I won't give you a blow-by-blow or highlights report -- you can get that from Sand Castle Studios for example which has a good and accurate summary.
But basically, Rodvik Linden is a good thing for Second Life, and I think all told, he makes it better.
First, a word on the SLCC inworld experience -- you can see the hand of professionals here. Avacon is the company that organizes SLCC now, and it is 10 times better than it used to be and has many fine touches.
Inworld used to be a haphazard experience or the playground for weird experimental funky builds that hurt your little avatar's feet as he tried to walk over them or even find a place to sit on them.
The inworld now is everything you want -- a nice four-sim set up with sim crossings properly marked so you don't sink in the ground. Low-lag textures and comfortable open builds for avatars. Little info stands with the schedule. Swag boxes. A dance floor. Various halls for lectures. Etc. All very nice, loved it. Great hangout. Only one quibble -- they need to learn to think like a Mainlander and *put their islands in search/places*. Many people use search/places to find stuff. When they type in "SLCC" they will not find SLCC. Only if the "just know" that they should look up on the list of *islands* on the *map* will they find 4 SLCC islands. A little thing that so many people forget to do. Show up in search/places!
It's too bad I didn't get earlier notice with the signage to put out in my infohubs to attract people, but then, well, with the sims holding 400 I think at the most, and only about 180 comfortably, maybe it's for the best. But at least there *were* signs of different types in the swag box so I put those out.
Everything's great, everything's grand, except, there is a path of broken glass to shred my little avatar feet nonetheless, and that's...Viewer 2.0 -- which the redoubtable Oz Linden has now claimed will become 3.0, as if the horrid memory of 2.0 and its ills -- and it's lingering vestiges! -- could be blotted out by just a relabel. Sigh.
Viewer 2 continues to be ass. Within the space of an hour, it made me download and install two patches, i.e. two versions of itself, or the same version again -- that's just stupid.
Worse, it exhibited that known issue of *knocking me off my wireless connection*. YES IT DOES THAT.
Of course, there was an ARC-heavy geeky dragon on hand -- Orange Planer -- to let me know that *no, the viewer can't possibly do it*.
YET THE VIEWER INDEED DOES DO THAT.
As I said, no piece of software should ever, ever reach in your machine and shut off your wireless Internet connection. That's just wack. And it does do that. And Lindens concede that. And a helpful Linden willing to get past the geeky "but it can't do that/but it never does that" endless loop finally thoughtfully supplied a workaround: uncheck HTTP Textures and HTTP whatever the other thing is on there in the "Developer" menu, which is beyond even "Advanced" menu and has to be pulled down.
So, uncheck those two HTTP thingers, and walla, your connection stays put.
The problem is that each time the patch downloads, the checks are put back in, so you have to go back in and take them out again.
Now, you ask. Why was I on Viewer 2? Am I nuts? A glutton for punishment? Well, having first wrapped my little avatar feet in heavy bindings, I was willing to walk the broken-glass path *because I had no other choice if I wanted to hear Rodvik.* They put him on in Shared Media, you know, a big prim where you beam him in.
What would it have cost them also to throw up an SL TV and have had him on the stream on the parcel, too? Nothing. Instead, they distributed a link to Ustream for those having trouble, but geez...delivering people to another product from your streaming 3D interactive world? /negrate undouble plus
So, after a bunch of crashes, and also having to disable the music stream inside preferences because strangely, the button controlling it completely disappeared from the task bar (huh?), I struggled to take a picture. oops, something broken there. You can't. Your email is greyed out. No idea why. You can't add it. So you can't send up a picture to the web.
Anyway, to focus on content not form:
1. Rodvik is very easy going and relaxed. Some people think he's not a great speaker -- he's no Steve Jobs, somebody says. Well, Second Life is no i-phone. Rod is perfect for us. He's a gamer and a geek but not a snarky geek, more of a geek in a state of wonder who likes games. The gamerz mentality isn't one I appreciate much, but it will do as a good, sturdy substitute for a geek persona I hate more: the web 2.0 snarker with the withering hatred of SL (Chris Pirillo). Rodvik is genuinely interested and enthusiastic. You don't feel he took this job just as some slick advancement in the Valley as M seems to have. He took it because he liked it and wanted to fix it.
2. And he really does get how it's broken, where it's broken in precise ways, and how to fix it. Example: unlike most Lindens who tell you the problem is the packet loss on your side, he made an alt, came inworld, found a big group to join, and then admitted in his keynote unabashedly that boy, did he figure out quick how group chat sucked. He is now taking steps to fix it. Groups are broken in more ways than just chat. Example: I can't load my land, see my tier donations, see lists of people most of the time, etc. That's because I have a group of like 700 people with half of a million meters of land in it I guess, and so I'm stressing it out. I've broken my communities up into smaller groups with their own names, which is a hobble for me because it would be easier to give people signage and instructions to join just one group. But I had to because I couldn't get the groups managed -- someone would pull out tier and I couldn't see it. I still can't see it in the larger groups.
You know, with Rodvik, I still feel like my birth father is gone, and now it's my step-dad. Philip will always feel like the "main guy" in Second Life. In many ways, Philip was just more intellectually interesting for me because he represented a real quintessential Silicon Valley geek cultist and technocommunist with really fervent and sincere beliefs, so it was an interesting case. But he was frustrating precisely because he lived on that plane of such fervent belief -- in the Singularity, or something. You couldn't imagine Philip, saying off-handedly, "Yeah, I really gotta do something about that sidebar" in shared, human, *funny* acknowledgement that his product was less that ideal. That is, Philip, too, would poke fun at things being broken, like he wore a t-shirt to the SLCC in Chicago that had an SL message about texture no load errors or something - and he said "this is me in the way," i.e. that the software still had problems that made it come into the user's view. But Philip didn't have...I dunno...the same kind of laconic sense of humour...or something.
And that ability to go in world and do something like an ordinary user -- I actually think Philip just never had that. For example, when Rod was telling his story about group chat sucking *first hand*, I suddenly remember the time Philip actually followed me back to my rentals in Alston after a townhall where I protested about something -- the world was so much smaller then. And he asked me a number of questions, genuinely puzzled.
"Why do you put all your land in groups?" he asked, curious.
"Well, Philip..." I didn't know where to start. Here it was...2005? And Philip didn't realize most rentals were in group land. How could that have happened, given that groups were made to hold land at some point in 2004 I think.
"I need to give people groups so they can set prims and do things on the land with group powers".
"Why? what powers?"
"Well, for example, so they can deed their TV to group land."
This was news!
In fact, the field tests that Rod should really try next when he has the time is opening up a little rentals business. Boy will he learn real fast where all the painpoints are there. No doubt he's gone and rented spots on an alt for that experience. But *managing* the rentals using the groups is different.
3. Through just a few lines of shared sensibility and sympathy, Rodvik was able to let the audience know that he gets it about viewer 2 even though he is wedded to it like all Lindens. He said very laconically that the sidebar was a problem -- it was a great moment because everybody clapped. He said with almost genuine puzzlement, like most of us, that he wasn't sure what to do with that sidebar lol. And yeah, that sidebar is in the way and isa source of a lot of agida. I hate it for groups management, for example, and lots of other stuff.
4. Rodvik talked about the new user experience. He is the first Linden leader I've heard who had pinpointed the pain points very precisely and matter-of-factly. It's not that Philip didn't see them or know them. But he would tend to talk about them more abstractly, like "the need to make a friend" as a retention factor. And other Lindens would make dorky builds to have people drive vehicles and kill electronic rats -- neither of which are activities that most newcomers REALLY want out of SL, or they'd be in World of Warcraft.
Rodvik said that most people were lost at the signup stage -- it was just too hard. And of course logging in and not having clothes immediately. So that was eased and streamlined and lots more avatars to just pull on were made, removing a lot of the angst and embarassment people feel as newbies.
He made the "basic" viewer versus "advanced," the first Linden to depart from the wonky interface and the demand that the non-geek accept it -- he was user-driven on this. Making it easier made it easier for people to jump in and they stayed more, so he claims he has the metric to back up this choice. Unlike many oldbies, I'm not bitching that people can't build or turn on media or whatever in their first go. They do not need this, believe me. And they will figure out the Advanced stuff soon enough.
Then he found that people would ask, where do I go/what do I do. So the Destination, and even more stuff -- now there is a top places showing number of people on each sim -- was installed and that's ok, but I still think there's something missing in the whole gestalt there. They have interests on profiles; they have the web profiles and the chat; they have events; they have destinations; somehow, it has to be pulled together in a dashboard when the person joins. They should be able plug in: "Doctor Who" or "Live Music" or "Sex Beach" or whatever and get a dashboard of groups, people, events, locations -- why not all of them?
So he says he is now having some kind of "curated" area. This sounds like just the orientation concept all over again only with more Mole builds. I don't get this concept until I see it and I likely will not be able to get the system to roll me an alt so I can, so I will have to wait until someone else explains. But he said something about "creativity tools" -- one of his big concepts of course which I've discussed before -- and having people build. Sounds like the sandbox concept all over again -- and that's actually not what newbies need.
5. Rodvik said Search is coming along. Gosh, I don't know about that. I haven't gone on Viewer 2 precisely because it is such a path of broken glass still and looked at Search much.
The other day I had an idea for starting a Youtube sharing club. So I put up a big board and went online on an alt that I didn't mind if its clothes got all lost or messed up, as switching back and forth between the two versions is a killer.
Well, I got the board and the shared media working quickly, but then the Youtube wouldn't load...changing it wouldn't work...it wouldn't load...then finally it loaded and I tried dancing for awhile. There was the issue of needing to be zoomed in on it to hear the sound, and zooming out not hearing it (I think there's a toggle for that like the near/far options in Voice but I didn't find it right away). I wondered how it would "sync" and thought to myself that putting a stream in my parcel, or using one of those SL Youtube TVs is just better. For one, you get a cleaner interface of the youtube without all the surrounding junk.
But I hadn't tried search in awhile so today I plugged in the word "rentals" in the upper right hand search-all box.
To my surprise, they've made it easier to scroll through lots more results, without having to turn over page by page, lagging each time, with only a few results in the view. That part is better. I had noted that before they were fitting more on the page, now the scroll works (the scroll may not have been broken for everyone; I remember it was broken for Cocoanut, and for me too -- annoying.)
To my surprise, within the first two pages, there was a Ravenglass Rentals rentals building. Why? Who knows? It doesn't have any particular traffic or anything; perhaps people have put it in picks a lot over the years but picks supposedly have been removed from relevancy. It has search ads in search/places and classifieds with a lot of stores, but that isn't it, is it? Oh, I know, it's a GIANT parcel where I put the rental building and the plaza all on one parcel, and everyone knows larger parcels show up better now, right? Or something...a few weeks ago nothing showed; or it showed on some key words but not rentals. It will be gone tomorrow -- in fact I joked that Rodvik tweaked it to show up first today so that I could crow about Search being fixed.
I only had to try other words to find the same curiosities, perplexities, annoyances -- why is this in there? Why isn't that in there? Nothing as good as search/places ordered by traffic as in 1.23 -- the gold standard for me.
It is working better; it is a easier to read; but the innards -- the content -- is still odd. Why?
Search/places on "rentals" doesn't show me in 1.23, because it shows:
o giant island empires
o people with more classifieds
o basically, people with way more traffic.
So why would I show up in this search on 2.x?
o I don't have high traffic -- 1000-2000 is low
o I have people who put it in picks, but surely not as many as some big 100-island empire where every snapshot of every romance is putting that rentals property in picks
o I don't have expensive classifieds -- in fact, no classified, only the $30 ad
o Hmmm what else? There are a fare number of transactions as I combine apartments, townhouses, mall, and flea market on this one sim, but surely nothing compared to a high-traffic club with vendors.
So...why? Not that I can object to being in search, of course, but it's odd. Why this parcel? Not even my most popular place?
BTW, there is nothing on this parcel in terms of little objects or cubes or things saying "rentals" to boost the key word, which is an SEO gimmick people use apparently. There's only the one ad in search, and some rental boxes. But having 20 rental boxes on a parcel shouldn't boost the word "rentals," should it? If that were the case, somebody's mall would be crowding me out who would have hundreds of them. But, perhaps that's it? If so, it's a total accident, as obviously, you need boxes that say "rent" and "Ravenglass Rentals" on them as part of the business.
6. Rodvik talked about how LL is going to make new products unrelated to SL. That is, not SL for mobile or ipad although that may be coming, but some new thingie. What could it be? He didn't say. I think he said it would go on an i-pad. Blue Mars-type avatar dressing? Some other thing completely? He said a funny thing about how he thought that people would come and firebomb his house if they thought he wasn't going to "fix SL" first before adding new features or new products so he wanted to reassure us he would stay "on task there". And I believe him. His very matter-of-fact pinpointing of the group chat problems through inworld experience; his identification of the pain points in the newbie path -- these are all good.
6. He didn't talk about Mesh. Now, unless that was when I crashed. That's odd. Here's this big thing, and he didn't hype it. Maybe it's not really something to hype? That was telling.
He answered a bunch of questions put on notecards - nothing live and unscripted from the floor -- but none of them seemed to be that relevant.
One interesting one that was based on needless fears, I think, but still interesting, was the question of whether Linden Lab ever divulged people's identity. And he said no, they had "two layers of supervision on that".
Interesting, that there are "two layers". I don't know what that means. That a supervisor has to give another Linden permission to access the servers that have the customers' real-life data on them? That the system creates a trail that is reviewed by supervisors when a Linden looks at the customer record? Perhaps Ann Otoole or someone versed in how such systems could work in principle or practice could answer.
I do know for a fact that in the old days when Lindens were 30 percent drawn from the resident population and various bars in San Francisco...or something...there were Lindens that very casually breached this. For example, I remember how Jauani Wu would constantly harass me and claim he had information from my real life that he had gotten from Lindens -- and it seemed that a Linden he worked closely with indeed gave him this information. One of the pieces of information was that my tier bill at that time was unpaid on one account - there was some glitch or the card bounced or something. So for him to have had that level of detail would only be available from a Linden. On the other hand, his other "real life information" was false -- he claimed I "lived on alimony". I wish! I've never had alimony, which is something usually only rich people get I think.
Today, I'd like to think the Lindens have evolved far past the time when they would do stuff like, oh, let a bunch of hooligans come and put graffiti on *their office building in real life* saying BAN PROK, and come out and shake the hands of these vandals -- which is something they did two years ago at SLCC in 2009.
I hope SLCC will come back our way back East next year so I can go to it -- it's just a bridge too far out in California.