On Friday, June 4th, Linden Lab announced that the company’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg had passed away. Across the grid and blogsphere, tributes and obituaries have been offered in the wake of the news.
Now, for those who wish to commemorate Ebbe’s time with the Lab and pay respects to his memory in-world, a memorial has been created on – appropriately – Altberg region in Bellisseria.
Designed by the Moles of the LDPW, the region features a single island that is home to the memorial. Surrounded by fir trees offering a hint of Scandinavia, with water falling into a pond that feeds flowers, the memorial stands as a tall bronze figure of Ebbe, with a photo of him and the text of announcement of his passing located at the base of the plinth.
Candles are also to be found at the base of the statue, which will light on being touched, and benches are available for those who wish to sit and remember Ebbe and his time at the Lab.
The island is a gentle, quiet place; a place one cannot help but feel Ebbe himself would appreciate. A place where contemplation and reflection can be embraced.
So, for all those who do wish to pay their respects to Ebbe in-world, I can think of no better place in which to do so.
With thanks to the Moles for creating the memorial.
Note: as Tish Coronet has pointed out via the SL Feeds, be sure to look down on the memorial from overhead – the ground before Ebbe’s has been set memorial has actually been set out to form the Second Life Hand logo, the statue replacing the eye.
Friday brought the sad news that Ebbe Altberg, the CEO of Linden Research Inc., had passed away. And while it is perhaps too soon to be thinking about things as people are still coming to terms with the news, polls, comments and opinions have nevertheless already started circulating as to the kind of CEO the company should now look towards.
Chief among the opinions being expressed is that it should be “someone who has been in Second Life for a good amount of time and has plenty of experience.” But is this accurate?
As I noted in my own tribute to Ebbe, while he did come to Linden Lab with a good degree of foreknowledge – his son Aleks had been very successful with the Teen Grid before transitioning to the Main grid, and Ebbe himself was a close friend of Jed Smith, the former chairman of the Lab’s board; as he readily admitted himself, he was not in any way either a long-term user of the platform or who had “plenty of experience” with it prior to joining the company.
And yet, as we’ve all noted over the pass several days since the news broke, Ebbe has been without a doubt, the most popular of CEOs at the Lab among users. His tenure was by no means perfect, but overall his presence strengthened both company and principal product enormously – up to and including spinning-off a revenue-generating subsidiary that in time might help both, in the form of Tilia Pay.
Thus, I would suggest that the qualities needs for CEO are not so much any deep / long-term exposure to or involvement in Second Life, but rather the qualities and skills needed to manage and lead a company and leverage the strengths inherent in its management team and staff. In this, I would say that long-time friend and commentator R.( R. Dismantled) has summed up the requirements of any incoming CEO the best:
Not a celebrity, but a manager of managers, making the good and difficult decisions. And not just talk and hype and making Second Life something it isn’t, but making it better…
… I hope that the next person entrusted to manage the managers of our weird little social soap bubble will be cut from the same cloth.
– R. (R. Dismantled) commenting on this blog
From the outset, Ebbe was “a manager of managers”. He trusted those reporting into him to run their departments in a manner that would best support the company, its core product and its users. At the same time, he was prepared to make the necessary hard choices to swing the company back onto a more solid course of product development – shutting down the Creatorverse, dio and Versu projects almost immediately (and later allowing the creators of Versu to spin it off into its own platform), winding down work on Patterns and selling Desura, whilst allowing Blocksworld to serve its community through until mid-2020. And – while it may not have entirely worked out as hoped – he set the company on paths that might seen the development of additional revenue-generating opportunities, through both the aforementioned Tilia Pay and through the development of Sansar.
There’s also the fact that the CEO’s brief is a broad one, encompassing skills and abilities far beyond general team leadership and product understanding.
While such skills can be acquired from within organisation, they do make promotion from within potentially more difficult even when – from an outside perspective, at least – there may appear to be “obvious” candidates, simply because they do take time to acquire and effectively wield.
As such, the “hire from without / promote from within” is a difficult path to tread – with the latter aspect further compounded by the fact that even if there are potential candidates within the organisation that could transition and acquire the skills of a CEO over time – they may not actually want to do so, simply because it means they must relinquish aspects of their work they actually enjoy the most.
In the specific case of Linden Research, things are perhaps further compounded by the fact that Ebbe Altberg was somewhat unique in his background. This spanned running large and small corporate entities, presenting him with the broadest base of skillsets, and was coupled with his own “left-brain / right brain” balance of technical and creative skills and knowledge that – even without a long-standing involvement in Second life – provided him with a solid foundation for quickly understanding the complexities of the platform and its communities of users with their needs once he was at his desk at the Lab.
There is also another factor to consider here: does the Lab actually need someone to take over directly as CEO?
Since the acquisition process closed-off at the end of 2020, incoming investor Brad Oberwager has been conspicuous in the degree to which he has been hands-on in his role as Executive Chair within the management team, as reported by the likes of Grumipty, Brett and Patch Linden at various in-world events. Mr. Oberwagerf has also brought long-term business partner/colleague Cammy Bergren into the LL fold as the company’s Chief of Staff.
Between them, they have considerable experience in running corporate entities, and as such are well-placed to steer Linden Lab through the next several months without the need for any immediate appointment from without or within, giving staff more time to deal with the loss of Ebbe whilst ensuring both the company and Second Life adjust and move forward under a broader management umbrella (I exclude Tilia Pay here as that entity appears to be almost entirely self-managing).
So, with all that being said, right now it is far too early to be considering “what ifs” and “who mights” in terms of the role of CEO at the Lab. Ebbe’s legacy is huge and something that we should all spend more time reflecting upon – and we should allow Linden Lab space to reflect on the loss of a man they knew better than the rest of us, rather than speculating on “who should be next”.
On Friday, June 4th, Linden Lab broke the news that the company’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg had passed away.
The post, from Patch Linden, reads in part:
Second Life found new highs in 2020 between a worldwide pandemic taking grip, through the times of a tumultuous leadership change in the United States, and during movements of civil changes that will forever live in history books. Second Life provides many with the comfort of a normal that continues to exist for all of us, where many use it to escape real life pressures, stressors and day to day challenges. In Second Life we can be our ideal, our best, celebrate all that is good across the world together. Sadly we have also seen some people go, and they will never be forgotten as they touched us, gave us their best from their hearts, minds and souls – this thing called real life sometimes knocks on our door and makes a call.
As I am here before you today, it is with profound sadness that I share with you Ebbe passed away yesterday evening restfully and surrounded by the love of his family.
This is deeply sad news for all of those who knew or had contact with Ebbe during his seven-year tenure at LL. His arrival at Linden Lab the start of February 2014 came at a time when user / Lab relationships were at a particularly low state, and his arrival could not have been more timely.
From the outset, it was clear that he had more than a passing knowledge of the platform – his son, Aleks, had been keenly involved on the Teen Grid, up to and including starting his own business, and Ebbe himself was a long-time friend of former Linden Lab board member Jed Smith (who had actually tried to get Ebbe to join the company once before).
Referring to himself as a “left-brain / right brain kind of person” – he graduated Middlebury College (Vermont USA) with a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Computer Applications, it is fair to say he not merely was aware of the potential of Second Life – he was positively enthusiastic about it, technically and creatively.
From the outset, he was openly and warmly communicative with the platform’s user base, getting in-world as often as he could to meet people either casually or via small and large events – such as an early “fireside chat” a handful of us were invited to attend just a handful of days after his official arrival at the Lab, or via larger town hall style meetings, and appearances at events such as VWBPE, the SLB celebrations the Lab Chat sessions and their successor, Lab Gab, and more.
His openness and honesty did much to renew users’ faith in Second Life – but occasionally carried something of a price. When he popped-up at a Third-Party Viewer Developer meeting in June 2014 and mentioned in passing that the Lab were working on a new platform (which we would come to know as Sansar), the resultant conniptions among users was very palpable (and, being honest, partially fuelled by some hasty and somewhat inaccurate tweeting of his comments sans proper context) – which would require numerous repeats by both Ebbe and other at the Lab that the new platform did not mean “the end” for Second Life, but the company was committed to both.
In this latter regard, he fully supported the team that came together under Oz Linden to continue to build-out and improve SL and make it more accessible to people, whilst always stepping forward and facing the ire of users over perceived wrong-doings and working to further build / re-build confidence in company and product.
Nor was his enthusiasm constrained to platform and users – he faced the media head-on on numerous occasions in the US and international, proud to talk-up Second Life, Linden Lab, virtual worlds and the potential of VR, a technology to which he became an ardent convert. He also had the foresight to spin-out the lab’s expertise in virtual tokens into a subsidiary, Tilia Pay, presenting linden Lab with a further means of generating business for itself.
Prior to joining Linden Lab, his career have been wide-ranging, encompassing both major global corporations such as Yahoo and Microsoft, much of which I covered in a brief profile I was able to put together on him just appear he officially joined LL, and I was pleased to note that he and I had shared interests in both Formula 1 racing and space exploration, which allow for some early conversations between us.
The precise cause of Ebbe’s passing has not been made public, but it was clear to many through various sources that he appeared to be affected by a long-term illness, and over the last 12 months in particular, his presence had been somewhat conspicuous by its absence (I believe that perhaps his last public appearance as CEO was the occasion of Oz Linden’s retirement earlier in 2021).
However, it is clear that illness did not in any way blunt his determination to ensure Linden Lab and Second Life in a much stronger and better position than when he joined the company – a determination that included the hard choice of letting go of Sansar, and guiding the company through the difficult waters of acquisition and bringing into the fold investors who have the vision and willingness to move both company and platform forward.
Given this, and despite the shadow cast by the announcement of his passing, I’ve little doubt that he could be justifiably proud of all that he achieved at Linden Research Inc., and because of his dedication and enthusiasm, both the platform and the company are much better and stronger today than perhaps they’ve ever been.
My deepest and sincerest condolences to Ebbe’s family and all at Linden Lab at this time. I can honestly say that for all of us who have been invested in Second Life, he was more than just a CEO, he was a fellow resident an adventurer on the virtual frontier. He shall be greatly missed.
On Monday, June 22nd, 2020 at the SL17B celebrations, the first of five Meet the Lindens sessions was held, featuring the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg, aka Ebbe Linden.
The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with audio extracts where relevant. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of the article. Time stamps to the video are also provided for ease of reference. In addition, audio extracts are provided in places that may be of particular interest to readers.
Note: the following is taken from both Ebbe’s comments and my own research into his background, carried out when he joined Linden Lab in 2014, and which also included input from Ebbe.
Swedish by birth and still by nationality – he is still working in the US on a green card.
Graduated fromTärnabySkidhem in 1983. He had hoped to be a ski racer – with eyes on the Swedish national team and the world cup – but was prevented from pursuing this career due to a back injury.
Instead went to the USA to study at Middlebury College, Vermont, USA, where he spent a lot of time in the art studio and the computer lab in an extreme left brain / right brain type of education”, before graduating with a degree in Fine Arts and a concentration in Computer Applications.
He “slipped into Microsoft on a random banana peel”, where he spent twelve years. He was particularly involved with the Office products (Word, Mac Office, etc.), and although he wasn’t directly responsible for Clippy! – he did oversee it being ported to Mac Office 98.
In 2000, he joined Ingenio, a company that created marketplaces for people to buy and sell information over the phone. As well as managing the engineering, program management, operations, and quality teams, he also served as both the company’s interim CEO its Chief Product Officer. He also “racked up quite a few patents there.”
Joined Yahoo! in 2008, filling out a number of senior roles, working in both Europe and the US.As the Senior Vice President for Media Engineering based in the USA, but with global responsibly for Media Engineering, managing an organisation of more than 600 engineers, architects, program managers and quality engineering staff, and with dotted-line oversight of some 150 product managers and designers.
Moved from Yahoo! to San Francisco based BranchOut, a small company that had, prior to his joining built a 25 million user base for its professional networking app before seeing that number shrink to just 3 million. He was specifically responsible for pivoting the company to a new workplace messaging application called Talk.co, launched in October 2013.
Has had a long exposure with SL indirectly through his son Aleks, who initially joined the Teen Grid before moving to establish his own in-world business.
Has also been long-term friends with LL board Chair, Jed Smith, through whom he met Philip Rosedale. Smith had asked Ebbe to consider the LL CEO position previously to 2013/14, but “things “didn’t line up” .
Is immensely proud of the all that the company has achieved and continues to be drawn by both the rewards and challenges involved in running a platform that is so technically and socially diverse.
Loves the technical / product aspects of the platform and the diversity of potential use cases it can meet. Also loves the rich diversity of ways users make use of SL creatively, socially, etc., that mean the platform constantly offers unique opportunities and challenges.
Enjoys the fact that SL makes it possible to meet people from around the world and from all walks of life who find value in the platform for so many different reasons.
These aspects also, for him, present the challenges of working with SL: putting all the different technologies that make SL work together such that they can form a virtual world where people can create, socialise, earn income, etc.
There’s also the challenge of talking to a customer base that is not of a single mind in using the platform, but rather is a range of user communities, each of which has nuanced needs and requirements that need to be met.
Also likes the challenge of trying to extend and build a product set that no-one else has managed to develop to the same degree – such as with SL’s economic model and the development of Tilia Pay.
The strength with SL that he loves is the sheer diversity within the technology required or SL and the people that use is – which is also the platform’s most engaging challenge.
Is appreciative of the power that SL has in bringing people together during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and providing a safe space for continued interaction, and that it can continue to help furnish those using it to generate an income to continue to do so.
From a business perspective, SL has seen significant increases in demand. However, this has been somewhat impacted by the “land shortage” [see The Cloud Uplift, below for more on this].
This increase is not just from “social” users; here has been “a lot” of demand from businesses wanting to host meetings through the platform, education institutions wanting to hold lessons, etc.
Company has been very fortunate in its operations because, while it does have offices in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and Atlanta, many of the staff have always worked from home, so there has always been the assumption of remote working [even the Operations Team works remotely from LL’s co-location data centre in Arizona]. So, moving to that model of operations was less stressful than it might have been.
The real hamper in the move has been more the “knock-on” effect caused by the isolation – having children at home whilst trying to work, seeing to their needs, etc.
Overall is very pleased with how the company has been able to continue to manage SL and move ahead in plans and development.
Pandemic has also caused the media to re-examine SL, and Marketing has been via busy dealing the increased interest in how the platform and how it can be of use to people / organisations during the pandemic.
What has been particularly pleasing is the more positive view the media has of the platform, and the recognition of its maturity as a platform.
Like to point out to reporters that Second Life isn’t “old”, it is “mature”, which is not necessary a bad thing when talking about a platform.
[Note: Cloud uplift is the term used for the project to transition all of the Second Life services from hosting in a single co-location data centre used by Linden Lab and using their own hardware, to provision it all via Amazon AWS cloud services.]
Likely to be around 3-4 months before new regions are once again available, although it is understandably hard to put a definite date on things.
The shortfall is due to LL wanting to cease any expenditure in hardware and supporting infrastructure for SL during the cloud transition, believing they had sufficient reserves to offer during the uplift period – but the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic resulted in an unexpected burn through of that reserve.
Provisioning and testing new hardware and infrastructure is being avoided, as this would effectively be “lost” capital expenditure.
The uplift work is the primary focus of the product, engineering and operations teams at the Lab, with many services have actually already been transitioned to AWS.
Details of which systems these might be are not generally given out by LL due to the fact users often make false assumptions on things like issues when aware of such information.
Region servers [aka simhosts] make up the majority of the Lab’s hardware, and the Lab now has a test region server successfully running within AWS, but there is still “quiet a bit more work to do” in terms of security and other elements before the Lab will be in a position to offer a region product running in AWS.
The 19th edition of Lab Gab was live streamed on Friday, March 27th, featuring Brett Linden, the Lab’s Senior Director of Marketing, and linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, who were invited to discuss the Lab’s response to the SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and talk about Second life in general.
The official video of the segment is available via You Tube, and is embedded at the end of this article. The following is a summary of the key topics discussed and responses to questions. Note that the last 15 minutes of the video is something of an advert for the Linden Lab sponsored Mankind Tracer concert being held on Sunday, March 29th, which is not a part of this summary.
The decision to sell Sansar came, at least in part, from the recognition that as a platform, Sansar is at a very different stage of its evolution compared to Second Life, requiring different investment and resourcing.
Some 30 of the original team have received offers to join the new entity running Sansar (Wookey Project Corp), and “a bunch of them” are already back at work.
It appears that the focus for the platform will potentially remain on it being a platform for large scale virtual events in the music / entertainment sectors, utilising the platform’s ability to instance events for “many thousands” of attendees. Also, desktop and VR support will both likely be maintained.
However, the overall strategy and focus for developing Sansar is now obviously up to the new owners.
Linden Lab will remain a “partner”, inasmuch as Tilia will continue to be used for Sansar Dollar transactions and fiat money payouts, with Tilia also due to gain more customers in the near future..
On a set of personal notes,Ebbe, Brett and Lab Gab’s host, Strawberry Linden have thus far avoided infection (like the rest of the Lab’s staff they are working from home), but obviously, they do have concerns about the virus and its potential to impact family and friends.
Linden Lab is fortunate that it is exceptionally well geared towards remote working (many staff worked from home as a matter of course well before the current pandemic, and that’s been the way since the company’s formation).
It is not anticipated that Second Life should experience significant service interruptions due to the current health situation.
A comment that has been used among LL staff during calls and virtual meetings has been, “stay safe, stay virtual”.
[14:53-17:04] Users can help ease unnecessary stress on SL / LL staff by avoiding squabbles and upsets that can result in unnecessary abuse reports, etc., and by providing help to one another to lighten calls to support staff, as well showing support / friendliness to new users.
[27:55-29:33] All LL offices are closed. The co-lo data centre is open for access, if required, but all co-lo work is actually outsourced.
The last several weeks has seen a resurgence in the number of returning users (those who have not logged-in to SL for some time) as well as a rise in new users accessing the service.
New registrations are up by some 60%, with a rise in concurrency of around 10% overall.
These rises particularly correspond with cities, regions and countries where a lock-down is ordered.
Established users are encouraged to be kind and support incoming new and returning users, given they are likely trying to deal with the anxieties of the current situation.
Absolutely. We’re seeing quite [an] interesting resurgence of returning users, as well as new users coming in to explore Second Life. We see registrations up over 60% and concurrency’s up north of 10%, and we’re just a week or so into people being locked up. We can actually see countries and states that imposed strict stay-home policies, we see a corresponding jump in people in those markets jumping into Second Life.
– Ebbe Altberg, Lab Gab, March 27th
LL is not focusing any new features / activities specifically for those coming into SL as an alternative to watching television, playing games, etc. They are constantly working to increase registrations and user retention outside of any crisis.
The company is heavily committed to the the cloud uplift to AWS / Google through until the end of the year, so there is not a lot of available resource to take on major new initiatives. This work will likely take the majority of the Lab’s technical resources through until the end of the year (see below as well).
Region Owners Impacted by the Virus & Assistance from the Lab
LL has no wish to see regions go under because holders are experiencing hardship as a result of result income at this time. however, the company also cannot afford to just give across-the-board reductions in tier.
Where cases can be explained / discussed / explored, Linden Lab will try to do what they can and is taking a “human, compassionate” approach to people’s needs”.
Linden Lab has been “inundated” with requests from educators, businesses, etc., on whether Second Life can provide support for them.
The volume has been such that LL has had to re-assign resources to help deal with the incoming requests. There has also bee a certain amount of media attention on what Second Life can offer – the UK’s Daily Telegraph ran a paywalled article on SL and remote working on March 26th, for example)
It takes time to bring organisations in: understanding their requirements, getting them into SL, ensuring they have the required in-world facilities, etc.
In addition, LL have been carefully crafting a media campaign to raise awareness of SL as a place for socialisation and discovery. These have been garnering high rates of click-through that may be contributing to the upswing in registrations.
For the business side – remote working, conferences, meetings, etc., – the Lab launched a micro-website and an accompanying updated FAQ promoting Second life as a working environment (see also: Second Life: support for remote working & reduced education / non-profit fees – updated, March 16th). This provides access to a series of seven turnkey region solutions for business use, comprising single and multi-region settings, capable of handling up to 350 avatars, with individual regions intentionally optimised such that they can comfortably and consistently handle 75 avatars apiece without becoming stressed.
4- region Town Hall
Horizons Community Centre
The seven new turnkey business/ meeting environments provided by Linden Lab.
Education is still very much a factor in Second Life as well, with the platform again seeing an uptick in interest from educational organisations.
Various schools and universities can be found in the Destination Guide, and some have been active in SL for over a decade.
More are not publicly visible as they operate gated access for staff and students only.
Organisations such as CNDG are using Second Life for teaching / simulations in what is referred to as an “ambitious long-lasting run in SL”, with up to 10,000 students involved with Second Life experiential teaching modules.
Training also forms a part of learning in SL. For example, many nurses and medial staff have received simulation training within Second Life.
LL is committed to continuing to support educational use cases and make it easier for educational organisations and students to take advantage of what SL can offer.
Despite the cloud uplift work, Linden Lab did announce two new two new initiatives on the marketing side:
The Second Life Book Club will launch on April 8th and a monthly event. A spin-off from the Draxtor Book Club hosted on Sansar, the Second Life Book Club will feature Draxtor Despres in conversation with authors from around the world, with the first instalment featuring Matt Ruff, Ken Liu, SL Huang, CB Lee, and a possible additional guest.
Showcase Streams will be a series of spontaneous “drop in” video streams that will aim to spotlight the many music, art and cultural events in Second Life.
Outside of the current pandemic, a reason for implementing initiatives like these is that the Lab has seen an uptick in interest in second Life as a result of the their social media engagement and the success of formats like Lab Gab in capturing non-SL users’ interest.
For 2020, the cloud uplift. This is occurring on a service-by-service basis on the back end (e.g. log-in service, web services, group services, etc.).
Transitioning the simulators will be a huge undertaking.
Some services have seen significant performance improvements following their transition, just because services a moving to more up-to-date hardware and newer infrastructure.
Because of this, 2020 will not be a major SL feature release year beyond what is already stated as being in the works (e.g. EEP, Name Changes, Premium Plus, mobile companion). Anything else will be subject to resources being available.
Note that more on SL tech and the uplift will be featured in the April 3rd Lab Gab which will feature Oz Linden, VP of engineering and members of his teams.
The following is a summary of the VWBPE Above the Book session held on Thursday, March 26th. The session featured as guests, Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab and Patch Linden, Vice President, Product Operations and a member of the Lab’s management team.
The video of the session is available on You Tube and is embedded at the end of this article, while the following is a summary of the discussion’s key points, with time stamps to the relevant points in the video for reference.
Ebbe Altberg had a significant viewer issue that precluded his participation in the first half of the discussion, as such the majority of the summary points below are based on Patch Linden’s responses to questions etc. Where they are based on a reply or comment made by Ebbe, they are preceded by “[EA]”.
Time stamps commence at the 18-minute mark because there is a significant blank lead-in to the video.
On March 13th, 2020 linden Lab introduced a limited time offer for education and non-profit organisations to to obtain full regions in Second Life / reduce their current full region tier to US $99.00 per month.
Once granted the fee reduction will remain applicable “as long as their [the organisation’s / individual’s] invoicing is current.”
The reduction is something that had been under consideration by the Lab prior to the SARS-Cov-2 / Covid-19 situation, but it seemed that given the situation with learning centres around the globe being closed around the world, now was the time to introduce the offer in order to help organisations find a place where they can continue to offer lessons / services alongside of other options they might be exploring.
Alongside of the educational / non-profit discount, Linden Lab also created a micro-website and an accompanying updated FAQ promoting Second life as a working environment.
This is designed to appeal / apply to to broad range of potential use-cases: educational, business, etc.
It is being actively used by LL to coordinate responses to the needs of those making enquiries and correspond with applicants / interested parties.
Connected to this work, the Lab has offered a set of seven turn-key solutions for interested parties.
Comprising single and multi-region facilities, which see a clever re-purposing of existing designs (e.g, the Horizons hub area, the Bellisseria Campwich lodge, the SL16B auditorium, part of the Paleoquest regions), as well as the 4-region Linden Town Hall facilities.
The single region facilities have been intentionally optimised such that they can comfortably and consistently handle 75 avatars apiece without becoming stressed.
The seven new pre-fabricated business/ meeting environments provided by Linden Lab.
There has also been some marketing work alongside of this to help raise awareness of SL’s continued presence as a platform (the UK’s Daily Telegraph ran a paywalled article on SL and remote working on March 26th, for example).
SL and Technology Related Questions
[24:24-25:33] Cloud Uplift: will sharding / instancing of regions be possible?
Potentially, but much further down the road.
The focus at the moment is on transitioning the SL infrastructure and getting it to a point where regions can be operated via the cloud.
Opportunities for product offerings, etc, will be considered some time after the uplift has been completed and costs, etc., better known.
[32:07-34:34] Despite all the talk of VR headsets and immersivity being ” the future”, the fact is virtual worlds already provide a 3D, immersive experience, even if viewed via a 2D screen. Given high frame-rate VR systems are still outside of most people’s pockets / interest, don’t you think worlds like SL are due a renaissance?
VR is a fully immersive experience that cannot be matched for its sense of presence.
SL has some significant challenges when it comes to that kind of immersive experience it will need to rise to [FPS, optimised content / content management], and / or the VR hardware requirements will need to come down to make VR is SL acceptable. They will likely draw together in time, but that’s not something for SL’s current roadmap.
[40:17-42:25] Has the more widespread availability of bandwidth and higher speed connectivity made it easier for people to connect to Second Life?
Yes. The ability for ISPs to provide faster connectivity, particularly now with fibre, has helped with SL’s global reach and accessibility.
16-17 years ago, cable DSL was just coming in, and people without it, particularly if far away from the SL data centres, could experience issues with connecting. Over the last decade, the reported incidence of these kinds of issues has decreased to a point where they seem to be rarely heard.
Region owners facing such issues are encouraged to approach the Second Life support team.
As it is, LL is working specific with Ey Ren, the estate owner for Second Norway / Sailor’s Cove East to try to resolve that situation.
Second Life and the Future
[1:02.07-1:07:38] As LL is again a single-product company, what is the vision, looking forward?
As already mentioned, the cloud uplift to AWS and Google is a major focus, and will take up most of the Lab’s time and effort throughout 2020, with the goal of completing the work in 2020.
It is hoped that the basic transitioning to the cloud will produce meaningful performance improvements.
There will not be a significant number of features coming on top of this work outside of those committed to (e.g. EEP, Name Changes, Premium Plus).
However, the uplift should position LL / SL for a long-term future, and should be seen as a commitment on LL’s part to the continuance of SL – the investment required in the shift would not have been made if there was a lack of confidence about the platform’s future.
LL itself is in a very comfortable position and profitable.
Further, the company’s organisational set-up means that it has not been overly impacted by the current pandemic crisis.
Second Life is seeing rising engagement and concurrency at present.
Overall the company has a very positive view of the future for SL, and very pleased with where they are in terms of the SL product offering.
Those interested in learning more about the technical side of SL can tune-in to the April 3rd edition of Lab Gab, which will feature Oz Linden, VP of Engineering and members of his teams.
Ebbe himself is now “100% devoted” to Second Life and Tilia.
Education Related Questions
[25:45-26:47] Will SL be able to connect to Canvas LMS? A lot of this can be supported through the in-viewer browser and via the viewer’s implementation of Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF).
Improvements to media / web handling in the viewer are being made (notably media and CEF), and there should hopefully be more news on this Soon™.
[27:39-28:29] Can more be done to allow people to bring in their “traditional” and familiar 2D means of presentation (e.g. PowerPoint, etc), into SL beyond having to use use things like Media On A Prim (MOAP), etc?
The coming updates to media / web handling might have a lot to do with this, particularly in displaying 2D information formats. Essentially, if it is web-based, then you should be able to display it in-world.
[EA – 52:49-54:29] SL is perfect for iterative, interactive classroom activities and allowing students to contribute content to the classroom and in experiential education (field trips, learning through directed activities / simulation / training). However, more could be done to make the more traditional teaching tools – blackboards, whiteboards, video presentation, etc., – available / easier to utilise with Second Life.
[37:57-38:55] What about screen sharing / desktop sharing with SL?
Would be challenging to provide through Second Life, but obviously there are applications that will allow Second Life itself to be shared between screens / desktops.
It’s unclear as to what form any path to providing screen / desktop sharing within SL / the viewer might take.
[55:25-57:40] Can teaching environments be locked down to only allow students and staff access, and to prevent students teleporting away?
Regions do allow levels of privacy (access by group, access list, region / estate-level access blocking, etc.). It is also possible to bring users directly into a specific region / estate, and created accounts can be locked to a specific region / estate.
The siloing capability is available in Second Life, and it is made available to educators to use, and are available as a part of the educational / non-profit region fee.
While it is not being considered by the Lab at present, it might be possible, post cloud uplift, to enable separate Second Life grids to be spun-up with completely different user name / account spaces associated with them.
If there are specific use cases for access control that aren’t provided by the Lab, or ways in which LL might provision specific market silo support, educators / physical world business users are encouraged to contact Patch and his team to discuss them or send ideas to business-at-lindenlab.com.
[1:07:53-1:10:54] Could a controlled space be provided where educators could collaborate to produce material in-world for students?
Can already be done.
A portal style space showing what is available for education in SL might be possible. One used to be provided, and LL might be interested in partnering with educationals to again provide one. Ideas can again be passed via business-at-lindenlab.com.
Sansar Related Discussion
[43:05-49:54] Second Life (and OpenSim) has always offered the ability for real-time content creation, which has been seen as one of the major attractions for it, and it was something lacking in Sansar that may have contributed to its lack of appeal. Do you think there is a long future for Second Life with its ease-of-creation?
[EA] Nowadays original content creation within SL is rare; most users are more customisers that original asset creators; they purchase items and then lay them out. Clearly, content creation & collaborative design are required in a virtual space, but do they need to be in the run-time environment?
[EA] Sansar took the route of separating the design process from the run-time environment to allow the latter to be a more performant environment, allowing everything placed in the design environment to be properly optimised [“baked”] to provide a good run-time experience.
[EA] Sadly, LL never got to the point of implementing collaborative design in the editor, or in really giving power to users to design their space without having to have a lot of expertise.
Decision was made to sell Sansar and give the team that had been working on it to go and raise funds to try to go it alone with Sansar.
Was felt that it was easier for them to raise money as a separate entity from LL, given that Second Life is an established brand and Sansar was effectively a start-up brans within the environment responsible for Second Life.
As it is all of the staff who worked on Sansar are getting employment offers from Wookey project Corp., the new owners.
Linden Lab remain something of a partner to Sansar, as the platform will continue to use Tilia Inc, the Lab’s micro-payments / virtual world tokens subsidiary to manage Sansar Dollar payments and payouts. Tilia itself will be growing its customer base with more clients lined-up to join it.