Business in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Shut Down the Blogs and Head for the Exits

Further addendum: Am I the only one infuriated that Catherine Linden threw in her two cents only ONCE in the comments that followed the posting of this issue? These people need to take communication classes – preferably from Sidewinder Linden. Ignoring all other comments and the hundred that followed, Catherine instead responded only to Ciaran (kudos! woot!):

“Hey Ciaran, in answer to your specific question about timing, we are actually providing plenty of time — 90 days — to get your questions answered and let the community start using the inSL logo. We anticipate there will be lots of questions and we’ll do our best to answer Thanks for the comments everyone.”

90 days notice to undo, um, how many YEARS of having guidelines that a community of fans was following? Give me a break.

Linden Labs sent out a Trojan horse into the community – a spiffy (and useless) new logo, perhaps thinking bloggers, content creators, educators and businesses wouldn’t notice the fine print which many are speculating is all prelude to an IPO.

I find myself increasingly furious. I suppose Philip is way too busy interviewing new CEOs to take the time to review substantial policy changes and branding decisions, but if that’s true then WHO IS MAKING THESE DECISIONS?

Didn’t they have any idea that following all the speculation on Philip’s vacating the CEO position that tightening up trademark issues right on the heels of the announcement is a sure-fire way to fuel speculation that the company is either priming to go public, or is currently in its own DUE DILIGENCE in preparation for a sale?

Did they think through any of the implications to companies who, often without any profit motive at all, or without teams of editors and designers will need to redirect domains, proof blogs, add disclaimers – the list goes on.

Now, the bloggers are either brushing off the latest policy change as yet another misguided effort by its lawyers to plug loopholes (which will later be generally ignored by front-line staffers, with different divisions doing different things, a la age verification)…or as a slap in the face to the community.

If the former, it’s just another misguided attempt by Linden to get its house in order for the outside legal and venture folks, while Philip whistles quietly to himself in the corner, dreaming of a metaverse nirvana while becoming increasingly disconnected and obscure.

Gwyneth Llewelyn has taken up the mantle and is threatening a blog boycott and shut-down unless Linden provides clarification (I’d direct link to the posting, but it seems to redirect back on itself or something):

“We would thus kindly request that you clarify your position regarding the usage of the trademarks Second Life® and the logo on all fansites, blogs, forums, or other 3rd party websites offering products and services related to Second Life®. This clarification should be as easy to follow as your previous policies on the usage of those trademarks. They should make clear that all people intending to promote your product and raise your brand awareness are not facing lawsuits because they have faithfully used your trademarks using the old policy, and wish to continue to do so in the future.

We consider that an appropriate response should be forthcoming in the next few days, or we will be forced to shut down our own blogs, websites, forums, community portals, and other 3rd party sites to avoid litigation — and thus deprieving Linden Lab® from the traffic generated by millions of direct links and millions of viewers that learn first about Second Life® through all those sites.

This is a broader issue than just protecting the Linden trademarks. It’s an issue of communication and synching itself to its ecosystem of users, creators, and partners.

As it happens, I read ESC’s blog this morning, which basically seems to be their acknowledgment that they are (mostly) throwing in the towel on Second Life, and while my initial reaction was negative, I’m now quickly sliding over to strongly agreeing based on this latest fiasco:

Perhaps it is very self-serving but I have always believed that Linden Lab’s strength would lie in enabling a deep and wide ecosystem of 3rd party developers. This requires both fostering that ecosystem and creating a robust and open technical platform for those developers to work upon. Linden Lab has been well-meaning with the former, but has fallen down on the latter. It has moved in inches, rather than miles, and been afraid to cannibalize its existing community and economy. Not surprisingly, many 3rd party developers have lost patience and shifted to OpenSim and Multiverse or shifted back to Flash and the Web browser. I would think that once OpenSim is able to create its own viewer from scratch and break free from the SL GPL license, it too will split from Second Life compatibility.

Fostering the ecosystem includes that of the bloggers, content creators, companies, and the community of users.

I may not be out the door yet, but I’ve got my coat on.


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