Virtually Speaking

Second Life along with the First.

Project Open Letter

One of the Second Citizen regulars, Vivian Draper, recently posted a thread on that board titled “Dear Linden Lab“. In it, she mentions the basic stuff that has been broken in Second Life for over a year and remains broken today – or is in even worse condition now that we’re experiencing routine online populations of over 30,000 residents.

This is about more than just lag, which in itself can be extremely frustrating. This is about missing inventory, sim crashes, missing textures, broken teleports, non-functioning scripts and a host of other very basic functionality that is more likely to not work today than it is to function as designed.

It’s about all that, but it’s also about the perception many of us residents have of a company that is either oblivious to the problems, doesn’t know how to fix them or just doesn’t care. A company that’s giving us voice chat when we’re lucky to even be able to teleport. A company that’s more concerned with the flash and bling than with the reasons why avatars are still invisible to each other sometimes – a bug that’s been around so long most of us know how to work around it, though that doesn’t make it less annoying.

Cristiano Midnight thought enough of Viv’s points that he is starting “Project Open Letter”. He says:

This got me to thinking – while LL has shut off our collective voices to a degree, there is still something that we could do. Laying awake last night, i came up with an idea I am going to dub Project Open Letter. Many of us in the “community” do have platforms that we can use that do get attention – for example, Second Citizen, SLuniverse, SL Boutique, Second Cast, 3pointd, the Second Life Herald, the Metaverse Messenger, Second Life Insider, several of the big fashion blogs, etc. Combined with large and small in world businesses, there is a huge platform to get LL’s attention, if it is well focused.My idea is to develop a simple, straightforward letter to LL addressing the issues that Vivianne and others have raised – that SL is fundementally broken as a platform, and that we as customers have tolerated it for far too long. Before Linden Lab adds new features like voice chat (that a huge number of users don’t even want), they need to stabilize the platform or it will have no future. A non-inflammatory but concise letter detailing the host of daily problems users encounter, from inventory loss on down.Once this letter has been developed, all those taking part in Project Open Letter will undersign it and post the letter on the front of their sites, and for in world businesses, a graphic will be created with a linked notecard to give out the letter. If done on a large enough scale, and involving media connections that many of us also have, I really think it could have some effect. The point is not to embarass LL, but to make them wake up and listen. SL is not in its infancy – they can’t behind the startup thing anymore. All of us want SL to succeed and continue to grow, but I fear if we don’t do something now, LL is going to run it into the ground, and then we all lose.

Count me in. I’m not a “big deal” in Second Life – I own a few small stores and I manage an adult club. There are thousands of other residents with far more power and visibility. But my small voice can be added to other small voices. I can do my bit to make a point to Linden Lab.

That point is this: the grid is broken. Teleports are a dice roll. Missing textures are everywhere. Attachments have a nasty habit of moving themselves on your body when you TP — and that’s if your avatar is even visible to others around you.

The Official Linden Blog over the last couple of months has been one report of malfunctions after another, going back to the hacked customer account info and the most recent missing inventory issues.

Every major database application with Second Life’s scope is going to have issues. Nobody is demanding perfection. But we are demanding some evidence of functional progress from Linden Lab. Year-old bugs persist while the Lab decides they’re going to add voice chat?

It’s the Tao of Linden at work. Gee-whiz glitz and bling get the attention (more investors, see?) while the wheels inside the box start rusting and falling off.

Writing letters may not actually accomplish anything. That wouldn’t be much of a surprise, either. But when the day comes that it all falls down around our ears and we move on, at least we can say we told them so.

More to come in this space. Finally, other people are saying what I’ve been thinking for months. It’s time to do something about it.

Update: Cristiano has posted this in the Second Citizen thread I linked above:

Alright, the domain www.projectopenletter.com has been purchased and is in the process of being set up. Next step is to start a draft of the letter, based upon Vivianne Draper’s Dear Linden Lab post.

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April 17, 2007 - Posted by | Second Life

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