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Monday, January 02, 2012

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ginsu

Hamlet, thanks for reading and your kind words. One note though: I wasn't a founder at Linden, which I think you know. I appreciate the generous spirit of your use of "founding Lindens" to describe all of us who were there in earlier days - I know we all felt we put a lot of ourselves into the company. I just wouldn't want anyone who stumbles across this post to mistakenly consider me a founder in the more exact sense.

Ciaran Laval

I think Ginsu's being too hard on himself from reading that, there are barriers to engagement that aren't going away anytime soon and I don't see that as the fault of those Lindens who were in at the early stages.

Maybe they were too optimistic with what they could achieve.

Osprey

One difficulty engendered by the medium itself is that internet use promotes shallow, skittish, browsing types of brain development whilst SL requires deep and immersed users. It's paddling upstream, so to speak.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Osprey, and there it is: the Internet for the masses has become what Sven Birkerts called "living in the shallows and not knowing the difference."

Ginsu and the early Lindens did what they could, but visionaries often stumble. Pity. We need more cool lawyers with katanas strapped across their backs.

Deltango Vale

Second Life failed because the company did not understand its own product. Linden Lab is an engineering company that built a New World then treated it as just another an engineering project. The company was completely unprepared for the human beings who immigrated to its New World. It then made colossal errors that alienated those enthusiastic immigrants.

I believe Philip Rosedale had a glimmer of SL's potential, but he was pushed out by arrogant, mediocre technocrats who knew absolutely nothing about human social systems.

An engineer will tell you that it makes much more sense to have airplane seats facing backwards, but human beings don't like sitting backwards in airplanes. Linden Lab put the seats in backwards and told its customers to suck it up. That's what killed Second Life.

Dartagan Shepherd

@ginsu Must say that I was touched and impressed by your thoughfulness, but if you can take away anything from a "resident" (read paying customer) that's spent some decades in the employers seat...

Any company that expects you to do more than excel at what you were hired to do (code, design or cleaning toilets) and expects you to drive direction of the company and lays the burden of management on you as an employee is a mis-managed one.

Get employees engaged, energized, contributing and feeling like you're part of something big ... that's part of what we do. That's our job.

And then there's this psuedo religion or eternal startup propaganda that they're pushing on you. At least that's my take-away from love machine rumors and watching phil and friends try to monetize some zen-like hybrid open-source/traditional business model. I see the pattern and the angle.

Maybe you did come in as upper management, I don't know. But if that wasn't your skill-set, it's not something you should have had dumped on your lap.

I know we play a guessing game as users. It's dramatic, it's often wrong, it's sometimes crazy and uninformed, but it's also right because even if the facts aren't right, the perception is never wrong. Perception is always truth until proven otherwise.

But you remember this, my friend. Like a parent bears the ultimate responsibility, not the child, so does the company.

I've never met a one of you Lindens I didn't like, and never one that was unintelligent or that I wouldn't hire myself.

You mull that over a bit and then tell me what failed.

Hamlet Au

Gene, I'll add an asterisk and an update. I'd define "founding" in this case as someone who helped Linden transition from its early period (2000-2005) to becoming a substantial commercial product before the hype wave, but I know that's a loose definition.

Moni Duettmann

+Deltango Vale: Though not very specific, I can totally agree with your comment. The way Linden pushed its V2 viewer, although many users totally hated it, proves what you say.

In the long run I saw the team working on "problems" I didn't think were of big importance, while essential deficiencies remain unaddressed till today. Instead of the whole viewer redesign simply better search tool would have been of so much more value for everybody. That's just one example.

Even back in 2006 I was imagining different ways to treat the animation features of the avatar. it is still one of the weakest points of SL. Why does the company not give the users much more and better full perm animations and a viewer-based tool to implement them? It was never even an issue for Linden Lab.

The viewer tools: that's what made SL outstanding and attracted so many. Now more and more of the content creating is outsourced to external programs. That's a mistake! If LL had a Steve Jobs, that would never have happened.

Instead of trying to attract users to SL, who don't qualify, because they are basically not interested in "user-created content", it would have been better to collaborate with hardware companies to complete the experience from the interface side for those who really love SL.

Johnny

I think Gene's take on this is a little narcissistic; if he can't have the credit for success he'll take the blame for failure. Either way he buys into the assumption that these events turn on the personal qualities of the individuals involved, rather than boring, impersonal things like the nature of the product, the state of the market, or just luck.

But then Second Life has always seemed like a virtual realisation of Atlas Shrugged, so I guess Gene's view isn't too surprising...

shockwave yareach

@moni - Oh really? There's a sound editor in the viewer? Where? Or an animation editor? Gee, those abilities were in the very first pre beta SL after all -- are you telling me I couldn't edit the animations and sounds back in 2003? Gee, what a gyp...

Not everything inworld has been editable or creatable in the viewer. It never has been so. It will never be so. You complain that mesh and sculpts require doing work with programs outside of SL and that you long for the "old" way of every facet being creatable inworld. But you long for something that has never existed -- you have always needed external creation tools. You needed them to create your sounds. You needed them to create your animations.

And yes, you needed them to even create your textures, the most basic thing that exists in SL...

Mesh won't save SL. Nor will it destroy it. But people who cannot run Blender and create a mesh on their computers won't be able to do it in any viewer the lab could put out, either. Assuming the lab could integrate such a thing and it wouldn't crash and make your computer spit your hard drive across your room in the first place.

More on the subject though, I don't view SL as a failure. I view it as a niche product that cannot go mainstream because the mainstream wants to passively sit on their couch and be entertained. They don't want to work or learn or entertain themselves. And those of us that do like to work and entertain ourselves and others, don't like being treated like chattel and having our contracts broken and our land taken away whenever someone in the lab has a hair up his bum. LL created the infrastructure -- the rest of us built the world. We are your customers and we expect to be treated like it. Because when we get fed up and leave (as is happening -- we waaaaarned you repeatedly) because you won't fix things or treat us like the paying customers we are, you can try to get these passive types to join and spend loads of cash. How has that been working for you so far?

Arcadia Codesmith

When the "multiverse" gets off the ground (and I regard that as inevitable), it will owe a great debt of gratitude towards Second Life and Linden Lab for pioneering.

But I don't think any one company or any one model is going to be sufficient to push virtual worlds mainstream. It's going to take open standards and interconnectivity to allow people to move effortlessly between worlds. We've got beautiful walled gardens, now we've got to start builing paths between them.

So in a larger context, the personal failings of individual Lindens aren't the root cause of the current state of stagnation. It's a failure of the imagination and will to peer over the garden walls, admire the other gardens, and view them not as a threat but as an organic whole.

Madeliefste Oh

Though SL is a wonderful creation, indeed the labbies failed to bring it to the next level. But to me it seems that LL defined ‘the next level’ mainly in terms of growth.

My idea is that the next level is not about growth, and not even about adding new features, but about reducing the gab between “the gods and the humans”. You are the gods who create the world, and we worship you for that. You create a space to celebrate imagination and fantasy and gave us the tools to contribute to it.

We the residents started to live in your world. We are in a complete different position, we live our lives both indepent from you and depending on you for all our basic needs. The biggest frustration that appeared through the years is: LL is not listening to us residents.

I fully agree with Deltango Vale “Second Life failed because the company did not understand its own product. The company was completely unprepared for the human beings who immigrated to its New World. It then made colossal errors that alienated those enthusiastic immigrants.”

Before you can think of the next level in terms of growth, the lab must work on customer satisfaction. Our biggest need is to have influence. We want you in your ivory tower to listen to us, we have needs, we have ideas, we know what living in SL is about and above all we have the power of the masses.

I don’t know what the exact solution is.
Maybe SL needs a form of democracy, some sort of ‘parliament’ that represents groups of residents and speaks to the lab on regular basis.
Our maybe LL just should make more use of tools to reach the masses of residents, tools like surveys and polls, to get an idea about what residents need and want from certain aspects the lab is planning to work on.
But as long as LL cannot reduce ‘the gab between the gods and the humans’ SL will stay an innovative niche product for a select group of people: people who can stand to live with this emotional confusion, to love SL despite LL.

Pussycat Catnap

He may be hard on himself, but everyone who thinks SL didn't hit appeal because its too complex of a big application needs to take a second look at WoW's 11 million subscribers that play a 20-30gb download game that until recently cost $30-70 just to get past the login screen...

And which still, to this day, goes offline for several hours every Tuesday...

You can take something which is large and cumbersome, difficult to master, expensive as heck, riddled with constant hacking and griefing to a scale that makes the worst griefing ever seen in SL seem downright kindergarten friendly, plagued by some rather horrid scandals, and so on...
- and still turn out a massive success if you have solid leadership, vision, and MARKETING.

Where mah SL marketers @? L2sell. ;)


shockwave yareach

@Pussycat - when you are making a product that you know is "only" a recreational product, you can do that. You can sell it to people as a game and they can tell their friends what fun it is to play their game with them, so they join in too.

But when you are trying to sell a virtual world as a business to business tool, or a replacement for business travel, or the next generation of the web browser, or the bleeding edge of the future of the internet (it's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!), then you are too busy spinning in circles for marketing to sell to anyone.

I had a business venture of mine in RL die on the vine recently because I didn't account for marketing -- hard to sell something when nobody knows you offer it. I'm licking my wounds and taking data into account for the next time. But I have to agree with you on one thing -- you cannot sell a product when nobody knows it exists. And unless you already know SL is still going, who is going to trip over it or find it, never mind join? Not that the marketing fixes the critical problems that already drive newcomers away when they encounter the Welcome Areas, but that's a different problem altogether.

Melponeme_k

The purpose of a corporation is not to explore personal psychological problems. It is create a product and sell it.

Instead, due to lame ass cultic beliefs like singularity/scrum/love machine, SL tore its staff to pieces with crazy psychoanalysis. Then it all comes out like E.S.T. renewed.

The customers of SL are not paying LL to find out why their employees used to suck their thumbs as children. Please! Mercy!

elizabeth (16)

@melponeme_k - am not sure but i think u missed the point or u making another whole diff one maybe

what ginsu said was he gave up on other members of the team bc first he gave up on himself

is quite humbling to acknowledge that about urself. not many ppl have strength of character to do that. not many males anyways who in alpha positions. is the beginning of a new path for him. i think he can move on now with lots more wisdom. that a good thing

shockwave yareach

@Elizabeth - so SL has fallen on hard times because some people weren't hugged enough as children?

A professional distance should be kept between your personal life and your professional life to prevent just these kinds of problems. We all have high periods and low periods. But you can't make the whopper without a beef patty just because you see no future in what you're doing now. Even in a dead end mcJob you keep solely to keep food on the table, you still have to do that job correctly. Thus you seperate your personal life from it, to keep sane as much as to keep the job.

I don't know Ginsu, but I'm glad he's feeling better about life today. Had he and others not formed a cult of personality and then got upset when it all imploded on them, there would be no need for looking in the mirror at your navel to begin with.

elizabeth (16)

@shockwave yareach

thats what ginsu said. they did do that. he has gazed into his navel. he has learned from that and now he a better person for it. not sure why anyone would want to keep hammering on him for doing something that he already admit to

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