On the Future of SL…some thoughts

With the departure of another batch of Lindens comes an uncomfortable thought. Secondlife is created and run by Linden Laboratories, which is a part of Linden Research. Following a number of blogposts from others who have their virtual ears much more to the ground than I, it is increasingly coming to my attention that Secondlife is really a backwater to this company. There are many virtual products that seem to be taking much more of their time and resources and perhaps, since they are not so complex, producing better results for the parent company. It is also true that while Secondlife is still almost without doubt the best and most complex virtual world out in the marketplace, it is by no means alone any longer.

Secondlife’s present population is, I suspect, composed of a large proportion of what were once called (rather dismissively) “early adopters”: those folk who saw potential in the structure of SL to create virtual environments of their own imagining. There is also a substantial portion of folk, who like myself came to the virtual world of SL a little later, and found an environment that permitted an imaginary lifestyle denied us in real life due to illness and infirmity. I embraced the possibilities of Secondlife whole-heartedly as the wheels came off my Firstlife. There are also a large number of folk who find Secondlife offers the potential to live a lifestyle that is simply impossible or at least highly impractical in the “real world”. Such folk have come to be a bit posessive of SL, we regard it at least as our “home”, and anything that interferes with our lives as being unpalatable or in extreme cases unacceptable. We forget the true nature of our vitual environment. There is also a proportion of folk who use SL as a virtual game, pure and simple and have little or no involvement or immersion in the nature of Secondlife.

It is unfortunate that Linden Lab have never embraced or even acknowledged the therapeutic qualities of SL to many folk; indeed on occasion it has seemed as though some part of the organisation was actively seeking to discourage such folk and certainly gave little of no support to those who tried to make SL accessible to others less able than themselves. I know for a while SL and Linden Lab seemed to be friendly to educational operations, but that support has dwindled and atrophied in recent years.

The current CEO of Linden Lab, Rod Humble, has a background in virtual gaming and it seems to me that that aspect of SL is all that he cares about. His management competence is at least questionable and the internal structure of Linden Lab is apparently at least complex and at worst chaotic. The recent spate of dismissals appears to target those Lindens that, due to the nature of their jobs, had more interaction with SL’s populace (“users”). I wonder if these folk have come to recognise residents of SL as worthy of attention and as such, have become less valuable to Linden Lab? Is it considered unacceptable within Linden Lab to have some regard for the residents? Does that equate, in Linden Lab managers’ eyes, to a lack of objectivity? Such a position would certainly explain the sudden departure of a good many of the recent Linden Lab employees.

I do not have much regard for the business practises of Linden Research, and The Lab, and it seems to me that it is entirely mutual.

~ by Ayesha Askham-Ezvalt on November 11, 2012.

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