M Linden Redux

I’ve been incredibly impressed with the depth of Mark Kingdon’s follow-up to his appearance on Metanomics. His latest set of comments managed to wrap up most of the remaining audience questions, although there were a few deferrals. In particular, his response to questions about IP and content protection open the door for….well, for something, let’s just hope it’s something that actually helps and not some clever new scheme with perms.

See the Metanomics blog post for his full reply.

A few highlights.


That is a huge topic and one I am not going to cover here except to say we hear your concerns and we are working on some things that can help. I’ll check with the team working on this area to see when they might be ready to talk about our work.


We are going to be completely reworking the Help Island/Welcome Area experience. My dream is for us to have many different kinds of first landing locations so that new users can start in SL in an experience that’s relevant to them (e.g., if you are into jazz music, you start in a location that is appropriately themed). As for more experienced users misbehavin’ in the Welcome Areas…that’s not a good thing and they shouldn’t be driving out new users


Retention fluctuates from month to month but its been trending steadily upward over the past 12 months. In fact, retention of Active Users at the 1 year mark is almost 1.5-2x what it was a year ago. It’s not a figure we regularly report but that’s your reward for reading such a long Q&A!

(Based on previous stats, this tends to suggest that retention is now in the 7.5 - 10% range).


We’re hard at work on the new viewer. It is a very difficult design challenge. Happily, we’re making great progress! I’m very excited about the new direction. We’ve talked about having a viewer that exposes functionality as it’s needed. So, a new user would start with very basic functionality and as their experience grew, they could access more advanced features. We’re not sure whether this is the direction we’ll pursue. We’re designing with the long-term in mind and working through each major area of functionality step-by-step. We started with Communications because that’s central to the experience and with voice/text x IM/local/group you have a very complex set of interactions to design. T and Howard will talk about this more on the Second Life blog in the coming months.

On this last note, this is an idea that came up some time ago, during our UI design contest: adaptive menus that reveal more features the more the user gets used to the interface. The trick is in the word “COULD” in the sentence above - I’ve seen applications of this where a program only reveals new menu items once the user has mastered others. This makes sense on some level, but discounts the learner who has a book or a mentor at their side and is seeing a completely different viewer - all I can say is, there had better be an over-ride.

But overall, thanks to Mark for his responses. It’s wonderful to get some clarity on the direction of the Lab and to get a sense of how M thinks strategically and tactically about how to make Second Life a better place.


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