Linden Lab seeks Australia-based Product Operations Engineer

Linden Lab today announced they’re looking for a higher end operations engineer from Australia. If you’ve got what it takes, apply here.

It’ll be interesting to see if this is the start of some slow Australian growth in personnel.

Real life death and Second Life

Over recent months Linden Lab have stepped up their output of tutorials and knowledgebase articles – nothing illustrates that more than two new additions.

The first is: Death and Other “First Life” Worries. The key issue here is if you have someone threaten suicide in-world or you’re concerned in some other way about their welfare and you want to find out their RL details to ensure they’re ok. Linden Lab have firmly stated that providing one person’s details to another violates their privacy policy. That I can see but surely some sort of escalation mechanism with Linden Lab as the intermediary would be useful?

The second knowledgebase article is: How do I bequeath my Second Life account and assets to another Resident if I die in real life?

Essentially, you’ll need to have specified in your will the real-life name of the person you want your Second Life assets to go to or any instructions on notifying people on your in-world friends list. I have money on someone out there already developing a business model for a virtual world / real world funeral and estate planning service.

Linden Department of Public Works press conference transcript

For those interested in Linden Lab’s renewed focus on content creation in Second Life, here’s the transcript of the press conference held earlier this week – it’s a marathon effort so post a comment if you actually get to the end!

“Linden Department of Public Works Press Conference Transcript
February 21, 9-10amPST
Guest: Jack Linden
Moderator: Catherine Linden

Catherine Linden: Sure. So, everybody, thank you for coming, really appreciate it. I’d like to introduce you to Jack Linden, he is the Director of Customer Relations. And he is going to talk today about the public works project that we are about to undertake.

As usual, we are going to take questions about the public works project, and we won’t be talking about other stuff. Jack is going to take probably about 10 or 15 minutes to talk and give you guys some details and some exciting exclusive information, and then, we will take your questions. And all you need to do is click on the
microphone to get in line. Thanks.

Jack Linden: So, hi folks, hopefully you can all hear me OK. I will give you some time to turn me up. I am going to talk a little bit about the whole project and then,
going to go into some detail about the things we are going to be working on. We will also get onto subjects around how residents can communicate with the DPW project, how we are going to be transparent and other issues that come up.

So, the objective of the new public works project are really around improving the mainland experience for all residents today that visit the mainland or are living there. So, we used to build content back in the day and we built some quite exciting things in the time, but over time, resources got tight and we stopped making
content. We want to get that going again, we want to use the community to do it; we want the ideas and the energy to come from the community. And we hope this is going to be quite an exciting project for everyone to see how much we can change things in the mainland.

We believe quite strongly that the Linden estate, the mainland, is actually the best showcase for Second Life as a platform. I think, we forget that sometimes and we need to get it back into our heads and make sure that we are showing off what we can do as best we can.

Initially, this idea came up probably about two or three months ago. We looked to the legal aspects of how we could take residents’ content and have them working for us to make that content specific to ours, so that we could include it in the library, for example, or give it out for free, or whatever we want to do.

We went through a few loops, jump towers and fences. And I think, we are at a point now where everything legally is in place. We have an agreement that the builders will sign. But, we initially approached a number of builders that either we had worked with before or who were referred to us by people we’d worked with
before. And really just because we wanted to have a word with some experienced builders who are used to doing big projects, we wanted to understand the best practice in terms of using group builds, because ultimately we can have to own the content to nail it down.

So, that was pretty useful. Some of those builders are going to continue with us and actually be part of the first team. We thought, that is quite a good thing because the first project, as I will come to, is a big and complicated one.

The majority of builders, I suspect, will be brought in through the application process, which I have blogged about, and I will talk a bit about that as well. So, the first team will be a team of 10. They will be paid. We are going to pay them at a rate of US$10 an hour. We are going to expect a commitment from them of at least 15 hours per week. OK?

The reason for wanting that sort of commitment is that we want the first few projects to be ones that will make a real impact. We didn’t really want people to only do one or two hours. We need people who can really give us some time early on. Those sort of restrictions are probably relaxed later on as we get into power plant
and other things we are going to do, but initially, we needed people who were able to give us a fair amount of time.

We are going to be asking those people to sign contracts. They are very simple agreements. We will just make sure that legally the content is ours, so that we can use it, however, we wish. And I hope that some of the best content ends up in the library for all the residents.

You see the images behind me, I will talk a bit about those in a second, but you will notice the Mole avatars featured on those boats. To have a bit of fun with this, the builders will be given a Mole account, with a surname “Mole” and the first name will be an adjective and they can be whatever kind of Mole they want, fat Mole, blue Mole, whatever it happens to be.

Because we want to separate what they are doing for us, they will do in their normal accounts. However, we do want to be transparent about what we are doing. So, we will make it very clear on the public wiki page. All the builders that are involved with us, all the ones that are building the teams. Because we think it is very
important that everyone knows who everyone is, so that will be fine.

We will let people build. When the builds are completed, we will go take them, so we will force ownership of those builds. Then, we will nail them down, so they can’t be deleted, just like normal Linden content. The rest of the builders we take on, there may well be a subsequent Team 2, Team 3, and so on as we go forward. But,
it will all be taken from the application process that is being blogged about the users or support portal.

We have had to date around 230 applicants who have applied to be a part of DPW, which is fantastic. Looking through them, it is really “who is who” of people I know of who are good builders; so it is really encouraging, the quality of people who have applied. But, we want to make sure that as many of those people as possible
have a way of contributing. So, we will be doing our best to make sure everyone gets involved.

The Mole thing, it is really an actual in joke, it is to do with when the first city sims, Barcola and Grignano appeared. Some graffiti appeared by the Grignano telehub that was – it just simply said, “beware the Mole people.” Almost immediately that appeared, a little community of Mole people did spring up – residents who addressed themselves as Moles. So, we have kind of continued that theme on and we are using Moles as the building avatar.

The first project, as I said, is going to be to expand the city regions. You see the board behind me, hopefully it is clear for you all. But, the Barcola has already a road that ends abruptly. So, that is going to continue as a bridge, go across an area of water with a bit of an island, fully parkland, over to four regions of new city sims if
you like. They will be in a sort of Chicago 50’s slightly deco theme. We wanted something that was a little different, but also familiar enough to not be too strange.

It will be double primed as we have had in the past for city sims. So, that means that probably about 55, 60 percent of those regions will be Linden-owned land to counterbalance the fact that the parcels that residents own are double primed. All those parcels will be auctioned off. I think, most of them are, actually 1024, they are reasonably small. There will be roads and there will be flyovers, and there will probably be some sort of public transport loop that goes around there full. We haven’t quite decided as yet. What else I was going to tell you about that?

The textures that we use for the roads and for the buildings that we will be putting on there, we will provide to all the people that buy land in the area, so that hopefully people are encouraged to building a theme; actually, they don’t have to, but it will be fun if they did. This will be the main focus of the first theme. We don’t
know how long it will take to build this out. We are hoping it will be reasonably quick.

We will also try and provide a couple of prefabs of a standard Chicago style apartment or office buildings that people who are not good builders can come in, pick up on the prefabs and be in themes they want to be.

The second thing we will move on to doing – and actually we already started this – is repairing the Korean region’s coastline. I don’t know if any of you folks have ever been down there, but the diagram on the lower left of the board, that middle section in yellow was never properly completed. The terrain as we designed it, you
will see a huge graphics file that is then split up into many many terrain files.

Somehow, those middle ones got lost, so we have very abrupt landage right the way along that strip. But, because people have a sea view currently, we are going to treat all of that as Linden land. We are going to put a void rightly right the way through that yellow section, take the land down to the water, add trees, parkland, but it won’t be resident-owned land. It will be a fairly large and long natural space along the coastlines. So, that’s also being done; that started already.

And the other stuff we want to do, if you look at the diagram bottom right, in that square that is labeled 5, the terrain around Luna has always been incomplete. The coastline comes down through Grignano, kind of stops, there is a big nothingness, and then Luna starts. So, we want to fix that. We are not entirely sure where that land will be, whether we will sell it off, or whether it will be public space, but want to make sure that it makes some sense from a geography point of view. And that continues obviously around Luna and around the south of Luna, which also needs to be fixed.

I think, they are the main three things we are starting with. And then, we will also move on to look at a sea of roads and that is a very popular one, bridges, public spaces. We are thinking about what transport systems we can use because Havoc four makes them a lot more reliable than they used to be. We have had toy systems
and trains in the past, but they tend to get to stuck every now and then, which isn’t great. I think, that is about it for what we are going to be working on.

Going forward, the way we are going to keep people up to date on what is going on. They will be in world group, which will be for information only. The builders themselves will have their own group, of course, to help them work. They will also have some sort of wiki in which they can throw ideas around and discuss what they
are doing. We will blog probably weekly, probably on Fridays giving people an idea of all the things that have been achieved in the previous week and what we are trying to do for the next week.

We are pretty keen to keep the momentum high on this, because I think that if people don’t see any progress, it is going to not work. We want the excitement to stay high. We want lots of ideas coming in, so we want to keep it going at a fair rate. So, we are booking every single week. We are being very transparent on the wiki. The knowledge base will have articles explaining how to apply, and how to be a part of DPW, and what that means. So, hoping all of these things together, we will make sure that everyone gets involved and keeps up to date on what is going on.

And finally, we will be – hopefully, you will all be abandon land. We got a huge amount of abandon land that comes through, especially, on the older mainland regions. That abandon land, we will normally sort of recycle it and auction it off. We will be picking up some of the nicest parcels and using them for public space and for the interesting things that we feel like we want to put in.

We want as many of those ideas to come from the residents as we can. So, we are going to provide another ticketed route through the support portal as usual, whereby we will throw a particular plot of land, give it a project number, and then, people can go in and give out ideas for that specific plot of land. And then, either we will take the best five or we will have residents voting on a poll or something to allow people to choose which one they want to get built. And then, we will have the teams building that content out to make it as democratic as we possibly can.

I think, that’s about it for what I had to talk about. So, we can probably move to questions now.

Catherine: Great, thanks. So, Prok, I see you are first in line, would you like to either speak or type your question in.

Prok: Hi, I am going to see if the voice is working better today.

Catherine: It is working.

Prok: Yeah. Jack, you must have used the word “transparency” about 12 times. And I am going to have to probe you on that, because it is transparency after the fact and not during the decision making process, and not with the internal group. So, there is two pieces to this – one is, why double primed city sims when the telehubs in those sims have the least – I am sorry – infohubs have the least traffic of any of the areas even deliberately getting new B streams.

There is only a very niche group of builders that are your friends like Lordfly or Barnes who actually care about these sims. I mean, there is some attention on the blog, but the much greater voice of the public that you hear on your forums is for service not showcased, to have roads put in on hundreds of sims, to have Linden land have the auto return put to zero and so on.

The other, just to finish one other aspect of this transparency stuff and your claim that there is going to be resident proposals, I can see that you are already picking up this choice bit of land. And those of us who are on those sims have had no say in it. For example, in Duck, we were all briefed by an extortionist there who held that land for a year and then, suddenly abandoned a quarter of a sim; you picked it up and named it something. And it’s going to be a choice bit of real estate that, you know, maybe, other people on that sim would have liked to have had a say in. And suddenly now they are going to have a Linden build, you know spring up next
to them.

So, I’m just wondering, you know, it seems like a fait accompli where you have chosen your friends. You have made the projects that you think are important and we don’t see the value, you know, for the rest of the mainland sims, where your projects won’t be, but there will be Linden Land. I mean, Governor Linden land.

Jack Linden: OK. So, I mean, I can’t talk specifically about Duck. I’m not entirely sure what’s happened with the land there. But, I’m happy to look into it.

I think that the transparency – and I do mention it a lot, because I think it is important – the initial conversations that we had with those builders and they are not friends. I mean, I know two of them. We approached about 20 people originally, as much as anything to find out if they thought that this was something that was viable, what their experiences had been building very large projects.

Bear in mind that Linden Land hasn’t done large-scale content for quite awhile. And the people that did do that large-scale content have largely gone. They are not with the company anymore. So, we really wanted to get a feel from people who had done this commercially, you know, the sort of time that it would take to do
this sort of thing, the sort of issues we would run into. So, it made sense to get advice from residents that we knew had experience.

Of those 20, I think, to date, as of today four of them are involved in the first team. And, you know I’m delighted that they are. But, it’s not… it isn’t a boy’s club. I mean, this is a… we sit and we talk because we wanted to get information. And it made sense at the time.

Also I think, it is important because the reason for doing the city expansion is we actually get quite a bit of feedback about the city regions. In support, we have a lot of requests from people who want to own land like that, who want the infrastructure that the city regions have. It’s been very popular. The land prices remain high
there, which shows a great deal of demand.

So, it’s a big project where we can learn. We can work out how this is going to operate and it makes sense.


Oh, OK. It’s not a boys club I am a part of anyway. But, the city regions will be very popular. We will expand them to the west. But, it’s a great learning exercise for us.

Yeah. And we are not going to take away the water. We are not going to suddenly put land against land. That’s what the diagram sort of explains. Around the city regions it is all water and there will be plenty of water involved in the new ones.

So yeah, transparency will… we will be making it very clear who we are working with and we will make it as available and open to as many people as we possibly can.

In terms of the land and the abandoned land proc, you know, we get a lot of these coming up and there are going to be somewhere it doesn’t make sense for us to use it for Linden Land because the people around it are so close to it and they want to buy it at auction or whatever it happens to be. So, we have to be very careful about which land we use.

But quite often, the land that comes up doesn’t have people around it. It’s either against a region edge or it’s in a corner or is surrounded by Linden Land already because of all the canals and so on. So, our hope is that we can use some of that land for good community uses. The residents can choose what they want to do with it.

OK. So, who’s next?

Catherine: OK. Eric Reuters.

Eric Reuters: Yeah, I hope my voice is working.

Catherine: It’s working.

Eric: Great. I just have one question in I guess three parts. You mentioned earlier that you are going to be hiring builders at a rate of about $10 an hour, American. I’m just wondering how many builders are you hiring. How are these builders getting paid? Are they being paid in dollars? Are they being paid 2700 Lindens an hour? Or are you going to credit them with Lindens from supplies, mail them checks?

And then, I guess the third part of this question is, you know, by Second Life standards, 2700 Lindens or $10 US an hour is actually a fairly attractive wage. So, I’m sure you are going to be deluged with requests to join LDPW. And how are you going to evaluate who will join the team?

Jack: Great questions. For the first one – say an initial team of 10. There will almost certainly be a second team of 10. A lot of it will come down to how successful we are. I would love to see subsequent teams until people stop me spending any more money basically, but certainly several teams. Maybe, three or four teams is the ultimate aim. So, that’s a lot of building resource for people who are going to give us quite a lot of hours per week.

We will be paying them by sending them a check at the month-end in US dollars. So, it won’t be Linden dollars. We looked at doing that, but it didn’t seem such a good idea. So, we are going to pay in US dollars with a check each month.

And what was the last question again? How will we evaluate people?

Eric: The last question… exactly.

Jack: Yeah. So, I mean, looking through the people that have applied so far, there is a real mix of ability and experience. But, you know, I don’t think we can be testing people. I don’t think we can be, you know, judging everybody’s builds because it’s kind of subjective.

So, I think, the hope is that we look for people who have the time, who have the energy, who have some building experience the tasks at hand. So, it may be that one team is more suited towards parkland or open space. Another one is perhaps more suited towards road building. I’m not sure. I mean, we’ll just have to see how we go.

But, we don’t really want to get down to, you know, trying to cherry pick specific people too much. I think, we want to make it as inclusive as we possibly can.

Catherine: OK. Mitra?

Mitra: Yeah. I just wanted to ask about the concept of paying by the hour for what is basically an art. Literally, it took Leonardo years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. So, building is not, you know a production line kind of thing. Wouldn’t it make better sense to pay by the project rather than by the hour for something like

Jack: That’s a really good question. I think that it is difficult. And I think, it’s difficult from several angles.

Obviously, some of the things that people will do as part of the work they do will be texturing, which will be outside of the inworld experience as it were. I do think that there are several Lindens who are involved in this project. There are myself and there is Blue Linden and there is Michael Linden.

All three of us are pretty experienced in terms of content. My feeling is that we will have a pretty good idea of how productive people have been and how many hours they are giving us by how much they get done. We aren’t going to be, you know, too hard- nosed about this. We are aware that good quality work can take time.

Doing it by project is actually something we may do down the line. I’m not sure. There may be things that are so unique and encapsulated that we have a good chance to simply price them as something that people can do. But, right now we are just going to work on an hourly rate because it keeps everything simple from our point of view. It makes it easy for the residents to commit to amount of hours. And you know, we will see how much progress they make over time.

So yeah, I mean, it’s not that we won’t do piecemeal payments. But, initially we will work at an hourly rate because we think, we can make that work.

Catherine: Are there any other questions? Nobody else is in line. I can’t believe that. Oh, there we go. OK. Keith Stone.

Keith Stone: Hi. Can everybody hear me?

Catherine: Yeah.

Jack: Yeah.

Keith: OK. Cool. Well, I just had a question about the idea of kind of democratizing the process of developing public land. I thought, I would just mention the Wikitecture project, which is essentially just a 3-D wiki that we have been developing; that is an inworld interface that is specifically for this purpose.

We’ve been focusing more on real-life projects, but essentially, it allows members of a community to have a voice in the creation of their public environment. And they can vote on the designs that they dislike or like. And they can submit their own ideas.

So, I just thought, I would mention it. I don’t know if it’s feasible for this specific project, but I thought I would offer it as a possibility nonetheless.

Jack: That sounds fascinating. So, I mean, perhaps you can send me some details and I’d like to have a look at that.

Keith: Sure. Will do.

Jack: Thank you.


Catherine: Prok?

Prok: Yes. Again, to speak to the democratization issue – the land in Duck was seized probably three months ago or more, and I see other items that were chosen. So, that suggests that there was a concept and projects already sort of full blown in your mind before you even started talking to builders. So, where is the element of
resident input?

Because one of the key responses to this whole idea has been concern about the ‘your world, your imagination’ slogan and whether this kind of project erodes it by introducing Linden supervised and Linden, it’s not clear where the ‘our world’ part of it is.

Jack: So, what has happened to the land in Duck?

Prok: I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you.

Jack: I’m not sure what has happened to the land that you are referring to. But, this is a land that was abandoned and has become Linden Land.

Prok: Well, what I’m saying is you have gone around and taken some land that you obviously earmarked for this project with ideas. You know, they even have titles, so it seems. And what I don’t hear you saying today is you know details about how these projects are being decided.

I mean, you know, is an ice cream stand going to spring full blown up in the snow sim? You know, is there going to be tropical jet skiing, you know in Korea? You know, what are these projects? What are they going to look like? Who is going to decide what the content, the look of them will be?

Jack: Well, I mean, the… I can assure you, I mean, the only person who will be doing any putting aside of land would be myself. And so, we haven’t. I’m not sure what happened to the land you’re talking about, but we certainly have earmarked no parcels to date for this particular project.

We just haven’t because we haven’t had clear plans or teams in place. There would be no point.

The decisions about what we do with those lands, particularly the ones that are in amongst resident land, really should be coming from the residents. So, we are pretty committed to finding ways that the residents can come up with ideas, that they can be somehow voted on and the decision in the end is not one that Linden Land is taking.

Because you are right. You know if we were to come along and dictate what was built everywhere that would be somewhat pointless. The idea here is to…

Prok: So, you’re just going to take the first few, three?

Jack: Yeah. These are the ones that we… yeah, these are the ones that we want to get done because they are pretty significant.

Prok: But, then… what, are you going to put it on the JIRA check?

Jack: JIRA is… yeah, we could wrestle with JIRA and use JIRA for this. We may use the support portal for quite a bit of the ideas and suggestions capturing just because it is a nice interface for people to choose a project. And we can control the flow very easily.

You know, the first three… The city expansion is something that, as I say, has a fair amount of demand for it. The fixing of the coastlines, the two areas of coastline, are really things we just have to fix. They are broken right now and they needed fixing.

So, it’s not so much that we are choosing what to build there. Those are things that just needed to be done because they just looked silly. And there are a few other areas of coastline that are similar that we will fully attend to.

In actual fact, the Korean southern continent coastline is actually not being done by the DPW team themselves because obviously they can’t easily do that. That terrain work is being done by Michael Linden currently. But, it’s all part of the same project to improve the mainland.

So really, the only one we’ve really chosen to do the city expansions was a first run to see how it works, to understand how a big project like this can operate.

Prok: What about the roads in the average sim that are missing in most of the new ones post-2005?

Jack: Yeah. Roads is a really big question. I mean, roads… they seem incredibly popular, which is great. We certainly could, and probably will address some of the road issues, the longer ones particularly, where we have highways that are running for many, many regions that have just nothing but space currently.

We recently had a go at trying to put some road in, in an area on the southern Korean continent again. And what was interesting was we had quite a few complaints from the residents when we tried to do that. People who had lived alongside the strip of gap, who decided they didn’t like the idea of a road there after all – that
makes it difficult for us.

So, we need to think that through a little bit because some of these people have lived alongside that gap for quite a long time. For us to suddenly drive a highway through it is a difficult one.

But, yeah, there is absolutely no doubt we can address the road issue as a part of this.

Catherine: OK. Tim Porle, do you have another question?

Tim: Yes I do. And it has to do with roads as a matter of fact. Since there is so much difficulty flying across a sim border or getting a vehicle across a sim border, what is the actual purpose of having roads at this point? I mean, until that issue is addressed, having roads that are, for the most part, unusable I would think
would not be a priority.

Jack: I think that the thing that roads do, and it has always been the case is that they kind of give people something to glue themselves to when they are building and when they are setting up their homes or their businesses.

You’re right. It can be problematic going across region boundaries. Havoc four – I haven’t actually tried it yet – but Havoc four does improve that. And certainly we expect that to get better and better over time. Once Havoc four is in, it just is a hugely better physics platform on which to then build.

But yeah, I mean, the roads have proven popular. I think, because people like to associate themselves with a geography that makes sense and they like the idea of being on a road, facing a road, you know with driveways and all that sort of thing, it gives people a glue with which to join themselves to the world.

That certainly has been the case in the city regions. It’s definitely the case on the old mainland in the snow regions and stuff where we have these sweeping roads.

So, yeah you’re right to the point. They can be awkward at times trying to get used as a road, but they have other benefits, I think.

Catherine: OK, Eric?

Eric: Yeah, hi Jack. Let’s just sort of step back for a second. I mean, a lot of the talk about roads that the last two questions have been on, I think, are great for your committed Second Life users – people who have been here, who are landowners, who run a lot. But, what I’m wondering is LDPW going to be focused at all on
projects aimed more towards the new user, improving the Orientation Island experience? Is Linden Lab content, for instance, that might be able to take a look at, or further tying the Orientation Island into some of this new exciting content that’s being built?

Do you see LDPW as something that you are tying into the initiative to retain new users? I mean, because from what I’ve been hearing so far, it seems more in terms of projects to add value to your already committed users. I’m just a little unclear on whether there will be any work on the Orientation Islands, and how the LDPW work relates to the new user experience?

Jack: OK. So, the first thing to say is that the OI designs, the OI experience is something that’s being worked on within the map anyway. We have an active team now, several people working pretty much full time on understanding the OI and redesigning that experience. So, that site is going to get addressed anyway, because the OI situation right now… there’s some things that are good about it, some things that are not so good, and we’re very aware of that. So, the OIs will be addressed anyway.

Where I think, the LDPW’s comes in is that there is places that people end up on the mainland after having gone through the Orientation Experience. We have a real variety of the sort of hub areas that people get dropped into. Some of them already effective. Places like Violet, and some of the other ones on the mainland have
proven very good. They have little communities of people that have grown up around them, and they’ve worked very well. Some of them have not been so successful; so, it’s been vary varied.

I think, we do need to understand what makes a good first experience. I’ve no doubt the LDPW will take a hand in that, because there will be areas where it might make sense that LDPW improves an area with a view to dropping their residents into it. We just have to see how it goes. But, yeah, the OI experience will be redeveloped anyway.

Catherine: Any other questions? Well, Prokofy?

Prokofy: Yes, well if nobody else wanted another turn?

Woman: Sure, go for it!

Prokofy: You mentioned the springing up of little communities, which I think, you mean the ones that are more sort of the caretakers in providing the content and so on. But, the other problem about the infohubs and the welcome areas and the orientation public, and all of that, all suffer from grieving and from really organized kind of hangout groups that heckle newbies.

A lot of them just kind of fly under the radar, but some of them will hog all the sim resources by packing 40 people onto the sim, sort of flash mobbing – you know, all this kind of stuff. Is there any plan to address that kind of broken windows policing problem, squeegee men policing problem?

I know Blue Linden has talked about how, if you have lots more of those areas that will dilute the problem, but we’ve found that these groups suffer from agoraphobia. They don’t ever want to leave the info hub that they’re in. [laughs]

Jack: [laughs] Yeah! I mean, there are some groups that definitely are attached to the hub that they spend their time at. I think that, I mean, one of the attractions for groups doing that has caused the constant flow of new residents coming in. So, I think, what Blue is suggesting is that by greatly diluting where people land some of that appeal goes away.

There are two sides to this. There are communities that are built up around the actual design of a hub, and when I think, it was told here recently it was involved in doing that. There’s some quite inventive hub areas. But, also there are groups who have come in through a particular hub who steal friends, and will have a community based around that. There’s quite a few of those if you travel around the hubs, people who are acting almost as an official mentors to people that are landing at those particular areas, and that’s fantastic!

So, yeah, we want to do what we can to improve all that, but we don’t want to particularly leave it open to grieving either. So, we have a sort of side project going on, which is about auditing all the Linden Land, making sure that the land settings are suitable.

We have a lot of Linden Land as you know, and a great deal of it hasn’t had it’s settings correct for quite some time, which means we get litter. It means, people can put replicating objects in and so on. So, that’s also going on in tandem with this, because we really want to do that from a database point of view in trying to understand how we can fix that rather than flying around all of them and doing it by hand – as much fun as that would be! But yeah, fix nice is definitely a big part of what we want to do.

Catherine: Thanks. Ariana?


Catherine: OK. Ariana’s questions is, “When will the announcement be made about the builders?”

Jack: For the first team, we would really like them to start building within the next week or so. We have begun looking through the applications, and we’ll probably start to actually reply to people through that process.

So, yeah, that first team attending want to be in a position to be meeting with those, and getting going in about a week or so time – all being well.

The second team, probably, a couple of weeks after that, I expect. We’ll just have to see how we go, but as soon as we possibly can really.

Catherine: Does anybody have any other questions?


Catherine: Prokofy, OK! [laughs] Yes?

Prokofy: Well, if nobody else has questions, you know, I can be counted on to come up with them.

Catherine: [laughs]

Prokofy: There’s been some concern expressed about this whole… I forget how it’s called exactly, the certification club or the SL certification that there would be a process where certain skills that you need to monkey with the tools in Second Life will be certifiable or certified by some process. And there is concern that these builders will in a sense be the first representation of that.

So, I wonder about certification. And I also wonder what the goal of this process is in your mind. You know, what the mission is? Is it ultimately to sort of create metaversal services agency out of those builders when you are open sourced?

Jack: Wow. That’s a really interesting question. Certification – we have no intention to make this part of any other program in any official way.

I think that there is an inevitable attraction for people to be involved with DPW because we are going to be transparent and their names will be known to be associated with the project. I’m not sure there is anything we would want to do to mitigate that. You know, it’s one of those things that happen.

But, there is no official certification attached to this in any way. We have no plan to do that. I think, certifying for the content ability is really difficult anyway, because it’s so subjective. I don’t know how you would really certify that.

But, in terms of your second point, the teams we build are no part of any grand plan in terms of a content agency of any sort. I mean, the real aim here is to fundamentally make the mainland a better place. I can’t really set it in any more simply than that.

You know, we have had a huge period of growth that has been extremely rapid as you know. And we were putting up mainland at an incredible rate for a while. And we now need to take stock. We need to take the time to get that mainland looking good, get interesting and hopefully interactive things on that space so that people can enjoy it; and really do all we can to improve it. It’s really just as simple as that – by having the mainland become the showcase that it needs to be.

Woman: How do you think this will impact the land market because traditionally in real estate terms or let’s say virtual estate terms, anything that’s Linden protected or next to a Linden build or has open Linden sea is automatically much higher in value. So, do you anticipate this causing a higher cost for mainland?

Jack: I think, it might make some, it might make the land market a little bit more dynamic, simply because there will be more areas like that. So, we may see some more higher-value areas coming up around things that we do.

But, as we keep going and keep adding those areas, you know, there will be ever-increasing opportunities for people to buy into very nice spaces. You know, we have the same at that Korean area with the 30 or so regions of what will be open space effectively. That’s a lot of land alongside that, all of which, you know will
necessarily become more attractive because it has guaranteed protected land alongside it.

So, yeah, it’s going to, I hope, make the landmark more dynamic and offer some more interesting options for people.

Catherine: Any other questions? Eric?

Eric: Hey Jack. I’d like to assess the logical follow-up, I guess, to what you just said where land value might go up in the areas adjacent to where the LDPW is going to be making beautification improvements. And how, I mean, do you decide where to deploy your LDPW teams, because as you know, as you are very closely involved with, there is a very, you know, active virtual real estate community that looks very carefully at land prices.

A lot of people have all their real-life income coming out of that and if, you know you were standing in the LDPW to make improvements then, certainly I think, the question of where those improvements are made and which adjacent land will go up becomes something a lot of people are going to be very focused on.

So I guess, my question is, given that the LDPW’s work is going to be raising the value of some land, how do you decide where they will be and sort of all the competing real estate and financial interests that sort of come with that can of worms?

Jack: Yeah. I mean, I remember, when I used to do a lot of the land work myself, being followed by 20 or 30 land dealers in a little pack wherever I went waiting for me to do something with a land parcel. So, I am very aware of the sensitivities around how what we do can affect the prices of land.

I think, it talks little bit to the point we made earlier that there are some parcels that come up, usually through an abandoned route, where we are going to have to be very sensitive to what we do with them. Because you know, they have a large amount of resident owned land around them for example, which, you know, yes, if we start working on those regions it may be great. But, it may also, you know, be somewhat unfair, because some of those residents are suddenly going to get very expensive land.

At the same time, we want this to be fairly all-encompassing. So, I don’t think there is anything we don’t want to try and tackle. It’s just going to be a natural result of this, I think, that some areas are going to be beautified. Others are not yet. But, hopefully all areas that make sense for us to get involved with in time we’ll get to.

So, we will be sensitive to it. But, you know, we are going to have to start somewhere. And you know, that’ll be something that the land dealers will take a lot of notice of, I’m sure. So, those residents living alongside, you know, hopefully, it’s a positive thing for them.

Catherine: Thanks. Does anyone else have a question?


Catherine: OK. Well, we can end early then if you’d like.

Don’t forget that you can always send press briefing topics to and we’ll see what we can do.

Thank you so much Jack for spending that time with us. And thank you everybody for coming to the briefing. Are you guys finding these helpful?


Catherine: OK. Good. I mean, because we… you know, our goal here is to make sure that you guys are getting, you know, as much information as possible about, about what we are doing and having ample opportunity to ask lots of questions. So… [laughs]. We are working on it preferably one, you know, one event at a time. And the press briefings – we kind of want to get those done. And you know, make sure that you guys are getting the info and then, you know spreading it out.


Catherine: All right. Well thank you, everybody.

Jack: Thanks folks.

Catherine: Thank you, Jack. You did a great job.

Jack: Thank you. Take care guys.

Catherine: I think, the transcript is going to be ready by the beginning of next week. So, we are recording it now and, Melissa, I guess will alert you guys at that point, and we will be able to send it out.

Thank you. Thanks everybody for participating. I really appreciate it.


Catherine: Tatarou, new questions from you.

Transcription by CastingWords”

Linden Lab give glimpse of Dazzle

There’s some welcome improvements on the way with the vanilla Second Life browser interface. They’re cosmetic improvements, but a much needed step toward making in-world navigation that little bit more pleasant.

The Linden Department of Public Works launches

Linden Lab today announced some long overdue content creation for mainland residents of Second Life:

What will we work on? Good question; basically, we will consider anything and everything that we feel will make the mainland more attractive, fun, engaging and interesting for new or existing residents. Initially, we’re looking at extending the city area which is very popular, so that will involve some new built up areas to the west of Barcola (joined via bridges to preserve existing water views). We’ll also be looking at new park areas, Linden folly builds, beautifying existing Linden land, better gathering places and seeding new mainland with themed builds. Some of the content may find its way into the Library in your inventories.

I doubt anyone will decry this initiative – anything that’s created to offset the proliferation of 16m2 advertisement plots will be extremely welcome.

Update: Linden Lab are inviting applications from Second Life builders.

Second Life glitchiness continues

Map search or image not showing up after inventory problems earlier in the day.

How’s Second Life stability been for you so far in 2008?

Linden Lab Press ‘Tech Talk’ Media Conference – Aussie Second Life servers still likely.

Today at 3pm SL time (10am Saturday 26th January AEDT) Linden Lab held a media conference entitled ‘Tech Talk’ that featured Linden Lab’s VP of Platform and Technology Development Joe Miller, VP of Systems Engineering Ian Wilkes and Software Developer / Havok 4 ‘Guru’ Andrew Meadows.

Each member of the media present was allowed one question with one follow-up. For me, there was an obvious one I wanted to ask and the glitchiness of the audio experienced by a proportion of those gathered confirmed the need for it to be asked again. And as luck would have it I was first cab off the rank:

(Any dialogue from Linden Lab or attendees that came over voice is shown in brackets and are my summaries, not their exact words)

[15:08] Lowell Cremorne: “Joe you mentioned in the podcast that you’d like 2008 to be the year where true collaboration could occur in Second Life. The technical changes coming up should help a little but is Linden Lab truly committed to increased usability outside of the USA through increased server placement outside the USA?”

Joe and Ian Linden: (We’re in the test phases of servers in different countries. Still not happy with how some aspects are going and want to get that right before announcing anything further)

(Note: I attempted to ask my follow-up question on whether Telstra and Linden Lab were in negotiations to house servers in Australia but response was “we don’t comment on rumours”.)

[15:12] Reporter Hotshot: Adult Video News media Network: As I’ve toured SL with an eye toward the adult use in the space, what I see is a broad swath of varied uses in sexual activities. Both private and commercial. In the past year, there has been a considerable amount of media attention regarding the adult product copyright violations of SL Powerhouses like Strokers Toys. So much so, that the top adult industry publication, AVN, has put me “in-world” as an “embedded reporter” for them. The three hundred pound gorilla in the room seems to be how very much Sl is being used by most citizens for sexual explorations, and how very little anyone at the company wants to talk about it. How do the Lindens feel about this, and do they support it? and the follow up question, why, or why not?

Catherine Linden: (not relevant to subject of media conference)

[15:13] Lexa Dryke: Joe – not directly related to your immediate subject matter – can you tell us if there is a technical reason to limit the number of groups per avie (avatar) to 25?

Joe Linden: (It’s essentially a resource thing – we’re looking at it but if we increase options there it may affect resources available for other in-world activities.)


[15:18] Dizzy Banjo: Following the recent survey LL have taken out. What is the current strategy for the development of voice ( recording / voicefonts / voice to text etc ) ? Did the survey results provide anything you hadn’t expected ?

Joe Linden: (Survey results not tabulated yet, group voice chat moderation facilities on the way. We’re aware people want to be able to design their own voice and are working on voicing morphing – look for beta testing of that in coming months)

[15:19] Babu Writer: In a recent article in Technology Review, i read that Cory Ondrejka was testing Metaplace, which could one day allow folks to travel from virtual world to virtual world like one surfs the web today. I read that Metaplace would be released more broadly in April. Will Linden be doing something that allows its avatars to travel from virtual world to world outside of the “game.”

Joe Linden: (Active dialogue occurring with other virtual worlds – working on common protocols to allow avatars to carry themselves and goods between worlds but at a very early stage)

[15:24] Katier Reitveld: I do motor racing as a side in SL and the physics engine currently causes a lot of issuies. Lag, cars going throught he track, sticking togethe rand freezing mid track when they collide.How much of an improvement with the upgrade to Havoc be liekly to improve this?

Andrew Linden: (Aware there are still issues, working on improving the physics of vehicles. Will continue to hold ‘vehicle sessions’ to allow residents to provide feedback / look at issues.)

Joe Linden: (The commitments made on stability and usability for 2008 very much apply to vehicles. Havok 4 will free up cycles to process other things which will improve experience.)

[15:28] VirtualWorldsNews Writer: You mentioned a lot of projects that seem to be building on the experience for existing users–stability, performance, etc. That’s great, but what is being done on development side specifically aimed at new business, consumers, etc.?

Joe Linden: Improving search has been one small step that helps both business and consumers. Additional search capabilities on the way. ‘Dazzle’, a re-skinning of viewer is also on the way.

Prokofy Neva: (what are top 10 reasons for viewer crashes. Will new implementations break thousands of customs scripts created by residents)

Joe Linden: (Work being done on correlating crash reasons well underway. Now have a single dashboard and there will be a direct data feed from viewer to dashboard to help pinpoint tech causes of crashes and what’s occurring most commonly. Reason we believe viewer crashes are so important because it’s a primary reason for people not coming back. Want people to stay long enough to identify the more discreet issues. On custom scripts – it’s a challenge, on the beta grid now and encourage people to execute their scripts there.)

[15:37] Mitch Wagner: Joe, you said a few minutes ago that the Lindens are looking to make it easier for users to find context and people of like mind and like interest in Second Life. Could you please go into more detail on that?

Joe Linden: (the new search functionality is it at present, other stuff in development but not able to disclose at this stage. New developments centred on context and community.)

[15:39] Chizzy Dilley: Could you give me more long term plan, 1, 3 to 5 years, I mean some like road map if you have for viewer, server, and back system, or others. any concern or difficulty for developing with other language? Do you put any team member as international developer?

Joe Linden: (Can’t see that far out. You might have acuity out to 3-6 months. We have a number of international developers – UK, Australia. We’re looking for talent wherever it is. No active development in China at present but developer presence in Japan.)

[15:42] Eric Reuters: anecdotally, I’ve known a lot of people who have tried SL, if no reason other than they heard I was reporting here, and no one ever told me the reason they didn’t stick was the viewer crashing. on what do you base your belief that the reason newbies don’t stick around is the user crash rate? And not, say, the UI?

Joe Linden: (We’re dealing with data that isn’t anecdotal. We reach out broadly to understand their issues and viewer crashes a big one)

[15:43] Tinsel Silvera: There are a lot of Residents with older hardware that does not work well with Windlight. Will Windlight be kept optional or will it be incorporated to a point that those Residents will be forced to upgrade their hardware?

Joe Linden: (Windlight won’t be released generally until it is feasible for most users to access and there is a switch-off capability anyway. Still tweaking settings to make sire we can maintain framerate and improve crash rate on current viewer.)

[15:46] Yabush Yamdev: Now we can’t input Japanese language directly into scripts. Can we use Japanese language and other two-byte characters in scripts in the near future?

Andrew Linden: (Don’t know answer to that – will get back to you)

[15:47] spitfire Hultcrantz: What kind of content or event do you think suitable for Havok4 Second Life world? Or, what kind of change do you want users enjoy in Havok4 world?

Joe Linden: (Primary goal is to create more predictable experience, less lag etc)

Andrew Linden: (All about stability initially but then will be about adding features. Some may allow new content.)

[15:48] Gwyneth Llewelyn: Well, let me just send the congratulations to Babbage & the rest of the Mono team for the fantastic news 🙂 As for my question… what will be the internal status of the “Architecture Work Group” in 2008? 1) A cool community-and-Linden chat group that sometimes has some insight on a few ideas, but that will be slowly phased out; 2) something that did not work at all; 3) the core for a future “Open Second Life Protocol Foundation” which will lead the metaverse industry into adopting protocols, standards, and grid architecture design for the future; or 4) None of the above 🙂

Joe Linden: (fully committed to the working group – actionable projects to put into practice. Encourage visits to Zero Linden’s office hours if interest in this area.)

[15:51] Reporter Hotshot: I have a development related question….are you planning to make APIs available to developers to link “inworld” actions with external user computers….so one might deveope an interactive haptic interface that responds to inworld actions?

Joe Linden: (Encourage you to do it today via open source code plus current scripting language gives some general options as well. That said, more things on the way in that regard.)

Farqot Gustafson: (what are stats on lag / crashes?)

Joe Linden: (performance stats are now published monthly)

Lexa Dryke: (learning curve for SL is steep, does LL have plans to improve that.)

Joe Linden: (Yes – first user experience being studied in detail to improve things. If someone wants to bring friends in for a live event they should be able to do so without going through orientation. CSI event was a classic example of that – will see a lot more of that.)

[15:59] Curric Vita: I am Steve Atlas, writer for My question is: Which elements of the SL experience do you see as central improvement dimensions in retaining new and experienced users, and in that context, what actions are you taking to ensure that users do not migrate to competitors’ grids as viable alternatives emerge?

Joe Linden: (We’re all quite passionate about that – core of SL is collaboration and other people. Walking around an empty grid is not a very exciting experience. Central improvement is giving people better access to each other and better collaborative tools. Migration to competitors isn’t one that keeps us awake at night. We’re interested in how we engage people rather than making it a technology challenge.)

My take on the whole thing? There’s no doubt Linden Lab from top to bottom are stating their commitment to improving stability and there’s fairly wide acceptance of the sincerity of that claim. Like anything, if progress isn’t perceived to have been made, the next media conference may be a different atmosphere to todays. On the issue of Australia-based servers, I have no doubt they’ll occur but after comments of ‘real soon now’ in May 2007 it doesn’t appear timeframes are any firmer.

Update: the official transcript of the podcast released prior to the media conference is now available.

Second Linden Lab podcast available

The second edition of ‘Inside The Lab’ has been released.

It’s a precursor to a press conference being held in-world tomorrow to talk tech issues and Second Life – we’ll be attending to ask a question or two and will report back. If you have a question you’d like asked, comment below and I’ll see what we can do.

World Stock Exchange faces an uncertain future

After today’s arguably overdue intervention by Linden Lab in regard to virtual banking in Second Life, I dropped by the World Stock Exchange to see what was going on. There was only one other person wandering around and a very short notice from WSE about Linden Lab’s announcement.


The notecard states:

“LL has introduced a new policy on banks. The FAQ says that stock exchanges “may” or “may not” be included in this policy. We are currently investigating how this new policy affects the WSE’s operations and we will update the market once there is more news.

WSE – Management”

The pivotal question is: if WSE is found to be part of the new ruling on virtual banking, how will investors on the exchange get their money back? And all criticisms of the WSE aside, expecting any financial institution to pay out to all investors at once is unfeasible.

Virtual banking – Linden Lab intervenes

Linden Lab today announced that any virtual banking facilities offering interest on Linden dollars deposited would now be banned. Initial reaction from a significant number of residents falls into the ‘about time’ category but like the July 2007 gambling ban the impact on the Second Life economy will be enormous. I’d be surprised if any of the financial providers are able to refund residents’ investments in full which means this decision will have a direct financial impact of a large number of people.

From an Australian viewpoint, the World Stock Exchange will be severely impacted by the move as far as in-world activities – we’ll attempt to get some comment on that throughout the day.

The full announcement:

“Please read this if you operate, or have transferred L$ to, an in-world “bank” or financial company.

As of January 22, 2008, it will be prohibited to offer interest or any direct return on an investment (whether in L$ or other currency) from any object, such as an ATM, located in Second Life, without proof of an applicable government registration statement or financial institution charter. We’re implementing this policy after reviewing Resident complaints, banking activities, and the law, and we’re doing it to protect our Residents and the integrity of our economy.

Since the collapse of Ginko Financial in August 2007, Linden Lab has received complaints about several in-world “banks” defaulting on their promises. These banks often promise unusually high rates of L$ return, reaching 20, 40, or even 60 percent annualized.

Usually, we don’t step in the middle of Resident-to-Resident conduct – letting Residents decide how to act, live, or play in Second Life.

But these “banks” have brought unique and substantial risks to Second Life, and we feel it’s our duty to step in. Offering unsustainably high interest rates, they are in most cases doomed to collapse – leaving upset “depositors” with nothing to show for their investments. As these activities grow, they become more likely to lead to destabilization of the virtual economy. At least as important, the legal and regulatory framework of these non-chartered, unregistered banks is unclear, i.e., what their duties are when they offer “interest” or “investments.”

There is no workable alternative. The so-called banks are not operated, overseen or insured by Linden Lab, nor can we predict which will fail or when. And Linden Lab isn’t, and can’t start acting as, a banking regulator.

Some may argue that Residents who deposit L$ with these “banks” must know they’re assuming a big risk – the high interest rates promised aren’t guaranteed, and the banks aren’t overseen by Linden Lab or anyone else. That may be true. But for all of the other reasons we’ve set out above, we can’t let this activity continue.

Thus, as we did in the past with gambling, as of January 22, 2008 we will begin removing any virtual ATMs or other objects that facilitate the operation or facilitation of in-world “banking,” i.e., the offering of interest or a rate of return on L$ invested or deposited. We ask that between now and then, those who operate these “banks” settle up on any promises they have made to other Residents and, of course, honor valid withdrawals. After that date, we may sanction those who continue to offer these services with suspension, termination of accounts, and loss of land.

We will not apply this policy to companies who submit a registration statement, charter, or other applicable license from a governing regulatory authority, or who are merely conducting marketing or education, but not accepting payments.

You may report a violation of this policy through the Help/Report Abuse feature in your Second Life viewer, and follow the instructions given.”

What are your thoughts? Is this a long overdue intervention or an unwanted intrusion?

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