Kicking off the World Cup of Conjecture

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Last week at the TPV (Third Party Viewer) Developer meeting on Friday June 20th, Linden Lab’s CEO Ebbe Altberg confirmed that Linden Lab is at the internal demo stage of the next generation of Second Life.

The community has dubbed the new project as SL 2.0. To be clear, despite the adopted moniker sounding like an upgrade, this is not an upgrade. We won’t one day be in Second Life as it is, click a button and automagically be upgraded to SL 2.0.

SL 2.0 is a new virtual world that will run parallel to Second Life. Ebbe Altberg has confirmed that the virtual world as we know it, may come to an end. In the meantime, everyone one of us will have a choice to make. The options are to (a) remain a resident of Second Life, (b) migrate to SL 2.0, (c) both, or (d) neither.

Welcome to the World Cup of Conjecture! It really is shaping up to be quite a tournament.

Because I just love to observe human behaviour, I’m going to have a field day with this one. What will people do? What reasons will they give? What stories will they create? Oh, this is going to be so much fun. And I want to talk about it with you, at this Wednesday’s Basilique Chat Salon at 1pm.

So here we are, five days into the tournament and the rival teams have assembled for the mother-of-all contest of words. First up…

Huh? Wut? Whatevs. Oh! ::::::: I ❤ THIS T U N E ! ! ! ::::::: HOoOoOUlalalala!!!

First up is Team Wut :-| ?, who aren’t really on the pitch. This team includes the majority of Second Life residents that are either blissfully unaware of the changes coming, or simply don’t care.

A small subset of this group might hear the news, and due to either apathy or misunderstanding, not bother worrying about it or carry on doing what they always do.

Given that most Second Life users don’t read SL social media, blogs, forums and industry news – which is the only place this news has been officially shared to date – this is a very large group.

I’m somewhat bemused by Team Wut :-| , but observing them is a bit like eating meringue  - the high can be mildly interesting, but the overall effect is cloying.

Linden Lab is EeeeeVIL!

And on one side…. we have Team Doomsayers! :x This team likes to take a negative approach to most changes.

Players are known to stir up fears by scaremongering to wind people up with fantastical assumptions that are either deliberately incorrect or incomplete (e.g. LL is making a new world and none of your stuff will be compatible!!)

This team likes to speak for others that they often know little about (e.g. nobody will want this change, everyone will stop spending money, all creators will stop making things, all land owners will bail leaving Second Life empty).

They might overstate absolute claims without evidence (e.g. you will lose everything you own or have ever created).

Some players will invent facts, motives and question the ability of others to suit their world view (e.g. Linden Lab is stupid, greedy, compulsively lies to us, doesn’t care about residents, and is out to screw us over at every opportunity – basically, they are giant chorizos that don’t deserve to have us as residents… despite the fact we’re all still here…)

A special tactic they like to use is to label their opponents (those who disagree with their opinions) as shortsighted and ignorant at best, or fanboys and cheerleaders at worst.

In fairness, Team Doomsayers! :x can be the most entertaining of the teams to watch. Sadly though, it’s a bit like eating a Big Mac from McDonald’s – a tasty first bite, but whoa do ever you feel like throwing up a few minutes later.

This is interesting… (and maybe even a little exciting!) Let’s hear more!

And on the other side… we have the Team Cautiously Optimistic :-) 

This team, while not overly content with everything about Second Life, see this news as a potentially positive direction for the world we hold so near and dear.

Some players might see it as an opportunity to fix so many things that we’ve all found less than great.

This team is open to hearing more, and while some of the players can be impatient (probably relative to the degree of the investments they made – emotionally, temporally, and financially), they appreciate that the future is being written as we speak, so “wait and see” is the best of all possible options that will at least reduce the risk of disappointment.

They are the wish-listers. They see this as an opportunity to start fresh, even willing to leave their baggage behind, if necessary.

Players on this team might be less attached to material things: Inventories that took years to create. Places we feel at home. The ways we navigate and cope with the world. Many feel the nostalgia and sentimentality surrounding the things they’ve made and come to rely upon, but they know they can move beyond it.

They’ll likely board the first ships with the little luggage they can carry. They’ll become the early adopters, and I’m guessing, reap the tremendous rewards available to those first embracing change.

What’s their secret weapon? What do they know that the others don’t? I think it’s that they know that Second Life – the experience, as opposed to the platform – isn’t about the stuff we have, it’s about the people that live in it.

I’ll wear my colours now: Team Cautiously Optimistic :-) is my tournament favourite and I’ll happily be counted to play for this team.

Many important questions have arisen. Many of the answers have either been “wait and see”, or “we’re not sure yet”. Our talk today won’t be about the technological or commercial merits of the move – that’s just more conjecture. Rather, I want to talk about how we’re going to emotionally deal this change, because the one thing I know for sure, is that we will have to deal with it – one way or another.

I believe this will be the biggest, most divisive challenge that we – as a community – have ever had to face. Because so much of what Linden Lab do depends on how we decide; what we do, what we say and what we think in the next 12 – 18 months will make a difference.

So… which team are you supporting?

20 thoughts on “Kicking off the World Cup of Conjecture

  1. One pointer first: Linden Lab’s CEO is Ebbe Altberg (with all “e”‘s pronounced as in “pet” – he’s of Swedish lineage). Ebbe Linden is the username of his SL avatar.

    Now, I must say that, more often than not, Team Wut ends up in an alliance with the Doomsayers. The reason is that the sensationalism adopted by the doomsayers is catchy and “makes sense” to people whose experience of SL is limited to streaming their MP3 playlists, flooding local chat & audio with obnoxious gestures, and clicking on Xcite! parts.

    Team Wut and Team Doomsayers often call all the people that don’t subscribe to the “LL IS EVIL/ LL IS TEH DEVIL/LL IS TRYING TA STEAL MAH STUFFZ!!!!!!111111″ circle-jerk of bullshit “Team Cheerleaders”. As for myself, I’m not even cautiously optimistic. I’m pragmatic. As I’ve already written, SL is an old platform (its underpinnings go as far back as the late ’90s) whose codebase is hard to maintain, and adding new capabilities to it is a royal pain. It’s a fact of life that any long-lived software project will need a refactoring every now and then.

    This refactoring took place in order to incorporate server-side appearance (SSA) and materials support to SL’s server-side code. This also necessitated an overhaul of the chat/communications system, leading us to the much-criticised CHUI; yes, parts of the rendering system were tied with seemingly unrelated UI elements such as the chat/IM/communications system. And, as we know, Firestorm held out on supporting materials until it managed to separate its own communications UI (which, incidentally, beats CHUI hands down in terms of ergonomics) from the rendering system.

    But really, the best way to make SL what it could have been is to start from scratch, leveraging the experience from the successes and failures that characterised SL’s career. So yes, it seems to me that the time is right for LL to step up its work on a next-generation virtual world, building up on the lessons learned so far.

    Will it be as popular as Philip Rosedale expects virtual worlds to be? I’m not sure. Personally, I don’t think so. Shared creative spaces are a rather niche product, and this doesn’t have to do with their technical aspects. It has to do with whether potential users will find them useful and/or attractive for their own interests, and I don’t think LL or any other virtual world provider (like AviNation, InWorldz, Kitely or what have you) has much control over this.

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      • He seems to have a better grasp of what can be done with a company like LL than his predecessors. Also, I’m going to be a heretical bitch here and say that M Linden (Mark D. Kingdon) was nowhere as clueless as the grapevine wants us to think.

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    • “Now, I must say that, more often than not, Team Wut ends up in an alliance with the Doomsayers.”

      You might be right, or you might be wrong about this. There is no evidence I know of to suggest that members of Team Wut :| will ally with the Doomsayers. In a way, this is one of the purposes of this post. I believe we in the blogging community need to understand and help communicate what’s happening so that those without a formed opinion yet get a balanced view.

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  2. A good theme Becky, would like to come, but I have the HG safari visiting my opensim projects. Did not know that the new SL will be not compatible, not an upgrade to the old. Time to leave the old technology behind? Yes and No as always first steps are good when you look back on them. I have written on this already in 2011 https://www.academia.edu/1214369/The_Primcurator_by_Reiner_Schneeberger

    When the lifecycle of SL1 ends some content might become museal as there are highly creative people, some are addicted to build with this technology, some opened new frontiers in art. High Fidelity – the new SL? I would like it.
    Art Blue

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  3. Hah, cool topic! Erm…no, it is HOT!
    I am in your team Becky, after having ploughed through various sites, blogs and epic threads on fora the past days, without commenting anywhere (I am one of those lurkers….), so I am looking forward to tonights discussion and hearing from who ever joins in!

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    • Yeah, before I wrote this post, I dragged myself through as many blog posts on the subject I could find, the massively long comment threads on them, and the 20+ page forum threads too. This is the basis of how I segmented the last two main groups above, the first one being the multitudes that are not yet participating in the discussion (as readers or contributors).

      I find, mostly, that the blogs and forum discussions do little to change people’s minds. It feels much like an echo chamber with many participants seemingly becoming more and more entrenched in their original views. And when the arguments are not enough to convince and persuade, so begin the ad hominem attacks…

      We can do better than that. Personally, I think discussions such as the ones we have help to open our minds to new ideas, if ever so slightly.

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  4. Bine Rodenberger

    I’m in the Team Cautiously Optimistic :-) here as in most things in life – most things are just better when you meet them with an open mind.

    I too have read lots of blog post and comments about this new SL2.0, and my mind is blown when the Doomsayers cry that they have wasted their money. Money spend in a virtual world on virtual things would – in most regular folks’ minds – be wasted anyway. My point however is that no money is wasted if you had fun while spending it. So I too will gladly be leaving my inventory – if I can’t take it with me – and brave the new world with a big happy smile :-D

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    • I will see you there! I agree, you never really own anything anyway – virtual or otherwise – you just get to hold onto it for a while and make the best of it while you’re here.

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  5. Sofia

    Im sorry for the bad english in advance, but ill try my best for a correct one.
    The topic is very interesting as it is labeling the teams of players.
    Still concerning the teams, we should talk about numbers and about who makes the sl community. I may be right or i may be wrong, but i am in secondlife since 2008, i do create original content and what i do see is the largest group of sl citizens are average sl knowledge users. By that i mean, they are the ones who effort to have a good looking and up to date avatar and home, blog and socialize, even create some content without a big expression about profit. I dont think that the largest group of sl users are the ones who have big business names or who are completely clueless and are limited to hit the media player button or teleport to a club. My question is, if this is probably the biggest group of people who build sl virtual world, do they really need all these new features, will they even be able to know what they are for? Are these news features going to fulfill the average sl user or the advanced one? I really think that it is something people are forgetting. The usual 40k people that are online daily in secondlife arent, in its majority, super masters of technology, either arent dumb and completely off of what sl is. Then, why to create a world for super advanced users, maybe to prove that Philip Rosedale created a limited program some years ago, maybe to prove him that the new sl will do so much better than high fidelity? Philip Rosedale is out and doesnt care about sl anymore, but he made it popular and the average sl user LOVES SL. I love SL. New sl management team should be worried with keeping sl popular and not to make people this worried with so much lack of information. Yes, i am worried with my inventory, my friend list and every place i always loved about second life. Im not a hippy to “hey peace and love and whatever is good” and im not swimming in money to embrace the idea that everything i spent so much time, money and emotional investment is now in the tick tack to vanish.

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    • “My question is, if this is probably the biggest group of people who build sl virtual world, do they really need all these new features, will they even be able to know what they are for?”

      First off, the average user you speak has not been responsible for building Second Life. The majority of content comes from advanced users that would label themselves content creators. Linden Lab has indicated that their primary customer for this new virtual world will be content creators. I personally agree that this is the best strategy.

      Two reasons:

      (1) Very few average users would be around SL if it wasn’t for the relatively few content creators that create so much content for them to enjoy (everything on the marketplace, all the sims, every build, live music, performances).

      (2) Content creators (through marketplace commissions) and land customers (through land tier) are the two most significant sources of revenue for Linden Lab. These are the customers. Everyone else, are their customers customers.

      I don’t think we’re clear on what features will in fact be available in the next generation platform, so discussing for whom its features will be appropriate for isn’t useful at this stage. We just have to wait and see before we can form useful opinions.

      Lastly, I don’t see how your time, money and emotional investment is now about to vanish. Ebbe has stated very plainly that Linden Lab has no plans on shutting down Second Life, and would only do so if the platform became unviable (which is commercially appropriate to do). If that comes to pass, it will also be probable that whatever world Linden Lab dreams up next is actually good enough to draw us into it. If that’s the case – that sounds like a pretty cool scenario to me.

      I’m not sure it’s all going to happen that way, in fact, I see another reality that might actually be a slightly scarier proposition. However, it might just be the best thing for the spirit of Second Life to move forward, in whatever form that is.

      Thanks for your comment!

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