It seems these days that you can't have a Linden Lab employee give a speech to Second Life users without some included warning label of rough times ahead for them. It's almost relentlessly axiomatic nowadays.
At this year's Second Life Community Convention, Rosedale gently urged users and Lindens to support some necessary changes to come: "Try to work with us. Let go a bit." Ironically, he has encapsulated the same core message that Second Life users have been trying to get Linden Lab to hear for the last several years.
It isn't that the Lab is inflexible, or even that it's overly flexible. It's that the Lab is flexible where you want it to stand firm, and rigid where you hope for compromise. As a result the Lab presents an alien and strangely-contoured surface of user-experience and customer-service that seems to defy any comfortable fit or repose.
Much of that seems to be due to its excessively organic origins, and the evolutionary path that it has taken since then. The Lab, as personified by Rosedale in this instance, makes the same plea for compromise and support that the Lab seems to have never quite grasped from its users.
Ultimately, it takes two to make a compromise. For users to 'work with' the Lab, the Lab has to be willing to let go a little and work with the users – if the Lab doesn't do its share to meet the users partway, the message amounts to little more than 'deal with it'.
The Lab has been extraordinarily successful thus far, making a financial success and viable business from a product and platform that was considered little more than a poor joke at the outset. The Lab's staff have faced jibes, disparagement and criticism, all the while up to their notional asses in proverbial alligators working on a platform that while not singular has become nothing less than a huge success.
This year's SLCC keynotes by leading Lab lights Rosedale, Kingdon and Hale lead us to suspect that there may even be an acquisition or merger in the offing – though there's not really anything specific we can point to.
The Lab's seen hard times, and nearly failed once, but for savage staff cuts, the generous financial support of its users and a whole lot of dedication. What remains to be seen is if the Lab's dedication will now be to the message 'work with us', or 'work for us'. Many of you who have written in are hoping for the former and fearing it will be the latter.
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