I noticed that TechCrunch (which loves to play "dead pool" on virtual worlds and hates Second Life) was misreporting the state of the Enterprise unit at Linden Lab, and then Hamlet nee Linden Au picked this up, who I think as part of the opensource fifth columnists is only to eager to see something related to capitalism fail.
What TC actually said was:
The shuttering of the enterprise group, which creates a customized
version of the virtual world that sits behind a firewall, would make
sense considering the new move for Second Life to be completely
Then Hamlet reported this falsely as:
As evidenced by the shuttering of the Enterprise division.
linking to TechCrunch that in fact didn't say that.
Now, it isn't exactly that Hamlet is a "lazy journalist" althuogh he tends to call his hook-ups at the Lab and just get a story in email to paste into his blog, so I don't know, maybe that means he either has a) inside dope and isn't telling all he knows or b) doesn't have anything anymore as his biggest contacts have left.
So, while I rarely have time to play journalist in Second Life as I get enough of it in real life, I decided to dial up Amanda Linden and ask her what's up. I asked if her unit still existed and whether it had closed or was closing.
"We're still here," she replied. I could say "curtly" or perhaps even "grimly" but...it was just a reply.
I'm not so naive to believe that the statement could cease to be true in 30 or 60 days, but I imagine there is still enough for Amanda to do and she may yet earn her keep. I have confidence in Amanda. She's intelligent enough that perhaps she will realize she's all wrongheaded on this Enterprise stuff and change her ways. Of course, she could leave or get fired too.
Thinking about all this for awhile, I had to conclude that with the 30 percent slash (well, not particularly, but with the people who went before, like Robin or Jesse), there are only about 2-3 or so really intelligent Lindens left. That's a little scary, but it really only takes that many to keep it going, and the rest will follow and they may hire some back.
So I asked Amanda whether she had done any rethinking of her SLE Marketplace concept, you know, the special sequestered store that I totally loathed as an idea, stomped on, and raged about because it was so elitist and undemocratic -- and also denounced Justin Bovington (Fizik Baskerville) over. (Remember how he dissed SL content).
So she said "can't comment on anything specific. we'll be sharing more soon".
You know, looking at Amanda Linden's profile, I have to say, she has balls of brass:
I'm the Executive Director of Product Marketing at Linden Lab, responsible for all product launches, messaging, positioning, branding, and communications.
With a job like that, Amanda's job sounds faintly like (in typology, of course not in scale and reality) the job of Roza Otunbayeva, interrim president of Kyrgyzstan who has not only a Russian army base and an American army base vying within her country on the border of Afghanistan with war raging, drugs being smuggled in, and China looking on greedily, she has an outbreak of ethnic conflict on the southern flank affecting a million people with 2,000 dead and 400,000 displaced into a neighboring hostile state with whom she has border and energy disputes. I mean, it's not an enviable sort of job to have. Like they always say, "A man may work from sun to sun/a woman's work is never done."
Below you can read some utter bollocks in the previous post's comments by this "Tracy" who obviously represents the opensource freakout. These people are running and scuttling when they aren't gloating that they still have their jobs (like Soft Linden, who responds to my lack of weeping over the demise of his fellow Lindens and my calling him on his opensource extremism by calling me a...plagiarist. Oh, and now, a "red-baiting plagiarist". Oh, actually "Plagiarist" with a capital "P". What a little fucktard. In fact, I pulled out one of my rare actual SL obscenities (I use them only once a year or so) and said, choicely, on Twitter, "Yiff in hell, furfag!" That drew even more yelping from Brian Grogarty (that's his real-life name, as he has on his Twitter) and he went back to baiting and harassing me. SUCH unbecoming behaviour in a Linden.
But this is how they are.
The opensource rabidity of course will go kicking and screaming. And in "wiping off the dust from their feet" and "going to other platforms" they are admitting defeat, but trying to spin it as victory for their sectarian way of life.
I've had a very long debate on Twitter with @glynmoody which I have to figure out how to pull out and replicate, wish there was an easy tool for that, but just go look it up under his name or mine and press on the "from" or 'in reply to".
I'm going to get tackling this nonsense in full in due course, but for now, the theses:
o No one has really made money from "free". They same well-worn examples (Cory Doctorow flogging his free books for fat lecture fees) aren't viable for more than a few people
o Walled gardens are good, ok, necessary -- and revolutionary.
o The analog hole that so defeats the copyrightists and makes the copyleftists gloat is in fact getting to be filled up by things like the Limewire lawsuit and the Viacom lawsuit; we may well come to see that the "analog judge" is just the perfect solution : )
o Second Life shows that DRM works, despite everything, and that infinite copyability and "the tendency of prices to zero" in that setting in fact aren't true when humans decide they don't want or need it to be true.
o DRM doesn't have to be perfect, and doesn't have to have a DMCA defeatist attitude to work *good enough*. It's about political will, policing, and community spirit.
o Linden Lab should pursue the Enterprise accounts, and stand-alone more expensive sims are a good thing, and they can probably still find customers, maybe with a lower price but they should also work at bringing business to intergrate with the main grid too. The SL population are perfect people for Groupons and social media type stuff in marketing, they are an inexpensive focus group easily assembled, the problem with verifying of real-life bonafides isn't the insurmountable thing everyone imagines, etc.
o But they should junk this idea of creating a special FIC class of golden solutions providers and steering them to the loot only -- that's what creates death and destruction in the end because people are greedy, narrow-minded, and stupid when they get into privileged classes like that. There's no reason in hell why the Lindens can't have the whole world, which has plenty of very high end content and content appropriate for businesses, connected and available to serve Enterprise, *even* behind walled-up servers. It really isn't the big deal *for them* that some have made it out to be. They need to work on segregating the grossest adult content out of the view from Xstreet, but surely there's also simply an easy enough way to make another connected and cross-referenced microsite that has the filters prebuilt to deliver only the office content. If they can put in filters that enable people to self-select and upload Linden Homes stuff at will, they can do that for Enterprise. Seriously, Amanda, nobody from IBM will wilt if they have to shop at Ikea or even K-mart, as they do in real life when they order office furniture even in bulk. And why doesn't it all have to be IBM? why can't it be somebody's office supply business with 80 employees somewhere?
o Lindens need to concentrate on community policing and broken windows more, and make the world more free of griefing. Every single Friday that they let people like the renewed Tizzers/Joanna Falmer Woodbury alt Anna Ildo come back and crash sims and viewers and disrupt events and don't do anything to pre-empt or quickly rid the grid of the alts is a signal that they're not ready for normal people, including business, to come here and have meetings, whether with friends or family or business or nonprofit. The Lindens have never had a serious plan about griefing, precisely because they don't see it as a core mission of Concierge and customer service, but keep segregating it off as a separate function. They also need to make a statement about why they banned Woodbury and how they have zero tolerance for bullying, griefing, and copyright theft.
o They need to have a new integrated security strategy that robustly integrates anti-griefing and preventive measures into new user, Concierge, and Linden Homes instead of keeping it as a separate RP game for young Linden male furries to play with griefing other furries in sandboxes. Publish every successfuly completed discliplinary action with name of perpetrator, name of plaintiff, and name of Linden handling the case. Once that gets going, the change will be alchemic.
You know, Amanda says "We're still here." And I say "I'm still here." But there really is a gulf between us. It's a gulf in philosophies, it's a gulf in misunderstanding of the customer base. Remember the IMVU guy's famous essay about how they didn't understand their customers, and nearly lost their business not understanding their customers.
I've just come up with a half dozen *constructive and postive* ideas which I always do in every critique I've ever written about this sorry-assed company. And I'm glad that some of my ideas over the years have been taken up like the policy rather than the code response on ad farming.
Ann O'Toole said a very interesting thing. She said there is no valid and real form of communication between Linden Lab and the residents.
The blog is not it, because too many comments pile up, and they censor and cut things they don't like, which usually are one set of residents trying to fight off the sycophants/Linden touts/Linden alts in the other messages.
The office hours are just little fiefdoms where little Linden fan groupies meet and where outsiders are alternately bored or dissed by the creepy kids who show up at these things.
The SL Views roundtable thing was totally coopted and FICy.
The surveys are just getting batted away these days and are only a way to vent.
It's my ardent belief that the Lindens need democracy to fix their problems, they've never tried that, and they need it organized in the forum of the Features Voter being put back, without Torley Linden's paws on it. There's no reason why the thing can't be lifted out of mothballs and put back live. Of course, I'd like to see a very essential change to it: THE ABILITY TO VOTE NO -- what the geeks always remove because it profoundly challenges their own power.
The Lindens have several segments of customer bases at home and abroad and they need to listen to all of them and sift through them, but most of all stop their arrogance over the kind of computer people have. Every single thing they do should be oriented to getting SL back to playing on an ordinary computer without expensive parts, adjustments, graphic cards, etc.
To give you an idea of how others do it, don't forget There.com's CEO once mailed out free graphic cards to thousands of females registered who had trouble with the game because they realized that was exactly what was holding back their chief demographics. Imagine that!!!
Geek after geek and designer after designer are publishing blogs saying "Whine whine woe is me you don't understand your customer and you dissed the creatives and you fail."
Except...that's not the problem. These geeks and designers have been pamphered and feted beyond belief (see the FIC). If anything, it's the tendency to keep indulging these people and creating privileged classes out of them that causes the havoc and then ultimately deadly losses -- lawsuits, real people losing their jobs, especially if compromised in some way with the special favours and insider operations.
Would it be so hard to ask Linden Lab to become moral? And normal.