You may not have noticed it, but there has been some pretty amazing stuff going on in and around Second Life this week.
Last Thursday there were new rules for Third Party Viewers announced. That had the blogs churning over the weekend. Surprisingly the articles themselves and the comments to them were mostly constructive, trying to understand what it all meant. I saw very few flame-out rants or end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it predictions.
By Monday afternoon Oz Linden was answering questions, in detail and officially!! He was even agreeing with some of the objections and promising to make things whole again when possible. He even delayed action on part of it so they could find a better solution! Just as importantly he explained why the policies were changed! There is no need of me going into detail here, but suffice it to say there were legitimate problems to be resolved. The methods may have been heavy handed, but much of the vital functions that were lost can be recovered by doing things a different way, either in world or by LL in server code.
The “shared experience” part of the new rules can be hard to understand. It is very vague as written. Two important points: 1- LL is primarily concerned with TPV features that break on the official viewer. Features that do not work on other viewers (even LL features) are a concern of the effected viewers development team and users. 2- Oz suggested that Test Viewers, even on the main grid, would be okay; so long as the default download met the TPV requirements. This is a huge relief! TPVs have been the testbeds for several ideas that LL would never have approved in advance (avatar physics among them).
The whole air of communication and cooperation around this change has been something new in Second Life. I give a lot of credit to Oz for his efforts.
Then —— Rodvik announces a decision on last names. Basically – NO.
The new thing is that he explains why – at length. Personally I do not agree, but at least I know why the decision is as it is (for now, he dangled a carrot at the very end of his post).
If all this communication and cooperation keeps up we may get Second Life back on track!
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Benjamin Franklin
The current flap over Qarl’s Prim Alignment tool highlights one of the oldest conflicts in Second Life. Without getting into the specifics of this particular issue, the conflict breaks down to perceptions.
- Linden Lab’s seeming view of the residents as expressed by Philip Linden is “Smart people in rural areas, the handicapped, people looking for companionship, ….”. In short, not nearly as smart and sophisticated as they are.
- Residents often view the Lindens as a bunch of Ivory Tower Geeks with little or no experience of what Second Life is really about.
While there is a grain of truth in both perceptions, there are many exceptions and in fact the attitudes are often reversed!
As residents we need to remember that whining, venting and insults are counter-productive. I would not want to have the job of wading through a jira full of vitriol to find the few gems of productive input. If you really need to vent, start a BLOG, it works wonders when you have to think about what you are saying and post it under your own byline 🙂
The Lindens need to take a moment and THINK before they comment or set status at the jira. Your input needs to be not only factual, but sensitive to the frustrations of residents.
I certainly do not recommend a return to a heavy handed PR department or the silent treatment that we have endured in the past. Perhaps the Lab would be well served by a Miss Manners quietly looking over people’s shoulders and holding their hands when they trip into a social quagmire.
Remember, I’m pulling for ya. We’re all in this together! Red Green
On this Thanksgiving I am thankful:
- For friends and a lasting relationship in Second Life.
- That in spite of an unending cry of doom and gloom, Second Life is still around.
- That, all-in-all, Linden Lab has succeeded in steadily improving Second Life and reducing bugs (yes there still are bugs, but for nearly all I have to say “I have seen worse”)
- That in spite of the state of the Real World we still have a place of our own in world.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I am a Mainland person, always have been! Private islands are just too expensive, and paying rent to a land baron only makes sense if you have significant disposable L$. The most recent mainland statistics I can find show that 40.9% of the mainland is owned directly by Linden accounts; that amounts to 2618 regions! Unlike private islands those can not be shut down, even if totally unoccupied! I know, some of that is in roads, Linden builds, etc. but no where near 2618 regions worth.
The resolution I propose is to increase the land allotment for premium accounts to 1024sqM from it’s present 512sqM. This would be a big enticement for mainland ownership.
- Much like RL, occupied land attracts more occupation, especially if it is reasonably attractively developed.
- This would make moving from an initial Linden Home to a regular mainland plot a logical “next step” (which logically leads to even more land for more prims and space).
- LL could gradually transition to fewer Linden Homes continents if necessary by simply not making new homes available on one of them; thereby allowing those servers to be used elsewhere.
- This would be at least a partial response to those calling for lower land tier fees and could resolve the issue completely (although not to everyone’s satisfaction obviously).
- There is an opportunity here to do something with Marketplace to encourage in-world stores and shops. These used to be a significant part of mainland occupancy but since marketplace was implemented many of them are gone.
- At least in the short term there is no impact on the LL bottom line, unused space will simply be put to use. In the long run, if successful, this could result in continued mainland expansion.
- Lastly, and far from least from my viewpoint, this could result in the revitalization of Second Life community. It is only on the mainland (and to some extent on private subcontinents) that people have the opportunity to wander, explore, meet people and find products without expectations, and generally be part of something larger than their circle of friends.
If this seems like an idea worth farther exploration to you please add a comment & pass the link around that is the best way to get a discussion started 🙂
We were all newbies once. It has always been difficult for someone just starting in SL to find a place where they fit in and are comfortable. The problem seems to have gotten worse since I first came, the vastness of our world can be intimidating. Most people in Second Life will take at least a few minutes for a newbie, offering advice, freebies, landmarks, etc. Linden Lab is trying to help in their rather institutional way; providing “what’s happening now” links on the login page and a lot of good stuff via the website.
The problem is that it is all so overwhelming. The social conventions are not known, so there is room for newbie imaginations to run wild; will I get shot?; captured?; exploited or conned in some way?
SL residents are mostly a friendly lot, we remember being a newbie all too well. Talk to people, when someone says “Hi” respond, don’t run away. Do not be afraid to ask questions, even of strangers.
Use the tools the Lindens provide to visit places and learn about Second life.
Map hop. This is one of the best ways to find places and people. Simply open the world map, check the boxes for Person, Infohub, Events (G & M to start). Use your scroll wheel to back out as far as you can and still see the green people dots. You can left click and drag the map around the window to see more. Click on an infohub dot, or an event marker and click teleport. Poof—–you are there. Infohubs are always safe places but if you find yourself in a place where you feel uncomfortable, Ctrl+shift+H will send you quickly home or in an emergency (I really have no idea what really would be an emergency, but–) simply log out and back in to home. For all of the helpful tools and resources available, almost everyone I know used map hopping to explore SL when they were new. Some of us still do 🙂
Linden Lab CEO Rodvik Humble, aka. Rodvik Linden announced yesterday that “August was the biggest growth month for Second Life in nearly four years!”. There are more newbies in world than there have been in a long time. Those of us who have been around for a while need to pull our weight and help them find their way, the Lindens can not do it without us. Be helpful, perhaps visit a welcome area.Make a folder of landmarks and freebies to give to newbies. Having more residents helps Second Life stay alive and provide customers 🙂
There is an interesting debate playing out between Wagner James Au at New World Notes and Tateru Nino at Dwell On It.
Personally I side with Tateru on this one. This debate has raged for as long as I have been in SL. I all comes down to exactly what is SL, who are the residents and why do they stay.
I believe no matter who you are, and how you live your second life, you stay here because Second Life fulfills some need that you can not fill in real life. The physically disabled dance. The shy and the withdrawn interact. The emotionally troubled find solace. The ambitious find opportunities. The creative create. But, and it is a big but, it takes a newbie time to identify his or her needs and find their place in SL society. Rare indeed is the person who comes knowing their destination. Time and again I have seen people who think they want to play in combat sims discover satisfaction as a content creator; or those who are going to make their fortune as a land baron end up finding a contentment they did not know they needed in a D/s relationship.
People who’s real lives are fulfilling and without perceived limitation do not last long in SL. To that extent Second Life is a niche market and always will be. The best anyone can do is persuade newcomers to spend the time to find out if Second Life is for them.
Names in Second Life have undergone a couple of changes in the last year or so, not completely for the good. The resulting issues serve as good examples of LL and the law of unintended consequences, although they were warned by many residents.
One of the busiest posts at the SL jira is SVC-7125 Bring Back Last Name Options! I understand why LL made this change. When they looked at new account creations that were aborted, picking a last name was a major stumbling block. Their solution, however, did not take into account the impact on the social fabric of Second Life. We now have an entire “class” of residents with the placeholder last name of .resident. Because not having a last name restricted the selection of non-duplicate first names, there is a proliferation of names that are not really names, like 1357Bob246. These things may be accepted in “Gaming” invironments, but they really interfere with the more social environment we have in Second Life.
And then there are Display Names. I suspect LL thought these would solve the problems with not having a last name. The way they prioritize them in lists and such certainly leads one to believe so. If display names acted only like the titlers people used to use, they might have a case. However, the use of ansi coded characters has made them all but unusable in conversation and all of the potential for abuse is coming to pass. As an example, recently there was a case of someone setting their display name to the account name of a well known content creator and hanging out at her store. To my knowledge there was no attempt to defraud anyone, but simply being there and unresponsive to customers did harm to the business.
Display names are with us to stay. The third party viewers are implementing ways for us to customize how we use and see them and these will find their way into the LL viewers. We will have to live with that and LL will have to live with policing the inevitable abuse.
Something can be done about last names, however and the residents can help if LL creates a system for them to do it. The problem seems to be finding enough names and vetting them for suitability. A jira type system where residents can suggest names and comment / score them would give LL a list of names to choose from. Cycling names into the availability list for 3 months with the oldest being replaced on a regular schedule would maintain the sense of names being attached to rez date “era”. This could be implemented retroactively with current “.resident” residents having an opportunity to pick a last name based on those that would have been available on their rez date. Personally I think suggesting and vetting names could be a lot of fun.
These Laws apply just as well to and within Second Life as in RL.
1- Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
2- Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
3- The Peter Principle: In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
4- The Law of Unintended Consequences: A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended.
The effects of these laws regarding Linden Lab decisions are many and varied. Examples include the abandoning and loss of value of Mainland land alluded to in my previous posts. Elimination of last names for new accounts resulting in a second “class” of citizens. The implementation of Voice resulting in a division of SL society into “those who do” and “those who don’t” with each group being suspicious of the motives of the other. To some extent these things are unavoidable, but they can be minimized and sometimes corrective action is possible. In every case I cited Linden Lab was warned of the side effects of their actions and chose to blunder forward regardless.
Note: all definitions from http://en.wikipedia.org/
p.s. I should probable have included Clark’s Laws:
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist (Resident? Linden?) states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (This one almost defines Second Life all by itself!)
Now dear reader I will tell you a story.
Long ago, when the world was new there were no “private islands” and no “direct teleport”. All the people of the world lived on a single landmass. If you wanted to go to some distant location you used the landmark and were teleported to a nearby Telehub. These telehubs were busy places, as you can imagine, with many businesses clustered around them. For the most part this left the rest of the land for residences and places to build and play. When you arrived at the telehub there would be a beacon, much like you sometimes see today, marking your destination, even if that destination was several regions away. People would fly or walk or rez a vehicle and drive. In some places there was even regularly scheduled public transportation.
All of this resulted in people often stopping along the way to check out a shop or chat with people they met along the way. Relationships of all kinds blossomed.
Then one day some very clever people approached the gods with a plan. (In those days the gods walked among the people and the people could travel to their glorious castle in the mountains). These clever people wanted Islands, detached from the mainland and which they could sell (well actually rent, but that is another story for another time). The gods asked “how shall people get to these islands, will you have a telehub on each region?”. So these clever people thought long and hard and challenged the gods to eliminate the telehubs, after all, they reasoned, they would buy many islands and pay a tariff for each of them. The gods thought this was a very good idea and made it so. Everyone was very happy, they could teleport door to door without those annoying walks and attend to their business without being bothered by other people along the way. The Gentry, for that is how the owners of the private islands took to thinking of themselves, could sell land to people who could not or would not pay the tariff to the gods themselves.
All seemed to be well in the world for a time, then someone noticed that there was more and more empty land on the mainland, but the gods said “it will pass, there are more people coming to the world all the time and they will need a place to live”. And so it was for many years.
As time went on the gods retreated to their mountain towers, obscuring the path with jira and support so the common people could no longer find the way. In time the gods became a legend to the people, some even questioned that they had ever existed.
And now it is time for bed. To be continued tomorrow……….
Linden Lab is so incredibly out of touch with Second Life culture I have been thinking we need some kind of “Council of Elders” or something to have a little authority when communicating our concerns to LL about the many ways they impact our society. This, of course, leads to wondering exactly what is “our society”? Perhaps something from another age will help:
1- The Nation States
Zindra & the larger adult community.
Gay & Lesbian
2- The Guilds and Artisans (content creators)
Contract / big project builders
3- The Mistrals who entertain us
4- The Gentry
Land Barons big and small
Linden Mainland management should fit here ……. if only………
5-The Wizards and Witches
Those mysterious people who live in the misty wood between civilization and the mythical mountain of the Lindens. Chanting incantations like “HTML” “Packet Loss” “OpenGL” they can cure or drive you to madness.
It seems to me that everyone who has been in Second Life for a significant period of time identifies with one or more of these groups (or others like them, the list is incomplete). We should be able to speak with a more cohesive voice than the rants and tantrums so often seen in the various communication streams we expect the Lindens to pay attention to. Surely there are cool heads among us.
Council of Elders anyone?