Ebbelution

chngeIt’s been a whole two months since Ebbe Altberg took the helm of the good ship Linden, and what an interesting and intriguing couple of months they’ve turned out to be.

Even at this early stage, we’ve seen some pretty big changes in approach and attitude which, on the whole, appear to be very positive. The Lab, under Altberg’s direction, appears to be adopting far more transparency in its stewardship of sl – pretty much from day one, the flow of communication increased, with the re-emergence of regular official blog posts, (we’ve even had a humorous April Fool post!), and a CEO who seemed to want to talk to the people using the platform. There’s been an openness with the user base that was previously missing, with the Lab actively engaging with high profile residents, like Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley, and – if anecdotal evidence is to be believed – the Lab appears to be becoming far more responsive to resident feedback – take this week’s changes to the Marketplace transaction logs, which were rolled back to their previous incarnation pretty rapidly when traders began to voice their opinions on the ‘improvements’. This is all new.

Now there’s even a rumour that the Lindens are being encouraged to spend time inworld and socialise with residents!

Simon Linden_001Then there’s the re-opening of the Jira – possibly a brave move, considering it was primarily the bad behaviour of resident contributors who prompted its closure in the first place. All in all, the Lab seems to be making all the right noises, in all the right places – and that has to be a good thing, right?

Is it the case that the Lab has taken notice of the all the negativity that residents have been feeling, particularly over the past couple of years? Or have they simply discovered that keeping customers at arm’s length and in the dark doesn’t make good business sense? Whatever the reason, it would be foolish for us to look this particular gift horse in the mouth – things we’ve complained bitterly about, for a very long time now, have improved considerably and – if we do indeed have Ebbe’s ear – then perhaps it’s time we did the grown-up thing, stopped whinging and respond to these positive steps in a constructive and coherent manner. Whilst we may have traditionally taken pleasure in bad-mouthing Linden Lab and all that they do, only the most near-sighted and entrenched can deny that there have been all-round improvements in the sl experience in recent months.

present_001In fact, sl has been steadily improving for quite some time now – especially on the technical side – even prior to Ebbe’s arrival. i won’t deny, for example, that the decision to prevent third party developer’s from releasing features until they had been launched in the official viewer, was one that irked me considerably. It seemed to me inevitable that it would staunch innovation and slow development for third party viewers – and maybe, to a degree, it has. What is undeniable though is that the policy has worked: the official sl viewer is now, (often grudgingly), acknowledged as being the most stable it has ever been, rivaling, maybe even exceeding the performance of its third party spinoffs – that’s something i never thought i’d see, or say! There’s still part of me that thinks it would do no harm to allow third party developers a little more free rein – the argument about ‘breaking the shared user experience’ is surely equally valid when it’s applied in reverse, with the official viewer showcasing functionality that third party viewers may lack?

One thing i find particularly interesting is the unexpected appearance on the scene of SL Go. With high-speed, high spec sl available to pretty much anyone who wants to shell out for the monthly fee, it does beg the question whether that’s a pathway that our virtual world may well invest heavily in – it may even stave off the competition from competitors like Hi-Fidelity, and levels the playing field somewhat when it comes to rubbing shoulders with fast, slick, multi-player gaming. Suddenly, Linden Lab acquiring Desura makes a whole lot more sense in that context.

Greater transparency, improved communication and a beefed-up user experience… isn’t that what we’ve been asking for all along?

And i bet we’ll still complain about it!

s. x

And he said: Behold what I have done
I’ve made a better world for everyone
Nobody laughs, nobody cries
World without end, forever and ever
Amen, amen, amen
Hazel O’Connor – Eighth Day

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