Second Life

The Second Life Hit Parade Continues: Assurances in a Lively World

Extending to, by my count, 48 hours of positive spin from Linden Lab, M Linden posted his second entry on the Second Life blog today, painting a picture of an improving, more stable grid, a library of Torley videos and a continued focus on the new user experience.

OK. I have to say - I’m actually kind of impressed. This has been a well-orchestrated week of positive messaging, followed by this fire fighting by M on the Google front, no matter how much you might disagree with the nuance or fine print. It’s how a communication campaign should be run - set some big picture context, add some tech sizzle with the IBM/SL interoperability announcement (and pick up some mainstream press as well), and then get down to some specifics with the man at the helm promising his eye’s on the ball (whether preplanned or not).

Unfortunately, the comments by M might be falling deaf ears, or Lively ears anyways, swamped under the giddiness over at that cartoon chat competitor Lively from our friends at Google. At least they’re not Vivaty, which came out on Facebook only to be drown out by the Google-eyed media firestorm.

As M said:

“The possibilities of Virtual Worlds have attracted a slew of entrepreneurs and even some Internet giants. Some are offering a simple, visually appealing chat solution. Others are more ambitious.”

The subtle dig at Lively is beautiful.

Someone over there’s been boning up on their presentation and writing skills - either that or, *gasp*, M wrote this himself and deserves more patience than I might have otherwise given.

Strangely, I feel comforted. We’ve long dreaded the launch of Google and it’s Sketch-Up warehouses, and while I strongly believe that they still have that in the pipeline, Lively ain’t it.

So Second Life can breathe a little easier - all the nay sayers and doom prophets who predict an exodus to Lively obviously haven’t visited it yet. It’s fun, it’s goofy, it’s crisp - and it’s chat. Sure, Second Life is a glorified telephone, as Prok calls it, but it’s a beautiful looking telephone with a leapord skin print cover.

And hidden in M’s letter from the Lab some encouraging signs that when they SAID they were focusing on the new user experience, stability, and registration maybe they meant it. M touches on a few of the highlights:

- Reduced crash rates from Havok4 (and I dunno, but it really does FEEL more stable to me)
- New client coming (and I give them credit - they backed off the Dazzle interface which was a mistake, and are making it optional, throwing in skinning of the client to boot)
- Improved registration (and again, I think it’s true - I did the run-through a week ago and it was a bit better)

M also promises a few other goodies up his sleeve, after reminding us of the Torley videos, which surely ARE helpful, if only they’d also do a proper clean up of HELP.

The quote, the promise that I LOVE, of course, is their initiative to create a “newbie” UI:

“We also launched a new initiative to completely redesign the viewer from top to bottom – recognizing that new users don’t need such a dizzying array of features, and experienced users, land and business owners and content creators need better tools that are more thoughtfully designed and organized for their needs. Everyone needs better inventory management and search is due for an overhaul. We hear you. We’re on it.”

If only we’d thought of it first. (And by we, I don’t mean me, I was a begrudging latecomer to seeing the need for a newbie-friendly client).

M: I cordially invite you to attend our UI contest discussions and to meet the winners and review their entries!

One thing that troubles me, however, is his lack of mention of Mono. Whether he left it off his list of stuff to come because it’s been lowered in the queue after the next candidate or other patches, or whether he thought it might be too arcane for a wide audience, I don’t know. But I’m of the increasing belief that Mono may be a fairly transformative change to the Grid.

So you know what - there’s lots of issues, there are concerns and worries (copy protection with the connection to openSim, whether we actually CAN reach 70,000 concurrency, amongst other things) - but I’m chalking this up to a good week on the Grid.

Kudos M. And please post more often. It’s not just Google that should place a demand on your articulation of focus and strategy, the residents would like to hear it also.


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