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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Post hoc, propter hoc - Lacy Muircastle reporting

The following article is my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the view of the publication. If anyone at Linden Lab deigns to read this article, I would like to make it very clear that I am an avid supporter of SL and the platform that Linden Lab provides, but that in my humble opinion you are doing yourselves a great disservice.

Whilst the quote may very well be true, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t at least try to please as many people as we can.

What am I babbling on about? My perception of Linden Lab’s ability (or lack thereof) to relate and communicate with their residents.  Last year I wrote an article which was partly an interview with Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, in which I said “Let’s all get off our high horses and give them a rest. It is time to stop whining about Second Life and Linden Lab, and time for a reality check!” I am therefore not whining but doing a reality check. 

As the SLB12 celebrations rapidly approach us Linden Lab took the opportunity to hold a get together for premium account holders (for those of you who aren’t aware, the celebrations kick off on the 21st June, and the actual birthday is the 23rd of June.)  It was a well-supported event, but had all the impact of a damp squib.  From an outsider’s perspective, I think we were expecting more of a party, and less of a “get together” which I have subsequently ascertained is all it was aimed at being.  And really, what’s with the SLB12 gift being a dinosaur avi?  Is that indicative of the thinking at LL? Is Second Life about to form part of pre-historic virtual reality?

It is probably not news to the powers that be at Linden Lab that they are considered a benevolent dictatorship.  After an in depth chat to a source who is fairly close to LL, I personally have a clearer insight to what is really going on.  As much as I understand that LL is involved on a day to day basis with life and the community of SL, Joe Resident does not.

My source explained Joe Residents thinking as follows:

“ But a lot of times a lot of people - even long-term residents  - proceed from a position of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, so to speak.”  The reasoning tends to go along these lines:
"We don't see Lindens in-world on their Linden accounts, therefore Lindens aren't in-world."
"I am seeing problem Y in SL when the Lab made change X...."
"Therefore, change X must have caused, problem Y, and the only reason change X was made was because Linden staff don't understand SL, because they're not spending enough time in-world to understand it..."
"...and I know this because I don't see blue dots on the map..."

That about sums the situation up, but I am going to take the liberty of reminding LL that whilst they own the platform, and they are in the business of making money for their investors, the community as such is built by the residents.  Therefore we the residents own the community, without us there is no point to Second Life.

Personally I appreciate the money, time and effort that has been invested in making the platform available to the likes of myself, but at the same time I have to wonder if Linden Lab has ever truly decided what Second Life is?  Early in its life it was touted as an alternative avenue for promoting businesses, or as a virtual classroom and these opportunities have been taken up to a limited degree, with the educational aspect being the more successful of these two options.  But in reality it has evolved into a social platform, a place to explore your creativity in a number of different avenues, to meet people you would otherwise never get to meet, and best of all you don’t have to shoot anyone to do it (but you can if you want to.)

Torely Linden

That being said it matters not to Joe Resident that there are community engagement Lindens doing their thing in the background, sorting out the destination guide, griefers etc., or that other members of the Linden team are having meetings with content creators.  The LL team may very well be roaming SL interacting with residents using their alt accounts so that they blend in, but we need to see those blue dots more often.

The Lindens are the ‘slebrities’ in our virtual world, residents want to get to connect with them as they represent LL, and represent someone they can trust at Linden Lab, someone who’s genuinely worth giving attention to. As a result, brand awareness, customer service and increased community engagement are likely to occur.

Xiola Linden
Visible LL employees would give the Linden Lab credibility it hasn’t had in a long time.
The LL employees would be perceived as being in touch “with the people” and would really get to know the heartbeat of their residents, and they in turn could more accurately anticipate reactions to policy changes, new products or brand adjustments and changes to technology.

The celebrity LL employee’s would garner the attention and trust of Joe Resident.  As a result these residents would be more likely to stay in SL, spend money inworld and encourage others to join. All the LL staff have to do is interact with Joe Resident and watch as the genuine fans run with it.
The LL employee can always set the record straight if a PR crisis occurs because the platform is already in place and trust exists between the Linden Lab and the residents.

So whilst there is no doubt that the work already being done by the Lindens as a whole is invaluable, the residents want to know that they matter.  I am sure that the Lindens are floating around, reporting back to management, but they are under cover, and granted it is necessary so that they can observe what is going on without being interrupted, but they need to flaunt their celebrity some of the time as well.

Lindens need to be seen at very public places like any of the Franks Entertainment Group venues, host a dinner at Chateau d’Elite or Sweethearts Jazz Club, pop in to Muddy’s or Big Daddy’s, swing by the Gorean Hub, you’ve got  the idea.

Then over and above being seen in and around SL, take pictures of these excursions and let the likes of the SL Enquirer publish them.  Be seen to be being seen.

Put the links to tutorial videos, community-focused blogs, facebook, Twitter and Plurk, etc. interactions, promote the LL specific get togethers in more visible places inworld and in SL publications.  The majority of residents don’t spend too much time on their dashboards, so they don’t often see any communications that are posted there. I am aware of the inworld meetups that are organised but these need to be publicised more widely, tell residents that that should check the SL facebook page and events page for upcoming field trips.

The majority of us residents really enjoy the time we spend in Second Life and we want to be there, BUT we want to know we matter.  So Linden Labs do we matter?

And I have read  but wanted to make my own point.


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