Kirsten's SL Viewer Development Ends Because 1000s of Its Users Declined to Help Fund It
Bad news in many ways: Kirsten's Viewer, the innovative and popular third party Second Life viewer, is now effectively a defunct project. This comes after a failed crowdfunding effort by its developer, Lee "KirstenLee" Quick, to raise enough money from the viewer's many users to support himself and his RL partner, Sylvia "Dawny" Thevissen (who is ailing), while working on it. Even though the viewer is regularly downloaded by 6000-8000 people, and Lee has updated it for free for over two years, less than 150 of those users contributed to the crowdfunder. Without their support, Lee has had to leave SL development, and take a full-time job in electrical engineering.
"Nature of the beast," Lee told me last night. "People don't see the connection between free software and paying developers. Even free software is not entirely free." Worst still, when he announced the closure on his site, hundreds of people (many who presumably didn't donate), raced to grab the final version. "The saddest statistic was that people were still downloading the client from Sourceforge as the project crashed and burned," as he put it to me. I'm disappointed myself. Indeed, when I first announced the crowdfunder, some SLers actually expressed resentment that Lee would ask for a living wage to continue providing free software that thousands benefited from.
So not only does this mean Lee will no longer work on Kirsten's Viewer, we have a pretty clear idea on the limits of crowdfunding SL projects:
While $5400 was raised to pay ex-Linden Karl Stiefvater to fix an SL mesh issue, SLers balked at the prospect of raising 25,000 UK pounds for a year of Kirsten's Viewer development. I had suggested crowdfunding in smaller, quarterly chunks, but, Lee told me, "The big issue is then, every 3 months, I have to come cap in hand to justify another round of funding." By contrast, with his new engineering gig, "I got a job within 30 mins of emailing my CV to a company. I got an great job, just a pity it was not adding to the richness of SL."
The greater pity? My sense is Lee Quick wishes he could have continued working on his beloved viewer:
"Dawny is logged on with Viewer 3," he tells me, referring to Linden Lab's latest official SL viewer, "but keeps looking at me with those eyes. And I say NO, no more!"