Tuesday, November 4, 2008

OpenSpace announcement due today

In between the excitement of the election, there was a post from Jack Linden on the official Linden blog, a teaser for a new announcement to be made by M. Linden tomorrow, on OpenSpace sims. As it happened, the SLDEV group, which is the group for people who develop professionally in Second Life, were due to have a meeting with Price Jack last night, to discuss the price rises and resultant fall out.

There were surprisingly few people there, but that might have been because some of the SLDEV group and others were misdirected to Jack's office hours on Linden Estate, rather than the SLDEV island. Oclee was originally sent a link for the Linden Estate meeting, where he saw about 60 people waiting to talk to Jack. So, the confusion about location may explain the fact that I didn't see any representatives from the bigger developers - not RiversRunRed, Electric Sheep, NMC etc.

The Linden contingent, Jack, Glenn, Robin and Madhavi, ran the meeting like a town hall despite the fact that there were only around 20 people there. We were asked to funnel our questions through Glenn Linden, but this proved to be rather a frustrating exercise... Jack started to respond to things said in world, and didn't respond to my first questions and so I began to talk in open chat. With so few people you'd think it would have ben possible to have a dialogue without the intervention of a funneller, but we were then exhorted to send questions to Glenn again - which led to a strange question lag, with Jack answering the last but one question, while other questions were being asked in chat, and the person whose question was being answered was responding to what was said.

There was crossover ago-go, and I felt that the intervention of the funneller (although totally NOT Glenn's faut) was actually an obstruction to good and clear debate. I always find it weird that the Lindens collectively are so bad at using their platform for the things it is very good for.

Of course it was a pretty pointless excercise anyway, because Jack wasn't allowed to reveal the contents of the blog post tomorrow - and even indicated that maybe it wasn't a done deal and some discussion might still be going on - and so we weren't able to know whether things will remain the same or change. I told Glenn I thought that it would have made more sense to schedule the event after the announcement to ensure that we were able to discuss the situation as it will be, and not have to guess at what changes may or may not be introduced to the original announcement.

The funnelling of questions allowed Jack to blank any questions he didn't want to answer, including mine asking whether the Lindens had realised what level of response they were going to get from their announcement. I did ask whether they had considered consulting a few devs or moles BEFORE going public with their plans, but he seemed to indicate that this might release sensitive pricing information into the public domain or give the people so informed an unfair advantage over the rest of SL. I wonder though - had he consulted me, for example, on the announcement of the OpenSpaces I would have accurately predicted the outcry, and I could have told him what people were likely to say. Hopefully, if he'd believed me, that would have changed the policy - so simply consulting with some members of the community need not give them any advantage - they would only know what the possible plans were, not what LL had actually decided.

Anyway, it seems possible that they may give on the educational sims, and possible that they are going to develop products which offer different levels of cost for different levels of services, so that those who use the OpenSpace sims as originally intended are not penalised along with those who have "abused" them. Who knows? We shall have to read the blog and find out.

I try to be coherent and have integrity and so I try hard not to say different things in blog posts and on forums from the things that I say to the Lindens directly. It amazes me however, how often it gets to the point of confrontation and other people, who have been just as vociferous, suddenly have nothing to say. In this case it was impossible to know whether that was because people were not telling them what they thought, or because there was a pile of unanswered questions filling up Glenn's IM tabs as the meeting progressed.

One has to wonder about the timing of this new announcement though. If I wanted to lessen the impact of what I had to say, I choose an historic day after an election too. The sad thing is that they will never be able to reverse the damage this has done to the company, in terms of trust and customer support, not even if they reverse the previous announcement and suspend the increases.

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