Best of luck with your dilemma!

Some good news – the planned rollout of the new ‘received items’ folder from 21st March won’t now be happening. I daresay that Linden Lab will now continue to push the idea just for show and then quietly forget all about it – that, to me, seems the best approach, considering the nightmare few weeks that LL have had.

Poor souls, even when they try to do things the right way, they do it in their own inimitable Lindenesque style, thereby turning a golden opportunity into a bit of a balls up. This is the second time recently that they’ve tried to do the right thing by asking the masses for their opinion, then completely ignored all the feedback they’ve received. First was Rodvik’s ’round table’ on the last names issue – the masses unequivocally said “give us back last names”, and Rodvik said… “No!”.

Still trying… “Give us direct delivery from the Marketplace”, the masses cried and, to their credit, the Lindens said, “Yes!” – then offered a solution that was horribly off target. Once again, the Lab asked for feedback and received a resounding, “No!” from the punters. “Tough!”, came the response, “we’re rolling it out”.

So why has the Lab now recanted? Simply because of this Jira: In simple terms, the proposed change will systematically break some major RLV functionality, along with a whole host of non-RLV functions and impact upon thousands of residents. It begs the question, why on earth did none of those clever people at the Lab notice this long before the whole debacle started? It’s not particularly something that you need a degree in coding to understand – even i can grasp the reasons why the changes will be so destructive – surely someone at the Lab should have noticed? The answer to that conundrum lies, not with the inherent complexities of coding new functions, but with the style of approach that the Lab choose to take when dealing with their users.

Let me explain what i mean: Picture a typical Linden Lab project meeting…

Developer Linden: We need to come up with a bug fix to stop Marketplace deliveries failing when users are offline.

Commerce Linden: ‘Bug fix’ sounds so negative – let’s turn this into a marketing opportunity and call it a ‘New Feature’ – that sounds so much better!

So, Developer Linden goes back to Team Linden and tells them, “guys, we’ve got a new feature to implement” – so that’s where the focus lies and the result is a disaster.

Now, i realise that explains nothing at all! So, let me give you a metaphor that should make it all crystal clear –

You own a car that has broken down; it’s an old model and pretty reliable but you have a bit of spare cash, so you have a choice –

Option 1 – repair it: By taking this option – the bug fix – you’re completely focussed on getting the car running properly; you’re dealing with a known quantity and the only changes necessary are those immediately concerned with the repairs you’re effecting. The end result is the same car that now runs better and performs as it’s supposed to. It’s the cheaper, although more disruptive, sensible option.

Option 2 – buy a new car: Whilst this option – the new feature – might seem to solve the problem, it doesn’t. Now all we can think about are the new shiny things. This glittery stuff distracts us from the practicalities… we forget to consider how much extra the insurance might be, whether the running costs will be crippling, and the difficulties of obtaining those foreign parts when it eventually breaks down. We don’t even realise that we’re still going to have to repair the old car, otherwise we’ll never be able to sell it! So, we part with our cash and drive home, only to find it’s too big for our garage! It’s a quick, shiny fix but not necessarily the right one.

So, when the programmers are told to focus all their efforts on implementing a new shiny feature, is it any wonder that it all goes pear-shaped?

The Lindens, of course, will shift the blame – “RLV is a TPV innovation – it’s not our fault that our programmers didn’t consider it when they were working on direct delivery – it’s not part of the official browser and not part of the shared experience”. Fair point – and i can imagine that it will give the Lab even more reason now to impose restrictions on Third Party Developers, but either way, they face a rather sticky dilemma.

There’s a significant proportion of sl residents and merchants for whom RLV is an extremely important part of their virtual experience – if the Lab are unable to fix direct delivery without breaking RLV and forge ahead anyway then they are pretty much guaranteed to lose a huge amount of their user base overnight. Alternatively, if the Lab cannot fix direct delivery and continue to support RLV, then they’re seen to be submitting to TPDs, which flies completely in the face of the current furore raging over the recent changes to TOS. Even if they can fix direct delivery and retain RLV, they’re still giving the appearance of giving-in to the TPDs – it’s a no-win situation. The most worrying part of this for me is that it gives the Lab an excuse to clamp down even further on viewer development on the grounds that it breaks the shared experience. It’s not difficult to foresee the eventual demise of the Third Party Viewer completely.

There is another way – a way that would have avoided all of the problems that have arisen: If Linden Lab encouraged the free-flow of information and sharing of knowledge between themselves, their users and Third Party Developers and both listened and acted upon the feedback they were given, working in partnership with other interested parties, then it’s unlikely that any of this would ever have occurred. It seems such an obvious and sensible way to deal with these complex and multi-faceted problems – successful businesses have been doing it for years! i’m not trying to knock Linden Lab – they’re more than capable of doing that themselves – but it’s hard not to get annoyed when this kind of stuff just keeps happening! SL residents don’t want broken experiences any more than the Lab does – but that applies as much to the breakages that the Lab causes, as to the supposed ‘broken experience’ that the Lab is so concerned about coming from elsewhere.

How did i get here? i had every intention of writing about my lost horse when i started writing this… Damn you Linden Lab for breaking my train of thought!

s. x

And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong
I’m right
Where I belong I’m right
Where I belong.
See the people standing there who disagree and never win
And wonder why they don’t get in my door.
The Beatles – Fixing A Hole

This entry was posted in Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL, Techietalk. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Best of luck with your dilemma!

  1. To their credit, LL did change course. That has been happening more frequently lately. There was a time when they would have just pushed it through.
    I also suspect that RLV is key to some Linden’s recreational use of SL 🙂

    • Fair comment – although they took a helluva lot of ‘persuading’ and the latest news from the Lab is less than reassuring – seems to be a temporary respite more than anything more permanent. The shame of it is that, with effective communication and honest dialogue, we’d probably have something that ticked all the right boxes by now!

      s. x

  2. Pingback: WHAT IS THIS CRAP? » Pushing 100 word stories back an hour this week…

  3. “It begs the question, why on earth did none of those clever people at the Lab notice this long before the whole debacle started?”

    Simple: They don’t eat the dogfood. we do.
    In early 2011 I declared that it would be the year of “The Lindens have Left the building” – a mantra I repeated at the SLxB party, which had an astonishing lack of regular lindens. Only a few speech givers.

    The people left working there, do not use the product.
    They don’t know how it is used. They know what it does and what it could do. But they don’t know how it have been used and how it is still used.

    If you don’t eat the dogfood, you won’t know what it tastes like, no matter how much you look at it from up high standing near the empty can you just poured out into our bowl.

    Get down here with us dogs, and cats for that matter, and have a taste.

    • There’s been a fair bit of talk too that the Lindens who do all the techie stuff behind the scenes don’t see a virtual world, just a platform. When half the company only seems interested selling the dogfood, and the other half only care about the ingredients, it’s a hopeless situation.

      s. x

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