Linden Lab emphasises its international focus

In a post on the official Linden Lab blog, Clare Linden has summarised achievements to date outside of the USA and vaguely alludes to continued growth internationally.

Certainly, Australian jobs at Linden Lab were advertised during 2007 but to my knowledge, these have not resulted in any formal Australian presence. With 60% of Second Life residents coming from outside the US, Linden Lab’s pledge to improve international support is a near necessity given the growing competition in the marketplace.

Linden Lab’s CEO looks back on 2008

Everyone’s retrospective at present, and Linden Lab’s CEO is no different. Read his thoughts here.

A number of Second Life presences are listed as highlights by M Linden – what would you add to the list?

New Second Life website goes live

As announced on the official blog, the new design developed over recent weeks has gone live, initially for those not already registered as Second Life residents. The new version loaded for me this afternoon:


The re-design has attracted a lot of comment, a significant proportion of which has been criticism. For what it’s worth, I like the new design. Is it derivative? I believe so, but pretty much everything on the 2D web is. The new site does provide a real showcase of what Second Life has to offer, which must count for something. What are you thoughts – do you like it, hate it, or couldn’t care less?

Marketing and Second Life: Linden Lab podcast

The third podcast in the “Stories from Second Life” series is now live. The topic this time is marketing, with an extensive discussion with Joni West from This Second Marketing.

I’ll say it again – how on earth can it be that these podcasts can only be listened to directly from the Linden Lab blog?

Linden Lab CEO: more staff to improve usability

Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon updated the masses on a new appointment to the team. Howard Look is a former VP, Software at Pixar and has been charged with improving the “customer-facing part of the Second Life experience”.

There’s certainly been no shortage of recruitment announcements from Linden Lab – what’s yet to come is the benefits of the increased staffing. I think most Second Life residents have given up on 2008 showing significant usability improvements. 2009 looks a little more promising.

Linden Lab goes narrative

Its only been a day since Linden Lab released a podcast on a Second Life innovator, but they’ve now released a text-based story on another innovator, Languagelab.

It’s great to see some further showcasing of Second Life success stories – Linden Lab just need to work on their communications strategy.

The podcast released a little over 24 hours ago was stated as being part of a new podcast series called Stories from Second Life. The story released today is part of “an occasional series” called Stories from Second Life, but it’s not a podcast.

My best guess is that Stories from Second Lifeis an occasional podcast series that contains some non-podcast material released non-occasionally….

Pedantic observations aside, this sort of profiling can only benefit those profiled and the broader cause of illustrating some of the benefits of virtual worlds. If you’d like to suggest future profile subjects, here’s where to go.

Linden Lab launch another podcast

Linden Lab have had a couple of attempts at regular podcasting, and the latest is a series called Stories from Second Life. The subject of the first one is Studio Wikitecture, a collaborative architecture project.

The prolific Torley Linden is producing these podcasts so hopefully this will become a true series of podcasts. Strangely, you can only play the podcast directly from the Linden blog – given that adding podcasts to services like iTunes is free, it’d be nice to see that option in the future.

Don’t forget, we have our own podcasts – our next episode is being recorded this weekend.

The Big Spaceship lands

If you’ve been following Second Life, you’ll know usability issues have been key. As we’ve repeatedly rehashed here, 2008 was cited by Linden Lab as the year for improving the Second Life experience. There’s quite rightly been criticism of the number of issues outstanding with the user experience.

The tide may be turning on that front, with Linden Lab announcing the engagement of ‘interactive design agency’ Big Spaceship to improve Second Life’s ‘first hour’ experience.

Big Spaceship do have some form in the sphere, having played a pivotal role with the 30 Days of Night immersive game. There’s no firm timeframes for when we’ll see the improvements. Like any user interface changes, the challenge will be the get a balance between simplicity for new users and the more complex needs of longer term Second Life residents. Hopefully they’ve already had a browse of some great innovations already created by Second Life residents.

If you’ve got your own suggestions – add them on the Second Life forum thread devoted to the topic.

Linden Lab’s communication channels – broad but scattered

Hot on the heels of the controversial OpenSpaces announcement, Linden Lab have posted a roundup of communication channels for Second Life residents.

It’s a fair hodge-podge of channels, from Twitter to RSS and web. To be fair, Linden Lab aren’t claiming it’s an integrated strategy and there’s certainly a lot of options for residents to glean information. It’s just that in-world communications from Linden Lab remain infrequent and the 2D ones are scattered. On checking out the

There’s no doubt there’s some activity behind the scenes at Linden Lab to improve things – but determining whether it’s a broad effort or some frantic efforts by an overworked few remains the challenge. We’d love to hear you thoughts – in an ideal world, what communications strategy would you like to see from Linden Lab?

Linden Lab instigate price rises: backlash plus

In a move that’s already garnered some heavy criticism, Linden Lab today announced some significant prices on a type of land called Openspaces. It’s the type of land meant for ‘light’ use. Over the past seven months that Openspaces has been available, some have exceeded any sane definition of ‘light use’.

That’s not a bone of contention – but Linden Lab’s response to it is. Instead of warning or banning the offenders, all Openspaces owners are being slugged with an extra US$50 per month (from $75 to $125), effective 1st january 2009. In addition to that, the previously available educator discount is being removed. From an Australian perspective, our current exchange rate woes mean that the cost hit is even higher.

To use a real-world example, this decision is the equivalent of a local council informing all ratepayers in a particular zoning area that they have to pay much higher rates each year because someone in their street has ignored zoning regulations. Add to that the real world economic situation and you can imagine the push back from Second Life residents. It’s actually one of the more nonsensical decisions I’ve seen Linden Lab make and aside from some short term revenue gains it seems the end result will be an even greater momentum for OpenSim grids who provide more competitive pricing. The educator discount hit is particularly significant – they’re a key demographic driving innovation and interest in virtual worlds and treatment like this is far from deserved.

No-one can fully blame a private company from seeking to increase revenue, but when the rationale doesn’t match a community’s expectations of fair play, only dissent and an impact on the Second Life economy are the likely outcomes.

What are your thoughts? Is this decision going to affect your current land holdings or influence your future purchasing decisions?

Update: There’s an excellent roundup of the coverage and protest options on Vint Falken’s blog.

Update 2: Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon has communicated a backdown on the pricing policy.

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