Thursday, December 27, 2012

Whither Second Life Redux?

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

            A few months ago, I blogged about where Second Life (SL) and the challenges facing it.  My list included:
    LL is not making investments in its technology and infrastructure to permit a scalable solution

·    New SL products don’t really cut it (I’ve been to Realms and am underwhelmed.  I haven’t been to Wilderness yet but first reports say I’m not missing much.)

·    RL technology is changing (e.g., iPhones and iPads) but SL is still trapped in desktops and laptops.  (Now, there’s a slogan for a mass movement, “Free SL!”) 

·    LL acquisitions are in businesses moving away from SL (i.e., Little TextPeople).
            As I wrap up this year, I want to talk about this a little more and its implications for the New Year. 

            Are we any better off in SL today than we were a year ago? Where are the new products for SL from Linden Lab (LL)?  OK, there’s mesh but that seems be causing some performance problems.  What prospects are there for new products?  The next Big Idea?  Or for that matter what’s LL’s strategic direction? 

            I know a little about strategic directions (OK, very little, but more than I do about working on my own makeover – that’ll be a future story.) What are SL’s business drivers?  What’re the baseline and the metrics to measure performance?  And I’m not talking about the sim rentals that LL churns out. 

            How about we move onto the three stables of any good business strategy, people, process, and technology? 

            Let’s start with people?  Anyone seen a Linden lately?  The ones that are around, how much would you like to bet most of them just do maintenance and not development?  (With sim rentals down, there may not be much cash left for that soon.)  Then there’s process.  Er, maybe someone could help me with this one.  I’m not familiar with any LL business processes for growing the business.  Finally, there’s our old friend, technology.  And I do mean old.  SL is running on an infrastructure that’s almost as old as Y2K.  (You remember Y2K, it came just after disco died.) Anyone heard of any new SL innovations lately?  Yes, there’s the already mentioned mesh but I’m not sure that fixes the root cause  problem.  (I’d love to hear from anyone with a contrarian opinion.) 

            So, I ask the question again, whither SL?  I’m still not sure.  But, next year, I’ll be starting a new series entitled Shoemakers’ Children in my blog.  I’m going to take indepth looks at some of the challenges facing SL today and see what solutions, if any, are out there.  I also plan to try and meet some Lindens either inworld or out and see if I can have a dialogue with them.  Let’s hear what they have to say. 

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

There are a number of new developments in work, changes to the "infrastructure", the way Second Life works, that should improve performance. Inara Pey has been following these very well in her blog.

But while I don't entirely agree with your list of problem areas, I do agree with your overall observation: despite these improvements, Second Life has stagnated and is slowly shrinking, and LL has seemed unable to breathe enough new life into it to reverse the process.

webspelunker said...


Thanks for the reference! I'll check Inara's blog from now on.

Let's hope LL decides to pull up before the crash.