"[W]atching an episode of Lost is very different from understanding what it really feels like to create an avatar and navigate around and interact with others in Second Life," Mark Kingdon wrote in late 2006. "Believe me, I've been lost in Second Life."
I actually think it's a promising sign that Linden Lab's newly appointed CEO once confessed to being lost in Second Life. As I wrote last January, it's a world and a software cursed by knowledge, and only an outsider who grasps its potential but is totally confounded by its interface and user experience stands a chance to better remake it. Kingdon now finds himself Second Life's CEO, inaugurated thus by Philip Linden, in an announcement that'll surprise many insiders.
Chatting with metaverse developers and Residents at SXSW in Austin and the Virtual Worlds Conference in New York earlier this month, most expected Linden Lab to select a technologist like Philip, or even someone from the game industry. Instead, they've hired the former CEO of Organic, one of the very first web development agencies to ride the dot com Internet boom of the 90s (though he assumed the role in 2001, after the bust), and before that, a partner at auditor/professional services giant PricewaterhouseCoopers. More recently, however, he was a regular columnist for ClickZ, a large Internet business/marketing site, and it's a glimpse into his thought process, hinting at policies and directions to come.
Not just in the widely-cited article, "Advertisers Can Find Second Life in Metaverses", since he now acknowledges it was perhaps "the right place but definitely the wrong time for most big brands". (Then again, Kingdon cites me in that piece, and I'm even more spectacularly wrong, predicting that Second Life will have more user than World of Warcraft by 2008. Retention fail.) Glancing through his archive, there's a lot of smart insights on Web 2.0 Internet culture, albeit from a marketer's point of view. I'll be reading it in closer detail in coming weeks. What patterns do you see, and what do you think they suggest for his future management of the Linden ship?