VWBPE 2020: Above the Book with Ebbe and Patch – summary

via vwbpe.org

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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Educational Discount and Work Opportunities in SL

Educational Discount

[18:48-19:45]

  • 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.

Business / Work Opportunities

[20:14-24:17]

  • 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.

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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.
  • [1:10:55-1:11:41] Given the current pandemic and the situation with the Second Norway / Sailors Cove East estates (see Second Norway & Sailor’s Cove East: rumours & statements), is LL considering providing region holder who are facing financial issues / lack of income due to SARS-Cov-2 some form of relief?
    • 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.
    • [EA – 59:10-1:01:55]:
      • 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?
    •  Yes.
    • [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.
  • [49:55-51:47] On the sale of Sansar  [EA]:
    • 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.

SL13B: Dee and Patch – land and experiences in Second Life

Saffia, Patch, Dee and Zander - Meet the Lindens
Saffia, Patch, Dee and Zander – Meet the Lindens

Update, July 1st: the video of this session has been released by Linden Lab on YouTube, and is embedded at the end of this article.

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Friday, June 24th saw Dee and Patch Linden sit down with Zander Greene and Saffia Widdershins, and this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from my recording of the event.

About Dee and Patch

Dee Linden is the Land Operation Supervisor for the Lab, and her introductions often includes the phrase, “older than the terrain itself”, reflecting her experience from the physical world realty market. She discovered Second Life in 2003, and quickly decided she wanted to be a part of the Lab’s and of Second Life’s growth, taking to dropping note cards on various Lindens, including Char and Philip, encouraging them to consider hiring her.

This happened in around 2005, when she was recruited as a liaison, prior to joining the concierge team, where she was responsible for training Patch. When he moved to set-up the land team, she lobbied him to join the team, where she has a particular interest in supporting non-profits and groups seeking land for events.

Patch Linden started as a Second Life resident, first joining the platform in 2004, and has been a male fashion designer, mentor, and community lead. His efforts with the latter brought him to the attention of the Lab, and it was suggested he consider applying to work for the company.

Initially working as a support agent, he worked his way up through the concierge team, eventually becoming the team’s manager. He later moved to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year prior to pivoting away from support entirely and joining the Product group at the Lab, the group responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life. Here he developed the land operations team, which includes the Land Department of Public Works (LDPW) and the Moles. He’s now the Senior Director of Product Operations, a role in which he is also responsible for the Lab’s support organisation.

Can you tell us about the LDPW and the Moles? They’re actually residents, aren’t they?

Patch: They are, they’re resident contractors … most of them have been working for us going on over five years, and the bulk of the core team is still together today. And we’ve added a good few, many more, to that number; I think we’re up to 22 now. And they run around and enjoy building experiences  and fun things for residents to engage in in-world, like PaleoQuest.

And We’ve got another new big and exciting project that’s on the horizon that’ll probably come out in the near future that I’m not going to talk too much about, but there’s something coming, and its going to be pretty big … It’s a big project, I think the count of regions  is somewhere above 20, maybe below 30,  and it will be an addition to the Mainland, and there is an actual gaming experience attach to it.

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrPaleoQuest, July 2015 (Flickr)

How many sims is PaleoQuest? I know it is six, but there are several iterations aren’t there?

Patch: Right, the region count  itself for PaleoQuest is six, the core gaming regions. And there are, I think we’re up to three or four instances right now … But we load balance the traffic across the regions so that the game play  remains smooth and stuff when it gets busy, in the evenings especially.

Linden Realms is, surprisingly, still the biggest experience out there. It’s about double the size in region count and we have the same amount of instances on it, and it sees about three times the amount of traffic that PaleoQuest still does today.

Linden Realms
Linden Realms

It’s kind-of built its own community around itself, hasn’t it? With people who go and play there regularly.

Patch: Yeah, there’s actually a lot of in-world groups that have formed around it; residents just love playing the game, and socialising and stuff while they run around and collect crystals and complete the quests and such. It’s actually really interesting; in the rare  occasion that we ever have a breakdown in the experience, we have to take it down and repair something and bring it back up, the amount of people who reach out to us and say, “Hey! What’s going on? When is it coming back?” and stuff. And we actually have to post status blog messages and stuff just because of the pretty big following that it has …

And a lot of the work that we do, and the experiences that we build, that is one of our primary goals. We want to see people  build up communities and enjoy what we do and socialise in them, have a good time; find something to spend some time doing. And really most importantly, to answer the big golden question for us, which is what is there to do in Second Life, especially with new users when they come in.  We put these experiences out there so that they can go in and get a taste of the various things that they can do.

Dee … you talked about being around since ’03 … Take us back to 2003 and some of your first impressions, and how some of those have maybe evolved and changed as the platform has over these 13 years.

Dee: Wow! That’s a big question! 2003 we were paying for teleports, we were paying prim taxes for every prim you have rezzed, and  the higher up off of the ground that it was, the more you would pay per week. We had the leader boards back then.

Back then there was so much transparency between residents; every week you would see who has the most Linden dollars in-world right now, and I took a screen shot of the week I was number one with L$20,000! That was huge! We’re talking about when there were 17 regions on-line … There were who has the most calling cards, that was one of the leader boards, who has the most land, but like I said, the one with the most money, that was, “Oh my god! I made it! I made it! I’m the richest woman in Second Life!”  So I took a picture of it.

Continue reading “SL13B: Dee and Patch – land and experiences in Second Life”

SL13B: Pete and Xiola – hailing frequencies open!

Kess, Pete, Xiola and Saffia
Kess, Pete, Xiola and Saffia

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Thursday, June 23rd saw Xiola and Pete Linden sit down with Kess Crystal and Saffia Widdershins, and this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from the event. The video of the discussion is embedded at the end of this article.

About Xiola and Pete

Xiola Linden is the Lead Community Manager at Linden Lab. she originally came to Second Life in 2006, and joined the Lab in 2011. Her role is broad-ranging, including elements of customer supporter,  through blogging and social media output for the Lab, to organising events such as the in-world get-togethers and the likes of the SL13B music fest. She leads a team “100% focused” on supporting and serving the communities of Second Life, and who may be travelling in-world as Linden or equally, using her alt for that ground-level “resident eye” look at things.

During her time in Second Life, Xiola has enjoyed many roles: DJ, designer, shopaholic, music event lover – and outside of her official account still finds time for many of these activities.

Pete Linden is the Lab’s Senior Director of Global Communications, a role which sees him leading the company’s PR work and managing the Marketing team, covering all of the Lab’s activities and products – Second Life, Blocksworld and Project Sansar.

He joined Linden Lab in 2009 from a PR firm which representing the company, and became a PR specialist and then PR Manager, before moving to manage the PR and communications team and thence to his current role, which includes overall management of all of the Lab’s communications activities – PR, marketing, communications and community management.

What were your first impressions on joining the Lab? Was it what you were expecting?   

Pete: For me it was, but part of that was because I’d had the good fortune of working with a number of people quite closely at Linden Lab for about three years before I made the move. I was working pretty closely with Catherine Linden Melissa Linden and some others at that time. So, I had a pretty good sense of what the company was like, how things worked here.

And obviously, that’s  changed over the past number of years; Linden, like Second Life has been through quite an evolution. But it’s still the most exciting and most fun job that I’ve ever had. It’s a great place to be.

Xiola: It’s interesting because I had actually been watching the careers page at Linden Lab for quite a while, waiting for the right opportunity to arise. The timing ended up being perfect and it worked-out really well.

One of Xiola's many looks
One of Xiola’s many looks

So that aside, I think – it’s a tough question, because like Pete mentioned, the people here are some of like the coolest, smartest people you’ll ever meet. So every day there’s something surprising. It’s kind of how I feel about the Second Life community, which sort-of makes sense, that the people working here, working on Second Life, have similarities with our community as well, because they are the community as well.

But there’s always some things that surprises me about people, and it’s almost, I would say, 99.9% of the time delightful. And so in that regard, I really didn’t know what to expect coming here, and I enjoyed that, actually. I was excited about something new and different, even though I had been a resident and understood the product from a resident’s perspective. My background had been more in straight Internet, web and e-commerce sites, and that sort of thing.

So I came here, and it was almost like, “These are my people! This is my tribe!” And it’s continued to be that way over the years, it’s very cool. But the people I have as friends before and after Linden Lab have that similarity. I really appreciate when people surprise me; and I definitely get that every day here.

I think Oz was talking about not going a week without the residents surprising him with something; that really is a common theme, I think, internally as well as externally. It’s really cool. You definitely have to be on your toes, but it’s fun!

Do you still use your other avatar?

Xiola: Every day, actually. Well, lately because of all the Second Life 13th Birthday coordination stuff, I’ve definitely been spending more time on Xiola, even “after hours”, even though no such thing really exists. So, my alt has been a little bit neglected. But I still actually log her in every day, if only to check notices and note cards, as my alt is a creator and I want to make sure I stay on top of that stuff as well. I would hate to go a few days and come back to note cards from customers or something like that, wondering, “what the heck?”

So I spend time on my alt every day. and between her and Xiola, spend a lot of Lindens updating our avatars all the time!

I guess from a marketing and community point of view though, having the alt allows you to do a certain amount of mystery shopping and see how people are engaged in the community. Do you get a lot of feedback on the alt?

Xiola: I do. So, I mean obviously it not like I go around interviewing people or asking when I’m on my alt, that would be a little obvious. But I hang out in places, and people will be having conversations about things, and you definitely get a different perspective when folks don’t know there’s a Linden present. And I try to treat it that way; I mean when I’m doing alt things, I respect the alt code, I’m a resident right now, not a Linden! So there’s definitely some interesting things.

And even some of the outside Second Life stuff, some of the communities that exist on Plurk and Facebook; they definitely have a different perspective. But funnily enough, it’s sort-of like they say, two different parties can have the same goal, but they’re just using different words for it; at the end of the day, I think at the end of the day, a lot of it aligns. And maybe it’s just coming from a different perspective,  the feedback I hear externally and the feedback I hear in here, I think a lot of it actually lines up really well. So that’s kind of kismet and kind of cool.

Continue reading “SL13B: Pete and Xiola – hailing frequencies open!”

SL13B talks: Oz and Landon inside Second Life

Oz Linden (centre, left) and Landon Linden (centre, right), flanked by Saffia and Elrik
Oz Linden (centre, left) and Landon Linden (centre, right), flanked by Saffia and Elrik

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Wednesday, June 22nd saw Oz and Landon Linden sit down with Elrik Merlin and Saffia Widdershins, this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from my own recording of the event. Note that these are not necessarily presented in the order items were discussed during the session; to maintain a sense of flow, I have grouped some items together. However, for those who would like to hear things chronologically, the video the session  is embedded at the end of this article.

About Oz and Brandon

Oz Linden
Oz Linden

Oz Linden is perhaps best known for his work with the viewer and open-source communities in Second Life. He joined the company in 2010, and is perhaps one of Second life’s most unabashed and proud promoters.

Starting in support of the Lab / open-source community relations, Oz moved upwards and forwards in the company, managing the relationship between the Lab and the third-party viewer community, and thence on to Director of Engineering, and lobbying for the post of Technical Director for Second Life  when the Lab commenced re-aligning itself to manage two large-scale core products: Second Life and Project Sansar.

He has a strong background in open-source development and in web technologies, including voice applications, communications protocols and defining industry standards definition. He notes of working for the Lab:

Working on Second Life comes with some odd benefits… you get to pick your own avatar name, and it turns out that’s what everyone at work calls you by. So I became Oz Linden. Four years later, I’m the Director responsible for Second Life core product engineering, and having more fun than a barrel of virtual monkeys.

Landon Linden is the Lab’s VP Operations and Platform Engineering, a post he has held since December 2013. Originally a research chemist with a long-term involvement in MUDDs and MMOs, he decided that there were probably saner pastures in which to work than research chemistry (he relates with a smile), and so hopped over into IT, working in consultancy prior to telecommunications before joining Linden Lab in August 2008 as a Lead Systems Engineer.

Landon Linden
Landon Linden

Since that time, he’s been literally at the heart of Linden lab and Second Life, initially leading the engineering team that designs and implements the network, infrastructure, and low-level systems on which Second Life runs as well as managing the team responsible for creating all the Lab’s internal applications:  support tools, service administration apps, and continuous integration systems including test automation.

In October 2011 he became Director of Systems Engineering and Operations, responsible for technical operations and platform engineering (data centre, network, system infrastructure, build systems, internal tools, and application security) as well integrating some of the Lab’s third-parties service (Amazon AWS, CDN providers). From here he moved on to Senior Director Platform Engineering and Operations, overseeing the team which creates the platform for all Linden Lab products (e.g. platforms, payments, virtual currency, data warehouse) and ensuring  production services run as smoothly as possible. With his move to VP Operations and Platform Engineering, Landon now also oversees the  foundational infrastructure and services being developed for Project Sansar.

It’s interesting you have this cross-over between chemistry and virtual worlds. do you see any kind of common ground, apart from the madness?!

Landon: I think about this a lot, and I really wish I could come up with a really interesting answer, but I don’t. In terms of what I was doing in chemistry and what we do in Linden Lab; I don’t see a lot of base overlap. One of the things that I used every day in chemistry and what I tend to use in my job today is the underlying methods can be similar, particularly with regards to statistics.

… One of the things that fascinates me about virtual worlds is that it is a human-created space but it’s also part of the machine; it’s in the computer. And so we have lots of information, just like social networks, about what is happening, how people are behaving. So, one of the things that has always fascinated me is sociology, psychology and economics. What frustrated me about those disciplines back in my hard science days, back working as a chemist, it was very difficult, and it remains very difficult, to do hard science research on that. And in virtual worlds, there’s this kind of perfect collision of the kind-of fuzzier side of science and the things you can directly measure.

Economics in particular is something that I’ve been desperately interested in, and I think most economists would just drool to see what is happening, directly measure what’s happening, in the Second Life economy.

Oz: I think those disciplines are not as far apart as you think they are; at least based on my experience. I have a whole bunch of former chemists that I’ve worked with in programming over the years, and I think the thought processes are very similar.

Landon:  I think it’s worth pointing out though, that I think that virtual worlds and Second Life in particular can be tremendous tools in teaching people about chemistry. In fact I have a story – I will spare you the gory details – but I had a professor in college who just put it quite plainly that everything you needed to know about organic chemistry is summed-up in two kinds of principles.

Texas A&M interactive learning environment demonstrating how Second Life can be used for teaching chemistry
Texas A&M interactive learning environment demonstrating how Second Life can be used for teaching chemistry

One is electronic effects, and that essentially means that negative or opposite charges are attracted to each other, or like charges repel each other. And stereoelectronic effect, which essentially means you can’t fit a square peg through a round hole. And if you can visualise what is happening in a chemical reaction, it will help you understand whether or not something’s going to work, or at what rate it will work. So virtual worlds can be a really powerful educational tool for chemists, to help them understand that, “Oh these things actually have physical size, and they willing fit together if they want.” And we’ve seen some of that.

Continue reading “SL13B talks: Oz and Landon inside Second Life”

SL13B: Ebbe on the Lab, Second Life, Sansar and more

Jo Yardley, Ebbe Linden and Zander Greene
Jo Yardley, Ebbe Linden and Zander Greene

Update: Pey’s law came into effect. 45 minutes after I published this report, the video of the discussion appeared on YouTube. I’ve therefore embedded it at the foot of this introduction.

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These are opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Tuesday, June 21st saw Zander Greene and Jo Yardley putting audience questions to Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, in his persona of Ebbe Linden. The following is a transcript of the session, focusing on the questions and answers, including audio extracts from my own recording of the event.

The discussion started with a brief re-cap of Ebbe’s background prior to his arrival at the Lab in February 2014. You can read my own short profile on him, and also his own feedback on that profile and the comments which followed it.

This transcript picks up with questions around Ebbe’s times at linden Lab, and I’ve attempted to split topics logically between those between Ebbe and linden Lab, Project Sansar and Second Life. As such, the questions in the following sections are not in the order presented during the discussion, and may not reflect any video of the event which is produced.

Please use the links below to jump directly to topics of interest.

Quick Links

SL13B talks: amplifying the awesome with Torley and Brett

Torley (l) and Brett (r) flanks by Jessica with a slice of watermelon and Saffia
Torley (l) and Brett (r) flanks by Jessica with a slice of watermelon and Saffia

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These are opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Monday, June 20th saw Torley and Brett Linden sit down with Jessica Lyon and Saffia Widdershins, this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from my own recording of the event. To hear the conversation in its entirety, please refer to the video at the end of this article.

About Brett and Torley

Brett Linden is the Digital Content Manager at Linden Lab, as is most likely best known for his work overseeing the Second Life Destination Guide.  However, he is involved with multiple marketing initiatives for the company, and while his primary focus is on Second Life, these also involve the Lab’s other two products: Project Sansar and Blocksworld.

A website editor, web content strategist, Brett also teaches digital content creation and promotion at a major university. He is a former print and on-line journalist, who has been published in Billboard, Rolling Stones, Vibe, and Hollywood Reporter, among other publications.  He’s also held managing editor positions at Amazon.com and Real Networks.

Torley Linden really needs no introduction for most people engaged in Second Life. Known for his love of watermelons and their bright, happy colours, he’s been involved with the platform since 2004, initially as a resident before joining the Lab directly, where he has been Amplifiying the Awesome in Second Life through his famous TuTORial  and QuickTip videos, promoting new Second Life features and providing quick bites on how to use the video and do things in-world, his photography, by word of mouth and his very genuine, very infectious enthusiasm.

How did you come to work at Linden Lab?

Torley: I was in a really hard place in my first life, and I discovered Second Life through various sources, and I was reading a lot of cyberpunk and transhumanist literature at the time, thinking about a brighter future for my whole life. And I soon found myself – well, there’s no nicer way to put it than I was utterly obsessed with being here every day, and my Mum would be like, “What are you doing?” “I’m in Second Life!”

So, after several months of this, I had a dream, and I basically sent this crazy, rambling note card to Char linden at the time, And she, Robin, Philip and Daniel Linden  – those are some OG names, if you remember those! – at the time they gave me the opportunity to apply. So I went through that – guess it turned out OK; so yeah, leading up to the present, I’m so very grateful  and also very thankful to be here.

Brett: Well, since I had a background in journalism, I first heard about Second Life during the so-called “hype era”. And you might remember a lot of corporations jumped in, and Reuters, which is a journalistic outlet, had a bureau in Second Life. And I thought that was really crazy, just so random and strange that a legitimate organisation would be in a virtual world . I’d actually played around with other virtual spaces prior, like worlds.net or worlds.com  back in the day, and others, so I’d been an enthusiast for a long, long time.

So when Reuters jumped in, I had to check it out. That was my very, very first  taste of Second Life. When I was there, I met a lot a people and had a lot of deep and interesting conversations about world events; it was just a whole different type of experience to what I’d expected, at much deeper level.

The thing that sort-of locked it down for me was at the end of that conversation, about a two or three-hour text chat, because it was even pre-voice, somebody gave me a hug, which was such a  strange  thing to get hugged in a virtual world; it was just a nice parting, basically. And that just clinched it for me emotionally; I just thought, “Oh my gosh, this is really something else. You can connect with people and actually form really deep relationships. And that’s what did it for me; and I’ve never looked back since.

So when you first came in, Brett you had that really positive experience, Torley, you were very committed to it right from the word go. Have you become full residents, do you have homes and places you see as special to you in Second Life?

Brett:  As you can imagine, I do spend  – and not just with the Destination Guide, which I’m sure we’ll talk about, but outside of my Linden “identity” – I have several alts, many of which are long-time residents and established. And yeah, I do have a place, and I love, for example, the music community and going to live performances. And I love the museums and the arts. I love what is happening with the LEA, the Linden Endowment for the Arts. Not only professionally as a Linden and putting that in the DG, but also just checking them out and being blown away by what is constantly being refreshed in those sims and even outside those sims, across all of the grid.

Torley: The first day I was ever in Second Life, it was sort-of like arriving at the most amazing of airports, you know? Where people are all over, and [there’s] this diversity of avatars. And I’ve mostly been a nomad explorer; I have had homes, and full regions – I still do in fact. But I think the prime thing that really drives me is the force of discovery, and to share those discoveries, and I really get curious, and I love asking people “where did you get your avatar?” or “did you make these parts of your avatar?” or comment on a cool build they’re making – and finding connections. I love introducing wonderful creative minds in Second Life to each other, and we’ve had so many over time.

So I would   say that keeps me going, and it’s really a positive feedback loop. Because when I hear from one resident, that I’m reminded of another resident and I want to introduce them to each other. And as some of you may know, I’m frequently on some of the social media channels. Well, mainly Plurk, but I really, really like to ask, “what’s hot in Second Life right now, what do you enjoy exploring?”

Jessica, Torley, Brett and Saffia
Jessica, Torley, Brett and Saffia

And like Brett touched on, some of the most creative people here, they are very shy and very modest about their work. They don’t see all the awesomeness in it, and sometimes their friends have to kind-of drag them closer to the spotlight even though they don’t want that attention, necessarily. But, we still like to shine a light and say, “Wow!” And once they have that admiration and recognition, they can see their creative work makes a very real and very vibrant [contribution]. It affects other residents when they come and explore, or they take pictures and they post it on their blog and more word gets out.

So, I’m always looking for those sorts of under-mined, under-rated gems that are out-of-the-way of Second Life. I randomly teleport – I got this recent cool backpack to that, this neat device …. but its sort-of this interplay, this dynamic between the chaos and the order, and that’s the stuff I really love; the serendipity – the things that you don’t expect to find, but when you look back, and they sort-of relate to s sort-of grouping. For example, a collection of futuristic, cyberpunk-looking – there’s that word again, but I’m not locked to any single genre.

And I’m always driven to listen to people’s stories. Just like in an airport, someone catches your attention and you start a conversation as a stranger and they may end up telling you the most fascinating, fascinating tales. so for me, yeah, it’s that relentless urge to discover and explore.

Continue reading “SL13B talks: amplifying the awesome with Torley and Brett”