Hercule Poirot would love sl – not for any of the usual reasons that most of us would cite; no, he’d love it because the only way to get coherent picture of anything that’s going on is to exercise the ‘little grey cells’ and discover the startling truth by stitching together the facts from wildly diverse and obscure sources. Linden Lab makes sl users jump through the most ridiculous hoops simply to find out the most basic and important information and, just to make SLife more interesting, they never give us any clues about where we can find out salient and up-to-date facts about our virtual world.
To illustrate my point, let me give you two alternative scenarios:
#1: Stringfellow Bumblewax switches on his laptop and checks his e-mail. At the top of the list he spots the weekly Linden Lab newsletter, which he reads with interest. Inside, he finds a quick briefing on the latest showstopper bugs, with a brief outline of what LL are doing to combat them – each one has a ‘submit more information’ button, which takes him straight to the relevant Jira entry, allowing him to add his support or own experiences for those bugs he’s experienced. There’s also outline stats for the most visited locations, together with the weekly ‘What’s On Guide’ and links to the forums and blogs that he’s set up as favourites in his preferences. There’s also a diary of planned maintenance for the week and, in the ‘Top Tips’ section, a quick guide to aligning prims, with a link to a video tutorial.
He logs in to sl and, once inworld, he clicks on the viewer ‘Dashboard’ button to bring up his account dashboard, giving him one-click access to his transactions and other dashboard functions – so much easier than the old method of having to open a web browser and log in separately. Ah, Rodvik has updated his monthly ‘sticky’ post – full of useful information about what’s happening at the Lab and forthcoming changes to sl, once again, each item has a handy link to any related pages that might be relevant. At the bottom of his dashboard is the standard ‘Links’ section, giving access all the most important sl information, including the Wiki, tutorials and Destination Guide – all in one accessible place and with a short note explaining what each link leads to.
He’s ready to explore, when a message pops up in the corner of the screen from the Works Department: ‘Just to let you know that we intend doing scheduled maintenance on this region in 30 minutes – we advise you not to undertake any building work or financial transactions until we notify you the work is complete’ – well, that was a timely warning, maybe he’ll log back in later.
#2: Tinklesweet Butterbean switches on her PC and checks her e-mail. She’s astounded to find one of Linden Lab’s infrequent and erratic newsletters and quickly opens it to check she’s not dreaming. What a waste of time! – It might be interesting if she really wanted to be a vampire, or was a potential new recruit wanting to create an account and sample one of the new avatars – but, in all honesty, there’s nothing of interest – she deletes it and logs in to sl. Whilst her clothing downloads, she juggles between the viewer and her web browser, in which she has her account dashboard open. Checking the titles of the latest updates from Linden Lab, she’s not surprised to find that there are still no posts newer than 6 weeks old and Rodvik’s crowing about the proposed innovations from 2 months ago just seem lame now. The Grid status updates aren’t much use either – how on earth does she know which server she’ll be on at any given time, so that she can dodge all the maintenance glitches?
Speaking of glitches, she still seems to be having that weird graphics problem – she really should report it, but she’s no idea how to access the Jira, although she remembers seeing something about it somewhere… Maybe in the Wiki? (If she knew how to navigate to that!). With little hope, she tries the forums, blogs and announcements but to no avail, although she does discover a new forum for ‘missed romantic connections’ – now whose bright idea was that?
Sighing, she returns inworld and spends the next hour rezzing items in her shop, taking plenty of care and time to display them to their best advantage – she nips to the loo, only to return to see the worst message in the world in the corner of her screen – This region will be going offline in 3 minutes…
Which scenario seems most familiar to you, and which, in an ideal world, would you plump for?
i only ask because, with something as complex and involved as a virtual world, easy access to timely, accurate and up-to-date information – for every resident from complete numpty to super-geek – is crucial and, time after time, i find that’s exactly what i find myself lacking. Consequently i’m reduced to working my way through badly-titled forum posts, interminable hopping from Wiki to Jira to goodness-knows-where, and snatching useful snippets of information from other bloggers who have inside knowledge, or just happen to be in the right place at the right time to catch up on the latest gossip. Whilst this may be clocking up the internet equivalent of air miles sufficient to fly me club class half way across the Grid, it’s an insanely frustrating and nonsensical process to have to go through, just to keep up to date with developments in sl. What’s more annoying is that there’s absolutely no need for it – the outlay and effort required to operate something along the lines of Scenario #1 is pretty minimal and certainly a good deal less than, say a new advertising campaign to get vampire fans to join sl and would be infinitely more productive and welcomed by a vast swathe of, otherwise rather discontent, residents. Besides, most of the ‘infrastructure’ is already in place – a bit of tidying-up and rationalising of links and proper signposting to information is mostly all that’s required – am i the only one who thinks it’s barmy to have a blog feed on the Dashboard that’s hardly ever used to give us important information… which of course, could well be available somewhere, only it’s hidden away on some Linden’s profile feed or some techie blog that only the well-informed and ardent spam-meisters frequent!
Of course i realise that it’s really a bit much to expect Rodvik to personally update us about everything that’s going on weekly, or even monthly – he’s a busy man, bogged down with all sorts of CEO stuff like, erm… well, stuff. Surely though, the Lab has the wherewithall for every department to pass their important guff to Officejunior Linden, whose job is then to cobble it together into something helpful and useful – Rod can sign it and nobody would ever know the difference. Surely that’s perfectly do-able?
Ugh – i annoy myself when i go off on these rants but when i’m constantly finding i’m wasting precious time trying to find out important things that should be instantly to hand, it does wind me up – and when i stumble across information that i’m sure would be valuable to the wider populace of sl, buried deep in some lesser Linden’s profile feed, i swear you can see the steam coming out of my ears!
How difficult can it be?
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Radiohead – High And Dry