfully moved several months ago – twice, in fact: first to the cloud, then to a different type of cloud server. This work was completed so successfully, users were not even aware of any change.
  • The intermediary service sitting between the inventory database and the viewer was also successfully transitioned to AWS. It has also been running for “some time now”, again without users noting any difference.
  • A lot of the back-end services that users never directly interact with have also been successful transitioned
  • There is still a lot of work to do, but the plan is to have Second Life “out of the co-lo by the end of the year”.

Continue reading “SL17B Meet Oz Linden – a summary with video and audio”