Ebbe Altberg at VWBPE 2018: video, transcript and audio

VWBPE 2018 banner. Courtesy of VWBPE

On Thursday, March 15th, 2018, Linden Lab CEO met with a group of invited participant for the Above the Book events at VWBPE 2018. Lasting some 80 minutes, the conversational  Q&A session was livestreamed for its first hour to the main auditorium at the conference. Also in attendance at the event was  Brett Atwood (Brett Linden), Senior Manager for Marketing at Linden Lab, was also in attendance.

The full transcript of the session, including a number of “after stream” questions not in the official video is available here. When reading, please note:

  • The transcript notes don’t follow the chronological flow of the session, as I’ve attempted to group subjects by topic for more concise reference.
  • Audio of responses to questions are provided for each section of the transcript.
  • Questions are given in bold.
  • Comments from Ebbe Altberg are prefixed EA; comments from Brett Atwood are prefixed BA.

The video of the session is embedded at the end of this piece for reference and for those who would prefer to watch it. My thanks to the VWBPE stream team for providing it.

The Short Form

For those who prefer,the following is a bullet-point list of the core questions asked, gathered into the same topic headings as the transcript notes. Links are given to the relevant part of the full transcript for those who would prefer to read / listen to the complete answers / comments.

Note: due to the nature of WordPress internal text anchors and scrolling, you may have to scroll up a little after jumping to a specific topic, in order to see the question.

The Lab and Education

  • Education is, and remains, an important element of the lab’s thinking, both with Second Life and with Sansar. Jump to topic.
  • For educators interested in engaging with the Lab, the best way to do so is by reaching out to Brett Linden, who himself is an educator with 15 years experience (and who currently teaches a course as Washington State University) and who sees himself as a advocate for virtual worlds in education.
  • To help educators promote their endeavours, Brett suggests looking at SL Place Pages as a means to self-curate a web presence for in-world activities. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab is willing to work with educators on putting together documents / information addressing the value proposition, safety, security, etc., of using virtual space in education which can be used by educators to help inform their administrators and IT experts. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab is also willing to consider ways to make SL more attractive to the education market, preferably with a list of prioritised ideas from the education community, which can be compared with other requests for features / improvements, evaluated (technically and in terms of value / ROI, etc). Jump to topic.
  • It’s unlikely that LL will, in the near future, provide a dedicated resource to the educational / non-profile community. However, the recent re-alignment of the Second Life and Sansar team structures means there is now a dedicated SL marketing resource, lead by Brett, to help and support SL communities such as the educational / non-profit community. Jump to topic.
  • What has been the educational uptake with Sansar?

Product Accessibility and Ease-of-Use

  • Access for the disabled:
    • Sansar is too early in its development to offer much in the way of ease-of-access for the disabled.
    • The Lab would like to hear of specific instances where more could be done to help with accessing Second Life by those with disabilities.
    • Jump to topic.
  • What is the Lab’s position on speech-to-text, text-to-speech?
    • There are 3rd party tool already available, which the Lab might not look to directly integrate into their platforms.
    • However, major players like Microsoft, Google and apple are developing capabilities which the Lab might look towards integrating in the future.
    • Jump to topic.
  • Providing a plug-in architecture for SL / Sansar to allow third-party extensions (text-to-speech, etc.), has been suggested.
    • Not n the current roadmap, as SL client already provides a lot of open-source extensibility.
    • Possibly something TPVs could implement / contribute.
    • For some services, would have an associated cost involved, adding complexity, simply because third-parties charge for their services.
    • Jump to topic.
  • More broadly, Sansar has offered accessibility for people to be able to create and publish their own VR experience to the world without the need to develop their own platforms on which to run them. Jump to topic.
  • Will Sansar have easier access to content tools? Jump to topic.

Second Life: Development, Land Cost and Fees

  • The Second Life team numbers just under 100 people (engineering, support, operations, customer services, and not including finance, compliance, etc.). Jump to topic.
  • Key focuses for SL are: enhancing the platform, growing  the user base and trying to re-balance the economic model away from a reliance on land fees.
    • Costs of involvement in Second Life remain a concern for the Lab, which is taking a high-level look at trying to pivot revenues away from the land model potentially towards more of a transaction-based model, while at the same time trying to reduce at least some of the burden of land costs (e.g. the 2016 private region buy-down offer and more recently, the Mainland price restructuring).
    • Jump to topic
  • In time it is hoped that transitioning revenue away from land might lead to a further reduction in land costs to educators. Jump to topic.
  • Other areas of focus include making SL more scalable, secure and performant. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab will soon be publishing a roadmap announcement of improvements / enhancements to Second Life. Jump to topic.

Developing Second Life and Sansar

  • Linden Lab has more clearly split the Sansar and Second Life teams; there are no longer people “floating” between the two and working on both.
  • The Lab see a lot of overlap between the two products, with customers potential using both for different purposes.
  • However, each has its own potential markets / its own selling points for those markets, allowing them to co-exist.
  • The Lab believes that with 15 years of SL notwithstanding, the potential of virtual spaces has only been scratched, and both second Life and Sansar can do so much more.
  • Jump to Topic.

Second Life and the Cloud

  • Huge engineering effort, still in early stages, which will take “all of this year and then some” just to get transitioned and working.
  • Benefits to the Lab:
    • Reduced capital investment and maintenance costs.
    • Potential to dynamically scale consumption, rather than having simulator servers always on.
  • Potential benefits to users:
    • Potentially more flexibility in products and tiers, possibly defined by a mix of region use and use-case (e.g. high-powered, high capacity servers for popular events; more moderate, lower-cost servers for residential use).
    • Might add the ability to geographically locate simulators closer to dedicated audiences (e.g. regions serving South American communities could have their simulators running out of cloud locations in South America, reducing issues like latency for customers).
    • Not something that will happen immediately, as the Lab will need to transition services and then refine operations and investigate option.
  • Jump to topic.

Second Life and VR / Browsers

  • VR remains a challenge to implement in Second Life due to the high run-time frame rates required. As such, it is not something the Lab plans to pursue or re-deploy.
  • Streaming Second Life to a browser / mobile devices has been tried by third-parties (OnLive with SL Go and Bright Canopy from FRAME).
    • It’s not something the Lab is actively pursuing at present, so they are leaving it to third parties.
    • As the cost of cloud-base GPU technologies come down it might be something the Lab re-examines in the future.
  • Jump to topic.

“After Livestream” Questions

Note some !after stream” questions and comments are also addressed in the sections above.

  • Will the Lab bring back the Teen Grid as “the Education Grid”?
    • Not at this time, as it doesn’t fit with current plans to move away from dedicated infrastructure and to the cloud.
    • Might be something to be considered after the move to the cloud: presenting grids for unique audiences.
    • Jump to topic.
  • Can educators be given more control over their regions?
    • This would need indication from educators as to what is required (prioritised list again).
    • Jump to topic.
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Lab Chat #3: transcript and audio

Lab Chat #3: Saffia, Troy, Oz, Ebbe and Jo
Lab Chat #3: Saffia, Troy, Oz, Ebbe and Jo

Friday, May 6th saw the third in the Lab Chat series take place in-world, featuring guests Oz Linden, the Director of Second Life Engineering, Troy Linden, a Senior Producer of Second Life and of course, Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg, in his alter-ego of Ebbe Linden.

The session focused on a mix of questions submitted to an official forum thread ahead of the event, and questions taken directly from the audience, and this transcripts offers a breakdown of the questions asked and answers given.

Please note that in places the audio presented has been edited to remove asides, repetition or removed inaudible elements, and so may differ in length and content to the official recordings made of the session. However, no attempt has been made to alter the content or context of the answers supplied by Ebbe, Oz and Troy.

For ease of reference, the session has been split into two parts, and the following Quick links will take readers to any specific topics of interest to them, and further topics can be navigated to by either returning to this page, or using the Quick Links summaries provided within the Bento / Second Life and Project Sansar pages.

 

 

VWBPE 2016: Ebbe Altberg transcript with audio

Ebbe Atlberg, through his alter ego of Ebbe Linden, addresses the VWBPE conference
Ebbe Atlberg, through his alter ego of Ebbe Linden, addresses the VWBPE conference

On Wednesday, March 9th 2016, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg appeared at the 2016 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education conference, where he gave a brief overview of matters pertaining to Second Life and Project Sansar over the course of the year since the last VWBPE conference, and to answer questions about either platform asked by the audience.

The following is a transcript of his session at VWBPE 2016, complete with audio extracts. Note that note all items are given in the order they are discussed in the video of the session. For ease of reference, I’ve split comments and questions between those specific to Second Life and those focused on Project Sansar. Also, where more than one question was asked on a specific topic, I’ve grouped the questions / responses together under a single topic.

The Summary

Click on the links below to go to the relevant section.

Opening Comments

Thank you  so much. Great to be here again; it’s an awesome event, I hope you’ve all have had great sessions and more sessions to come. I will just spend a little bit of time and just talk about what I am and what we here at Linden Lab are really excited about, and what we’re working on a little bit. Then as usual, very happy to spend most of the time actually talking to you with regards to your questions that you may have.

So, first of all, wow! What an incredible year it’s been. The virtual reality market that we’re sort-of been waiting for is actually in the process of happening. We’re now seeing incredible investments from a  very large number of companies, whether it’s hardware, software, platforms tools, that I’m sure many of you are very excited to get your hands on very soon.

We in the Lab have been playing a lot with the latest hardware that’s going to hit the consumer market soon, over the next few months, and doing a lot of work to integrate those into project Sansar, but there’s also work to get some integration of that into Second Life.

So we feel very fortunate to be having all this incredible experience, together with you all, of running Second Life. Having the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work, what works really well and what is not working at all, and what it takes to run a platform like Second Life. What makes creators successful, what makes businesses successful, because our primary goal here is to make creators of experiences as successful as they can possibly be, and share their success.

VWBPE 2016
VWBPE 2016

Second Life Overview

Second Life has made a lot of good strides over the last year since we last met. Performance is continually improving, and we have some more performance improvements in the pipeline to come out soon. Quality is improving, stability is improving, and we’ve also managed to roll out some nice improvements. New avatars, and you have the new, better web control or media on prim, that’s now a really modern browser technology, which hopefully will be really helpful for educators.

New Registration API

We also have a lot of interesting things coming in the pipeline. [An] improved registration API, so that it will be easier for institutions to bring on their customers or clients or students in a more pre-configured way: choosing what avatars they can select from, getting them set-up in the proper groups, and taking them through a whole custom on-board experience.

Back to index

Compliance Work

We’ve also done a huge amount of work in what seems boring but is very, very, important to us, and even though you might not realise it, very important to you all as well, which is around compliance, and making sure that all the things we do fiscally within the Second Life virtual economy, and what it takes for people to redeem to fiat currency, US dollars or whichever currency you prefer around the world. We’re doing a huge amount of work to improve all the tools and fraud controls, etc., to make sure we’re running a clean, tight ship where there’s no money laundering or anything of that sort.

We’ve gotten far enough that we’ll be able to soon improve the time it takes for people to redeem money, so we can do that in hopefully just a day or two for most people. We’ve blogged about that, so you might already know about that.

Back to index

The SL Team and Other Things Coming Up

So, I feel really good about the Second Life team. Just a few weeks ago we had the whole team together in Seattle. We keep switching spots; sometimes we do it in Boston and this time we did it near the offices in Seattle. And it’s a very tight group, they are very passionate about Second Life, with Oz heading-up on the engineering side, and just a great, tight crew who really just want the absolute best for Second Life and for you all. So I feel very good with what that team has been able to do over the last year, and what they’ll be able to do in the coming years.

Some cool things coming in addition to the registration API. We have a way for, institutions that have had interruptions of viewer updates when it wasn’t something they were completely prepared for can now sign-up to be on an EDU channel, where we can better manage viewer updates.

We’re working on an update to get the current Oculus viewer working with Second Life, and we’re also working on this Quick Graphics viewer (version 4.0.2.311103 a the time of writing), so that you can manage when people show up in your regions with way too much clothing or too heavy of an avatar and still get good frame rates within your regions if there are avatars that are too heavy.1 Those will all roll out over the next weeks and months.

Back to index

Continue reading “VWBPE 2016: Ebbe Altberg transcript with audio”

Lab Chat #2: Ebbe Altberg – transcript and audio

Lab Chat #2, January 21st, 2016 - Jo Yardley, Ebbe Altberg and Saffia Widdershins
Lab Chat #2, January 21st, 2016 – Jo Yardley, Ebbe Altberg and Saffia Widdershins

Update Wednesday, January 27th: The official Lab Chat #2 video is now on-line, and is embedded at the end of this article.

Thursday, January 21st saw the  second in a series of discussions called Lab Chat, billed as “an opportunity for you to ask Lindens your questions during a live taping that will be recorded and archived for everyone to view.”

As with the first show, the session featured the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg in his alter ego of Ebbe Linden. In preparation for the recording, Second Life users were invited to ask questions about the Lab, Second Life, “Project Sansar”, etc on a forum thread.

Over 80 questions were asked, all of which were reviewed by the Lab Chat production team, and from which the list of question to put to Ebbe was drawn. The questions select were those the production team thought would be of most interest to the attending audience, or represented those questions which were asked multiple times by different people.

The following pages offer a transcript of the show’s recording session, which has been split into three parts:

  • Those questions and answers those related to Second Life
  • Those focused more on Project Sansar
  • Additional questions & audience Q&A.

The first two sections are presented in chronological order – as the questions were asked during the recording of the show. The additional questions have been grouped together (where possible) by subject matter, for ease of reference.

The Quick Links below will take you directly to each of these three sections, or to any of the individual discussion points within them. Each question / answer includes an audio extract of that question and response for those who wish to listen rather than read.

Quick Links

Concerning Second Life

Concerning Sansar

Additional Questions

Closing Comments

Note: this is not a transcript of the entire recording session. The focus is on the questions asked and responses given. Also, the audio extracts are from a recording which was cleaned-up following the show to remove repetitions, pauses, trailing comments which otherwise break the flow / context of replies. However, no attempt has been made to editorialise or in any way alter the context of any response given to questions.

Lab Chat #1: Ebbe Altberg – transcript and audio

Lab Chat LogoThursday, November 19th saw the launch of what is hoped will become a new series of monthly discussions. Lab Chat is billed as “an opportunity for you to ask Lindens your questions during a live taping that will be recorded and archived for everyone to view.”

The first show featured the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg in his alter ego of Ebbe Linden. In preparation for the recording, Second Life users were invited to ask questions about the Lab, Second Life, “Project Sansar”, etc on a forum thread.

Over 40 questions were asked, and members of the production crew selected seven questions they thought would be of most interest to the attending audience, to be asked during the show, whist also leaving time for further questions from the audience itself.  Discussions are under way with the Lab to try to ensure those questions from the forum thread which weren’t asked as a part of the recording do get addressed in some manner.

The following pages present a transcript of Ebbe Altberg’s replies to both the seven core questions selected by the Lab Chat team, together with any additional follow-ups or observations from show hosts Saffia Widdershins (SW) and Jo Yardley (JY), and the answers given to those questions raised during the open Q&A session.

Note that this is not a full transcript of the entire recording, the focus is very much on the answers given to questions and any relevant comments. For ease of reference, the transcript is split into three parts, each with its own navigation and links, and links to all of the questions:

  • Those questions and answers those related to Second Life
  • Those focused more on Project Sansar
  • The general Q&A session.

Each question / answer includes an audio extract of that question and answer for those who wish to listen rather than read, or in addition to reading, the transcript text.

The Quick Links section below will take you directly to each of these three sections, or to any of the individual discussion points within them.

Those wishing to watch the official video, can see the three parts here, here, and here.

Quick Links

Right-to-left: Saffia Widdershin, Ebbe Linden and Jo Yardley during the first Lab Chat recording
Right-to-left: Saffia Widdershins, Ebbe Linden and Jo Yardley during the first Lab Chat recording

SL12B: Ebbe Altberg on Second Life & Sansar – transcript and video

Ebbe and Saffia get ready for the discussion (Jo was off-line at this point)
Ebbe and Saffia get ready for the discussion (Jo was off-line at this point)

On Friday, June 26th, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg faced questions from Saffia Widdershins, Jo Yardley and the audience in the last of the Meet the Lindens series sponsored by Prim Perfect.

The session lasted just over the hour, after initial teething problems in getting everything working, in which he addressed a wide range of question on both Second Life and Sansar, and offered-up some information of his own.

The following is a transcript of the event, based on a video by Chakat Northspring, which is embedded at the end of this article. My thanks, as always, to North. The official video will be available in due course via the Prim Perfect website.

Are there any things that have changed since you’ve been in charge that you are especially proud about?

[0:01:04] There’s a number of things. I think primarily it’s the relationship between the Lab and residents., I think is much better today. It was a little bit tense, I would say, the relationship, when I came on board; and it seems to be much more casual and fun and collaborative. And I think many of you have seen  more of us than you had for a while previously.

I’m also proud of the quality of the product. The performance, we’ve made lots of strides, the quality; [group] chat had lots of issues. So we’ve made a lot of progress on just making it a more stable product, a better performing product.

And I’m also proud of the focus we have at the Lab. When I came aboard, there were quite a few projects sprinkled about, and today I feel we have what I call four very strong focus areas with really good drive across each of them. So it feels like a healthier environment, not just between us and residents, but also amongst us Lindens, and a better quality product, and a better focused organisation. So I’m pleased with the progress.

Can you tell us what those four areas of concentration are?

[0:02:56] Obviously, continued to improve Second Life is something that we do. And you guys often hear from Oz and Danger on our progress there. We have Blocksworld; a fairly small team working on this neat little app for a younger audience to be able to build virtual experiences on the iPad. We have obviously a very huge investment in Project Sansar, our next generation experience platform, and we’ve worked really hard for over a year now, and we’ll start to get some external customers on-board in just a month or so. Just a few, but it’s great progress.

And the forth one, I would say, is compliance; making sure we run a tight ship when it comes to the linden dollar and who can cash out, and just running a tight ship when it comes to compliance … whether that’s fraud controls, identity controls – a number of things we need to do to make sure we and banks are comfortable with the business that takes place in Second Life.

So those are the four areas of focus.

The last thing you said about cashing out. You’ve said before that you want to speed that up. [do you have] any idea when this is going to happen, or how is the progress to that?

[0:04:39] The progress is good. We’ve now managed to automate a lot of things so that we can see what percentage we would be willing to pay out rapidly in an automated fashion. We’re still tuning the rules as to who we would trust to pay out; to make sure that we’re 100% certain that people who would be paid out should be paid out. And we continue to increase that percentage by continuing to dial the rules and make tweaks,

When we get to a significant enough percentage, then we should be able to start automating the process as well. not just the data saying we could, but we actually will pay out. I don’t have a date for exactly when we can turn that on; but it’s our goal for the vast majority of people that we have a trusted relationship with, to be able to pay within 24 hours or something.

I mean, there’s obviously external processes a well, that we’re not 100% in control of; but on our end, when someone clicks the button that says, “I want to be paid out”, we hope to, within 24 hours, to be able to automatically say, “start the process”, and then like I say, there’s actually some external dependencies for how quickly that actually takes place.

I think it’s interesting that you’ve given on compliance an equal status with the other three projects.

[0:06:14] Well, I wouldn’t say they’re all equal; but it’s a focus area, and it’s very important for us to run a trusted, large-scale business, to make sure that fraud cannot take place. For the sake of us as a business, as well as for the sake of you not having bad things go on. So it is an important aspect.

Danger Linden was actually saying that it’s one of Linden Lab’s advantages coming into Sansar, because all the new virtual worlds that are planning to come on-line, and you’ve got to get this right, and you have a head start.

Ebbe-6_001[0:06:59] Yeah, we are pretty much alone in having had a virtual currency with a floating exchange with cash-out and all these capabilities. There’s no-one else like it. so yes, we have a pretty significant leg-up compared to others if your intent is to have a virtual economy as we do. I mean, there are other business models that one could apply, but the way we are doing it, there’s no-one else really doing it as well as we do. And so that’s something we’ll certainly leverage; both operational experience and [the] technology, as we move forward with Sansar.

Second Life still gets some negative feedback in the media, although it seems like it’s become a lot less recently … but which kind of negative feedback do you pick-up [on], both in the media and form people in second Life themselves, that annoys you the most.

[0:08:15] Well, it’s not that much that annoys me … I’ve only had the opportunity to hear negativity for about a year … but I hear very little of it. whomever I talk to, it’s mostly … surprise that it’s still around, or more neutral. It’s very rarely that I’ll run into people that start off with the negative. So that’s a very small percentage of the population. Usually the negative people tend to be quite loud, but it’s not something I stress about.

I guess my biggest annoyance is people intolerance for various types of content. and when you look at the content in the real world, and people’s tolerance for that content in the real world. Then suddenly, when it’s in a virtual space, then it’s, “Oh my God!” Then there’s like a different level of acceptance for all kinds of content for some reason.

And that annoys me. So whatever the subject matter is, I can always draw a parallel to how it’s always “so much worse”, or it has just as much interesting stuff going on in the real world as in Second Life, whether it’s art, whether it’s sex, whether it’s whatever it is, all of this stuff is all around us in the real world, so why would it not be completely reasonable and acceptable to also have it in a virtual world. That’s maybe the most annoying part; when people don’t get that.

I know that your family have come into Second Life as well, and you actually have a family home here in Second Life and have actually had that for some time before you became CEO. So presumably, they get Second Life as well. But when you talk to friends … when they’re new to it, how do you explain what your job is?

[0:10:31] Well, it sort-of depends a little bit on the context of whom I’m trying to explaining it to; and it also really depends on their experience with various things. Bit generic when I explain that we’re trying to create a three-dimensional canvas that users can chose how to fill it, and how to populate it with what type of experiences, and that we want to create as much freedom as possible to allow people to create as much stuff as they can imagine.

So, kind-of suggesting that in something like Second Life, you can be whatever you want and do whatever you want and create whatever you want, as long as it’s legal and as long as it’s somewhat appropriate for the rest of us.

But then you can go into the incredible breadth of things that are really already working so well in Second Life; whether it’s education, health, art, role-playing. There’s almost as much variety of hobbies and interests and creations and experiences in something like Second Life like people can enjoy in their real lives.

So yeah, sometimes it’s tricky because it’s so broad. It’s so many different things to so many different people. So usually in a conversation, you usually have to figure-out what is of interest to the other person and figure-out how to relate to them with subject matter that they can get into or understand. And that’s part of the challenge of trying to explain something that’s so broad, because it’s obviously easier to explain a product that is narrow in its application or focus. So it’s usually a bit of dialogue that usually makes it easier than just a simple statement; it’s hard to think of a simply statement that sort-of captures it all for everybody.

Have you had a chance to Look around SL12B yet?

[0:12:50] I was around, I think it was two days ago. I was probably in there about half an hour or so; so I didn’t get too deep into too many things. but I really enjoyed some techno music over in the corner somewhere for a while. saw some fascinating art and creations, all kinds of interesting music, but not really enough time to have a chance to see all of it.

Many Lab staffers have been exploring SL12B and enjoying themselves
Many Lab staffers have been exploring SL12B and enjoying themselves

Continue reading “SL12B: Ebbe Altberg on Second Life & Sansar – transcript and video”