Much ado about something

We live in interesting times!

I can’t say that I’m surprised that Linden Lab have thrown in the towel for Sansar – I imagine it’s been on the cards for quite some time, and they’ve just been waiting for the right opportunity to come along to offload it. I’ll admit to getting quite excited five years ago, when the Lab first announced their new venture, but that’s a long old time in the technology business without bearing any real fruit, and Sansar never quite caught the imagination in quite the same manner as SL did, and still does. So, the time has come to ring the changes and put the project to bed, and I think that’s a positive thing, on many levels, which will become apparent below.

There are some things however that remain constant, and that’s the wealth of naysayers and commentators whom, it seems, have a personal axe to grind with the Lab, and no matter how familiar it has become over the years, I still find myself baffled by the vitriol and invective that’s propogated by these people whenever there’s a new announcement, feature or communication that comes out of the Lab, or – if I’m honest – any time in between announcements too. Much of it is horribly ill-informed, couched in immensely bitter terms, and frequently (by their own admission) authored by people who haven’t even logged in to SL for years.

This particular round of negativity has a few common themes, and though I’m loathe to respond to a one-sided and blinkered debate, I do think that sometimes for the sake of balance, somebody needs to say things as they really are, if only because no-one else seems to be saying it. So, I’ve paraphrased some of my favourite ranty missives that are currently doing the rounds, and I shall deal with them as briefly and succinctly as I can, which is frankly probably more than they deserve!

Linden Lab are rubbish – who in their right mind would waste 5 years developing something nobody ever wanted, at the expense of SL, then dump it?

You do realise that the Lab are, a) a business, and b) a Silicon Valley business? They operate (successfully) in an evironment that is utterly reliant on R&D and predicting trends and acting on them. This is fiendishly difficult, unpredictable and risky, but at some point, if you want to stay in business you have to take a punt on following a hunch and throw everything you have at it to try to make it a success

It’s not been at the expense of SL – development of the original brand has continued throughout, with probably more innovation than we’ve see for years. Better still, the insight and capability the Lab gained through developing Sansar is undoubtedly going to benefit and improve SL in the longer term.

Dump Sansar? Nope, they’re gonna sell it, for a big fat sum of cash and it’s a pretty good bet a lot of that will be pumped back into developing SL.

Ebbe should be sacked for gross mismanagement.

Rubbish! The Lab has a board of directors who make decisions based on sound commercial principles – it is not a dictatorship where one person runs the whole show. Whatever you may think of the way LL do business, and they’re by no means perfect in some regards, they’ve managed to survive and make a profit in one of the most cut-throat sectors there is, for way longer than most small tech companies could aspire to.

I realise in the States you can be sacked without reason, but here in the civilised world you generally have to do something wrong and stupid to be fired. I can’t see that’s happened here.

All that money and effort should have been put into SL – rather than build a new virtual world, they should have upgraded SL instead.

As previously stated, SL has – and is – going through a whole host of upgrades and improvements, despite Sansar. However, if you really do want a whole new physics engine, blisteringly fast graphics and zero latency, I’m afraid you’re asking the Lab to break almost all existing content for everyone, implement a stringent regime on how all users interact with SL, and introduce a whole raft of new tech that will take years to test, embed and optimise. Not gonna happen.

How could Linden Lab heartlessly layoff all those poor people?

Did you miss the bit about LL being a business?

Why all the secrecy about who the ‘Heavy Hitters’ coming back to the Lab are?

None of our business.

Second Life is dying! Run to the hills!

Yeah, yeah – slowest death ever… I’ve been hearing this ridiculous assertion for the past 13 years.


Anyway, I’ve said my piece. Personally, I think Sansar was a brave attempt to jump onboard the fledgling VR gravy train – sadly, VR is still to properly take off, if it ever does, and the Lab have made a smart move as far as I can see in halting the development of Sansar. It’s a shame for all those Residents who’ve invested time and effort into the new venture, but no-one knows what the future holds for it – it may still be a success when its new owners take the helm. And, if you happen to be one of those who did jump onboard – before you moan about it too much just remember you signed up for Beta testing… Not a finished product, or for that matter, something that would necessarily make it to general release. Welcome to the world of software development!

s. x

“Turn off your mind relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying”
Little Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows

This entry was posted in 2.0, Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, SL, Techietalk. Bookmark the permalink.

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