SL18B Meet the Lindens: Brett Linden – summary with video

Thursday, June 24th, 2021 saw the fourth in a series of Meet the Lindens events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Brett Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Marketing.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Table of Contents

Also, information given in braces ({ and ]), has been provided by myself and did not form a part of the conversation.

About Brett Linden

  • 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.
  • Has more then 2 decades of marketing and journalism experience.
  • 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.
  • Was drawn to Second Life after trying the platform during its first burst of media exposure in 2006 – specifically trying to find the CNN and Reuters bureaux that were active in SL at that time.
  • At the same time, he received a grant from the McCormick Foundation to run the Virtual Journalism Summit, some of which took place in-world, allowing him to meet Philip Rosedale.
  • He moved from being a resident to being a Linden in 2007.
  • He is as fascinated and intrigued – and sometimes frustrated – but always illuminated by the platform, the residents, the diversity of use and creativity, etc., today, as he was when he started.
  • Did not work on Sansar to a great extent, his focus has always been on Second Life, which is true for the majority of his team.

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Loss of Ebbe Altberg

[Video: 6:05-9:00]

Brett offered his own words in remembrance of Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO, who passed away recently. Rather than paraphrase him, I’m including an audio recording of his comments.

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

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Second life and the Pandemic

[Video: 10:38-15:23]

  • On a personal level, it’s been tough on the entire marketing team in both the mental toll of being in lockdown, and for some being directly impacted by the loss of others through COVID.
  • The pandemic has caused a lot of attention to be focused on “the metaverse” and virtual worlds / spaces.
  • The early months of the pandemic in 2020 saw a significant spike in SL use in terms of new registrations, concurrency and returning “old” users. This has since dropped, but the metrics are still strong.
  • For the Marketing team, it has meant a major acceleration in workload and pivoting plans and activities, with work levels still at a high level.
  • It felt odd that the pandemic turned the spotlight onto virtual spaces and “the metaverse”, with Second life sharing in some of it, and then working to provide the means for people to leverage the platform to  meet their needs.
  • Even now, media enquiries on the state of Second life remain much higher than they were pre-pandemic, thanks to even tangential things such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs),  so media and PR efforts have had to be extended.
  • LL has hired-in Elizabeth Olsen, who was a founding Executive Editor of Game Informer magazine, as a consultant to support media outreach work, working closely with Brett.

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Marketing Partnerships

[Video: 17:16-25:28]

The NFL Alumni stadium
  • More partnerships coming – possibly in late summer: comics, music, film and graphic novels, etc.
  • All of these are regarded as part of the overall “year of experimenting” for Marketing in an attempt to learn what works / does not work in attracting a new audience.
  • Partnership are not happenstance or based on brand name alone – there is an attempt to build inroads to user engagement where partners have a “fit” with SL and can make active use of the platform.
  • Such partnerships also help with media promotion of SL, allowing LL to point to the partner brands and so generate further media interest.
  • The work is not at the point of bringing in “Triple A” artists, etc., but the partnerships are with well-known entities that are open to using SL to extend their fanbase or their communities.

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Diversity in Marketing

[Video: 27:45-29:57]

  • LL does try to promote diversity in SL, but acknowledges more could be done. Work is put into promoting community work through Flickr and YouTube.
  • Promotional work through the likes of social media is subject to checking that it is being as inclusive as possible given the broad diversity of Second Life communities.
  • The furry community has recently been a focus, but rather than being self-congratulatory about it, the team notes it is something that has been overdue – and their are other communities that also deserve promotion.

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Blogs and Social Media Strategy

[Video: 30:22-36:05]

  • Social media is a core element in promoting Second Life – not just through official channels, but because users themselves are prolific in promoting the platform through their channels. Flickr is s good example of this.
  • LL tries to leverage this organic content to help amplify the community and Second Life.
  • YouTube influencers are another means for the Lab to help promote SL.
  • The Lab’s own content includes the likes of the Destination videos that help highlight locations and communities; the Lab Gab series; Second life Book Club; Music Mondays, the newer Showcase Streams – drop-in livestreams of in-world events; picture of the day, etc.
  • All of this is promoted in the official blogs, but is also amplified to broader audiences as well.
  • There’s also the Second Life Blogger Network (SLBN) that showcases users’ blogs, with 660 bloggers already enrolled.

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External Media Advertising, Paid Ads, and Strategies

[Video: 41:42-48:31]

  • External media advertising is a strategy, and does vary month-by-month due to budget and things like the seasonality of Second Life in terms of balancing ad spend against growth.
  • The Marketing budget also covers general PR for Second Life.
  • A portion of the Marketing budget does go on ad spend / performance marketing (where advertisers pay marketing companies or advertising platforms for results achieved, such as clicks or conversion). This has seen an accelerated return over the last two years, again possible due to the pandemic.
  • A new area the Lab is now looking at is on-line video advertising. This has been taking the form of 30-second clips from the Destination videos produced for LL, which are pushed to various channel for promotion (and are not necessarily seen on the Lab’s main YouTube channel).
  • Another area for advertising is via cord-cutting platforms (essentially people moving away from traditional satellite and cable services and into streaming services, many of which are ad-supported).  This offers enormous potential for ad placement, as is something the Lab is looking at.
  • Most / all of these strategies are developed by Darcy Linden, who is now the Director of Marketing, and who has a wealth of experience in the digital advertising sphere.
  • Another aspect of the Marketing work is the brand refresh and renewing the message of what does Second Life mean to different audiences – and what it could mean to those who have never heard of it.
  • The “win back” campaign is a further spoke in the wheel – trying to win back users who have stopped using SL for whatever reason.
    • [1:23:36-1:26:47] one aspect of this is an incentive (Linden Dollars of varying amounts) and rewards (free virtual gifts) based approach. Such approaches are not uncommon in the US, and the Lab has achieved reasonable success with it.
    • Another approach to to win back former users organically – showing them the value of coming back (e.g. reconnecting with old friends, showing them new opportunities for engagement / discovery, etc.).
    • When handled correctly, such campaigns can be very successful, but they also can be difficult to get right, simply because people can leave a platform for a wide range of reasons; thus there is a lot more to be done in refining the work in this area, but the results have been pleasing.

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General Q&A

The following is a selection of the questions that generated fuller answers and / or had a marketing lean.

  • [36:10-41:00] Helping in-world Businesses market themselves: is there a way LL can help in-world business promote themselves and reach a wider audience?
    • First off – full credit to the likes of Seraphim and blogs that do similar work.
    • Also appreciates all the e-zines produced by SL users and made available through the likes of issuu.com.
    • LL wants to support these endeavours and draw attention to them, again through featuring on the SLBN pages, etc.
    • There are also obviously tools such as the Destination Guide, the Marketplace and events listings that can all be leveraged by users, creators and communities.
    • A new service people can sign-up to is the events e-mail list.
    • There’s also the official Message of the Day (MOTD) in the viewer’s log-in screen which can at times be used to promote events [note: some TPVs generate their own MOTD, so this may differ from what is seen in the official viewer].
  • [48:33-53:44] How can SL residents help promote the platform?
    • Word of Mouth. Now more than ever, SL is something to be proud of in the way it enables social connections through situations like this pandemic, and give people the means to reach out, connect and share.
    • Not everyone may be comfortable is talking about their involvement with the platform, but for those who are, the encouragement to do so is there to do so by showing off activities, sharing with friends, etc.
    • Also – be kind to newcomers within the platform; help them with any issues they may be having, be welcoming, etc. As much as the sign-up and New User Experience is for on-boarding, a big slice of whether newcomers stay or not is how the local population respond to them.
  • [1:02:33-1:05:59] What do you think SL will be like when it turns 20?
    • This has been a topic of discussion within the Lab already, simply because it is such a milestone, including the potential for product and feature sets, but these are outside of the Marketing remit to discuss.
    • On a personal perspective, essentially cracking the challenge that ensures incoming users have an experience that matches the promise of whatever ad , etc., than brought them through the door, and where the basics of just on-boarding and customising an avatar are so straightforward, the churn of users arriving and leaving is greatly reduced, and the entire process is much more engaging and encourages people to stay and learn and explore.
  • [1:08:09-1:09:36] Is the Lab entirely US-centric?
    • The Marketing Team is entirely US-centric, and the company by its nature is US-centric [being based in California, etc.]
    • There are contractors (the Moles) who are more global in nature.
  • [1:14:45-1:16:32] Will Mainland be promoted?
    • Mainland is an area where the Marketing team needs to do more.  There are unique characteristics available there – such as the ability to  explore on foot or by vehicles.
    • LL have done a six-part video series on the Second Life Rail Road (SLRR), which covered the Mainland tracks, and more could be done in that vein.
  • [1:18:27-1:22:43] Could LL get Facebook to allow the use of accounts in avatar names?
    • Aware that this has been a problem for many SL / Facebook users, and that some have worked around it by using Facebook pages.
    • It would be good for those wish wish, and who prefer to use their SL identities over their wallet identities to be able to use Facebook, although that’s a policy decision on FB’s part.
    • Equally, is aware that many SL users either do not want to use Facebook, and/or only want their SL identities in the public eye, and so doesn’t want to give the impression either of these choices would be at risk; it is purely in the context of helping those who want to do so, not forcing SL users to use it.
  • [1:27:02-1:31:15] Why doesn’t Twitch allow streaming from SL? Can this be changed?
    • Second Life is currently on the Twitch restricted games list due to SL supporting full freedom of expression, including adult content, which can fall outside of Twitch’s usage guidelines. This is obviously Twitch’s choice
    • There are clearly strategic reasons why LL would like to see Twitch allow streaming from SL; however, LL also don’t want to compromise the integrity of SL and all of its communities by changing the platform purely to allow streaming to Twitch.
    •  As such, there is a dialogue between the two companies that may lead to this being changed,  although it is early days, and nothing can be promised purely from LL’s side on whether Twitch will change their view of SL.
  • [1:31:23-1:36:38] Can LL get rock groups in to SL?
    • LL is looking at entertainment / brand partnerships that are a good fit. Established musicians are among some of those the Lab is talking to. The beauty here is that this is a low-risk, potentially mutually beneficial approach that lets both LL and the partner concerned try something, and explore what works / doesn’t work.
    • Critical aspects to consider (from the potential partner’s perspective) is the the potential audience reach, quality and integrity of the experience, will there been an option to embedded merchandise / e-commerce into the experience,  etc. However, there are brands and artists that LL is is discussion with, and one may be announced in the near future.
    • These initiatives should not been seen as trying to take anything away from SL’s own vibrant music community – live performers and DJs. They are purely about raising the platforms visibility and trying to extend its audience reach,.
    • Virtual cinemas and working with the likes of Titmouse is another approach.
    • [In a somewhat different context, Duran Duran once dabbled in Second Life, and in 2011 there was a competition run in SL on behalf of the group.]
  • [1:42:50-1:45:00] Has LL engaged with the arts community / museums, etc., for Marketing? Have there been successes?
Virtual Peale in Second Life
  • [1:45:51-1:50:02] What is the Lab’s strategy for attracting young adults to the platform?
    • This is an important aspect, given the success of Roblox over the last couple of years. While that audience is predominantly of an age that is too young for SL, they are a potential audience for the future as they start to look for more sophisticated creative outlets. So the question is how can SL be positioned for this, particularly given an audience from something like Roblox will already be well-versed in the concepts of user-generated content and sandbox-style environments.
    • Should Second Life itself seek a younger audience? That’s a tougher question. Yes, it would be nice to have broader, younger engagement if the platform were set-up to support it. However, the platform is mature, does have sophisticated [adult] content, so a lot of capabilities [/safeguards] that are not currently in place would be needed in  order for the platform to accommodation minors;  so how would the platform reach a younger audience without jeopardising what has been achieved would need to be carefully addressed.
    • In addition, the product development teams are developing a roadmap of feature sets that might open up or restrict how SL would be amenable / agreeable to a younger audience.
    • LL  also looks at the senior demographic as well as  an opportunity, but ultimately, what SL does today, and does well, has to be a significant factor in marketing the platform.
  • [1:51:25-1:53:08] Can LL help support those who manage communities in SL – promotion, etc?
    • From a marketing perspective, always want to support those who support SL and a positive user experience, with a particular emphasis on new users coming into the platform who are critical to growth. So in this regard, there is the Community Gateway Programme.
    • If people have a proposal for how LL can help support communities, then please submit it to the leadership team.
  • [1:54:14-End] Will data / metrics on SL use be made more regularly available for journos, etc?
    • Data does play a big role in Marketing [see: The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing], but this does not mean that everything is purely driven by algorithms. There is a combination of analysis and data collection to ensure marketing efforts aren’t skewed in a certain direction.
    • In terms of general metrics, LL does try to be transparent, although there are some data points that are not made public. The stats that are vetted for accuracy and publicly shared include:
      • Total registered accounts: +70 million.
      • Average daily usage: currently 200,000 users across 200 countries.
      • GDP: equivalent to US $600 million.
      • Creator cash-outs in last 12 months: over US $80 million.
    • It may be possible to put these stats on the SL website.

Feedback on Marketing

[Video: 26:00-27:39]

Feedback on marketing campaigns, on ideas, etc., can be given through the following channels:

  • E-mail editor@lindenlab.com.
  • In-world IM.
  • Official forums.

SL18B Meet the Lindens: Grumpity Linden – summary with video

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 saw the third in a series of Meet the Lindens events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Grumpity Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product and interim Vice President of Engineering.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Table of Contents

Also, information given in braces ({ and ]), has been provided by myself and do not form a part of the conversation.

About Grumpity Linden

  • Heads up Second Life Product team, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.
  • Originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab, and she was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).
  • She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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Loss of Ebbe Altberg

Grumpity offered her own recollections on Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO, who passed away recently. As with the other summaries in this series, I’m including her comments as an audio file, rather than paraphrasing her words, which can be heard in the first 10 minutes of the video.

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

Change of Roll and in the leadership Team with Oz’s Departure

[Video 4:38-7:10]

  • Misses working with Oz, and views their relationship at the Lab one of partners working together.
  • Has been terrifying since his departure, as her responsibilities have expanded to cover his teams, but also finds it exciting to face the new challenges until the new VP of Engineering joins LL.
    • The new VP has apparently been hired, and will be starting “soon-ish”.
  • Fortunately, the overall leadership team hasn’t seen too much upset with Oz’s departure, as they all work well together.

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Migration to AWS

[Video: 9:58-17:10]

  • LL operated the “old school” approach of running their own hardware and infrastructure in a dedicated environment [the co-location facility in Arizona], with operations very much locked-in to that environment, with periodic upgrades and purchase / replacement of existing hardware.
  • With AWS, Second Life is now hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS).  The advantages are:
    • LL able to focus on core competency of running and enhancing SlL and not have to worry about managing the underpinning hardware and infrastructure.
    • There are no longer periodic blocks of capital expenditure that must planned and be made to replace aged / depreciated hardware, etc.
    • LL can be more nimble in responding to the needs of SL by having a large pool of server types from which to choose from, and the ability to “tier up” to new and faster hardware as the need arises.
    • This offers the potential for new and enhanced land product offerings, the potential to geolocate servers closer to their primary audience etc.
  • Most of the transition work went smoothly, although due to certain hardware assumptions, there were some issues [e.g. the Map tile update problem] that took time to correct – although many of the issues towards the end of the process  were more to do with trying to operate one or two services in the co-lo facility when everything else was running via AWS.
  • The move has not reduced operational costs: the servers are still running 24/7, and Amazon obviously charge for this, and financial savings were not the motivator for the move: it was about ensuring SL’s longevity.

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Roadmap for Next 12 months

[Video 22:37-25:57 and 53:18-54:48]

  • Performance and stability are an on-going project across multiple area – script processing, region crossings [physical and teleport], viewer performance, Search performance, etc.
  • Simulator-wise, there will be experiments in different server types and what gives better performance for different use cases.
  • Further out there will also be the potential for new land product offerings [e.g. the “event tier regions” Patch referenced in his session].
  • There may be experiments around geolocating servers and simulators based on audience location, although it will be some time before the Lab will be in a position to offer this.
  • [53:18-54:14] The New User Experience, which involves Product operations, Marketing, viewer development and simulator engineering, and extends beyond just the on-boarding process to encompass how new users get to understand the platform, get to connect with others, how the platform is marketed to both new audience and to those who were once users but have fallen away & get them re-engaged, etc.
  • [54:15-54:48] Making the process of customising the avatar easier to understand and do. [See also Patch’s comment on New Starter avatars.]

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Graphics Related Topics

  • [26:02-29:30] EEP: had a rough roll-out and slow adoption period, but is now being more widely used, although there are currently no plans to enhance it at this point in time.
  • [35:55-38:53] ARCTan: an attempt to re-evaluate avatar rendering costs and the cost of in-world scene rendering.
    • The current focus on avatar rendering cost / impact, with the in-world scene rendering / LI to be tackled at some point in the future.
    • A viewer is currently in development that pulls together all the rendering information together and better presents it to the user. The idea is to provide users with more complete data on their viewer performance such that they can make informed decisions on what to do to improve things.
    • [This work is reported on in my regular Content Creation User Group meeting summaries.]
    • Beyond ARCTan the Lab is looking at performance, scene complexity and rendering as a whole in an attempt to improve viewer-side performance for as many people as possible.
  • [38:57-39:25] Support for VR headsets is not off the table, but there are a lot of things that would need to be done in order for SL to offer meaningful support for VR.
  • 45:10-46:15] updating the viewer code to better utilised multi-core processors is something the Lab is looking to address, but no time frames as to when it might be seen.
  • [48:04-48:38] While the rendering system is to be improved, there are no plans to switch to a commercial engine such as Unreal or Unity at present, although this does not mean the idea is entirely off the table long-term.

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Open-Source Viewer Development

[Video 29:56-33:03]

  • The Lab remains committed to open-source development for the viewer, and values the input and contribution from the open-source  / third-party viewer community.
  • While it is acknowledged the open-source path can be difficult at times, it is equally acknowledged the open-source nature of the viewer is a positive force within and for Second Life.
  • The third-party viewer (TPV) development community is kept in mind at the Lab when developing new viewer features [and similarly, the TPV / open-source community offer viewer code contributions to LL for incorporation into the official viewer].

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SL Mobile

[Video: 34:05-35:48]

  • The iOS version of the SL Mobile communications app is in alpha, and should be going to beta “soon”.
  • It will not support 3D rendering from the outset, but is solely focused on communications.
  • [An Android version is in development, but is some way behind the iOS version.]
  • [For periodic SL Mobile updates in this blog, use my SL Mobile tag and my Web User Group meeting summaries.]

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General Q&A

This section covers the majority of questions that were responded to in some detail. Note that questions specific to the topics given above are included under those topic headings.

  • [17:12-19:03 ] Search and Group Chat:
    • It is recognised that Search is “wonky” at presents, and the engineers are looking into matters, although there is likely to be more than one issue that will need to be addressed.
    • Some changes will be rolling out to help with stability, but there is still more investigation to be done before fixes for specific issues with Search results, etc. can be deployed.
    • Group chat is regarded as a “labour of love”, with work routinely being carried out to try to resolve issues and improve performance.
  • [19:19-20:27] Teleport Failures: there has been an increase in reports of teleport failures / viewer disconnects during teleport
    • LL is aware of these reports, although teleport metrics gathered show a 98% success rate across the grid of teleports.
    • It is believed that the this might be because the problems being experienced are not being reported as teleport failures, or the metrics simply aren’t picking them up. Either way, the issue is subject to investigation and analysis.
  • [41:26-43:00] Mini-Map and security orbs: Could parcels using security orbs / systems be annotated on the mini-Map in the same way as parcels using ban lines?
    • Probably not. A better solution would be to improve the means by which those travelling the grid get forewarning about active security systems.
  • [49:56-51:30] “Sub groups” and Group categories: Has consideration been to given to implementing some form of sub-group system (e.g. a separate category of groups purely for land management)?
    • Might be better to re-examine how Groups work and offer alternative functionality for cases where they are used, but are not potentially the best mechanism to achieve the desired goal.
    • Categorising Groups by use type might also work.
  • [51:48-53:16] Bigger oceans: Can the grid be made more “world-like” with bigger oceans?
    • Whilst a cool idea, LL needs to focus on priority items [There is also the fact that large number of Void (water) regions require servers = increased cost to LL, as noted by Patch in his session.]
  • [57:21-59:07] Jira and issue reporting: Can there be an alternative to filing a Jira / raising a ticket for reporting / getting information on issues (e.g. a “non-technical” user group for dealing the technical issues, providing information via e-mail etc.)?
    • There are already multiple channels by which issues can be reported – Jira, user group meetings with dates and SL times via the SL public calendar as well, support channels, etc.
    • Adding more channels further dilutes how information is received and managed & also dilutes the time available to investigate an work on issues.
  • [59:19-1:01:15] Simulator release information: Where can people go to find out what has changed following server deployments and creators can actually test changes in advance, as release notes don’t always give sufficient information?
    • LL tries to be as open as possible about the issues they are working on; however, sever-side, it’s not always prudent to cover some issues in-depth [as doing so can accidentally reveal information on the inner workings of the simulators that some might try to exploit].
  • [1:01:29-1:01:57] Off-line inventory management: Would it be possible to organise inventory off-line?
    • There are actually a couple of proposals for how this might be approached, but this is not currently a project that is being actively worked on.
  • [1:03:01-1:04:22] Scripting language: Could a more conventional (JavaScript / C++, etc.), scripting language be adopted?
    • It would be a huge projects and the costs (in terms of implementation / amount of work involved,  / potential impact, etc), would have to be weighed again potential benefits.
    • It is unlikely to be a project for the short-term,  but nothing is off the table.
  • [1:04:36-1:07:07] Simplifying mesh clothing: Can there be a means to make mesh clothing be more of a “one size fits all” ability, rather than having individual fits for individual body types?
    • Trying to introduce a new “standard” is not easy, as it will simply join all the other “standards” already available. However, there are probably ways in which some of the variants could be “tightened up”, and this is what is being thought about.
    • While there will always be exceptions, due to the ability to create customised avatar  forms (e.g. stick figures), such that any solution is unlikely to work for everyone, it doesn’t mean the attempt shouldn’t be made to simplify things for the majority whilst still allowing for the wider variety for the “edge cases”.
  • [1:07:16-1:08:27] SL usage metrics: Will SL usage data, etc., be made more regularly available?
    • Metrics and infographics do tend to be given to journalists, and it is something that would benefit from being done more regularly in order to shift the narrative about Second Life and its relevance.
  • [1:08:56-1:10:56] World Map: Will there be further enhancements to the World Map (e.g. overlays with additional info – continent names, etc)?
    • It is possible. LL intends to work on the World Map in the future.
  • [1:12:16-1:13:20] SL on TV: Thoughts on the use of SL on “CSI: NY” [season 4, episode 5, Down the Rabbit Hole, 2007]
    • Before Grumpity’s time, but suspects LL were delighted with the exposure at the time.
    • She can remember SL being included (on Dr. Phil [2015 in a segment dealing with on-line gaming and addiction – see A look at Dr. Phil’s show “featuring” Second Life] and liked it.
  • [1:14:45-1:15:56] Mainland / derendering: As many on Mainland use skyboxes with surrounds to block views of surrounding skyboxes, could Mainland parcels be set to derender objects outside of them when above a certain altitude, so skybox users could make use of EEP?
    •  Technically difficult to implement. Also, mainland is about having neighbours.
  • [1:16:00-1:18:49] SL population count: What is the current Second Life population?
    • This depends on how you define “population”. Average daily concurrency [at the time of recording] averages 40,000 with peak concurrency frequently hitting 55,000. It also tends to be cyclical throughout the day.
    • However, there are other metrics: hours spent in-world; daily active users (approx. 200,000), monthly active users, users returning to the platform (are they an active community of users who just “stepped away” from SL for a time?).
    • Seasonality also plays a role in determining when and how to assess overall population, and most recently, the pandemic has altered things a lot in terms of engagement.
  • [1:19:16-1:20:40] Parcelling land vertically: Would it be possible to parcel land vertically, as a 3D space to allow for individual audio streaming, etc.,  at different heights and within different spaces?
    • It is possible, but certainly not a trivial undertaking,.
    • However, would result in more people potentially competing for the same server resources. As such, it leans toward being impractical, as it would require server resources to be artificially limited.
  • [1:20:50-1:22:12] Account limits: How many avatars can a person have, and is there any kind of limit?
    • There is no longer any form of limit, and people can create as many accounts as they need / wish. Freedom of expression and anonymity are at the core of the SL experience, and this is reflected in people’s freedom to have multiple accounts.

 

SL18B Meet the Lindens: Patch Linden – a summary with video and audio

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 saw the third in a series of Meet the Lindens events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Table of Contents

Note that 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.

The TL;DR List of Key Points

  • Linden Homes:
    • Fantasy theme will be available “soon” – there are a few things still to be finalised.
    • As with the Chalet homes, the Fantasy house styles will come in a choice of “with rooms” or “open plan”.
    • The houses will be made available on a sub-continent that will be a part of Bellisseria, but not physically joined to it.
    • This continent will have its own seasonal cycles.
    • Once it is available, there will be around 3 or 4 more themes to come.
    • Once the role-out of new themes has been completed, there will be something of a refresh of some themes.
  • New User Experience: should surface in the next few weeks. It utilises integrated elements of new on-boarding region design, new tutorials and web content access through the viewer, which also includes UI changes intended to assist new users. The approach is intended to be context-oriented rather than task oriented, as has tended to be the case.
  • New starter avatars: a new fully mesh / Bento / BoM capable starter avatar is under consideration. It  will be intended to ease the process of understanding avatar customisation, etc., whilst giving the basic SL avatar a more modern, complete refresh.  However, it is not intended to compete with existing mesh avatars.
  • Roadmap for the next 12 months: complete the Linden Homes deployment, deploy the New User Experience, develop the new start avatars + the release / testing of the “event tier region” product.

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About Patch Linden

  • Originally a Second Life resident and business owner who joined the platform in 2004, and became a Linden in 2007.
  • Initially worked as a support agent and then as a support liaison. From there he moved to the Concierge team, eventually becoming that team’s manager.
  • Shifted focus to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year, then moved to the Product group, the team responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life.
  • At Product he developed the Land Operations team, which includes the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).
  • In 2018, he established the company’s support office in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • In 2020 he oversaw the move to larger office space in Atlanta, although the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic means the new premises have yet to be used.
  • In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Product Operations, and joined the Lab’s management team alongside Grumpity and Oz Linden (see: Linden Lab’s management team expands: congrats to Grumpity, Patch and Oz).
  • Together with Grumpity and Oz, he formed the leadership team overseeing Second Life’s continued development, this team now comprising Patch, Grumpity and Brett Linden.
  • In his management team role, Patch continues to oversee all of the Lab’s user support operations (some 5 teams), including the LDPW.
  • Despite his longevity at the Lab, his is not the longest-serving Linden, nor is he the “oldest” resident-turned-Linden.
  • Sees the most significant changes to SL during his time being: the arrival of voice (2007), Mesh (2010), Pathfinding (2011), Experience Keys (initially 2015, fully in 2019/2020), Bento  (2016/17), Animesh (2018/19) and EEP (2018/19), and Bakes on Mesh (2019).

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Loss of Ebbe Altberg

Patch again expressed comments on the passing of Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab’s CEO, and again, rather than paraphrase him, is words are in the audio below, lifted from the the 9:09 point of the video through to 14:07 minutes .

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

The Pandemic and Second Life

[Video: 19:05-23:08]

  • Given the Lab has always had a very strong working-from-home ethos and in using the the platform for company work, the transition out of office working was not a major impact.
  • Second Life has seen increases in the GDP, the LindeX and in returning users who having logged-in for some time.
  • Linden Lab recognises that while the platform has been of great help to many around the world during the pandemic, they equally understand that this has also been a period of great stress and potential loss for some.

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Linden Homes and Bellisseria

[Video: 23:52-45:15]

  • The Fantasy theme is being previewed at SL18B – see SL18B: A Look at the Linden Homes Fantasy Theme Preview.
    • Each of the four styles will be offered in both a floor plan version (as seen in the SL18B preview region) and in an “open plan concept” version.
    • The design for the Fantasy theme has been developed with the idea that it can be applied to multiple fantasy themes – elven. human, faerie, etc.
    • The new Fantasy theme will be within a sub-continent rather than an overall part of Bellisseria. It will still be classified as a part of Bellisseria, but will not have a direct connection to the existing Bellisseria regions.
      • It has yet to be determined whether there will be air and / or water connections with the rest of the continent, or whether it will only be linked by some form of portal connection.
      • This continent will have seasonal changes throughout the year. Winter will not have snow, but will see a cold, blue environment.
    • It is hoped the theme will be released Soon™, although there are still decisions to be made and work to be completed – such as the community hub for the theme.
The Fantasy theme of Linden Homes at SL18B under their natural night sky (the day cycle will naturally change on the Fantasy Home regions)
  • Once Fantasy theme has been released, there will be around three or four more themes to come.
    • [49:26-49:50] Two of these themes are being built in parallel to the Fantasy theme, and one of these is almost “content complete”.
  • The Bellisseria community has been integral to the success and growth of the continent.
  • Work has not started on retiring the “old” Linden Homes and their sub-continents, and is unlikely to commence until 2022. LL do not want to start on this until  there is sufficient variety and stock of new homes to appeal to all who still have one of the older Homes.
  • In terms of obtaining a Linden Home, the key is to be patient.
    • New themes are released on a rolling cycle, and their is no need to stand on the edge of regions awaiting their release – in fact, just because region X has been released does not mean region Y next door will be “next”. The system doesn’t work like that.
    • The best way to obtain a home of choice is to watch the Linden Homes page, and then take one as styles become available, and work within the refresh / house change caps that have been set.
  • There is a new development in the works that involves Bellisseria and the Linden Homes. It is not a major project, but will be themed around Halloween.

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New User Experience

[Video: 45:16-48:55]

  • The new New User experience will involve:
    • A completely new region design for on-boarding users, together with updated tutorials.
    • New viewer elements (currently found within the Project UI RC viewer).
    • Web-based support accessed  through the viewer.
  • “Doing things” will be a part of this experience, but will not be the focus for it.
  • Rather, it is recognised that incoming users will have a degree of computer knowledge, including knowledge gained from other games / platforms. So, part of the work has been to study other on-boarding processes and work out what really needed to be done to more easily transitions users coming from other on-line environments into used Second Life and gaining a reasonable grounding in how basic things work.
  • As such, the focus is not so much activity-driven (walk here, pick up that, jump there), but is more context driven, with virtual space, tutorial, web content and viewer all tightly interwoven to drive the process.
  • This should be coming on-stream in a  matter of weeks.

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New Start Avatars

[Video 49:51-54:39]

  • A new all-mesh / Bento-enabled and Bakes on Mesh avatar is being considered as the default new starter avatar.
  • This will likely replace the Ruth avatar (which will not vanish entirely, due to backwards compatibility), and will be a single head-to-toe avatar design that will respond to the existing slider system & intended to make getting to grips with basic avatar customisation easier.
  • A further aspect to the avatar is to help to make the new starter avatar look a lot more modern and more in keeping with other avatar styles in SL.
  • However, it will not be designed to compete with existing mesh avatars, but will be purely to get people to a point where they understand the avatar sufficiently well enough to be able to move on to using more complex avatar options.

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Support and Governance

[Video: 55:12-1:03:11]

Support

  • Support enjoys a very healthy / respected satisfaction rate, with the general turn-around time for enquiries / issues being measured in hours, not days or weeks.
  • User surveys generally give a very high satisfaction rate from those who take them, as reflected in the rewards nominated for support staff by users (and yes, the staff really do get the rewards!).

Governance

  • In difference to Second life hearsay, Abuse Reports are reviewed and where required, actioned.
  • There can appear be a delay in responding to some reports, simply because some issues are more urgent than others (e.g. account hacking is a much more serious issue than name-calling), and the high-priority issues must be dealt with first – particularly if they are time critical (e.g. serious griefing).
  • Some abuse reports  – such as reports of harassment – do take time to  be responded to, simply because the Governance team often has to build-up a chain of evidence, and care must be taken to investigate both sides of the equation.
  • Some reports are not acted upon, simply because they come down to he said / she said situations, where no clear determination can be made, while mechanisms for others (e.g. people being “mean” or name-calling) are within the viewer to allow direct action to be taken – blocking / muting.

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Roadmap for the Nest 12 Months

[Video: 1:05:25-1:14:38]

  • Linden Homes the deployment of the remaining themes,  including a “V2” of a particular home type + implementing “open plan” expansions to the existing Traditional and Victorian Homes.
  • The new New User Experience and new starter avatars, as discussed.
  • A possible new game that may eventually dovetail into the New User Experience, possibly towards the latter part of 2022 (although it may be pushed back).
  • New land products that leverage AWS hardware capabilities.
    • Current focus is on an “events tier region” type designed to support events at peak simulator performance (time dilation at 0.999, simulator FPS at 45.0).
    • An initial version of this product is in use within the SL18B regions, supporting the auditorium and the live stage.
    • The region type has yet to be tested for managing higher avatar numbers – although a good part of this impact is more viewer side then within the client (outside of things like teleport and script handling).
    • There are still decisions to be made on how to pitch and price this product. However it is hoped more information on it will be available in the next few weeks.

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Q&A Session

[Video: 1:16:40-end]

Please refer to the video.

 

SL18B Meet the Lindens: Lab Gab special 2: Leadership Team – summary

SL18B Meet the Lindens will focus on the leadership team of Brett, Grumpity and Patch
On Monday, June 21st Lab Gab and Strawberry Linden hosted a special Meet the Lindens show as a part of the SL18B celebrations.

This is the second of two summaries of the show, and focuses on the discussion with the Second Life leadership team of Grumpity Linden (VP or Product), Brett Linden (VP of Marketing) and Patch Linden (VP of Product Operations).

Table of Contents

The first part of the show, featuring board member and Executive Chair Brad Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden) can be found here.

Note that 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.

The TL;DR List of Key Points

  • Decision making: The leadership team will continue to be making core product decisions for SL, as they have been doing for the last few years.
  • Immediate technical focus: the new New User Experience, covering both the viewer and the entire on-boarding process. A second focus is on overall performance improvements, and a longer-term project (yet to commence) is to overhaul the viewer’s rendering pipe.
  • SL Mobile: public beta for iOS “Soon™”.
  • Premium: no plans to change anything at this point in time or to introduce Premium Plus, although this is still on the future radar.
  • Land products + tier:
    • New region options, ways of offering regions for events, possibility for de-coupling Homestead purchase from Full region ownership, etc., all under consideration for the future. But no actual plans or options that can be discussed.
    • No immediate plans to change tier – although LL is constantly reviewing options.
    • Unlikely to see changes to region sizes beyond the current 256×256 sq m, as this is too thoroughly baked-in to the SL software architecture.
  • Marketing:
    • 2021 the “year of experimentation” examining and testing methods to acquire and retain new users, and in bringing back former users who have not logged-in to SL for some time.
    • Experimenting with the Second life video ad.
    • Developing external partnerships (e.g. NFL Alumni, Titmouse) to extend SL’s reach into new potential user acquisition spaces.
    • Looking towards acquiring users across all age ranges.

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On the Loss of Ebbe

All three spoke to the recent passing of CEO Ebbe Altberg. Rather than paraphrase their words, I’ll simply include an audio reference here, which as also at the start of the video extract at the end of this summary. The comments start with Grumpity, and then go to Patch and then Brett .

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

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How Will Key Business Decisions Be Made Moving Forward and What’s Next for SL?

[Video: 43:32-50:36]

  • There shouldn’t be too much change in terms of platform / product, as the leadership team has been pretty much managing things for some time [Grumpity, Patch and Oz until the latter’s retirement, now Grumpity, Patch and Brett].
    • Disagreements between the team are rare, and there is a huge amount of mutual respect between the three, so things should continue pretty much as they were.
    • The hope is that the resident community can see the continuity of leadership through the team.
    • What is missing is Ebbe’s mentorship / oversight.
  • The major focus at the moment is on the new New User Experience. This involves:
    • UI changes to the viewer, some of which can be seen in the Project UI RC viewer, other of which can only be seen when visiting the new user social and learning islands.
    • A complete overhaul of the user on-boarding process and experience, which will be deployed “really soon”.
  • Other on-going work relates to performance improvements.
  • A future project the Lab is currently gearing up for is extensive work on the rendering pipeline. This will take some time to complete.
  • In general terms, a further viewer UI update that will be forthcoming to allow users to more easily adjust settings to help with their viewer performance. While this is recognised as only being a cosmetic fix when compared to the work noted above, it is hoped it will help people more easily adjust settings in keeping with the ability of their hardware.
  • [55:05-55:53] Group limits: the Lab would like to raises caps (including group limits) wherever possible, but the key factor in doing so is performance – so when it is felt there has been suitable overall performance enhancement for users, this is something that would likely be considered .
  • [1:12:48-1;13:15] Will the basic SL avatar system ever be updated? This is something that has been thought about, and it is likely that moves in that direction will be made at some point, but it is for the future, and not something being addressed right now beyond internal discussions.

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Mac OSX Support

  • LL do not plan to stop supporting Mac systems.
  • Part of the graphics work mentioned above will be to allow support for more modern APIs than just OpenGL (currently due to be completely deprecated by Apple), including Metal for OS  X (and most likely Vulkan for Windows).
    • In the case of OS X / Metal, there are questions over backward compatibility that need to be addressed.
  • Issues with the Space Navigator 3D mouse are more to do with changes within OS X more than anything the Lab has done, and it is not clear if LL can do anything to alleviate the problems Mac users are experiencing when using the device.

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SL Mobile

[Video: 50:37-51:54]

  • Currently, SL mobile development focus is iOS.
  • It is initially a communications tool.
  • It has had some problems passing Apple’s testing and requirements but the hope is to have a public beta available through Apple “really soon”.
  • It was also pointed out that the Speedlight third-party client is available for all browsers and iOS and Android (see here for Speedlight coverage in this blog).

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Premium Membership

[Video: 52:11-54:04]

  • No plans at present to increase the weekly stipend.
  • Premium Plus was put on hold in 2020  due to both the need to focus on the AWS migration and the fact that the pandemic was impacting people’s disposable income. It currently remains on hold.
  • LL aware that many users are interested in multiple levels of service / subscription, and so Premium Plus (or similar) is still in the plans.
  • One thing that is unlikely to return is resident-to-resident mainland auctions (first introduced in March 2019), but which failed to gain significant traction and proved problematic in deployment.

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Possible Future Land Products and Tier

[Video 54:05-55:02 and 55:59-1:02:29]

  • With the AWS migration complete and a broader base of hardware / infrastructure available, new land product offerings are something the Lab is starting to consider.
    • No details are available yet in terms of type of product, pricing, etc., but the Lab’s thinking is around providing better performance around hosting events, etc.,   but the hope is to have more information on this “soon”.
  • It is possible that a some point in the future, the requirement that Homestead regions can only be purchased by those already holding at least one Full region may be decoupled, so that homesteads become an independent product.
  • Tier prices are always being looked at, in conjunction with how the markets has responded to past tier reductions. It is something the Lab would like to do again in the future, but no commitments on when this may happen.
    • Care has to be particularly taken with regards to tier simply because it can easily have a negative impact. So changes, should they come, will be cautious.
  • While larger region sizes is often requested, post-AWS migration a members of the simulator engineering team looked at the issue again, and the fact is the 256×256 size is too baked-in to the SL software architecture makes larger region sizes extremely unlikely.
    • The focus instead will be to continue to try to improve and optimise region crossings .
  • Can residents use Lab spaces for events & temporarily re-decorate them? Some facilities – around 2 dozen in all, including the Bellisseria Fairgrounds and the SS Galaxy – do actually support this. If there are other locations residents would like to see added to the list, then names should be passed to the land team.
    • The point-of-contact for booking these facilities is Mischievous Mole.

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Marketing

[Video: 1:02:33-1:12:46]

  • This year is being used as the “year of experiments”. Several approaches to promoting and growing SL are being tried, and it is acknowledged some will work and some may not. This overall goal with this is to see what moves the needle in terms of new user registrations and on-going engagement.
  • The most visible of these are the on-going A/B testing with the secondlife.com splash / login-in screen [see: Secondlife.com Splash Screen Gets a Further Tweak and Lab Further Updates SL Splash Screen with Mixed Media Video], which involves swapping in and out different messaging, imagery, etc., in order to see what garners interest / engagement and what doesn’t.
  • The most commented on these tests has been the integration of the video featuring physical world actors intercut with avatar images; [as I noted in the 2nd article linked-to above] this footage comes from a larger professional video shoot the Lab refer to as Children of Creation, and which was shown at the mid-point in this Lab Gab Special.
  • The “win back initiatives” are a drive to encourage past Second Life users who have not logged-in for a time to return to the platform and give it another try. These take several forms, including offering Linden Dollar and other items as awards for logging-in.
  • Partnership drives have also been a focus of experimentation (such as the recent drive with the NFL Alumni Association and the Titmouse partnership which started in 2020, and has seen a number of in-world events).
  • A complexity with marketing Second Life is trying to present it to an audience outside of Second Life and staying clear of any subjective image / cliché it may have, whilst also staying true to the heart and soul of the platform and its users.
    • This is something LL  are acutely aware of – they want to see SL mentioned alongside all the Johnny-come-lately competitors for “the metaverse”, whilst being very aware that a major reason SL has outlasted its would-be competition in the past is down to its existing user base.
  • Overall, the past 12 months have been “good” in terms of metrics for the platform with organic growth likely related to the pandemic, and the aim is now to build on this as the world starts opening-up once more, and trying to maintain the momentum and achieve future growth.
  • Areas of consideration include the Roblox generation, and the idea that as they get older they are going to start looking for alternatives, and also to the older generation of silver surfers ad potential catchment groups for Second Life.

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The Future of SL – Thoughts and Comments

[Video: 1:14:02-1:18:19]

  • Brett: believes the users will have a role to play in the future directions of the platform, as indicated by Brad Oberwager. Would like to see the media would give greater credit to Second Life, which led the way in so many areas – micro-transactions, digital economies, user-generated content and sales, etc., and wants to work towards that. Hopes that the platform does continue to grow and become easier to use.
  • Grumpity: has never been as excited by the opportunities for SL as is the case now, with the platform genuinely poised for a new era of growth and development. Believes that the Lab has the right mix of experience and discipline coupled with free thinking and respect for their user base that many of their potential rivals have yet to attain. Is happy that the world is once again talking about “the metaverse”, and believes SL has a lot to show those who are interested in it.
  • Patch: wants to get to a reality where using Second Life is a matter of simply picking up a tablet and using it, where students on Chrome books can log-in and participate in learning experiences that are globe-spanning in their content / student mix and reach far beyond anything that can be achieved in the traditional classroom / learning space. Wants to see SL grow and expand so that it can fulfil dreams and offer wide-ranging opportunities for engagement.

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SL18B Meet the Lindens: Lab Gab special 1: Brad Oberwager – summary

 
On Monday, June 21st Lab Gab and Strawberry Linden hosted a special Meet the Lindens show as a part of the SL18B celebrations.

This is the first of two summaries of the show, and focuses on the discussion with board member and Executive Chairman Brad Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden).

Table of Contents

A second summary will follow, focusing on the Leadership team, and a link to it will be added to this summary when available .

Note that 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.

A Little Background

Brad Oberwager is one of the three investors who acquired Linden Lab in 2020, alongside of  J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield and Raj Date. Since the acquisition closed, he has been very hands-on at Linden Lab, working alongside members of the management team, and he has also brought-in long-time business associate Cammy Bergren as the company’s Chief of Staff.

His biography, as supplied by the Lab reads as follows:

Brad Oberwager has spent his entire career in technology and consumer focused companies as an entrepreneur and board member.
Currently, he sits on the board of two public companies, Asure Software (NASDAQ: ASUR) and Better World (NASDAQ: BWACU). He is the chairman of two companies he founded, Jyve and Sundia and is also on the board of TEGSCO (aka AutoReturn). He owned Bare Snacks, acquired by PepsiCo in 2018.
Brad was Vice-chair of YPO International, a global organization of 25,000 CEOs.
Brad received his BS from Georgetown University, his MBA from the Wharton School and lives in San Francisco.

[Video: 1:13-7:45]

  • He describes himself as a “very, very good friend” of Philip Rosedale – they go to Burning Man together, and he met Philip via Philip’s wife, whom Brad regards as his closest friend.
  • Their two families live 3 blocks away from one another, and they see one another socially around once a week, generally on a Friday. As such, he regards Philip as an unofficial advisor when it comes to decisions around Second Life.
  • Had enormous respect and liking for Ebbe Altberg, and admired Ebbe’s leadership and desire to be inclusive across the board and lead from the front.
  • Saw him as a fiercely loyal and incredibly open character, a gifted mentor and engaging leader.
  • Believes that Ebbe’s approach to Linden Lab and leadership has helped shaped the company, and will continue to do so, as Ebbe’s philosophy and ethos have become a part of the company and the platform.

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On Acquiring Linden Lab

[Video: 8:00-10:47]

  • Really four types of acquisition:
    • Venture capitalists tend to pump money into a company, build it up with the aim of generating very large returns, and are prepared to write the company off if it fails to realise their goal.
    • Private equity firms tend to buy a company with the aim of turning it around / trimming it down in order to sell it on for reasonable return.
    • Purchase by another company – which tends to see the absorption of the purchased entity in terms of culture, products and even brand.
    • Purchase by private investors – who are often involved for a wide variety of reasons, and while financial return tends to be one of them, it is not necessarily the central driver for their involvement.
  • For him, what was interesting about Second Life is the extension it offers to people’s lives and the freedoms it gives creativity and socially. He also admits that in being involved in LL / SL from a business perspective is the first time he’s understands the expression “it’s not just work, it’s fun” – he is enjoying being a part of SL / LL, which he regards as a passion as much as an investment.

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Who Owns Linden Lab and Who Makes the Business and Product Decisions?

[Video: 10:51-15:04]

  • Technically, Linden Research is now owned by a LLC (limited liability company) formed by Brad Oberwager and Randy Waterfield.
    • Randy Waterfield brings a huge amount of financial experience to LL that will be good for Second Life and Tilia.
    • Brad has the entrepreneurial  skillset that is important to the practical growth of Second Life and Tilia.
  • Company direction really comes down to two elements: business and product.
    • The business elements relates to corporate management, marketing, forging partnerships, and the outward facing decisions. These are the remit of the management team as a whole.
    • Product decisions lie with the Leadership Team  Office of Second Life – Grumpity, Patch and Brett – supported by the senior management (the Chief of Staff, Brad himself, the CFO, etc.).
  • He personally plays a role in both overall business direction and on product direction.
  • However, firmly believes that the real decision makers are the residents – simply because nothing works if the resident users don’t agree with it and end up cease or scale back using SL.
    • As such, has sought to feedback from residents at the heart of both the product and the business decision-making process.
    • Not necessarily feedback through forum comments or Jiras or long e-mails (although all have their place), but rather in terms of how users will benefit and whether they become more passionate and engaged and so help grow the platform by encouraging others to get involved either directly or indirectly.

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On Being In-World

[Video: 15:12-19:16]

  • Does go in-world, and actually has at least two accounts – his Oberwolf Linden account, which is uses for “business”, and alt accounts which he uses to engage directly in the platform in a variety of ways.
  • In  order to understand the on-boarding process, he went through it entirely on his own, refusing Lab assistance in order to understand the process and its pain-points and what needs to be addressed if the platform is to grow its user base.
  • Is proud of the fact he was able to work out how to apply a wolf tattoo to his alt and dress it with long hair, etc.
  • When “undercover” with an alt, he is always in character, and has stated he will *not* break character (i.e. reveal who he is) when engaging on the platform through an alt.

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On the Future of Second Life And What May Change / Remain the Same

[Video: 19:16-26:22]

  • Wants the community to be part of this – what are the communal goals for the platform, how can the synergy be developed such that users are a part of the drive to improve and grow the user base.
  • Uses the analogy of a party – an environment where people are having so much fun, they do not want it end, but rather have more people turn up, and taking actions that will encourage them to come along and engage.
  • Does not see change for change sake, but rather changes as a process of natural evolution that, again, grows interest in and engagement with the platform. But change will come over time.
  • Sees the shift to AWS very much a part of this approach: it was not made for purely financial reasons, it was made to allow SL to move into the future and continue to be grown and continue to be of value to users.
  • Currently feels the greatest way users can help shape Second Life is through feedback on and input into overall new user engagement and growing the user base, as this is the real driver for the long-term success of Second Life.
  • Supports the idea of the “four pillars” of decision making at the Lab:
    • What is going to bring in new users?
    • What is going to make existing users happier?
    • What is going to lead to more engagement among users as a whole?
    • What is going to offer the Lab’s personnel happier.
  • Asks residents to look on things the same way.

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On Tilia and Second Life

[Video: 28:03-33:56]

  • Tilia  / Tilia Pay is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Linden Lab.
  • It is not in competition with Second Life – that is a misguided notion – but actually compliments Second Life.
  • SL is unique in that creators sell directly to users – it does not actually pass through Linden Lab’s own books, and allows in-world tokens to be directly converted to fiat money.
  • Both of these aspects require proper regulation in the United States and internationally (in the US, a company needs to be formally accredited as a money transmitter or money transfer service). This is what Tilia was set-up to be.
  • In effect, Tilia is to Second Life what PayPal was originally to e-bay. Without Paypal, e-bay would not be able to operate without itself going through all the requirements to become an MSB / money transmitter, and this would have been the case for LL.
  • Just as PayPal has grown beyond e-bay to become used by other platforms as a means of money payment / transfer, etc., so Tilia has the potential to become a money transmitter for other companies, thus allowing it to generate income and also help Second Life.
    • Currently ilia has two third-party customers: Sansar (operated by Wookey Technologies) and the virtual real estate game Upland.

Back to top

Closing Comments

[Video: 34:13-38:11]

  • Recognises that a change in ownership of LL can lead to fear, anxiety and potentially anger. Anger is something that is more difficult to deal with, an so would rather people do not get to that stage; anxiety is a more immediate response, and one that can be more directly dealt with.
  • Given that there is and has been anxiety among users, wants to stress he is devoted to reducing the anxiety and avoiding anger, and moving people towards a sense of joy, and understand this is not going to be achieved by him simply issuing directives and taking a top-down approach, but rather through engagement and through observing and listening and seeing how users respond.

 

 

SL18B the artists and the art

SL18B Welcome Area

Each year the Second Life Birthday events attracts resident exhibitors from across Second Life and its multiple communities, giving them the opportunity to promote their work and their activities to the virtual world at large, and SL18B in no exception. One of the communities that, through individual and cross-supportive exhibitions, always offers much to see is the Second Life arts community, and in this article I’ve tried to highlight as many of those that I’m aware are participating in this year’s event. If I have missed yours, then I extend my apologies.

Be sure to have Advanced lighting Model (ALM) active in your viewer (Preferences → Graphics → check Advanced Lighting Model) and that you are set to use Shared Environments (World → Environment → check Use Shared Environment).

Amaze

The Archetype of Emergence – Vanessa Jane (l), SL18B Stunning; Inside Art – Ginger Lorakeet (r), SL18B Amaze

Astonish

  • The Secrets of Moyaland – discover the Forest of Monsters, the underground Secret Services and the hilltop Manufacturing Secrets, all from the mind of French artist Patrick Moya (Moya Janus in SL).
  • The Hidden Secrets of the Grand Canyon – a photographic tour of this iconic location, courtesy of Immerdar Fredriksson.
  • Virtual Community Radio – serving all communities and residents in Second life, with music and programmes of specific interest to virtual citizens.
  • Bears Gone Wild – Randy Firebrand’s exhibition of photography featuring Linden bears as they explore Second Life.
  • Fishing for Oblivion – Chuck Clip’s installation.

Captivate

One, No-One and One Hundred Thousand – Vita Treas

Using the title of the 1926 novel of self, perception and identity by Luigi Pirandello, Vita offs a labyrinth-like wall through her photography that presents the many facets of her involvement in Second Life – creation, design, role-play, sailing, horse-riding, fashion, art, exploration, so so on. Through these images, we can explore all that makes this virtual platform both a single place and a multitude of places without actually existing as a place; somewhere we can be both a single person or a multitude of identifies  whilst remaining no-one at all.

One, No-One and One Hundred Thousand – Vita Treas, SL18B Captivate

Direct Teleport

Further Art Installations at Captivate

  • What Are You Hiding? – Pixels Sideways  – an immersive, interactive environment featuring streaming media and ALM, in which kiosks ask you the question, What Are You Hiding? Click those to which you want to reply. A teleport will carry people to the Skyview for a view out over SL18B, and also to the Underworld.
  • Weymann Gallery – the Second Life photography of Luther Weymann celebrating the work of the Moles / Linden Department of Public Works.
  • The Stickleys – iSkye Silverweb’s house of (prim) stick people, a getting-back-to-basics installation celebrating the humble prim.

Electrify

  • UASL’s Lucid Dreaming – an immersive environment by the United Artists of Second Life (UASL), an artist group in SL that creates and exhibits art.
  • Phobos Jamberoo – photographing Second Life since 2006.
  • STÖMOL – in 2020, Huckleberry Hax released STÖMOL, a feature-length science fiction film created entirely in Second Life (you can catch my review here). A runner-up in the 2020 Supernova Digital Motion Art Festival, the film is celebrated within this installation.
  • A Photo Tour of Elf Haven & IoW – take a photographic tour of the Elf Haven and Isle of Wyrms regions.
  • The Lost Refuge – a collaboration between Silas Merlin and Solas Enchantment. Stand amongst the statues upon the 5 giant pillars that guard the elements and seek the book of lore, then use it to find five stones that house the gifts and a  hidden world beneath you.
Stunning Tenshu – London Junkers (l), SL18B Stunning; UASL’s Lucid Dreaming (r), SL18B Electrify

Incredible

Pizzazz

  • Happy Art Maze by Yoko Ayukawa – explore the maze of painting by Yoko.
  • House of Cards by Johannes Huntsman – representing the chance that life plays which determines how our world and life will turn out. Sometimes we exist surreal, sometimes abstract, other times realistic.
  • Inside the Box by Krystali Rabeni – who are we? Where are we?

Sparkle

Sinful Retreat: Dive into Art

Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat fell region has become an expressive centre for promoting all forms of artistic expression. With a focus on 2D art from both the physical and digital domains and 3D art, Sinful Retreat also offers a centre for performance art as well.  For SL18B Chuck has brought together a highly expressive journey into art that features the works of 34 artists active in Second Life, a rich mix of “d and 3D works from many of the most recognised artists using the platform and an equal number whose names may not be so familiar, but whose work in no less engaging.

Dive into Art – Sinful Retreat, SL18B Sparkle

Alongside the visual art, Dive Into Art offers a peek into the art of the written word – poetry and prose – that also has a place within Second Life. More than an exhibition, Dive Into Art is itself a chapter of the story of art in Second Life, as demonstrated by the panels opposite the main entrance that start you on your journey.

Direct teleport.

Further Art Installations at Sparkle

  • The Hidden Worlds of Turin – a photographic journey through the the Italian city of Turin, and the third in a series going back to SL17B by Rubin Mayo.
  • Often Lost and Forgotten – Rusalka Writer’s photographic journey to Second Life destinations down the years.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole – Tempest Rosca-Huntsman’s delightful 3D take on the famous Alice stories by Lewis Carroll.
  • The Dirty Grind – drop in and learn about the independent artists community that mixes virtual and performance arts and music.
  • CioTToLiNa Xue’s Robot Garden – even robots like to celebrate SL18B, as Ciottolina’s little garden diorama (landscaped with the help of Terrygold) reveals.
  • Under the Wave – one of two installations by London Junkers.
Down the Rabbit Hole – Tempest Rosca, SL18B Sparkle

Stunning

  • The Archetype of Emergence – Vanessa Jane is more widely known as a 2D artist. However, as SL18B she presents a 3D work challenging visitors to ask: “What’s swimming in your unconscious ready to emerge and take flight?”
  • Stunning Tenshu – one of two installations by London Junkers.
  • Worlds Within Worlds – the physical world photography of Caro Fayray celebrating humankind and nature.