Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Decline and Fall of Second Life


The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.

Edward Gibbon



The recent announcement by Ebbe Altberg of a new virtual world, which for all practical purposes, will replace Second Life (SL) has, to put it mildly, sent shockwaves throughout the inworld community.

This is why I’m setting aside my regularly scheduled topic for this week and blogging about the current state of affairs with SL.  In the three years that I’ve been blogging about SL I can’t recall any single subject which has so galvanized and, at the same time. polarized residents. 

In my opinion, the lack of specifics as to Linden Lab’s intentions as well as the fears and rumors flying about have only exacerbated the situation.  Confusion reigns!

There are several reasons for all this hubbub.

First, Ebbe’s announcement was premature and ill-considered.  Something like this should have been better thought out and the possible questions, issues and concerns prepared for.  This is basic Crisis Management 101.

Next, this announcement shows a complete disregard for the SL community. I have long written that behind every avatar inworld is a real person with real feelings.  Many are there because of the vicissitudes of Real Life (RL).  SL fills a need in their lives.  Anything that threatens SL threatens their RL stability.

Finally, the state of affairs right now leads me to believe that no detailed plan exists to go from what SL is today to whatever feverish imaginings are taking place in the Linden Lab mother ship in California. 

I’ll speak from my own RL corporate experience here.  (Significant Other feels I must be feeling strongly about this as I normally don’t like to admit this in public.)  Normally, before launching a major change in direction, a company will do a feasibility study and a business case before making any announcements.  Then when announcements are made, public relations professionals use these materials to assist management in preparing to meet whatever happens.  Does anyone think Linden Lab’s announcement sound anything like this?

I suspect that Linden Lab is reacting to recent developments at High Fidelity and Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift.  I’m also vain enough to wonder about this announcement coming out shortly after I recently posted a story to my blog asking what’s going on at SL?  This whole thing smacks of a knee jerk reaction.

The days of the late, great Steve Jobs not saying anything until he launched a superb product that would leave us all awestruck are long gone.

As the virtual smoke and dust settle, the community’s very real issues and concerns are starting to stand out.  A few of the more noteworthy ones are:

·       What will happen to existing inventories and sims?  Builders have put much time and effort into creating their worlds?  Can any of this be imported into the new world?  Some feel that pre-mesh will be lost forever.

·       Will avatar names and identities be retained? 

·       Will friends’ lists and groups be transferred?

·       Will third party viewers like Firestorm still be available?

·       Will Linden monetary balances be carried over and, if so, at what rate of exchange? 

·       Will Linden Lab continue to maintain the existing world? 

·       What will future pricing look like? 

·       Will the existing ToS controversy finally be resolved?

There have been some generalizations that a few of these will be addressed.  But, saying it and doing it are two very different things.  Help desk support hasn’t been good for a while.  Who do you call with problems?

Some have said, “So what?”

Others have jumped blindly onto the Linden Lab bandwagon and are already talking about the brave, new world awaiting all of us.  My advice to them is that they shouldn’t sell their hard earned credibility so cheaply. 

Some tell us that we should all be happy that Linden Lab management is finally talking with us.  Yes, but what are they saying?  More importantly, what aren’t they saying? 

I say let’s stop for a moment and think about the bigger picture.

What’s really at stake here?

Does the SL community really need Linden Lab as some sort of an Unmoved First Mover?  (I took philosophy instead of psychology at university.)

What’s important to us inworld?

Are we more concerned about our virtual community or are we mesmerized by bright, shiny things albeit virtual and a new, possibly improved, virtual world experience?

What are our options?  Do we even have any other than blindly following Ebbe in a Pied Piper-like fashion?

Is OpenSim a possibility?

Can social media be used as I once blogged to keep the community alive regardless of what Linden Lab does? 

Here’s what I propose:

Let’s come together to meet, to discuss our situation, and to develop possibilities to keep the community alive as we go forward.

Let’s publish our manifesto and invite the other residents to join us.

Let’s go forward together and keep our community whole!

This is also in the best interests of Linden Lab.  While I doubt there will be a mass exodus from SL, there will be a natural reluctance on the part of many to sign onto another virtual world that may simply be extinguished like a candle someday at someone’s whim?

Who’s with me?

Drop me a line if you are and let’s talk before it’s too late!

I’ve included a few pictures of some of the beautiful places I’ve visited in my time inworld.  Places that we may never see again unless we act now.

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.   

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.



Photo No. 2 Beau Belle Village  

Photo No. 3 Autumn Trees

Photo No. 5 Sunset

Photo No. 7 Castle

Photo No. 9 Coastal Pathway
Photo No. 10 Asian Victorian Gardens


Lindal Kidd said...

I think your headline is overblown, as is your entire post, Web. LL has announced several new products in the past. With each one, people nervously wondered, "Does this mean the end of Second Life?" The new products are gone, SL is still here.

Someday, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon (Yay, Bogie!) someone will invent a successor to Second Life and we will all move there and live happily ever after. Every now and then, an oldster will say, "Yup, I remember back when all we had was Second Life. You young'uns don't know how good you have it."

Maybe LL's new vision will be that better world, maybe it will fall by the wayside like so many other new visions. I think it's time to REMAIN CALM, DAMMIT, and wait and see.

webspelunker said...


Thanks for reading and commenting!

But, I'll push back here.

This is a significant change and even if it fails it could harm the existing platform by diverting needed resources.

I believe this time is different because of the competitive threats looming.

Either way, it's time residents begin to organize and present a united front to Linden Lab!

Thanks again!



Whitburn Blackburn said...

Perhaps the headline is overblown in one respect, it should have had a question mark, but I have to say in general I think you are right. Sure we may be doing the Chicken Little thing with the sky falling on our heads, but we have to consider, particularly given the statements by Linden Labs, that it is just possible the sky is indeed falling. I am in the business of out with the old software, in with the new, something I have been doing for a number of years, and I know at first hand how much the users can suffer. Now in a commercial organisation where it is largely the employees who take the hit (One hopes the customers see some sort of improvement) that's just tough and after all they are being paid and moving their skills on. This is not the situation with SL where a similar software move - I mean let's be honest, we are probably not looking at Version 2 of SL, we are looking at something entirely new - affects mainly the customers, us. So organisation sounds like a good idea, if for no other reason than we get the chance to have some sort of input into the change process from our, and not Linden's, point of view. I believe if we 'wait and see' as Lindal has suggested, we run the risk of waking up one day with absolutely nothing. Don't get me wrong, such upgrades are inevitable, technology is constantly changing and in the process we should get a better, though probably more expensive, experience. I see a similarity with sport and satellite TV, where you want to watch sport, you pay. This is a field where there has been a lot of push back leading to concessions by the satellite TV moguls allowing terrestial channels to show some sport live. Perhaps we could achieve similar results. If we can get some answers from LL on the subjects that directly concern us perhaps we will be more enthusiastic and supportive about the new world, which is more likely to lead to its success than a lot of disgruntled SL users expressing their opposition. It can be, and I hate to use the cliche, win-win, but not without organisation!

webspelunker said...


Greatly appreciate your feedback and following!

I hope that I'm not coming across as some sort of virtual world Luddite!

I believe in and welcome change. However, I also don't believe in throwing the baby out with the bath water either.

After all my time exploring in and blogging about Second Life, I've come to value the community and its members.

This is the greatest and most valuable asset that Linden Lab has.

If it's damaged or goes away whatever comes after will never be as good.

Organization by the residents offers the greatest good to both them and Linden Lab.

The question for me is if Linden Lab is really interested in the voice of its customers or will they go off on their own.



Anonymous said...

I am concerned about the "self-fullfilling prophecy" effect here. ~Starla Ferella

webspelunker said...


Sorry for the delay in replying!

(I've been trying to stay ahead of a mob with pitch forks and torches inworld!)

I'm going to disagree here. These issues need to be brought out otherwise the community may not be permitted a say in decisions which will affect them.

The community is the reason for SL's success and can't be overlooked.

Thanks for reading and especially thanks for commenting!