Lab Gab with Brad Oberwager & Philip Rosedale: a summary with video + audio

via Linden Lab

On Monday, January 31st, Linden Lab streamed a pre-recorded session of Lab Gab featuring the company’s Executive Chairman Brad Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden) and the Lab’s co-founder, Philip Rosedale, who recently re-joined Linden Lab in the capacity of a strategic advisor, having left in 2010 to work on a number of projects – most notably co-founding High Fidelity Incorporated in 2013.

The session was built around more than 300 questions submitted by users in the wake of the announcement that High Fidelity had invested in Linden Lab in terms of money, patents and personnel.

The following is a summary of the session, the full video of which is embedded at the end.

  • For ease of reference, I have broken this summary into heading based on the topics discussed through the session, and timestamps to the relevant start point in the video are provided for each.
  • Throughout the summary comments made by / questions directed towards Brad Oberwager are preceded by [BO] and those relating to or made by Philip Rosedale are preceded by [PR].
  • Note that audio extracts, where provided, have (as usual) been subject to some editing to remove pauses, repetition and the occasional aside that fall outside of the topic being discussed. This has been done with the aim of making it easier to follow the comments being made, and without changing the context or meaning of any of the statements made.

On the Investment by High Fidelity

[Video: 1:54-4:49 – PR]

  • After leaving Linden Lab in 2010, went on to establish Coffee And Power (2010-2012), prior to co-founding High Fidelity, a company initially focused on building a VR headset-centric virtual world.
  • In 2019, the company concluded the current generation(s) of VR headsets would not be commercially successful enough to sustain a virtual world environment. So the company pivoted away from this in 2019 – see: High Fidelity changes direction: the reality of VR worlds today (& tomorrow?), High Fidelity changes direction (2) and High Fidelity changes direction (3): layoffs & shuttering apps and access), eventually opting to focus of 3D spatial audio.
  • The Spatial audio side of the business – which already has the software licensed to a number of customers – will continue, However, the company retained a core set of skills based around building VW technologies, and with Brad Oberwager coming into Linden Research in a very hands-on capacity, he and Philip reached agreement that there is a synergy between the VW expertise at Hi-Fi and the work LL is doing with SL.
  • His personal view is the Second Life is the place to explore where virtual reality might go next, as it remains the cutting edge example of what a virtual is, and what might be achieved within one.

On What the Investment Means for Second Life / LL and for High Fidelity

[Video: 4:54-9:37]

  • [BO]
    • Looks at the relationship in three ways: personal, business and “meta”.
    • Personal: he and Philip have been friends for a long time. They share lot of personal time (e.g. travelling to and from Burning Man together, sharing walks and the occasional beer, etc.), and he has a lot of respect for Philip as well as liking him, and he is also a person he would like to emulate. Sees being able to connect with Philip within a business environment as “very gratifying”.
    • Business: running a platform like Second Life as a “great responsibility”, and fully acknowledges the platform is nothing without the users. So sees having someone with Philip’s vision to offer tactical and strategic input from outside of the company very beneficial.
    • “Meta”: believes that any / all consideration of “the metaverse” or of “metaverses” requires a moral compass. If it is left purely up to big corporations that generate their revenue through surveillance / behavioural monitoring (to deliver ads, content, etc.), could be “very dangerous”. In questioning of this approach and its associated technologies, he feels Philip has demonstrated he is that moral compass at this point in time, and is someone who continues to focus on serving and supporting users.
  • [PR]
    • In terms of Hi-Fi, the company retains a core team working on the spatial audio product, which is being licensed and will continue to be developed and licensed.
    • He will continue to run Hi Fi.

On the Role of Strategic Advisor

[Video: 9:39-11:17 – PR]

  • As an advisory role, is not responsible for day-to-day decision making with the Lab.
  • Meets with the various teams at Linden Lab as and when they specifically would like his input / ideas / perspective.
  • Very much appreciates being seen as a moral compass.
  • Also hopes that his experience as an engineer and product strategist can be put to practical use.
  • Personally enjoys becoming a voice at the table again in an environment where responsibility for the platform’s growth is shared between the company and the users.

On Their Friendship and Mutual Approach to SL / LL

[Video: 11:31-17:50]

  • [BO] Initially met around twelve years ago through mutual friends when taking a boat trip around San Francisco Bay. At the time Brad was trying to close his first major business deal and “acting like a goofball” and being “obnoxious” when he noticed Philip was watching him. Once on the trip, they started talking, which lead to dinner (with at least Philip’s wife – whom Brad has previously referred to as his “closest friend” – joining them).
  • [PR] notes that Brad had always shown an interest in Second Life, and when he happened to mention the Lab was looking to put itself up for sale, Brad was immediately interested in the opportunity presented.
  • [BO] On the subject of buying Linden Lab:
    • Understood that SL as a virtual world has different needs to those of LL as a company, so felt there was a real danger that had LL been purchased by an entity that didn’t understand the difference between the needs of the platform and the needs of a company, SL could have ended up being squeezed for revenue.
    • Took a much different view in acquiring the company, with a willingness to invest in a commitment to make the platform “better” – although he admits he is not that sure what “better” actually means.
    • As such, he acknowledges that running Linden Lab requires a “looseness” of approach and outlook that others might have missed.
  • [PR] Felt he left Linden Lab in 2010 without knowing whether or not he’d built a successful culture at the company whilst its CEO. However, believes that it has become apparent that it does take a special kind of company to steward Second Life. The fact that the culture within the company remains very similar to when he was CEO has both made him confident that the right choices were made and made returning to the company and the platform “easy”.

PR – On Returning to LL and His View on SL in 2022

[Video: 18:15-20:20 PR]

  • Felt the decision to invest in LL and make a return to SL was absolutely the right thing to do, and the decision was easy to make.
  • Believes Second Life is both “incredibly similar” to how it was when he left it, even though it obviously changed in terms of users and content, etc.
  • Has loved reacquainting himself with events and activities in-world, and once again participating in the “standing wave” the platform represents.

On Facebook and its Pivot to “Meta” and the “Metaverse”

[Video: 20:29-26:51]

  • [PR]
    • If he could provide advice to Facebook, it would be “don’t do it”.
    • Particularly believes that the temptation for companies such as Facebook to enter the metaverse environment and attempt to parlay their surveillance / behavioural business model (utilising data gathered on users for the purposes of generating revenue through targeted ads and content) would be extremely harmful.
    • In contrast, Second Life has clearly demonstrated a fully scalable business model that operates purely on a fees-driven model, one that generates more revenue dollars per user per year than You Tube through its model, and probably than Facebook.
    • As such, believes the approach taken by LL / SL is much less prone to the risk of abuse and is safer than those espoused by the likes of Facebook and Google.

  • [BO]
    • Would add that as well as generating more money per user, Linden Lab also spends more per user.
    • Believes this is critical because a platform like You Tube is scale based: it relies on building a larger and larger audience, which in turn drives the surveillance / behavioural business model (more users means more adverts can be served and more revenue generated from advertisers, etc.).
    • The Second Life model, however is not just about user acquisition but is more equivalent to the physical world consumer model of supply and demand (or perhaps more properly for SL – demand and supply). So, the more closely links LL’s ability to generate revenue to its ability to offer capabilities and services to users, the more attractive it is for users to spend money on the platform.
    • As such, the decisions made by the likes of Facebook with regards to its platform will be very different to those made by the Lab for Second Life and its users.

Continue reading “Lab Gab with Brad Oberwager & Philip Rosedale: a summary with video + audio”

Reminder: Lab Gab with Brad Oberwager & Philip Rosedale Jan 31st 2022

via Linden Lab

On Monday, January 31st, there will be a special pre-recorded edition of Lab Gab featuring Linden Lab’s Executive Chairman Brad Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden) and the Lab’s co-founder, Philip Rosedale.

As noted in an official press release and within this blog (and others), High Fidelity Incorporated, the company co-founded by Rosedale in 2013, following his departure from Linden Lab, has invested in Linden Lab, bringing with it an a influx of money, patents and new and returning skills.

Following the press release, the Lab also issued and official Second Life blog post on the matter, in which they invited Second Life users to submit questions that might be asked of Brad and Philip as a part of the session, in which they will also likely discuss the future of Linden Lab and and Second Life. They may also talk about the other recent news that the Lab’s subsidiary, Tilia has partnered with Unity to provide their solutions to Unity developers who wish to include  virtual economy elements into their product offerings (see: Tilia Partners with Unity to Power Virtual Economies for Game and Metaverse Developers and Linden Lab announces Tilia partners with Unity “to power virtual economies”).

I hope to have a summary of the session available some time after it has streamed, but in the meantime, the salient details are summarised below.

Viewing Details

  • Time and Date: 09:00 SLT (17:00 UK / 18:00 CET) on Monday, January 31st, 2022
  • Watch on You Tube via this link (when the programme starts) or click the embedded viewer below.


Previewing Lab Gab 22: Caledonia Skytower

via Linden Lab

The next edition of Lab Gab will be live streamed on Friday, April 17th, 11:00 SLT, and while it is not a show featuring a member of the Lab’s team, I’m mentioning it here because it will be featuring someone I consider to be an exceptionally talented woman, whose work oft runs entirely under the radar for most users  – and the amount of work she puts into Second Life is incredible.

Caledonia Skytower is the director of Seanchai Library in Second Life, a post she has held for as long as I’ve known her, and in which she organises, frequently hosts and often designs, the groups activities and events.

For those not familiar with Seanchai Library, it is perhaps the longest-running group in Second Life devoted to bringing stories, literature, poems and more to life in Second Life and beyond through the spoken word. Founded in 2008, Seanchai Library has presented thousands of storytelling events across the grid, and in the process has raised thousands of US dollars for numerous charities. The group takes its name, which it formally adopted in 2010 two years after being founded, from seanchai (pr. Shawn-a-kee – a traditional Irish storyteller/historian).

As well as bringing a weekly series of readings and events at their headquarters at Holly Kai Park, Seanchai Library has also made numerous immersive storytelling presentations across Second Life, including their annual Christmas trip to Victorian England with The Dickens Project, and events such as an immersive telling of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, to name but two. In addition, Seanchai Library lends its skills to events and activities run by others across the grid.

The timing of Strawberry’s interview with Caledonia couldn’t be better, as this year marks Seanchai Library’s 12th year of activities in Second Life (They’ve also built a presence in Kitely), and next week they will again be supporting Fantasy Faire.

Caledonia Skytower (l) with Strawberry Linden on the Lab Gab set

Cale herself is a gifted theatre producer, writer and storyteller. She has also – whilst via in Second Life – brought the virtual and the physical together with a joint presentation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatesby with the Tacoma Little Theatre, which allowed audiences attending a stage performance based on the book to go into a virtual environment designed by Cale and Seanchai Library, and learn more about the novel, the period in which it was set and F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.

Given this, she will make an engaging guest on the show and offer people a real glimpse inside the work of Seanchai Library. As usual, the programme will be streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Mixer, or Periscope, so be sure to tune in!

My thanks to Berry for responding so positively to the suggestion Cale is approached to appear on the show.

Previewing Lab Gab 20: cloud uplift and engineering

via Linden Lab

The 20th edition of Lab Gab will be live streamed on Friday, April 3rd at 10:00 SLT (18:00 UK; 19:00 CET). For those who have not seen the official blog post about it, the segment will feature members of the Second Life Engineering team: Oz Linden, April Linden and Ekim Linden.

Oz Linden is the Lab’s Vice President of Engineering and a member of the company’s management team. Together with Grumpity Linden and Patch Linden, he is responsible for SL’s technical and operational directions. He specifically overseas the Lab’s engineering teams to manage all aspects of the Lab’s server environment (hardware and software) and the teams engaged in all aspects of viewer development and testing.

April Linden has become familiar to many SL residents for her honest and informative blog posts explaining what happened and how things were fixed when Second Life suffers a significant system upset and / or outage. As the Lab’s Systems Engineering Manager, she particularly coordinates and manages all aspects of the Lab’s server operations, including dealing with the third-party teams who physically care for the Lab’s hardware at its data co-location centre.

Ekim Linden is the Lab’s Director of Web Engineering, as manages the engineering team directly responsible for the Lab’s web properties (such as the Marketplace, the website, etc).

Ekim Linden (l), Oz Linden and April Linden (r) on the Lab Gab set. Credit: Linden Lab

All three are responsible for managing and coordinating the extensive work in transitioning all of the Lab’s services from their dedicated hardware and infrastructure and to recognised cloud services operated by Amazon (AWS) and Google. As such, they are appearing on Lab Gab to talk about this work – which the Lab refers to as the Cloud Uplift – although doubtless, other subjects will come up for discussion.

If you have a question you’d like to put to Oz, April or Ekim (or all of them), particularly on the uplift, make sure you submit it via the Lab Gab Google form.

As usual, the programme will be streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Mixer, or Periscope, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll have a summary of the video (and the video itself) available soon after the the broadcast, for those unable to watch live.

Advanced notice for Lab Gab 19: how the Lab is dealing with the health crisis

via Linden Lab

The 19th edition of Lab Gab will be live streamed on Friday, March 27th at 10:00 SLT (17:00 UK; 18:00 CET). The segment will feature Ebbe Linden (aka Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg) and Brett Linden, Senior Director of Marketing, two recent guests on the show (see here and here for summaries of their prior interviews). They are returning to address, as the official blog post states:

Discussing how Linden Lab is responding to the public health crisis to ensure uninterrupted Second Life operations, as well as how the company is offering new remote turnkey solutions for conferences, events, or classes.

This is once more a segment during which questions from Second Life users will be put to Ebbe and Brett, so if you have anything you’d like to ask  – particularly in relation to the SARS novel-coronavirus pandemic and Second Life / Linden Lab operations, although not necessarily restricted to that topic – be sure to submit them via the Lab Gab Episode 19 Questions form. Not all the questions may be asked / answered, but if you don’t try, there’s a greater chance your question may not be asked anyway!

The programmed will be streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Mixer, or Periscope, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll have a summary of the video (and the video itself) available soon after the the broadcast, for those unable to watch live.

SL16B Among the Moles of Second Life

Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Friday, June 28th, 2019 at the SL16B celebrations, the last of five Meet the Lindens sessions took place at the SL16B Auditorium. This was a special session, featuring as it did members of the Linden Department of Public Works – aka, the Moles.

A veritable host of Moles surfaced for the session, along with Patch Linden, comprising Abnor Mole, Naughty Mole, Squeaky Mole, Missy Mole and Alotta Mole, all of who can be heard in the video. They were joined by Glowing Mole, Quartz Mole, Spiffy Mole, Lost Mole, Squishy Mole, Glamorous Mole, Ancient Mole, Garden Mole, Paranor Mole, Shimmy Mole and Magic Mole.

Meet the Moles: front row (l-to-r): Abnor Mole, Naughty Mole, Saffia Widdershins, Patch Linden, Squeaky Mole, Missy Mole and Alotta Mole, all of who can be heard in the video. Behind them (l-to-r) are: Glowing Mole, Quartz Mole, Spiffy Mole, Lost Mole, Squishy Mole, Glamorous Mole, Ancient Mole, Garden Mole, Paranor Mole, Shimmy Mole and Magic Mole. Screen capture via SL4Live – TV

The nature of the event, with so many people available to answer questions makes producing a summary a little difficult; instead, I offer an outline of what the Moles are, and the feedback of the key speakers on how they became Moles, and notes based both on comments during the session and the LDPW wiki page on how to become a Mole. For the rest, I recommend watching the video in full!

Who or What the Moles?

As surprising as it may seem, lot of SL users are not aware of what or who the Moles are.

Officially called the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) the Moles are SL residents from all over the world who have either applied to the Lab, or have been asked by the Lab, to work as paid freelance contractors. The LDPW is specifically geared towards enhancing the Mainland, as noted in the official wiki page, but they actually do a lot more than this.

The Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) is a programme focused on improvements related to the experience of living on, or visiting the Linden Mainland. The LDPW will organize teams of Resident builders, artists, and scripters (the Moles!) to create new content on Linden Lab’s behalf and to the benefit of all.

– From the official LDPW SL wiki page

Today, the nominal “home” of the Moles is Meauxle Bureaux, where you can – among other spaces – visit Ye Olde Abner Mole Pub

The LDPW initially formed in 2008, and so is now in its eleventh year, and many of those involved in the programme today were recruited back then. The team is managed be Derrick Linden, the Product Operations Manager for Second Life, who reports into Patch Linden, and the team includes a number of Linden staff as well, including Guy Linden, Madori Linden, Kona Linden and Izzy Linden.

Within the Mainland, the Moles are probably best known for their infrastructure work – the roads, the railway lines, general continent layout, and all the many elements thereto. There have also been responsible for the development on Mainland projects such as the infrastructure within Nautilus City and, perhaps more particularly, the development of Bay City – which in their honour hosts an annual Mole Day festival.

The Horizons Experience (November 2016) built and scripted by the Moles

Most recently, the Moles have been responsible for – and perhaps most visible with – the new Linden Homes continent, Bellisseria. They also produce the infrastructure for Lab-led events, including SL16B, the Lab-run shopping events, the town hall meeting spaces. But they also do far more than this, and work in many different areas, for example – and as a short list:

  • They produce content such as the Premium gifts.
  • The build and script the Lab-provided games such as Linden Realms, Paleoquest, Horizons and the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches – all accessible via the Portal Parks.
  • Their work is often used as an example of what can be achieved in SL, particularly with regards new functions and capabilities.
  • They work with multiple teams at Linden Lab, such as Marketing and the engineering team (Moles participated in projects such as Bento, for example, producing test content used in the development of Bento capabilities and in testing the Bento skeleton).
  • Helping with QA activities.

As residents, how much time Moles spend on their resident  / personal accounts understandably varies in accordance with the work they’re engaged in. Some of the longer-serving Moles perhaps tend to focus predominantly on their Moles accounts / personas, while those who have more recently joined the team might spend more time split between their personal accounts and Mole accounts.

As freelance contractors, Moles also get to pretty much choose their hours of work – providing tasks are completed on time. An advantage here is that as the Moles are based around the world, some projects can at times move forward on something of a round-the-clock basis.

Over the years, the Moles have to deal with a with a lot, starting with selecting their Mole name. For this, they have to put forward three preferences, and either are award the one that’s available, or get to pick from those that are available – although there can be opportunities for them to change their names. They also have to deal with the more unusual in Second Life, as Abnor Mole explained:

With the games, we’ve had a lot of people who try to find a lot of creative ways not to play the game as you’re supposed to … In the Paleoquest game [in which tasks must be completed against the clock] … at the end, where you’re supposed to take a giant swab and you have to go and find the dino DNA, and you do that with the giant cotton swab … we found that somebody was going around and they would always find the “good poop” to swab the very first time, and we were, “how are they doing this?” And we’re looking and we’re looking and we’re looking, and finally we realised there was a time stamp on the creation of the object that was a  little bit different on the “good” ones … they had gone that deeply into it to tell that that was how to do it [find the right item and complete the task]

– Abnor Mole on one of the weird things Moles sometimes have to deal with

Cape Ekim is an oft-overlooked Mole surprise in Second Life – although as it is on an “old” Linden Homes mini-continent, it might eventually disappear as those mini-continents are retired

How Did You Become A Mole?

Abnor Mole: read about the formation of the LPDW in 2008, put in an application – back then this could be done via the Second Life website (and later the wiki), was interviewed by Michael Linden, who at that time managed the LPDW, and was accepted – so has been a Mole for 11 years. Among his many roles as a part of the team, he produces some of the videos associated with the like of the Paleoquest game.

Naughty Mole: was approached by Jack Linden (who used to manage the SL land team) as the LPDW was being formed with the aim of improving the Mainland, and he asked her if she’d like to join. One of the first projects she worked on was Barney’s Bay.

Barney’s Bay, one of the first LDPW projects, and which also includes one of the first examples of trying to add a little “history” to the world in SL, with a statue dedicated to Captain Bernard “The Navibator” McSchnott (you can read how he got his nickname by visiting the statue! Note that like many LDPW locations across SL, Barney’s Bay is a destination you can also visit when playing the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches (read here for more on this)

Squeaky Mole: is one of the “youngest” Moles, having joined the LDPW just over a year ago. He was “discovered” as a result of exhibiting at SLB, and the Lindens visited his region after which he received an invitation from Patch to become a Mole – and initially thought it was a joke!

Missy Mole: is also one of the “younger” moles, having joined the LDPW on June 28th, 2018. Also like Squeaky, she was approach by Patch to join the team, specifically in taking photos in support of Marketing work. She and Squeaky are two of the Moles who have done a lot of the work on SL16B.

Alotta Mole: like Missy, was approached by Patch as a result of his in-world photography, and joined the LDPW initially in support of Marketing work.

What Does It Take To Become A Mole?

  • Drop your resume (note card) on Derrick Linden or in-world or to Patch Linden. Include your areas of expertise and any links you have where the Lab can see examples of your work (in-world, Flickr, You Tube, etc).
  • Fully rounded content creators are encouraged to apply, but the Lab will also accept specialists.
  • Be outgoing, communicative, willing to work within a team.
  • Have a genuine passion for SL.
  • Remember, it is an actual paid job, and is treated as such. You will be interviewed, you’ll be expected to have a résumé (c.v.), and be able to demonstrate your SL-related work.

Everyone on the team has their specialities, what they’re strong with … we do have Moles who specifically do scripting; we have moles who specifically so mesh content work and texturing or just texturing; we have Moles who do texturing and photography; we have Moles who do sound work, animation work. So, if you can think of each thing, or each area you can do content creation work for Second Life and in Second Life – we pretty much have to cover every single one of those areas, and in some of those areas we need more than one person.

There’s folk that specialise in terraforming, folks that do region décor work [trees, road, etc] … people who have got an eye for putting that stuff together and out there, being good with Land Impact … maybe they don’t have a lot of capability in making that stuff, but the other people in the team that make that content do that for them,  and then they’re the ones that carry through that next step.

– Patch Linden on Mole skills

Catch the rest of the session in the video below.