Beyond Second Life

shadow_project_mosaic_23D Web is the set of technologies that put user browsers in an online, interactive 3D environment.

“The internet wants and needs a third dimension, bigger than Second Life.”  Mark Kingdon

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”  Martin Luther King Jr.

We need Second Life to continue, not for its own sake, but for that continuing emergence of a fourth dimension of human connection, bigger than even 3D Web.

Those following the Wacky Adventures of Second Life are aware of the Viewer 2 controversy, epitomized in replies to Esbee Linden’s July 21st blog post, “Now Available — A Faster, More Stable Viewer 2.” The responses indicate that people are having a tough time buying that message.

Even those of us who are faithful followers of the Lab Word (and I admit I am one of them more often than not) had private grumblings about how fast this viewer was brought out as “public beta” (less than a month’s notice in private beta),  not to mention it becoming the official viewer download for new registrants though it was STILL “beta” and had issues. Many of us went along with it but many went to third party viewers in protest. The rest continued to use the old Viewer 1.

In the middle of this, suddenly came Lab Layoffs of 30% of staff, followed by the resignations of two top Lab executives: CPO Tom Linden and CEO Mark Linden.  Then the announcement that Philip Linden was back as Interim CEO and would be holding public forums. Philip’s first public forum was yesterday, wherein he spoke messages of emotional reassurance and promises of improved stability and performance. Hard to say how this will be received – 50:50 or higher, believing the good word?; Lower, to something like 30:70? If you count the NEW people who came into Second Life while Mark was the CEO, it may be the lower figure: to them, Philip is an unknown. To them, Philip PICKED Mark.

I don’t see Linden Lab going away anytime soon, but I do see a continuing general lack of comprehension on what is going on.


I liked Mark – he picked a straight course and he steered it. He may be one of the few who realized that not even the Lab, nor Philip, know what’s going on. My favorite Kingdon quote was made in his presentation at MetaMeets 2010: “The internet wants and needs a third dimension, bigger than Second Life.” My cynical friends hear that as an excuse. I hear it as a genuine expression of someone who is GOOD at social networks who has banged his head for two years on 3D Web and been baffled. I feel his pain and, between you and me, I think Philip feels Mark’s pain as well – especially now that the Lab is back in Phil’s hands.

But back to the controversy and the forums. I just this week heard Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” I think that this is what is going on now in the Lab Community Forums: Those writers are rioting.

The Lab has had teams and web sites and forums in place for YEARS (Second Life just celebrated its 7th birthday) to run focus groups and communications channels. Yet there is a recurring generic complaint that, “The Lab does not listen to its community base nor act upon their collective counsel.”

The issue of Viewer 2 is not the first that provoked feedback riots. But the frustration may be higher this time because of the lack of communication since the layoffs. Many of the Lab staff who ran the focus groups and communications channels either left the Lab early or left as a result of the layoffs. The survivors have been very, very, VERY quiet.

So Linden Lab appears more out of touch with its community base and their collective counsel than usual. And Philip has his work cut out for him, restoring communication with the community and the Lab staff.


I wish them the best and pledge my continued support. I know that virtual environments encompass more than Second Life, but I also know that Second Life is the only convincing component of 3D Web to date. We need Second Life to continue, not for its own sake, but for that continuing emergence of a fourth dimension of human connection, bigger than even 3D Web.


One Response to “Beyond Second Life”

  1. JoJa Dhara Says:

    Sigh… I couldn’t agree more!!

    My fear is written in this…just see a way and live a happy virtual second life ;-)


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