Culture shift

Well, here’s a thing – could it be that the way in which Linden Lab goes about its business is undergoing a slow, but inexorable, paradigm shift?

It’s almost a year ago that CEO Rodvik Humble took the helm of the good ship Linden and set course for some of the uncharted reaches of the metaverse. At the time, i was more than a little concerned that our Rodders, coming from a gaming background would go all out to turn sl into some sort of souped up version of The Sims and, before the year was out, we’d all be asked to stump up forty quid for an upgrade pack – (Rodney, you plonker!). At the time i wrote about his questionable and unimpressive start – (cynical – me?) – not without a nagging feeling of impending doom.

Thankfully, my worst fears haven’t been realised, instead what we’ve seen over the past year have been increasingly weird and wonderful ideas for new ‘features’ – the vast bulk of which, most of us could happily do without. SL has lurched from all the hoohah and pomp surrounding mesh implementation, (whatever happened to mesh?), the bad feeling and complete disregard for commonsense surrounding Viewer 2, through Facebook wannabe to the rather strange launch of the ‘basic viewer’ option for noobs –

“Basic mode is an easier, simplified experience designed to introduce users to Second Life. Our goal is to get new users comfortable in SL using Basic mode and then have the option to toggle to the Advanced mode when they are ready to conduct more advanced activities such as using voice, purchasing virtual goods, and building. And, it’s easy to switch back and forth.”

…which in the latest viewer has been completely done away with because…

“By merging the Basic and Advanced modes, users no longer need to switch between modes, which improves usability – and ultimately enhances the Second Life inworld experience.”

i’m baffled!

Anyway, despite my fears, to all appearances it seems to have been pretty much ‘business as usual’ in sl  – the Lindens do their own thing and we do ours and never the twain shall meet. At least, that’s what it looks like from the outside, however if the rumour mill is to be believed, changes are afoot within the hallowed corridors of Linden Lab. i mentioned recently that our friend Torley had intimated at some big changes at the Lab, with his own role being significantly altered. He’s now given us a more tantalising glimpse into what’s going on…

… right now, I don’t have any plans to do more video tutorials. I know that sounds terribly alarming given my track record, so let me explain: my limbs have been full doing other work at Linden Lab in other flavors of “amplifying your awesome”, including projects that Glorious Rodvik has been gradually revealing in interviews. Also, I’m mentoring a new generation of Lindens in Second Life culture…

But right now (the very instant I type this), my skills are being focused on where LL and the Experience Design team I’m on thinks they can be used best, and that’s mainly a lot of new territory… we’ve all had a lot of changes to adapt to and grow from — but don’t we always? 🙂

Now that sounds interesting! i’m intrigued by the phrase ‘mentoring a new generation of Lindens in Second Life culture’ – hopefully, this doesn’t mean – and Torley being the kind of guy he is, not forgetting that long ago he was just a plain old resident like you and i – teaching the new guys how to completely ignore what people want and plough on with their own plans regardless! It would be nice to think that they’re being given a grounding in what sl really means to its residents… and to me, that seems to be an awfully big shift in the business focus of Linden Lab.

To be absolutely honest, i didn’t even know there was an ‘Experience Design Team’ – i was always under the impression that it tended to be the residents themselves who designed the experience, however hearing that they’re exploring new territory and having to change and grow might well be a very good thing! We shall just have to wait and see what the coming months bring.

i’m still not sure about Rodvik but it does seem that the guy’s influence is starting to bite where it matters – not so much the nuts and bolts of sl, but the people wielding the spanners who put the whole show together… i can’t help thinking we’re in for some interesting times ahead!

S. x

Where it all comes from
Is a mystery
It’s like the changing of the seasons
And the tides of the sea
The Nag’s Head – John Sullivan

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