Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Like Jilted Lovers?
Location: Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable
image credit: Grizzla Pixelmaid at Flickr
I forget who at one of our VWER meetings told AJ Kelton, aka AJ Brooks, that he acted like a jilted lover when Linden Lab fired its education team and hiked our tier prices. But the simile is apt for me too; it explains some of our community's enthusiasm for Cloud Party, noted in my last post. There's not much at Cloud Party yet. When you cannot sit on your new couch, that shows we have a ways to go. But the will to "go" is there.
Slowly but surely, my own wonder and love for Second Life drained away. For students it was too hard to learn, too slow to use on wireless and their laptops. For me, it meant 200 hours of development for The Virtual House of Usher, a project that we ran a few classes through before my co-developer lost his job, our island closed in SL, and I needed to move on to other pursuits.
I get as much credit, and probably more, in my annual review for a published article. I could have written a few in those 200 hours.
Some of the reaction by SLers trying Cloud Party's new virtual world is predictable: soured on Linden Lab's mismanagement of a once-revolutionary online space, we either wish to punish the Lab or simply try some competition that is easier to master than the largely DIY spaces of OpenSim grids.
At our most recent Roundtable, I found myself spouting these words:
"I have come to hate Linden Lab and don't want them taking my money any more." You can read the rest of our exchange here in the transcript.
I did not get crucified by the assembled educators for saying this. Few SLevangelists were present, so the remarks were civil as we discussed what "special sauce" SL still has. The answers? Good content and community.
Linden Lab is repsonsible for neither of these. Stability, a third common answer, is their doing, but Cloud Party offers that one already with only a few weeks since they opened their world in open beta. The other two will follow.
So how can a firm such as Linden Lab win back our trust? To continue the romantic simile, they cannot or cannot in any span of time worth noting. If we look for exceptions in the history of technology, there is one.
It took decades for Detroit car makers to woo back those jilted by their crappy 1970s cars.
Linden Lab did not sell us a Chevy Vega or similar lemon. It sold us a lovely but doomed Corvair Monza and refused to listen to customers who bought into that dream or decided that they really wanted a Mustang instead. Recent efforts, such as Linden Realms or Wilderness, brought only yawns from our group of educators.
Clearly, Linden Lab lacks Detroit's time and government support. If Cloud Party flops, it's just a start-up firm, but Linden Lab's failure would make big news, even in media outlets that have at best sniggered, and mostly ignored it, since 2008.