Lab Gab with Grumpity and Patch Linden streams on October 21st

via Linden Lab

On Friday, October 21st, there will be a livestream edition of Lab Gab, featuring Linden Lab’s Vice President of Product,  Grumpity Linden and VP of Product Operations, Patch Linden.

Both will be discussing Second Life development thus far, and will be announcing some upcoming features that will soon be appearing on the platform. In addition, they’ll also be answering question from residents.

If you have a question you’d like to to to Grumpity or Patch (or both!) to answer, the Lab is currently accepting submissions via the the Lab Gab Google Form, so be sure to make sure you send your while the form is available! Note that not all questions submitted may be asked during the session.

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

Viewing Details

VWBPE 2022: Patch Linden – What’s Up at the Lab?- a summary

via VWBPE

On Thursday, March 31st, 2022 Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations and a member of the company’s management team, attended the 2022 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference in the first of three special events featuring representative from Linden Lab.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

Notes:

  • This is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.
  • Timestamps are included to allow a direct jump to a subject / comment.

Management Items

On the Passing of Ebbe Altberg and the CEO Position

[Video: 1:47-3:55]

  • Still very much missed by the team.
  • Brad Oberwager noted the dynamic between Grumpity Linden (VP of Product), Brett Linden (VP of Marketing), Patch and now Mojo Linden (VP of Engineering), and decided to work with them as a management team, rather than bringing in a new VP.

Philip Rosedale’s Role

[Video 32:23-34:45]

  • Philip Rosedale’s role is purely advisory. He is not at the Lab full time, but he is a resource the management team can call on when broader strategies are being discussed.
  • The management team maintain the day-to-day management and development of Second Life.

On Tilia and Its Role

[Video: 34:55-39:15]

  • Grown out of the need to properly regulate money handling and the operation of a virtual currency, Tilia has grown into a product set in its own right.
  • It still plays a central role with Second Life in terms of handling fiat money and transferring Linden Dollars to fiat money amounts.
  • However, it is a separate entity, and specialises in all regulatory and compliance matters in dealing with fiat money transactions. As such it free the SL management team to focus on Second Life and its services for users.

Product Development Path and the AWS Architecture

[Video: 4:23-18:12]

  • A lot of under-the-hood work to optimise the use of AWS hardware and infrastructure – simulator performance improvements.
  • General improvements:
  • Starting work of new “event” regions capable of running with 100-150 avatars within them, with a hoped-for target of 200.
    • These regions have had some testing at various shopping events, and work is continuing to test and compare these environments.
    • Seen as offering a route to true auditorium-style events as well as supporting shopping style events.
    • Things like cost and additional features for this product have yet to be determined, so these regions are not generally available at this time.
    • There are still issues to be resolved. For example, tests revealed that if a region took more than around 175 avatars, the memory use within the simulator / server the region was on would start to exponentially rise with each additional avatar.
    • These regions might possibly be available to support RFL events.
    • [Video 47:46-48:22] Once available, these “event” regions will be offered to educators at the current educational discount.
    • [Video 49:40-51:21] These new “event” regions will not see any increase in either region size or in Land Capacity limits. Should Land Capacity ever change, it will be globally scaled for products.
  • A lot of the work in leveraging AWS and developing the new “event” region product have both led to the discovery of additional areas where work needs to be carried out, and this is an ongoing process.
  • The breadth of product offerings provided by AWS are constantly being analysed to see if they might be leveraged for use by Second Life.
    • However, some of this might be limited, or required more engineering work. For example, text-to-speech / real-time translation are options AWS can provide, but leveraging them would require extensive viewer-side engineering to leverage what are essentially server-based tools.
  • [Video: 44:21-47:21] Two major efforts at the moment are geared at growing the user base. These comprise:
    • A further redesign of the new user on-boarding process and new user experience, part of which can be seen with the revamp of the welcome islands launched in 2021.
    • A review of the avatar system / avatars supplied by LL for new users.
    •  For those who use the RegAPI, these changes will, it is hoped, “revolutionise” bringing users in SL.
    • These are both part and parcel of an overall drive to increase the Second Life user base over the next few years (Patch’s personal target being to double the number of active avatars in-world).
    • A benefit here of being on AWS is that Second Life is now entirely “elastic” and can group as required.

On Mobile

[Video: 18:32-23:05]

  • Mobile / lightweight strategies are still very much part of the work that is on-going at the Lab.
    • The dedicated Mobile offering (initially iOS) is still very much a focus.
    • A streaming option is also being considered – but streaming is very much a moving target in terms of technology and capabilities, so this is very much a longer-term project. However:
      • It potentially offers a higher-fidelity experience with graphics, etc.
      • It is in active development and experimentation.
      • Costs will be a factor, however, and such a service is unlikely to be something that would be folded-in to, say, some Premium subscription, simply because stream costs are so variable in terms of data load, etc.
  • [Video 42:59-44:20] It is hoped that in offering a mobile solution, LL will be able to increase SL’s exposure to audiences and help grow the user base.

Support

[Video: 24:45-32:15]

  • Front-line support has been increased by 4 people.
  • A new scripted support bot has been deployed that utilises AI to tackle support questions, rather than operating programmatically.
    • Can understand plain English questions and leverages the Knowledge Base.
    • Can carry out basic support functions, such as restarting a region on receipt of a recognised request.
    • Also includes (or will include as the capability is being developed) to help with things like filing Abuse Reports.
  • New support options are being introduced (notably as a part of Premium Plus, but no specifics).

In General

  • [Video: 39:24-42:57] On Meta and virtual spaces: Meta has put a huge spotlight on the metaverse business. Feels that at the end of the day, Meta will be just one of a number of virtual worlds / environments, and that others like Second Life can benefit out of the “all boats rise” adage.
  • Some passing mention of Premium Plus but no real specifics worth noting.

SL18B: still time to submit questions to the Leadership Team

via Linden Lab

The Second Life 18th Birthday event is almost upon us, and it promises to be a time of celebration, and also of remembrance and sadness following recent news.

Given all that has happened since the start of the year – the acquisition of the Lab by a new Board; the arrival of Board member Brad Oberwager as the management team Executive Chair and his long-time business associate, Cammy Bergren as the Lab’s Chief of Staff; the sad news concerning Ebbe Altberg; the on-going technical work on Second Life, the upcoming “new” New User Experience, and so on – many SL residents are doubtless a-buzz with questions.

To this end, and as announced on Thursday, June 10th, Linden Lab will be holding a special Lab Gab session, hosted by Strawberry Linden. She’ll be putting questions to the Lab’s leadership team of Grumpity Linden, Brett Linden and Patch Linden – and there is still time for people to submit questions.

If there is something you’d like to ask of the team, simply hop over to the submission form, type in in and send it off. But hurry – the form will be closed some time on Tuesday, June 15th, 2021.

The show itself will be live streamed via the Second Life YouTube channel. on Monday, June 21st, starting at 14:00 SLT. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have a summary of the session on this blog after the event.

VWBPE 2021: Grumpity and Brett Linden

VWBPE 2021

On Saturday, March 20th, 2021, the final of three sessions featuring Linden Lab staff took place at the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference. Whilst the the third session overall, this was actually the second of a double series entitled Reconnaissance with the Lab, and featured Grumpity Linden, VP of Product and Brett Linden, VP of Marketing, the first having been held on Friday, March 19th, which saw Patch Linden, VP of Product Operations and Madori Linden, Product Specialist (Land Operations) joining Grumpity and Brett.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session. however, as some discussion points followed directly on from the Friday March 19th, discussion, it should be read in reference to my summary of that meeting as well.

As always, time stamps are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

The Attendees

Grumpity Linden

Grumpity Linden heads up Second Life Product, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.

Prior to working for Linden Lab (first joining as a contractor in 2009 and then full-time in 2014), she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.

Grumpity holds a Master’s in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology, both from Johns Hopkins University. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

As VP of marketing, Brett Linden manages the team responsible for developing media campaigns and strategic content partnerships for Second Life. Together they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for the virtual world.

Brett Linden

In the past decade, he has produced numerous virtual and “mixed reality” events and panels on various academic topics with an emphasis on legitimising and better surfacing the many cultures and communities within virtual environments.

From Rolling Stone to Billboard, Brett has also written for major publications and managed multimedia initiatives for Amazon.com and RealNetworks. He has co-founded numerous media sites on-line, including the Second Life Destination Guide and Rolling Stone Radio. As a co-founding editor at Billboard.com, he interviewed Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shania Twain, and Bjork.

Dealing with Griefing

[Video: 10:04-19:09]

  • Grumpity:
    • The Governance User Group offers a monthly forum in-world for region / estate holders (and general users) to discuss matters of security, griefing, abuse reporting, etc. Meetings are held monthly on the third Tuesday of the month at 13:00 SLT (at the time of writing).
    • Specific issues can also be raised through the Support channel, or can be passed to Madori Linden, who will in turn pass them on to the Governance and Land teams.
    • For specialised environments, such as regions operated by educators, non-profits, business organisations, etc., the best way to secure a region or estate is via the RegAPI [see below for more on this].
    • With regards to griefing via voice – specifically things like voice channel hijacking – LL has worked extensively with the Voice API provider, Vivox, to prevent / eliminate such issues a lot more readily.

What is the RegAPI?

[Video 11:48-17:21]

  • RegAPI is a means for organisations that need to to provide dedicated, controlled access to Second Life to their users.
  • Organisations are assigned a keycode by the Lab. This can used in conjunction with the Second Life registration form (web page) the organisation designs to connect to the Second Life account registration process and then, and as required:
    • Define: the group new-sign-ups are assigned to.
    • Limit created accounts to only accessing the defined region / estate, and block them from teleporting away from it.
    • Control the avatar options available to new-sign-ups.
    • Control access to associated services within the viewer such as the voice stream.
  • The sign-up form can be hosted directly by the organisation concerned within their own environment (thus controlling access to it).
  • The process can also lock access to the defined region / estate from being accessed by accounts not created using the organisation’s dedicated key.
  • Linden Lab does not directly provide turnkey registration forms for clients, but can provide more general assistance where required.

Accessibility – Those with Disabilities & for whom English is a Second Language

[Video: 19:22-25:37]

  • Grumpity:
    • LL is constantly trying to improve accessibility.
    • Now the majority of the work in moving SL to AWS has been completed, there is potential scope to further address accessibility, including looking at some of the available third-party tools that can be integrated into the SL product – previously, the Lab has attempted to provide dedicated solutions for some issues, but then maintenance and upkeep became problematic, so third-party tools are now seen a preferable way forward.
    • There is no definitive road map as to what may be tried / addressed at present, but the Product team is now far better placed to look at potential options in discussion with involved communities within SL (e.g. educators, Virtual Ability, etc.).
    • In general, LL are very aware that there are many different uses and needs that can be addressed by Second Life by many different individuals and communities, many of who may have specific access requirements, so accessibility is very much a part of thinking at the lab.

New Users: On-Boarding and Experience

[Video: 26:23-37:07]

  • Grumpity:
    • The Lab is working on a new on-boarding experience, but it is not yet ready for deployment.
    • This has been developed not only as a means of updating the new user experience, but also looking at what people actually need to have a successful initial experience with Second Life.
      • So rather than focusing on the basics, like avatar movement, which most people with even a basic exposure to playing games can likely work out for themselves, the focus is more on social interactions – starting a conversation, for example.
    • Connected to this new on-boarding experience are:
      • A cleaning-up the viewer UI, allowing the more essential elements to be better identified and more logical.
      • An overhauling the avatar customisation process to make it easier for incoming users to create a basic look they are happy with.
    • An overall aim of all of this work is to reduce some of the multiple ways in which certain common tasks can be completed, in order to help flatten the curve of Second Life being “complicated” to learn.
    • There is also the Community Gateway programme as well, which provides an important means of bringing users into SL Life, and which Linden Lab monitors and takes lessons from, as well as carrying out testing within their own on-boarding process.

Questions Arising

Is there effort to create a browser-capable grid to flatten the learning curve?

  • Grumpity:
    • LL is working towards a possible partnership that will allow for a streaming solution  for Second Life. This is not something that can be discussed in detail at present, but would love to talk more about it Soon™.
    • In terms of mobile devices, the nature of SL means than any dedicated experience via a ‘phone is going to be less than ideal – ideally a keyboard and mouse are required, but it is being explored. [Again, the Lab has an active project to bring Second Life to both iOS and Android, initially as a basic communications tool.]
  • Brett: streaming is an area that has expanded over the last 12+ months, with multiple companies moving into the space, allowing dialogues to take place. Among other things, the Lab recognises the need to be on more lightweight client systems (such as Chromebook) when addressing areas such as education.

Why are there no up-to-date videos on how to do things in Second Life and on the communities,  etc?

  • Brett: there is a series of New User tutorials by Strawberry Linden that are just over a year old, and which are available in multiple languages. These will likely be refreshed every 18-24 months.

How Can the Education Community Help with Marketing SL?

[Video: 38:45-44:39]

  • Brett:
    • Anyone with ideas, comments or constructive critique about SL marketing are invited to contact the Marketing team.
    • There is also the potential for in-world meetings between community leaders and members of the Marketing team to discuss ideas and options, etc.
    • There is a lot going on in marketing: this year will see a new general consumer campaign to reinvigorate the SL brand. Some of this has started to roll out,  such as developing new social media partnerships and other outreach efforts.
    • Further community exposure can be obtained by being a part of stories the Lab either pitch to the media, or are approached about by the media to provide. In  particularly, success stories about how SL is being used, innovative or novel ways in which the platform is made use of, are of particular interest.
    • Now is actually a good time for such stories, as the pandemic has lead to and increased / renewed media interest in the platform and its potential.
    • In terms of marketing within SL, there are multiple options to help promote work / use / events, from the Destination Guide through to the Lab Gab live stream sessions.
  • Grumpity [49:40-50:10]: in terms of general liaison between the Lab and the educational community, there has been discussion about establishing a dedicated Discord channel, and feedback from educators (via Madori Linden) is sought.

Costs and Pricing

[Video: 45:57-48:45]

  • Grumpity:
    • It was “misguided” to have removed the non-profit  / educational discount [June 2011], and equally very important to see it returned [in 2013] as soon as the Lab could do so.
    • In  March 2020, a flat monthly fee of $99 was introduced for educational and non-profit  organisations, and the Lab has no plans to increase this.
    • However, the narrative that has circulated that costs to the Lab would be reduced as a result of the move to AWS, isn’t accurate; while it removes the high level of capital expenditure LL must make in new hardware every several years, it does not reduce the basic operating costs for the service as a whole. Ergo, there are no plans to reduce prices.

VWBPE 2021: Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori Linden

VWBPE 2021

On Friday, March 19th, 2021 , the second of three sessions featuring Linden Lab staff took place at the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference. Whilst the second session overall, this was actually the first of a double series entitled Reconnaissance with the Lab and took the shape of a round table discussion with from members of Linden Lab’s staff: Grumpity Linden, VP of Product, Brett Linden, VP of Marketing, Patch Linden, VP of Product Operations and Madori Linden, Product Specialist (Land Operations).

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

The focal point for the session were four questions, which form the topic headings in this summary:

  • What is Linden Lab excited about that will be of interest to educators and VWBPE community members?
  • What is the greatest concern about education in virtual environments like Second Life right now?
  • How can educators and the VWBPE community work with Linden Lab in creating and supporting vibrant and engaging learning environments?
  • What can educators and the VWBPE community look forward to in the next year?

Note: the second of these Reconnaissance discussions is summarised here.

The Attendees

Grumpity Linden heads up Second Life Product, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.

Prior to working for Linden Lab (first joining as a contractor in 2009 and then full-time in 2014), she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.

Grumpity holds a Master’s in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

Patch Linden is Vice President of Product Operations at Linden Lab where he works to bring the best of product and support decisions on a daily operational basis to the virtual world platform for Second Life. He also maintains oversight on how all of the various teams within Linden Lab can best work together for the highest good of the Residents and the business.

Patch started as a Resident in 2004 before joining Linden Lab in 2007. Prior to joining Linden Lab, he held leadership roles focused on customer service and product development where he always maintained a customer-first focus while striving to deliver best-in-class products and services. He has a deep passion for creativity and uses that to bring enjoyment to others. He continues to evolve his skills to include virtual worlds, 3D Design, 3D printing, modelling, photography and videography.

Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori (individual images via Linden Lab)

As VP of marketing, Brett Linden manages the team responsible for developing media campaigns and strategic content partnerships for Second Life. Together they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for the virtual world. In the past decade, he has produced numerous virtual and “mixed reality” events and panels on various academic topics with an emphasis on legitimising and better surfacing the many cultures and communities within virtual environments.

From Rolling Stone to Billboard, Brett has also written for major publications and managed multimedia initiatives for Amazon.com and RealNetworks. He has co-founded numerous media sites on-line, including the Second Life Destination Guide and Rolling Stone Radio. As a co-founding editor at Billboard.com, he interviewed Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shania Twain, and Bjork.

Madori Linden is a product specialist on the Land Operations team. Among other things , she works with educators and various types of specialty regions; from their inception and development to maintenance and support.

Her LBL (Life Before Linden) was a winding path to Second Life. She studied Socio Cultural Anthropology with a specialisation in fringe societies within techoology. The contacts made there led to a career in marketing and being the co-owner of an event production company Having children brought her back full circle to education. Second Life was the vehicle for all of those passions to merge.

She works towards making sure that #AVVILEARNING (avatar virtual learning) won’t be just an idea, but part of the future of learning.

What is Linden Lab excited about that will be of interest to educators and VWBPE community members?

[Video: 6:10-24:23]

  • Patch: the new energy the new ownership is putting in the platform and the investment on the table to take Second Life to new heights.
  • Grumpity:
    • Excited by completing the transition to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the continuing work to optimise Second Life in it new environment.
    • Also the potential for the AWS environment to perhaps offer new products as the company moves forward.
    • The transition took several years to complete, consuming a lot of engineering effort, and it offers the potential to enhance the longevity of Second Life using the best hardware and infrastructure available.
  • Brett:
    • Also excited by the energy within LL that is being driven by the new board. Especially impressed by the way Brad Oberwager (board member and Executive Chairman) frames his thinking in a very customer-centric way (“Hows does this benefit the users? How does it benefit SL?”).
    • The ability to stream content into Second Life, as originally demonstrated in the Adult Swim streaming of episodes from The Shivering Truth in May 2020. This is a capability that has meaningful enterprise and educational applications
  • Madori: not so much excited by given the circumstances, but pleased in the way people have seen Second Life as a means to maintain contact while socially distanced. In this, the incoming new owners with their drive to grow the platform has been fortuitous.

What is the greatest concern about education in virtual environments like Second Life right now?

[Video: 14:13-22:11]

  • Patch: safety. Fortunately, SL has a lot of capabilities to help with this and keeping students safe. The foremost is the RegAPI capabilities, which can be used to create a dedicated on-boarding experience. This allows for elements such as custom name accounts, making identification easier, limiting the number of accounts an organisation is bringing into SL, deliver users directly to a defined in-world location. There’s also the ability to lock regions from being accessed by others and to prevent students leaving the learning spaces, etc.
  • Brett: not a concern, but what has been noticed is that some educators have noted that using second Life as a medium is less intrusive than expecting parents to put heir young children in front of a camera for remote schooling.
  • Grumpity: echoes Brett’s comments, noting that teenagers as well can feel exposed in having to face a camera and be observed by others in close details, whereas SL embodies a freer sense of presence, one that is perhaps more familiar to teenagers today, who have a lot more exposure to have an on-line presence, whilst also maintaining a sense of distance / privacy that can be important.

Questions Arising

Will there be a renewed push, with allocated staff support, for growth in Community Gateways featuring direct SL registration?

  • Madori: the support is already there. In fact, there is a new community gateway that started on Friday, March 19th.

Any thoughts to bring back something like TEEN Grid – where there was more protection for young folks?

  • Grumpity: Teen Grid doesn’t provide the same level of protection and unique features as found in the RegAPI capability.

Many students are using Chromebook and similar, which cannot easily run SL. Is this being addressed?

  • Grumpity: this is understood, and LL are looking to find a potential partner who can help achieve this [streaming solution], as well as internal efforts to being SL to mobile devices [e.g. tablets with keyboard input for a fuller educational experience]

How can educators and the VWBPE community work with Linden Lab in creating and supporting vibrant and engaging learning environments?

[Video: 24:38-36:42]

  • Madori: if you have specific ideas that may benefit SL – reach out to the Lab; it may be something that is feasible and could benefit the community as a whole. LL can better visualise needs by hearing about them.
  • Brett:
    • From a Marketing and communications aspect, is extremely interested in hearing about case studies, success stories and innovative uses of the platform that can both help promote the community concerned and demonstrate the relevance of SL.
    • Lab Gab is a potential opportunity for educators to tell their stories to the wider SL audience.
  • Grumpity:
    • Would be every interested in finding out more about the learning management tools educators use and what they are looking for in learning platforms and tools – although the volume that were suggested by the audience illustrates the problems in trying to offer a solution that will satisfy all needs.
    • Also wanted to mention the turnkey solutions LL have developed specifically for educators. These can be found at Explore Second Life.

Continue reading “VWBPE 2021: Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori Linden”

VWBPE 2021: Patch Linden – the board, Second Life, and more

VWBPE 2021

On Thursday, March 18th, 2021 Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations and a member of the company’s management team, attended the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference in the first of three special events featuring representative from Linden Lab.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

Notes:

  • This is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.
  • In places, information that is supplementary to Patch’s comments is provided in square braces (i.e. [ and ]) are used in the body text below to indicate where this is the case.

Linden Lab’s New Board

[Video: 4:04-10:55]

[For additional information on the new board members, please also see: Meet Linden Lab’s new board of directors (January 9th, 2021) and Linden Lab’s board of directors: snippets of news (February 4th, 2021).]

Linden Lab’s board of directors (l to r): Brad Oberwager, J. Randall Waterfield and Raj Date
  • New ownership team is a “joy to work with”.
  • Brad Oberwager is particularly active, and has the avatar name Oberwolf Linden  and is described as “a lot of fun” to be around and to work with. [He is both on the board and serves as Executive Chairman on the management team.]
Brad Oberwager has joined the Lab’s management team as Executive Chairman, and his long-time colleague, Cammy Bergren serving as Chief of Staff
  • As Executive Chairman Brad Oberwager’s aim is to see Second life set as the “largest and best” virtual world,  and has a genuine love for the platform.
  • Both J. Randal Waterfield and Raj Date (particularly) appear to lean more towards the Tilia Pay side of things, with Brad Oberwager more “in the middle”. However, this doesn’t mean there is a dichotomy. Tilia is a key component of Second Life (it runs the entire Linden Dollar eosystem), and Tilia’s own success and growth will benefit SL.
    • [Tilia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Linden Research (Linden Lab). It’s board comprises two members of the Linden Research Board: Brad Oberwager and Raj Date), together with Aston Waldman, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Linden Lab. The management team comprises: members of the the Lab’s management team: Aston Waldman, David Kim, Ray Johnson, Emily Stonehouse and Brett Attwood.]
    • The two entities enjoy a symbiotic relationship: Tilia is owned by Linden Research with Linden Research also a primary customer. However, day-to-day operations are carried out by two separate  teams.
  • [48:48-49:59] The new owners are bringing a tremendous new energy to Linden Lab, and are “super enthusiastic” about growing Second Life, including its educational use. What gets to be invested in the platform will only benefit everyone.
    • The key question Brad Oberwager asks and prompts people to ask is, “How will it benefit the residents, and how will it benefit Second Life?”

SL Short-Term and Longer Term

Priorities for the Second Life Team in the Next 12 Months

[Video: 10:57-16:02]

  • Immediate priority is to increase the Second Life active user base. This is very much being driven as a goal by Brad Oberwager, and includes:
    • “Drilling down into” the new user experience.
    • Refactoring the on-boarding process and orientation islands.
    • The work will include viewer-side changes that are intended to “smooth out a lot of the bumps in the road”.
    • The will will be built on two years of active study and A/B testing to try to determine what the on-boarding path should look like, together with learning from users returning to Second life as a a result of the SARS-CoV-2 impact.
    • It is hoped this work will both help LL improve user retention and also feed through to the community gateways, particularly with regards to the upcoming changes which will be made to the viewer.
    • No specifics provided, but the viewer changes are described as:
      • “New UIs”
      • Refreshed looks.
      • Easier to find information.
  • There is also the need to complete the work of transitioning to AWS – fixing the current issues directly related to the move and also on-going work to properly leverage the AWS environment for the benefit of the platform.
    • [29:24-30:00] This work includes a  lot of under-the-hood simulator performance improvements that will be continuing throughout the year.

Second Life in Five Years Time

[Video: 16:04-19:33]

  • The company would like to at least double the active user population over the next 3-5 years.
  • This is seen as a realistic goal in light of the shift in emphasis seen within business, education, etc., from purely physical world interactions towards more digitally-based interactions / hybrid opportunities that mix various formats [e.g. digital + virtual + remote working / learning].
  • AWS offers the potential for regions to be geographically located around the world, potentially bringing them closer to their core audience.
    • This could allow educational regions, for example, to be hosted much closer to the schools / colleges / students they serve, making them more responsive.
    • This approach could potentially start to be used towards the end of 2021.
  • Further out, geolocating regions could potentially offer the ability for the Lab to offer white label grids to specific customers / groups.
  • [24:00-28:25] White label grids present the opportunity for the Lab to better meet specific client requests to remove features and capabilities from the viewer – and also take features an capabilities required for a specific environment and potentially make them available across the entire Second Life product.
    • Two examples of the latter already exists: the new extended chat range feature available to region owners, and the Chrome Embedded Framework updates that allow video to be streamed into Second Life, as originally demonstrated in the Adult Swim streaming of episodes from The Shivering Truth in May 2020.

What Lessons has LL Learned due to the Pandemic?

[Video: 20:31-24:00]

  • The pandemic, particularly as a result of attempts to leverage the platform for education, business and similar use by organisations and groups, reinforced the fact that the new user experience needs to the overhauled.
  • It has also underlined the fact that people’s usage habits have changed.
  • The Land Team in particular has learned a lot about business, etc., needs of clients – the team deals directly with such requests as they come in to the Lab, and so have been dealing first-hand with understanding client requirements, determining the best for of assistance (e.g. providing one of the Lab’s turn-key solutions or brokering contact between the client and a solution provider who can meet their requirements.

Pricing and Options

[Video: 30:27-34:17]

  • Nothing on the roadmap related to pricing; land costs should remain untouched through the rest of the year.
  • There is the potential for AWS to allow the Lab to develop new region products; this is something that may start to be looked at 12-24 months hence.
  • AWS might also allow for on-demand spin-up of regions, initially building on the idea of Homestead holders being able to take a temporary upgrade to a Full region to run a specific event, then downsizing back to a Homestead.

Competition and Experimentation

[Video: 34:39-45:58]

  • Competition helps drive innovation.
  • There is no Lab-based group specifically tasked with investigation competitive platforms, but staff tend to try them out through their own interest.
  • Attention is paid to how other platforms adopt newer technologies and the challenges encountered in such adoptions.
  • There is still no real, direct competitor to Second Life in terms of size, flexibility of use, or in having an in-built content creation tool set.
  • LL don’t regard users as beta testers per se. However, major new features do require trialling / testing, which can involve selected users / tried at scale to determine feasibility / performance, etc. Sometimes the result is a capability has to be withdrawn as it is not performant enough (e.g. the VR headset viewer) and / or negatively impacts the user experience.

Oz Linden’s Departure

[Video: 46:09-46:56]

  • Oz was a fabulous colleague to work with. His retirement leaves a “gaping chasm” at the Lab.