Feb 27, 2014

Bill Hicks Is My Patron Saint

Does he sound a little familiar?


Recently it was the twenty year anniversary of Bill Hicks death. This is a man that literally changed my life and attitude about things. So yeah, people prattle on incessantly about how I’m caustic, or abrasive... how I don’t sugar coat things and that’s why I don’t get invited to parties.





Allow me to channel a little bit of Bill Hicks for a moment when I say:


Fuck the corporate shill, ass kissing, lap-dog, soulless sell-outs.


Did I make myself clear? Good. Let’s move on then.


It’s not about the favoritism, it’s about keeping your integrity instead of being an empty mouth piece. It’s about not being a bobble-head. It’s about being better than that instead of celebrating that you aren’t better than that.


When the fuck did anti-intellectualism become popular?



You can be one of two people:


1. The person who says the emperor has no clothes


2. The person who turns their head the other way and compliments the emperor on such a wonderful outfit while they attend the private banquet.



Is there really integrity in getting an “exclusive” interview with somebody if you’re just being spoon fed the entire thing and you’re just filming a half hour infomercial? Everything you say is suspect and without actual merit at that point – and is that really something you should be proud of?


Whoosh.. right out the door.





“They don’t want you... if you have an idea that doesn’t correspond to their corporate propaganda.” – Bill Hicks



I am your counterbalance. I won’t tell you what you want to hear – I’m here to tell you what you need to hear. There is a difference. Mainly that the shit people need to hear usually are the things people don’t want to hear.


I long ago stopped taking the propaganda bullshit serious, but at no point am I required to be apologetic to it. It’s like people pretending that Fox News is more than a propaganda machine full of puppets.


So yeah... I’m abrasive when I need to be, and when it has to be said. Because this world needs more people who cut the shit and tell it for what it is.


It’s not a privilege to be invited to that crap in the first place... it’s an insult. It says that I’m just like them and that I’ve adequately sold myself and all credibility out the window to be treated special so I can be a puppet and spit out whatever little message they want and hold whatever opinion of it that they tell me to.



That’s what it says... it says that I can be trusted to say whatever the fuck they want me to say and not take them to task.



The difference between soft journalism and hard journalism.


Somebody please explain to me how that’s a desirable trait to parade around in public? You’d think people would be outright ashamed to parade that around publicly but they wear it like a fucking badge of honor.


It’s not journalism or news... that’s called reading from a script. Completely mindless garbage, spoon fed to them.





If you’re wondering why I’m “abrasive” or unapologetic and harsh... it’s because I’m surrounded and saturated by this stupid mindlessness and the “Aww shucks, why don’t you just play along?” attitude.


Are you sure you got the credit right on that picture of Ebbe in-world on your post?” – Messaged to me in-world


Does it fucking matter? There was a whopping 8 of you there – so fucking pick somebody to credit and shut up. That’s the contention... who took a picture of a default robot avatar sitting in a chair because it just so happened to be worn by the new CEO? Like we don’t have more important shit to worry about? Play a game of spin the bottle and call it a day.


Pull straws and elect a representative... I don’t care.


I’ll take care of the photo credit for you -


Credit: One of the couple of people that Linden Lab has on private speed dial when they need to sell something to the public without anyone asking any real questions.


I’m abrasive and blunt because it’s insulting to have people attempt to feed me bullshit and propaganda insisting it has any merit.


It’s insulting that people have audacity to pretend like they have a shred of credibility or integrity when it’s anything but. And it’s insulting that those people insist that I need to pretend otherwise because I might be saying something that they aren’t comfortable hearing.


Just like my patron saint... I’m interested in cutting to the truth, calling bullshit when it stinks, and I’m completely unapologetic about it. That doesn’t make anything I say less true simply because you don’t want to hear it. There is no loss of credibility.


Credibility and denial are not interchangeable, just like people seem to mistake opinion and truth whenever it’s convenient.


You’re welcome to opinions... but you’re not welcome to insist that opinions are facts to suit your own agenda, any more than you are in a position to insist propaganda is credible journalism or that having favoritism and private invites is not a complete and total conflict of interest which may as well destroy any and all objectivism in what you present to the public.


The messed up part about this entire post this morning is this:


I’m actually being honest and optimistic.  


That’s why Bill Hicks is my patron saint.


Because I can tell the difference. When in doubt, read the disclaimer at the top of the blog. You might learn something.



Outrage is actually optimism: We’re mad because people should be better


Anger is really a sign of hope -- and belief that the world can, and must, be better than it is



Feb 23, 2014

Marketing Phoenix

The Age of Human Engagement Optimization


If you want to know what the ROI of #socialmedia is, you first have to understand the ROI of a Piano. If you don't know how to play the piano, that answer is zero. But if you're Elton John or Billy Joel, then that answer is substantial. The problem with social media (and especially those new to #GooglePlus) is that they are concentrating on customer acquisition but not level of engagement.



Gary Vaynerchuk - Storytelling


Essentially you're all acting like 19 year old dudes trying to close on the first move, which rarely works. This is why you see a lot of first generation social marketers coming into things like Google+ and failing miserably.

We're entering into an age where relevancy, context, and level of engagement all matter. If Content is King, then Engagement is the Queen. No longer do we live in an age where you can just produce a lot of content (or hire some firm to write it out for you) and expect high engagement levels or ROI. In this context, you have to change your strategy to address authenticity and engagement.


“If you don’t give a shit about people, you’re done” – Gary Vaynerchuk

You're looking for long term and not short term in this generation of social media. While the interactions tend to be shorter, the long-term engagement is getting longer. And then there are social engagements like Google+ that transcend just the conversation at hand and have a relevancy in everything a person does in countless contexts because it's being mapped to an identity.

Raw numbers are meaningless today. It's not the number of followers that you have which counts but how you engage with them and how many engage with you and your brand.

This is something I pointed out in 2010 when all of the social media marketers were still doing SEO (people still do that today?) instead of HEO.


SEO is essentially figuring out ways to game a search engine in order to boost popularity or visibility and hope the people you’ve duped into clicking through to your content will stick around and share it. Instead of appealing to people, you spent all of your effort trying to appeal to algorithms and computer search engines. And now with things like Google+ and how it ties into their search engine and other products, your SEO tactics will ultimately fail.

HEO is my term (I'm coining it now) for Human Engagement Optimization, and it refers to a total LOE (Level of Engagement) Metric. Because one lifelong customer acquisition is worth more than ten thousand "followers" who are as engaged as a pack of mindless zombies.

Let me put this into perspective:


One HEO result has ten thousand times the impact as your best SEO. It is a measurement and understanding of social media which says Quality over Quantity. In a world of unending bullshit flooding social media networks, you need to hit the home run the first time. You need to be genuine and engaging.

People remember you when you're catering to HEO, because they can put a face or personality to the brand, they can make the connection that lasts in their mind. And when they do that, they are more likely to recommend you to others in their social circles, who will (if you continue HEO) recommend to their friends. It's word of mouth on steroids.


“You cannot underestimate the sharpness of people’s BS radar – they can spot a soulless, bureaucratic tactic a million miles away.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

You don't need to be the loudest voice, and you don't need to reach the most people by your own effort through brute force. With HEO marketing, you just need to be compelling, genuine, and engaging. Your audience will build itself and amplify your voice.




And that is where most marketing places these days are failing miserably. They come over to Google+ or some other social media service fresh and then just start spamming the hell out of it with their content, and no engagement. Closing the deal on the first post... or trying desperately.

Take +Applebees Tomsriver - which doesn't seem to know they even exist on Google+ (zero engagement and zero HEO), the main Applebees on social media itself and +Sears - go ahead and take a look at their pages and you'll see that their engagement levels are miserable and in most cases non-existent.

Perfect example of being a 19 year old dude trying to close on the first move. Then they wonder why Google+ or other social media isn't working for them, and so you see countless articles (usually from the HEO losers) whining and bashing Google+ for being a "ghost town" or just not worth it.

Well of course not! You suck at HEO, and SEO tricks don't work in an HEO social world. Real people see through your bullshit in a hurry and will call you on it in an instant. SEO is catering to automated algorithms and the last time I checked, this place is full of real human beings having conversations, talking about topics and sharing things with their friends and acquaintances that they find interesting.


So the simple fact of the matter is that since you aren't treating them like you care or find them interesting... they are treating you the same way, and so find yourself shouting into the Grand Canyon with only an echo and a tumbleweed to keep you company.

The video for this post is very enlightening, and I encourage anyone who is interested in #socialmediamarketing and #seomarketing  to watch it in full and take notes.

+Gary Vaynerchuk gets it right, and if there was anything you should listen to today, make it this guy. 



Feb 20, 2014

Ebbe and Flow

My Thoughts about @EbbeAltberg and #SecondLife


It can be taken as read that I have been and continue to be quite the outspoken and borderline cynical mind in the group of cheerleaders for Second Life. It's no secret that I think the past CEOs have been colossal screw-ups even from the moment they stepped foot into Linden Lab (excellent executives but horrible for the exotic case of Linden Lab). After all, I knew the entire playbook for Linden Lab the moment Rodvik took the CEO position, and I ended up being correct (despite people thinking I was being mean).



ebbe_001 Picture Credit: Jo Yardley


With Ebbe, I feel differently.


On the one side, the ToS and a number of things need to be re-aligned and fixed in the company. This has been a fact for years now going back to the first time Philip stepped down. From a purely executive standpoint, Linden Lab has been a clusterfsk internally with a vision statement that resembled the fog on an autumn day in London. Mostly just throwing things at the wall and hoping to make them stick, and in the case of Rodvik just forcing the issue across the board without consideration for anything but his own wishes.


I'm no cheerleader, but instead I'm a realist with a dash of idealism.


I got to be this way from twenty years in the industry, watching it rise and fall flat on its face countless times. It takes a toll on you to experience countless hardware, hype and “VR is the future!” opportunistic sales pitches from people in the industry who clearly don’t know their asses from their elbows when it comes to virtual worlds.  I no longer buy into the hype of virtual reality or even augmented reality because it has always been a let-down for essentially the same exact reasons like a record on repeat.


I’d very much like to get off of that Merry-Go-Round.





In the case of Ebbe, I do feel differently than I have about all other predecessors for a number of reasons. I get a different "vibe" off of this guy. I’m almost willing to say that he “gets it”. Almost... it’s a bit too premature for me to say that officially, but that’s the vibe I’m getting from him. Normally a red-flag would go up from gut instinct if something was out of place, and not even Philip Rosedale escaped that intuition with me.


In so much that he isn’t triggering that intuition from me is far more telling than anything else I could possibly say.


What I get from Ebbe so far is the following -


He's had some experience with Second Life, and so has his teenage son. That doesn't make him an expert, but in the same notion that gives him a leg-up in knowing that Second Life is the flagship product and needs to be cultivated as such. With the cancellation of Versu, DIO and (?) Creatorverse I believe he's thinking along those lines and saying roughly the same things that I would have said in the same situation -


Why have we as a company lost our focus and why are we spreading ourselves so thin on things which do not celebrate nor embody the vision of what this company and it's customers have created and have been known for?


So he is rightfully turning the focus back to Second Life, because it is the flagship product. But more importantly, there is an understanding that I think a lot of people missed outright -


Second Life should be able to focus on many contexts without having to employ everything it can do all at once. This hearkens back to the statement I made awhile back about how any CEO worth their salt would immediately recognize that Second Life *is* their platform and that they should empower that platform in order to make it useful across many contexts of interaction in order to appeal to a wider base. If Second Life as a platform was fulfilling that mandate, then there would never be a reason to publish a game outside of that platform - because by doing that, you are admitting that your platform isn't capable of even a simple game experience in a compelling or reliable manner.


This means creating a context that allows for building games/experiences efficiently in Second Life, and this means building business and education contexts on the same platform without needing everything up front. For this, we're talking things like the ability to have two modes of simulation as dictated by the sim owner - Open-Ended and Publish.


The latter (Publish) is what would appeal to actual game developers in the real world (and not in our little Second Life community bubble). Considering that Second Life is essentially a game engine environment editor (much like you’d see with CryEngine) the only thing it’s missing is that “Publish” button to nail down the virtual space. Second Life (in this manner) is essentially a game engine perpetually stuck in Edit Mode.


But let’s say there was a context where you finally added that Publish button to the editor. Now you have a platform to seriously publish content on (in the eyes of real world game devs). Published simulations are optimized for all manner of things like lighting, collisions, and so forth. I used to create Doom II WAD files back in the day, and while I could play-test those levels, the engine always had a “compile” step to nail it all down and pre-calculate stuff.


That’s the sort of differentiation that is needed for Second Life.


Yes, you can create games in Second Life now, using it as your platform – but just like a game engine stuck in Edit Mode, your games are running unoptimized and horribly inefficient. In the same manner as people can model stuff with Prims (hold on there, this is important) – The Prim editor in Second Life isn’t the bastard child people think it is. It’s a 3D Modeller program stuck in Edit Mode and without the Compile button to merge the tree making it into an Optimized mesh.


Think about that for a second.


If you could create something with Prims in-world, and then commit it to an optimized Mesh.. what would that mean to you? In a way, there are third party HUDs and such that can do this already (albeit in a limited manner) but what if that was built into Second Life itself natively?


No longer would people be saying “But I have to learn how to use Blender to make anything useful in SL!” but instead you’d be able to hand them the exact same tool that has been in Second Life since the beginning and say “You already know how to use this... we just gave you the Export to Mesh option.”


The most powerful tool in Second Life is ironically collecting dust.


I don’t really know jack about using Blender or another 3D modeling program. I’ve used a number of them over the years but I wouldn’t say I’m terribly proficient with them. However, I can model like a pro in Second Life. It’s too bad I can’t export to OBJ when I’m done as a native option or else I’d see SL as a toolbox that transcends into the real world.


Elaborating that toolbox and bringing more of those 3D Modeling functions back into SL natively would be a god-send. Sure you’d still have to use external modeling programs to do more advanced things until the native toolbox in Second Life was comparable, but in the short term, being able to use Second Life as a native 3D Modeling program to export would be great (assuming of course the permissions are correct).


Particle_properties There is (of course) the other caveat of that Toolbox which to this day hasn’t been addressed. In ActiveWorlds there was the native ability in the toolbox to define Particles via Point & click interface (much like you can do in SL with the other Toolbox functions). You didn’t have to touch a single line of code to make it work.


That would be something to make happen as soon as possible in Second Life – adding a Particle Editor to the Toolbox natively as a tab without it spitting out a separate Script for you to stick into the contents. Call it a Native Script versus a User Script. A native Script is what all objects would have internally and editing things like Particles via the Toolbox would alter that Native Script. User Scripts would be what you add to the Contents tab manually that you have coded externally.


Objects/Prims already do this – where do you think it’s storing the properties that you are setting when building? Native Particles would be no different... you’re just setting some more object properties for it to store.


This is something that (for ten years) has utterly baffled me for why it hasn’t been added yet (among a few other things). Staples of virtual environments like ActiveWorlds which predate Second Life by about 20 years have a better grasp on their in-world toolbox.


And I think that’s what gets me the most about all of this. Ten years later and Linden Lab has been so side-tracked or apathetic that they haven’t managed to finish what they started seven years ago. From a virtual world stand-point, the Second Life virtual environment is half of a platform full of unfinished things that went live before it was time. It is a box full of spare parts collecting dust... Like having a hammer but no screwdriver. The logical things that should be there simply are not, and the things that made no sense to do are favored with heavy bias.


So it’s not feasible now to just start from scratch or shut it down. It’s like a jet in mid-flight... but what you can do is go ahead and finally start finishing the things that should have been in Second Life that were systematically blown off for the past seven years, in order to make it a robust platform again.


It’s time to get the focus and vision back.




Take for instance the ongoing lack of native Weather in Second Life.


The biggest reason cited for not having Weather in Second Life is that it rains indoors with no good way to do a collision check for the particles. This is patently false and has been since day one. It just boils down to nobody wanting to actually do it or being given some other priority to focus on (with all of these CEOs changing their focus like I change my socks).


Implementing native Weather in Second Life is dead simple. Here’s how to go about it in two easy steps:


The same company responsible for Windlight (WindwardMark)... go back and get their Weather system too. That’s step one.


I know what you’re saying:


But, Will! Windlight doesn’t have Weather!


Oh yes it does, Skippy. Linden Lab deliberately left it out when they introduced Windlight to Second Life (circa 2007). Even though Windlight Weather is far more efficient than the 3rd party in-world solutions for Particles (which lag the hell out of the viewer), somehow this isn’t a native option in Second Life still.


Windlight Weather uses Screen Space Particles which are way better for the effect. It’s also how I used to implement weather effects in ActiveWorlds using their built-in particle editor on the toolbox, by defining the effect as a Screen Space Particle.


Here’s the video to prove the functionality exists:





Step two: You already have Prims, and what you need to do is create a manner by which a user can define ZONES. Zones are a staple in game engines... they are essentially Mega Prims which are phantom and contain special properties when outside or inside their space. This single step actually solves something like a few hundred issues in Second Life in one blow.


The same sort of issues that the community have created 3rd Party solutions and HUDs just to overcome. This alone should be telling... when the community is solving things that the main company isn’t touching.


Interestingly, Linden Lab is about 80% capable of doing all of this out of the box and I don’t think they’ve ever truly realized it (or particularly cared).


Zones are how ActiveWorlds handled the “It’s raining inside” problem without doing a collision check for every single object in world. But more importantly, there are countless other benefits to implementing user-defined zones.The users would define a Zone, pick a shape type, define the dimensions of that zone, and then assign properties to that zone.


Properties like:


  • Particles originating outside cannot enter.
  • Particles originating inside cannot exit.
  • VoIP inside this zone is not heard Outside the zone.
  • VoIP is disabled in this zone
  • People and objects inside this zone are not visible to people outside
  • Upon entering this zone the lighting changes to [this].
  • Ambient audio in this zone is [this]
  • Fog inside this zone is...
  • Upon clicking this object, change Zone Properties to [this].
  • This zone has the following media streaming when inside of it.
  • This zone has the following gravity.
  • and one of my favorites – This zone acts like water.


I have to take a moment to elaborate a bit on the Zone Occlusion property. This is quite possibly the greatest thing to be implemented. It allowed the creator to occlude areas and objects, which in turn drastically lowered the load time and lag. You could, for example, create a Zone for the inside of buildings which said that if you were outside of that zone (outside the building) then nothing inside would load. This saved on bandwidth and scene complexity by a light year. I’d walk into a building, and everything inside that zone would then load up but would then unload the minute I walked back outside.


Can you imagine an entire complex and dense city in Second Life using this to their advantage? I don’t want to name anything in pa- *coughs* Insilico






The last property for zones was particularly useful for swimming pools. You define a swimming pool and then a Zone inside of it with Water turned on as a property. Whenever you entered that Zone your avatar would start swimming and you would move as if you were in water. I also had a blast defining zones with varying gravity in mid-air to simulate gusts of wind columns that the user would do a leap of faith into with a particle effect to look like dust was being blown up in those spaces.



The Water property for the zone was the same property that was used natively for the Ocean. Another contention I have is that the Zone (yes, Virgina... zones already exist in SL) for the Ocean is unfinished. Unless you have some attached HUD to go Scuba Diving (which is a 3rd Party workaround), you do not swim in the water. You just walk on the bottom of the ocean floor.


Essentially, Zones are like dynamic Parcels on steroids.


You create a house, then you create Zones inside of it with accompanying properties. Viola! It’s not raining inside your house anymore.


ActiveWorlds even added Mirrors to their platform years ago and it works just fine. Do you know how they got around the issue of it requiring too much horsepower? They added a property to it called Radius and limited the output to something reasonable like 128, 256 and 512 resolution so as not to kill a graphics card.


But of course, I digress (as usual) and have gone off on a tangent. Though we must keep in mind that this tangent has a very good point and it is related to the subject at hand... which is our dear commander in chief Ebbe Altberg. So let’s get back on track (though I can’t offer a segway).



Back to the Point


When Rodvik went off to make games and a distribution platform for them, it was a tacit admission of failure on his part. Instead of using his most powerful platform to create stunning experiences, he chose to follow the EA playbook and opt for a closed publish model unto itself separate from Second Life. The platform is (and always will be) Second Life, and the goal should be to make your platform robust enough to allow those better experiences to be created.


There is no reason why it cannot be done. Especially if a twenty year old company that is on its own death bed (ActiveWorlds) managed to do it years ago.


This is why with Ebbe, I see the same realization up front from him, and that is promising.


Second Life is many things to many people, and it should (going forward) be robust enough to cater to those use-cases natively so that it can be the universal platform for creating collaborative/shared experiences.


With Ebbe Altberg, the reason I’m not jumping on my usual cynicism bandwagon is because I get a very different “vibe” from him. From what I’ve seen so far, the very same types of things that I’ve said above, and the sorts of things that I’ve said for years in this blog, are also the same types of things Ebbe is looking at with a heavy dose of clarity and common sense.


So far, he’s very competent and showing a penchant for comprehending the situation in a manner that has been overlooked for years, with a breadth of inquiry and interaction that sorely needed to take place (and should by all means continue).


Only a few points in my opinion have been deducted... privately inviting 8 people to come talk with him and of those people are mostly just the shameless cheerleaders of Linden Lab. That irks me a bit because with the changing of the guard, the old lap-dogs are immediately sucking up to the new boss and flaunting “teacher’s pet” all over again.



There is a difference between 8 cheerleaders and 8 advisors. Remember that.


For that little maneuver, I deduct points. Because I heard a number of people asking me whether or not it was an invitation via the SL Press Corps and maybe they had their IM’s capped and missed it...


To which I had to say:


No, Linden Lab privately invited those people.


I deduct points for that because it’s not in Ebbe’s best interest to surround himself with unapologetic ass-kissers. Those 8 people will always find a way to spin things in a favorable light just to remain the teacher’s pet and gain favoritism as part of that.  


If Rome was burning to the ground, they’d tell us how wonderful Nero’s music was during the campfire cookout.


Nero Group Notice: Nero is playing Live at the Ampitheater! It’s Best In Beachwear at tonight’s BBQ with 1000L on the board! Bring your friends and remember to tip the venue!


Which is exactly why I refer to them the way I do. Yes, I am perfectly aware it’s insulting... but the premise of that situation is insulting to the entirety of Second Life. The company doesn’t need Yes-Men and Girl Friday’s, it needs people who are going to cut the shit and get to the brass tacks.


There is no hard journalism with them, and in fact almost always look for a way to spin a situation in the best possible light, or if unable will sit on the fence and insist things aren’t as bad as they seem (let’s just wait it out and have total faith they have our best interest in mind!). Essentially, it’s just a long string of fluff pieces... which is fine if you’re looking for entertainment and feel-good antics, but you’re not going to get anything done if you aren’t willing to pull a Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs.


That’s why I’m a lot more proactive about things. I’m interested in actual answers, and barring having them am willing to go right ahead and find solutions. It’s no secret that I’m not one to just sit on my hands and regurgitate whatever the popular opinion is or try to paint the situation in the best possible light.


So if the situation is screwed up... I’m going to say so. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Already in this post I’ve gone ahead and solved about one-hundred issues with Second Life while proving it is undeniably possible to do so based on a twenty year old virtual environment. You can make that 101 if you want to include the Second Life X-Factor post I did a few years back detailing that Marketplace is the key to real world marketing involvement.


That’s a new record, even for me.



Mike Rowe - Dirty Jobs 


I didn’t show up to a meeting and ask questions... I flatly solved issues, and that’s the difference between a cheerleader and an advisor. If you’re a cheerleader, you ask questions like “How will the ToS be resolved?”, as an advisor you say “This is the point of contention, and here is why. Let’s understand the balance between the interests of Linden Lab and the interests of the content creators in order to hammer out a middle ground both can accept so we can move on.”


As a cheerleader, you show up to a private meeting so you can ask how Ebbe is going to address new user retention. As an advisor, you outline the things which are causing that new user retention to be low and then start making suggestions based on prior virtual world history on how to solve them.


Cheerleaders ask questions. Advisors offer actual solutions.


This is the reason I don’t take the SL Press Corp group seriously. You had to jump through hoops to get into it only for Linden Lab to ignore it and invite their favorite people privately for anything of importance. At the end of the day, that serves only one purpose – and that is to get the big names in SL media to show up, ask some questions, and then just relay that to the public (more often than not with a massive “go team!” bias).


Tsk tsk.


Don’t get me wrong... I understand that you very well couldn’t just invite everyone in Second Life as a free-for-all.


So this is what I would suggest:


Now that Linden Lab has had a talk with their teacher’s pet cheerleaders, the next meeting should be picking 8 academics with a comprehensive understanding of virtual environment history for a sit-down and a serious, non-fluff, discussion about the whole kit n’ kaboodle. They aren’t there to take notes and write a blog post about it, and they aren’t there to tell Ebbe what he wants to hear. They are there to get shit done and find actual solutions. They are there to offer their collective knowledge of the entire industry and its history to Ebbe so he can do his job more effectively and figure stuff out.


And I mean a serious discussion... not a one hour expose interview. Just devote an afternoon with a cup of coffee to really have a discussion and ask questions. But there is a difference here -


That first meeting was essentially the cheerleaders asking questions so they can go ahead and regurgitate to the public.


The second meeting should be 8 academics offering actual insight and answers on how to solve those problems. Less about those 8 academics asking Ebbe questions and more about Ebbe asking those 8 academics questions instead... asking people who can actually give insight and answers based on a little more than personal opinion or rose-colored glasses from inside Second Life. Advisors have one foot firmly in Wonderland and one foot firmly in the Real World.


Overall, I’m not cynical about this guy. If anything I’m actually intrigued and hopeful. He’s (so far) doing a well balanced and good job. Aside from the private meeting with the cheerleaders, and the name dropping of calling Philip Rosedale for a personal favor to get his kid unbanned... those are the only two points I deduct at the moment.


For the rest, I’ll just have to wait and see what actually happens... and as usual, I’m gonna call it like I see it.



It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.



Feb 8, 2014


Welcome to #LindenLab @EbbeAltberg


Prior post withstanding, I feel exactly the same as I did before concerning the future of Linden Lab. The biggest issue of this company is simply that it exists in a bubble outside of a comprehensive understanding of the virtual world history which it absolutely relies.



'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.




Cheshire Cat


I know there have been some really great CEOs for Linden Lab in the past, but my take on them is simply that they have been great on their own but not in the context of Linden Lab. It’s a strange idea to conceptualize, but if you understand virtual worlds history at all, then it makes perfect sense.



"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"



There is a lot more to it than a video game (obviously), and simply throwing an enterprise solution strategy at it all doesn’t work (ask Mark Kingdon). Treating like a video game doesn’t work either, and to be honest – attempting to characterize Linden Lab as a video game company is inappropriate at best.


These are all concerns going forward.


I continue to contend that what Linden Lab needs, and mainly what the CEO needs, is merely an adequately positioned advisory board.



He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.



The CEO is prepared to act like a CEO and has the business experience to do that. For this I am not contentious, though I do point out that in this situation what is needed is the one thing that a CEO of Linden Lab will likely never walk into the role with – a comprehensive understanding about the workings of and history of virtual environments like Second Life.


This runs deeper than Second Life, and goes back plenty of years before Linden Lab was even a company. It encompasses an entire industry continually struggling to figure out that killer application, or position themselves to be the next big thing (and ultimately failing).



And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!



It’s all about context of interaction and how it fosters productive growth.


It’s not about whether an enterprise solution is correct (because it is), or whether Premium Accounts should exist (because they should), it’s simply about understanding the context of how they should exist – and that is the Achilles heel for every CEO of Linden Lab in the past, and every virtual environment company in the history of the industry.



One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.



In the same light, it is not about marketing but instead about context for that marketing and understanding the demographic and mentality of the virtual world mindset. The mentality part is crucial, because up until recently Linden Lab has been approaching it like they are catering to gamers...


As I said in the prior post -


Linden Lab needs to choose whomever they feel for CEO that matches their predefined notion of a good executive. That is well within their comfort zone, and it was expected. But now you need to arm yourself with that advisory board.



"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.



The alternative is either mediocrity or repeating the past. It’s a matter of when, and not if, you step on that landmine. This is why it is crucial to have that advisory board – people who know the context of deep history in user-generated virtual environments overall.


There is a deep and complex history in virtual environments, and it spans a few decades. You didn’t inherit a company, so much as you’ve inherited an international country akin to Wonderland.


This is why you’ll find sanity in the asylum if you pay attention to the Cheshire Cat.


What may seem like gibberish or without context may actually mean everything when you figure out the connection. So I leave for you this mystery, from a smiling mischievous cat.




'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.



Welcome to Linden Lab and Second Life, Ebbe Altberg.