The Corporate Community

Linden Lab is a corporation; a private corporation with investors backing it. We must always remember that. Their first priority is, and must always be, giving the investors a return on their money. Of course in order to do that they must, to borrow a phrase from Simon & Garfunkel “keep the customer satisfied”. Note I said satisfied, not happy, just satisfied enough so we stay around and spend our money.

There have been some interesting twists in the customer/resident – corporate dynamic since I first came to Second Life. In January of 2007 the viewer went open source and development began on Third Party viewers. This development changed the dynamic because the new viewers were more responsive to resident wants and needs. They were not at all beholden to the investors. When this worked well the feedback between Linden Lab and the Third Party Viewer developers gave us innovations LL had never even thought of (think body physics) or had not thought important enough to invest development time into (double-click teleport). When it went badly — well, Emerald was an embarrassment to both LL and the third party community.

The latest evolution of the resident relationship with Linden Lab is crowd sourcing of projects. The one-man-developed Kirsten’s Viewer is in the process of funding it’s developer in the face of a RL economic situation that would halt his work without it. The residents have also reached their US$5400 goal (in under 3 weeks) to hire Karl Stiefvater (who used to be Quarl Linden) to code a mesh deformer so mesh clothing fits properly (any additional funding will be used to improve the project beyond a single layer). If these initiatives are well accepted by Linden Lab and by the Third Party Developers a whole new avenue for resident involvement will be open. Even if you can not code beyond “Hello Avatar” you can vote with your wallet to develop the features you consider valuable.

All of that said I reiterate my initial thought: Nothing will be adopted that impedes the investor’s return on the money they have put into Linden Labs.

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Filed under Linden Lab, Second Life Community

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