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Metanomics Transcript Mar 3 2010

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Metanomics March 3, 2010 …

Metanomics March 3, 2010

Discussing the new Second Life Viewer 2 Beta

With Guests Esbee and Amanda Linden

Published in: Technology, Business

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  • 1. METANOMICS: SECOND LIFE VIEWER 2 BETA: QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH LINDEN LAB - MARCH 3, 2010 ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is brought to you by Remedy Communications and Dusan Writer's Metaverse. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hi. I'm Robert Bloomfield, professor at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management. Today we continue exploring Virtual Worlds in the larger sphere of social media, culture, enterprise and policy. Naturally, our discussion about Virtual Worlds takes place in a Virtual World. So join us. This is Metanomics. ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is filmed today in front of a live audience at our studios in Second Life. We are pleased to broadcast weekly to our event partners and to welcome discussion. We use ChatBridge technology to allow viewers to comment during the show. Metanomics is sponsored by the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and Immersive Workspaces. Welcome. This is Metanomics. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Welcome to Metanomics. We took a couple of weeks off, and, of course, that's when all the fun stuff happened. Just over a week ago, Linden Lab released a Beta version of the new Second Life Viewer 2, which is one of a host of innovations that include some strategic redirections, as well as new product offerings. To give us a look at what the Lab is offering, what they're thinking and where they're headed, we're joined today by Amanda and Esbee Linden, who have been intimately involved with the new Viewer. Amanda is the executive director of product marketing at Linden Lab, and she's responsible for marketing Second Life to both the consumer and enterprise markets. She is joined with Esbee Linden, the product manager for the Viewer. She's been at Linden Lab for about 16 months, and they both are going to have a tremendous amount to say so I don't want to take too much time to introduce them. As much as I enjoy interviewing, today I'm going to hand the reins over to Doug Thompson, known to most of you as Dusan Writer, who, in addition to being the CEO of Remedy Communications and owner of Metanomics, he's also been an expert on the Viewer. Long-time Metanomics followers will remember that Dusan has written extensively about Second Life's user interface and even sponsored a competition to redesign the Second Life Viewer interface a couple years ago, and we handed out the award on Metanomics. So without further ado, Doug, take it away. DOUG THOMPSON: Thanks, Rob. And thanks, Amanda and Esbee for being here. ESBEE LINDEN: Thank you. AMANDA LINDEN: My pleasure. Thank you. DOUG THOMPSON: Looking forward to this discussion. I think it's been about two years almost since I held a Viewer interface contest on the theory that redesigning the viewer could improve retention, could increase the ability to attract new users, and it's nice to see the Beta version of Viewer 2.0 out last week. Amanda, for those in the audience who may have been living under a rock or may not just have had time to read all the Twitter streams or watch all the YouTube videos or keep up on all the blogs, how about a little capsule summary of what Viewer 2.0 and the Second Life Shared Media are all about? 1
  • 2. AMANDA LINDEN: Sure. Absolutely. Well, first of all, thank you both for inviting me today. I'm a huge fan of the Metanomics show, and it's an honor and a privilege to be here. So thank you. Now, yes, last Tuesday was a big day for all of us at the Lab and also for everyone in Second Life. We launched a series of new products and innovations, the most important of which is the Viewer 2, which is now in Beta. And, additionally as part of that, we also launched a new capability within Viewer 2 called Shared Media, and we're going to be talking a lot more about that, I'm sure. Additionally, we have some search innovations that have also been launched, and we are launching some additional ones today actually. And then, at the same time, we also launched Snowglobe 2. And I think what was really important about all of these things launching together is that we really wanted to launch Viewer 2, which was designed with the general consumer in mind and for the new user, but we also really wanted to launch some things that were interesting and exciting for the current Second Life residents, such as Shared Media. And I've seen a lot of really cool stuff happening in the last week, using Shared Media, and so we're real excited about that renaissance. And the Snowglobe piece is actually a very important one because we really wanted to underscore choice and that there are lots of viewers to choose from and that, hopefully, if you try Viewer 2 and like it, that's great, and you'll continue to use it. But, of course, Viewer 1,2,3 is available and will be for the foreseeable future. And then all of the third-party developers had access immediately to the Snowglobe 2 bits, to build specialized viewers for targeted audiences that may not be served with the Viewer 2. So it's a very big day. It was probably the largest, most integrated, most orchestrated marketing launch we've done at this company, and I think it signals a shift in how we're going to be marketing in the future. DOUG THOMPSON: That's an interesting plan. I'd like to kind of pause before we get into some of the background on the viewer and talk a little bit about what you just said because Rob also introduced you as the manager of product marketing, and one of the things that occurs to me, as I always used to think of Second Life as a world. In other words, it was the product, and it was a world. Your title would suggest that Second Life consists of more than one product. Do you think of these things as separate, distinct marketable features or platforms? Talk a little bit about what you mean by product marketing within the context of what the Lab has done. AMANDA LINDEN: Sure. Well, I'm actually the first person in this role at Linden Lab, so we're sort of as a team figuring it all out together. But when I think if product marketing, I really think of Second Life as the product, as an integrated whole because it's experienced as a whole. Of course, Viewer 2 is a piece of software, that is a distinct product with important capabilities that also need to be marketed within that. But Second Life, the World itself, is also a product, but I think of it as an integrated whole. Really, it's all about the experience. I'm a big believer that brands are the experience, not just a tagline and not just messaging. It's the actual experience that you have with the brand itself and every piece of it from the moment you touch the website to your experience in-world, to support, to customer service, to all the documentation, etcetera. So I really think very broadly and holistically about product. DOUG THOMPSON: So last week was the launch of this suite of new enhancements to Second Life, the product, and it looked like it was focused primarily internal as it was a Beta release, internal meaning primarily focused at the residents of Second Life. Talk a little bit about some of the channels that you used in reaching out to residents that maybe were different from what you've used in the past. I certainly noticed, for example, that there was a hashtag on Twitter, and it generated hundreds, if not thousands, of comments of feedback and cross-tweets. You certainly made extensive use of YouTube, for example, this time. What's the rationale behind that strategy? If you're reaching out to the Second Life residents, aren't there in-world tools that you can use? Why are you bridging out to social media, for example? AMANDA LINDEN: Great question. And, you're right, we did use the social media tools that we have on hand, much more in this launch than in previous launches. I think that's probably a sign of two things. Many years ago, I helped found the Word of Mouth Marketing organization championing word-of-mouth 2
  • 3. and social media as a real marketing discipline back when it wasn't considered a marketing discipline, so that's part of me and probably so of my bias because I understand how powerful those channels are if they're used in the right way. The second piece, and it's something I love and cherish so much about the Second Life community, is that the community is inherently social and is inherently connected. And giving people the right information, interesting pieces of content to share, things that are really viral-worthy and giving people the opportunity to talk about their experiences with the product, I mean I think those are incredibly important elements of any product rollout. And so we used a variety of channels. I mean you should see my laundry list of activities that we had been working through, everything like you had said from YouTube to Facebook to Twitter to obviously the blogs and a whole host of things. And I think you'll see much more of that going forward. Just based on this launch, it was incredibly powerful and a very successful marketing tactic. And I think also people really enjoy participating, and I think that's another element that makes launches like this really fun. DOUG THOMPSON: So that's interesting because I suppose it speaks to kind of a larger goal, which might be outreach to wider audiences. And, although this was more of an internal launch, let's talk for a second, and I'd like to circle back to what you said, but let's talk for a second about when this comes out of Beta, can you give us a sense of timing when it might come out of Beta? And would you plan outreach to potential new users and use the fact that there is a new viewer, to try to attract new people to Second Life? AMANDA LINDEN: Absolutely. And you're correct. I mean this launch was definitely targeted at the current Second Life community because we really wanted to have people try it, use it, give us feedback. And I know this is a point that Esbee is probably going to drive home too: We are at the beginning of a new era within Second Life, and we are getting ready for the next wave of new residents come in. And so this launch was very much focused on making sure that the viewer is tested, that we see all the different configurations, we catch all the bugs, we get all of the great feedback on new features and new pieces of functionality that would be helpful and useful for people, getting all of that together and then getting ready for our [one-dotta?] launch. Now I can't really give you any exact timing on that launch because it's really dependent on all of you testing and giving us feedback. We're going to go when we're ready to go, but I would anticipate it's a matter of months versus years or weeks. But, when the viewer's really ready, we will really sit, and we'll really sit in the context of a broader story that I think needs to be told around the renovation of Second Life, particularly the first hour when M joined 18 months ago, or maybe longer now--maybe somebody can correct me in-world--but quite a while ago, he said one of the key things that he wanted to do was make the first-hour experience great. And that is what we've been doing, everything from the stability of the platform. It's improved greatly over the last year. Everything from the web experience through to the new viewer, and we're also working on a welcome experience as well. So we're going to be able to tell the whole story and let folks know that we're ready for prime time, and that will come. And there will be a much broader marketing push and new user acquisition campaign that you'll be seeing rolling out shortly after Viewer 2 becomes the default download. DOUG THOMPSON: So the goal here is to grow the number of new users, increase retention I guess because of the viewer and the welcome experience or whatever it is you're launching. People often ask, "Well, if you've been spending all of this time developing the viewer, does that mean that you've been paying less attention to stability or that you have less investment dollars to make sure that we're localizing to different languages? There must be tradeoffs if you're spending so much time thinking about the first hour. There must be tradeoffs in maybe investing in things that are demanded by the current resident community." Can you talk about how you balance those decisions, making sure that the platform is stable, and the current residents are happy versus trying to increase the number of new people who are coming into Second Life? 3
  • 4. AMANDA LINDEN: It's a great question, and I know it's been on people's minds, and I want to reassure everybody that, although the viewer is getting a lot of attention, particularly in this last week, there are a whole host of other initiatives within the Lab that address those kinds of concerns, such as stability, such as making sure that our international audience is served with fast performance, such as the web experience we're going continue to innovate. There's a whole host of initiatives going on that you'll start to see roll out. I think that we have a very exciting year ahead of us so stay tuned. DOUG THOMPSON: Great. Now I'm putting you on the spot a little bit here, and I have one other question about the viewer because I've been interested in it for several years now, and there's a lot of discussion about--there's a lot of support materials. There are videos. There are FAQues. There's guides. We realize we're in a Beta phase, and there's bugs to fix and all that kind of stuff. One of the things that strikes me about a project like this is that it strikes me that it was fairly deep silence for sort of 18 months, and that's quite different from how Linden Lab, I think, approached development in the past, where the community was quite involved in even building out some of the features that got added to Second Life. Can we expect to sort of see more product enhancements and designs? How soon before stuff gets launched and developed? Do you expect that the community can be aware of what the roadmap is ahead? AMANDA LINDEN: There's a couple of interesting points that you raise. One is that you we did go quiet for a while because we really needed to focus on design and usability and functionality of the viewer. We did Alpha and Beta tests. We did run this by certain segments of the resident community, to get them involved and get their feedback, but it is a different process than what you've seen in the past. Here's the good news: We're not going to be going dark again, not on the viewer because one of the coolest things about the viewer, particularly about the technology and the way that we've built it, is that we can innovate on much faster cycles than you've ever seen before. So it's not going to be another 18 months before you see changes within the viewer. You're going to see enhancements roll out at a much, much faster pace. And a lot of the feedback that has been coming in, particularly through the Viewer 2 forum, that's really where we're focusing our energies and combing that feedback and getting that into the product cycle. So that's really the best way for the community to get involved because we are paying attention to those forums. We're watching them every day. We're making sure that issues are addressed. And there have been tremendously fantastic ideas that we hadn't even thought of, that have come up on the forums, that we're now baking into the process. So it's just a different process than what we've seen before, but the feedback's still coming in. DOUG THOMPSON: It still feels like it's a short timeframe for all of the people who have to update help notecards, but that's a whole other question. I think that's a good segue actually around what you were saying about the early process where you wanted to focus on interface design, and I'm going to flip it over to Esbee at this point because I'm really fascinated with how the viewer got put together and what your process was for designing it. I'm not an expert at interface design. I'm fascinated by it, and I have lots of opinions on stuff I like or don't like, and I can look at things on the viewer and sort of go, "Well, why did they make that decision?" And some of it I shake my head in despair and others I go, "Wow! That is like a real aha-pow moment for me. And I'm sure other residents feel the same thing. There are some things that drive them to distraction, and there are other things that just seem so much more elegant and easier to use than the previous viewer. So I'd like to just kind of segue a little bit so that we can all have a bit of an understanding of the process that went into this. Can you tell us a little bit about the team that was behind redesigning the Second Life viewer? ESBEE LINDEN: Absolutely. So I actually joined Linden Lab just as this project was spinning up, and I've been a resident for a long time. I tried to enter Dusan's interface contest, but I didn't get my entry in on time so that always kind of grabbed me a little bit that I didn't get it in. But I've always been someone interested in the viewer and have been really excited to work on this project and also help shape the process that we used for design. So our design process really involves representatives from everybody throughout our engineering organization within the company, as well as our user experience teams. And 4
  • 5. we decided that we wanted to bring in other people to help us think a little bit outside the box with this project. It's easy for someone who works with Second Life or works with the viewer specifically every day, to really get stuck in the details. And we wanted to work with other user-interface experts who could help us step outside of that and look at our viewer in some different ways. And so we were working with a company called 80/20 Studio who worked with us on not just visual interaction design but also the visual design of the viewer throughout that process, but it was a very interactive exchange and kind of partnership between engineering teams who obviously are highly invested in our code and the ideas and plans that were designed by our partners and our internal user-experience team. DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah, and I have to say something though, which is that I know that Tom Linden, or T Linden, comes from Adobe, I think, and there's something sort of Adobe-ish about the design and the use of dark colors and stuff like that. Talk a little bit about T's role, or Tom Hale's role, in the process. I'm curious about how that works. ESBEE LINDEN: So Tom obviously was very involved in this project, as was Howard who is the head of engineering, and they kind of served as our co-directors on this project. So we always had a representative from product as well as from engineering at a high level when we were looking at our design. The choice to go to this more polished darker interface was a design decision that 80/20 helped us arrive at. I agree does feel a little Adobe-like, but it was something that just felt much more polished to us. And, in the future, we may look at other colors and ways to customize that, but we thought this was a really good kind of more professional approach to the viewer. It also helps with a darker color to bring the focus more in-world than it does keeping your eyes on the actual user interface. Because that was one of our primary goals was to, as much as possible, keep the focus on the in-world experiences, which is what we're all here for and not so much on the controls. DOUG THOMPSON: Absolutely. And I didn't mean to make that sound like that was necessarily a negative. It's curious, there was a blog-post, I think, by [Ermena Saxe?] about the number of menu items in the old viewer, and I think it was like in the thousands or something like that. And I'm trying to imagine those initial phases where you said, "This is what we've got. How do we get from this to something that's simpler and more elegant?" And did you work off of use cases? Did you have a war room with little sticky notes all over the walls? I'm really curious about the kind of process, within the Lab, of just discussing how to get through those stages so the people can understand the logic and the flow that got us here. ESBEE LINDEN: Sure. So first of all, a lot of our team members are distributed. Linden Lab employees are spread out throughout the world. In fact, I actually started working on this project not from San Francisco, but actually from Michigan. And so we set up not just a war-room concept actually in the San Francisco office, but also a virtual war room where we could meet at any time to talk about our design ideas and to work through all the different challenges we had. It was definitely complicated. We did a lot of white-boarding, a lot of prototyping. And using the menu items as an example, that was a difficult one because it's true that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of menu items that you can actually access in that top menu. And we actually went through every single one. A lot of us have our favorite parts of the viewer, and we tended to gravitate towards those and help lead them. We actually had one of our user-experience designers who said, "You know what? I love this functionality. I want to make sure we organize it better," and helped us, on a giant whiteboard, actually write down and map all of these things. And it was an amazing thing to see the photographs and the paper that would be flying around the room in a design session like that were pretty amazing. But we definitely used that type of interaction, and it was also a really good learning experience for us in working with design teams who are physically in a room together, but also working in-world, which is the same challenges that a lot of people using our product have. We've learned a lot of really great best practices about that and how to get work done both in-world and out in the Real World. 5
  • 6. DOUG THOMPSON: So there's different methodologies for software and user design, development and projects. Were there particular methodologies that you used for the viewer? ESBEE LINDEN: Yes. So we actually decided as an engineering organization, at the beginning of this project, that we wanted to be able to iterate, as Amanda said, much more quickly than we've ever been able to before. We want to be able to move into a cadence where we're more frequently releasing new features and more frequently updating the viewer. And we knew that using the type of design and development approach we'd used in the past that we really couldn't do that, and so we adopted for those of you who are familiar with it an agile development methodology called SCRUM. And SCRUM basically breaks you into small teams focused around very short and kind of fast developments. They call them sprints, where you time-box a number of tasks over a certain period of time and you have a product representative and a design representative and then a team of engineers and a QA person, and you're all, for two weeks, heads down. Nobody can bother you. And you just work on the task that you're working on and see where you come out at the end. And it's worked amazingly well for us as an organization. So with the number of developers and different teams we had working, we were able to run many different sprints at the same time. So SCRUM has worked really well for us, and it's been a way that we can test out new ideas really quickly. And, if we see something that's not working, it's not like we're throwing away months of work. It's a great way to iterate on code, and it's a funny name, and I think a lot of us still kind of reel when we hear or talk about using SCRUM, but it's a wonderful development methodology that just seems to really fit our culture and the way that we like to work here. DOUG THOMPSON: I'm sure, for the software folks and project managers in the audience, they'll know what agile SCRUM development is. I'll just nod and pretend have any idea what you just said. But I like the part about iterating quickly and innovating often. I'm going to circle back around that question a couple of times. But one of them is sort of giving us a sense of what's under the hood because there's the stuff on top, and I imagine, and from what I understand, there’s actually a lot of work that went into how the code is structured underneath the interface that will make it easier in the future. Do you want to talk just a little bit about that, on how it facilitates future innovation? ESBEE LINDEN: Sure. I can touch on it a little bit. Like I said actually before we got started, the program is to try to keep me as far away from the code as possible because I love to get in there, and that's definitely not my job, even though I'd love to dabble. So they give me glimpses, but they keep me at an arm's length when possible. But we did do some restructuring. It's really difficult when you have a piece of software that's several years old, to say we're going to throw this all away and start again. And, with the timeline that we had, that certainly wasn't an option for us, and so we did take some time to do some re-factoring and cleanup of the existing code, which you'll also see if you have a chance to check out Snowglobe 2, which is the Open Source version of Viewer 2. So there was a lot of re-factoring. There was a lot of improvement to the way that we had structured files, and it actually gave a lot of our programmers a chance to look at the way we'd done things before and do a little bit of cleanup. There was also a lot of efficiency work that went in that I'm not as well-versed in, but we did a lot of texture improvements and began a lot of simulator side improvements that you'll start to see coming out over the coming year, that are also using a similar development approach. DOUG THOMPSON: So you actually mentioned something about Snowglobe 2 and something I'm kind of confused about is, when I download Snowglobe, it doesn't look the same as Viewer 2.0, and yet you call it the Open Source version of Viewer 2.0. But will the source code for Viewer 2.0 itself be released in Open Source? AMANDA LINDEN: So these are two people onstage that are not technologists, but, to the best of my knowledge, Snowglobe 2-- DOUG THOMPSON: That makes four of us. AMANDA LINDEN: Exactly. So Snowglobe 2 basically has all of the bits that you need. It doesn't look 6
  • 7. exactly the same, but it is essentially the same as Viewer 2. And it's now available in Windows and Mac and not yet on Linux. I think those guys are still working on that. DOUG THOMPSON: So what we see now as the release of Open Source Snowglobe, well, I mean it's all Open Source, but what we see now as Snowglobe's Open Source code is Viewer 2.0's Open Source code. AMANDA LINDEN: Correct. That's right. DOUG THOMPSON: As far as you know. Okay. ESBEE LINDEN: And we are working right now on a plan for how we synchronize our branch that we developed Viewer 2 in, with the Snowglobe branch moving forward so that we can really more frequently interact with the Open Source community and make sure that we have a much closer dialogue with them as we proceed further in our development this year. DOUG THOMPSON: Great. Okay. And I would like to dive into some of the individual features of the viewer, but you've got lots of stuff online, and I know that there's lots of feedback on the forums, and certainly I would encourage people who are watching today to go and contribute their own thoughts and complaints and the things they love and the things that delight them. I'm often fascinated, one of the people I'm a big fan of is Tom Boellstorff, who wrote a book Coming of Age in Second Life. He's an anthropologist. And, as an anthropologist, he came into Second Life and looked at how the interface and things about being in a Virtual World, the tools that people use in a Virtual World influence the culture of the World. So for example, he talked about the conventions around the term "AFK" or "away from keyboard." Let's say you're out dancing in a club in Second Life, people have conversations about, "Oh, he's AFK," or, "He'll be back in a sec. He's just AFK." And that actually contributes to the culture of the World. When I look at the viewer, I actually think that there are things about how the viewer has been constructed that also will influence the culture. And I'm wondering if you want to comment a little bit on whether that came into your considerations. I'll give a couple of examples. The first is that the side panel, when open, it opens a fairly significant piece of real estate on your screen, which I don't particularly have anything against, but it implies that there's almost a sort of web-type interface that is supplemental to the World. I see it as supplemental anyway. But that it feels to me like that starts to have a cultural implication. Another example of a cultural implication is how search is handled, which, really, for people like landowners who are renting parcels or shopkeepers, search requires new conventions for how you advertise, how you find things, how you connect to groups. Did considerations about how the interface might change how we connect with each other and the culture of Second Life, did that enter into the design process? ESBEE LINDEN: That's a huge question. DOUG THOMPSON: It is. AMANDA LINDEN: It is. DOUG THOMPSON: Amanda, why don't you take the first crack? AMANDA LINDEN: You want me to take the first crack? ESBEE LINDEN: Perfect. AMANDA LINDEN: Great. It's so interesting actually. I was an art history major way back in the day at Vassar, and I understand how much visual design and experience design can impact culture and vice versa. I think it's a very symbiotic relationship. I think you're right. There's a new element within the viewer that is web-based, that allows us to create new kinds of promotional and other kinds of advertising 7
  • 8. capabilities within the sidebar. That's something we definitely thought about. There are a whole host of other capabilities within the new viewer that are meant to make it very easy for users to get to the most used pieces of functionality very quickly. We wanted to surface those things up to the top immediately and viscerally so that people can get to what they need very quickly. It's been interesting. I mean we looked at, and Esbee hinted on this too, we looked at a lot of other things besides viewers. We looked at Skype. We looked at IM. We looked at Google. We looked at Yahoo. We looked at a whole host of other kinds of communication technologies. We looked at Twitter. I think that what we tried to do is make it easy, and, by making it easy, I think that, hopefully, it will enrich not only the experience with Shared Media and other capabilities, but will also make it easier for people to communicate. DOUG THOMPSON: There are two topics that are of interest to me, and you're probably aware of this, but one of my interests is the concept of the avatar as a repository for identity information and the importance of allowing people a choice around anonymity, which leads to two questions. And the first question is that the available of real-life profile information on the side panel is given pretty much equivalent weight to your avatar profile; whereas, before it was in a submerged tab at the back of the profile box. I'm not exactly sure what my question is, but was there debate inside Linden Lab about the pulling forward of real-life profile information? And what was your conclusion about how important that is to the future of Second Life? ESBEE LINDEN: That's a wonderful question, and it's actually a great one to hit on because it was an area of intense debate around the Lab when we started looking at a user profile. Second Life, different types of people are drawn to Second Life. Some of them don't mind sharing real-life information and others who prefer to keep that Second Life completely separate to their real life. And we respect and think that both of those approaches are great. For example, I'm someone who has always shared both my real life and my Second Life alt name, and that's just the way that I've done things. But I have really good friends who keep their personal lives anonymous, and that's great. In the design of this particular panel and the way we approach user profiles, we wanted to give them the same weight because of the way that we're going after new users. This viewer will become a viewer that not just our existing residents and the new users that we attempt to target, but also large areas of business and education, and those are users who will probably value being able to share more of their first life, if you will, or their Real World information. And so we wanted to give that a little bit more prominence. We are doing a lot of work right now that I can't talk about as much because I'm not involved in the project, but we're talking a lot internally about identity and what that means in a Virtual World, and it's actually a huge area of focus in the Lab right now. So the profiles as we see them today, we wanted to surface as much information as we could at once, without creating a lot of clutter, and it will hopefully hint to new options and approaches to identity in Virtual Worlds as we move forward. DOUG THOMPSON: Now I don't want to segue into talking about Second Life Shared Media on a negative, but I ask you to respond to a question about the ability to sort of pull web pages into Second Life on that identity question, which is: Will the Lab, as we get closer to the final release of your Viewer 2.0, will you be looking at any concerns about linking IP addresses to avatar identity because of the availability of web in a prim? And then we'll move on to all of the glorious, wonderful things about Shared Media, which I think is amazing. And maybe, Amanda, you can pick that question up if you like. AMANDA LINDEN: Actually, I'm going to pass that one to Esbee, and then I may follow on. DOUG THOMPSON: Okay. All right. good. ESBEE LINDEN: Sure. So privacy is absolutely a huge issue for us here. It's something we're very concerned about, and it's something we share the concerns of our residents, in that when we made the decision to launch Shared Media and to actually work on Shared Media, we felt that the benefit of what it brings and the innovation that it brings to our residents made it an important feature to get into the viewer. 8
  • 9. We do understand that there are security and privacy risks, and we are listening and actually working actively on the issue specific, and I've seen some of them come up in chat around IP collection. So basically right now, if you install the viewer, AutoPlay is set to On for all new users installing, which means that Shared Media will just play for you. Because of the benefit we felt that Shared Media could have for residents, we made that call to turn it to On. We will be messaging users who do have security concerns though on exactly how to turn that off and what those current risks are. We are working on more privacy controls and more controls for the users over Shared Media in general. But, in the meantime, my first piece of advice to anyone is just like you would with a website: Don't enter your user name and password or any personal information into a piece of media that you are not comfortable with. But secondly, we're not ignoring this. This is an issue that we are addressing very seriously and will be addressing as the viewer moves forward. DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah. And I'd like to kind of jump in, before we talk about Second Life Shared Media, and just say that what's fascinating to me, because we talked a little bit before the show, but what's fascinating to me is how much you guys did wrestle with so many of these questions in the design process. It's pretty incredible over the 18 months that you really did pull down to the ground and wrestle with a lot of things that have pretty big kind of policy implications, in addition to thinking about an interface, in addition to thinking about the code. And then, in addition to Second Life Shared Media, which I personally think is a game-changer, especially, well, for everything, but in particular for things like education and enterprise. Tell my why you think Second Life Shared Media was needed. And what is it, Amanda? AMANDA LINDEN: Wow. It's interesting, Shared Media does something very powerful that a lot of residents have been asking for, for a very long time, and that is the ability to put web content, whether it be a web page or flash or a movie, YouTube video, those kinds of things, onto any prim. And we felt that this capability was so powerful that we're hoping, and it actually already has unleashed a renaissance of new creative energy coming into Second Life, people building with shared media. Just even within the Lab, we've been sharing things that we've been finding. And every time I see something new, I'm just astounded at already the cool stuff that's being built with it. And I think it also speaks to a theme that we've been talking a lot about in the Lab, which is breaking down the walled garden of really creating an integrated digital experience, to make it a richer, more powerful experience for everybody. And, from an enterprise and education perspective, the implications are huge, and we're going to be doing a blog-post on working in-world today on this very topic, where people can come into Second Life, share web pages, share Google docs, share EtherPad, share WebEx straight within Second Life. The power, I don't even think we've begun to see the beginning of what residents and what all of us are going to be building. I think there's a killer app in there. I think there are a bunch of killer apps in there, and we're looking forward to seeing them as they're created. In fact, I'll do one little thing as well. It's not a Shared Media thing, but it's an alpha-mesh thing. I'm wearing the coolest alpha-mesh shoes you've ever seen. It was just creative. DOUG THOMPSON: Now if they also had Shared Media on them, like little TV screens that were pulling in YouTube videos, that would be even better. AMANDA LINDEN: And you know what? It could be done. DOUG THOMPSON: It's like the ultimate in strange loopiness. Second Life Shared Media-- Jennette Forager, who's our community manager here at Metanomics, put a video together, and I'm sure that our production partners at Treet are either playing it now or will play it shortly, where she demoed putting basically a clickable website on a prim. But there is that sort of strange loopiness feeling where you could be pulling in a real-life video of a WebEx while at the same time filming what you're doing in Second Life and transmitting that out to the boardroom where the WebEx conference is being filmed and these sort of ultimate regressions of content and data and all sorts of things. Esbee, is there been anything that you've seen even just in the last week that surprised you or delighted you that people have 9
  • 10. done with Second Life Shared Media? ESBEE LINDEN: It's been pretty amazing. I was a little bit jealous because I didn't get to focus on the Shared Media project, and I'm a huge fan of that project, but I have been playing with it myself and looking at what residents are creating. And it's been completely amazing. I think everyone's seen the Twitter and the blog-posts about the guy who has kind of the television set on his head, and he was streaming his web cam through for the face for his avatar, which was just awesome. And then just yesterday I saw someone had tweeted a link to a piece of Shared Media that was the street view of a Google map, and their avatar was interacting with the street view so it looked like the avatar was walking basically in New York. I had one of those moments of like, "Wow!" that was exactly what you spoke of, like this is the Real World colliding with the Virtual World and back and forth. I really can't wait to see. I mean I have all sort so ideas of things that I'd like to do with it in my ample spare time, but seeing what our residents have already started to do and the experimenting they're doing it's really exciting for us. DOUG THOMPSON: I think, with the coming promised--knock on wood, we cross our fingers, hope for mesh imports for some of us anyway, the ability to do rapid prototyping and mirror-world applications. Certainly, it becomes easier, whether it's for simulation or in-world entertainment or whatever applications to come up with. ESBEE LINDEN: Absolutely. AMANDA LINDEN: And we are still working on it. Yeah, absolutely, we are still working on mesh. That is a project that continues to go on, and it looks like it's going really well. I don't have an exact timeframe on when we're launching that, but it will be this year. DOUG THOMPSON: That's awesome. I saw T mention that in one of the forums. I'm going to pass it back to Rob for a second, in a minute. We have tons of audience questions. I want to talk just very briefly while we close. There were a couple of announcements that sort of went under the radar. One of them was the announcement of an arts grant and an arts endowment by Linden Lab, which I thought was fantastic. The other was that, in the last couple weeks, I noticed that the developed channel was launched off of the Second Life home page. And, for those who don't know, there's the Second Life website. There is also a website called Work, which is targeted to enterprise customers. And there's another portal called Now Develop, which is targeted at in-world or scripters, anybody who might be interested in doing development work in Second Life. Are there other channels planned? Is this a different type of way of bringing people into Second Life? What's the goal of these channels Amanda? AMANDA LINDEN: Sure. I'm so glad you asked about that. Those have been my babies for quite a while. One of the things that's very clear is that different communities within Second Life use the environment in very different ways and have a different set of needs and a different set of objectives. And so when I came onboard just over a year ago, one of my key initiatives was to create a separate web experience that directly addresses the needs of enterprise and government users because they're really looking at Second Life as a work environment. They're looking at ROI. They're looking at the fact that Second Life is a green alternative to Real World travel and carbon emissions associated with that. So we really needed to create a new presence and a new conversation with that audience. And so work.secondlife.com is where that conversation and where that work is going on. If you haven't checked out the case studies, there are, gosh, I think there are eight of them now up, including a new one that we just launched yesterday on Metanomics, so you guys should definitely check that out. So that's that, and we're going to continue to evolve that as well. We also launched develop.secondlife.com, and that website's really focused around the developer community. It's not any different from any of the other software companies that have developer networks and developer websites specifically focused around those needs. So that channel just started. We're going to be building that out. There's a lot of content in the pipeline for that. And there's one more that's almost ready to launch. We're very close. It's targeted at the education 10
  • 11. community, and that will probably live at edu.secondlife.com. And we're also, with that, going to be launching an education directory where you can very quickly find all of the educators in Second Life and where they are and what they're doing. So look for that. DOUG THOMPSON: Wow! AMANDA LINDEN: Yeah, I know. That's very exciting. So those are the three big ones. DOUG THOMPSON: I know there's a big education conference coming up too, so I'm going to be looking for the launch of that around the conference. I'm guessing. Listen, there were so many audience questions, there's no way we're going to be able to get to all of them, and I'm hoping I can maybe encourage you guys to answer some of them and follow up on the Metanomics blog and your own forums. But I'm going to pass it back to Rob who's been scanning the audience, and I personally want to thank both of you for coming. And it's been great to be able to ask you these questions. But, Rob, what is the audience asking today? ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. It's been hard to keep track of the questions and comments. They've been coming so quickly. Many of them have actually been coming from the community of Second Life residents with disabilities. I understand they had some input during the development process through, maybe it was Virtual Ability. These questions range from, "Are there going to be additional changes to make the new viewer more accessible?" all the way to questions about whether you've been thinking about Section 508 accessibility regulations. So I don't know which of you is the right person to answer that, but if you could just talk about accessibility and the role it played in development, what we can expect in the future, that'd be great. AMANDA LINDEN: Sure. With Gentle Heron and others, as part of the development process, we definitely had people with disabilities in mind as we developed the viewer. And this is an incredibly important community for us, an incredibly important and compassionate community that we listen to very carefully. And Gentle and her team, among others, have been great about giving us feedback, and we will do our best to accommodate as many of the accessibility features and functionality requests that come in. That said, one viewer can't possibly meet the needs of every single person who comes into Second Life. We can certainly do our best, and we are, and we will continue to do that. But one of the reasons why we did launch Snowglobe at the same time was that we want to encourage the developer community to create specialized viewers for people with specialized needs, whether that be people with disabilities whose needs are not met with the current viewer or people who speak languages that we don't have on our roadmap, we don't have the capability to translate to, localize to. So we want to be able to accommodate everybody. If not with this viewer, then with specialized viewers in the Open Source community. Anything to add on that, Esbee? ESBEE LINDEN: Lost my mute button for a minute there. No, it's definitely something that we're working on. We're actually currently in the process of doing some keyboard interaction and just something as simple as tab-control interaction within the viewer cleanup and review. So it's not something that we're ignoring. We do care about it a lot. I've actually spent a lot of time in my career working on accessibility and focused on making websites accessible. So it's an area that we care about deeply, and we will continue to build and revise. And, again, I think the important thing to stress is that this is just the beginning for Viewer 2, and it is still in Beta, and we will continue to make changes. And so I definitely encourage people to send us feedback. Let us know what's working and what's not working from an accessibility standpoint because that will only help us make this an even better product. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Thanks a lot. I've got another question here. I guess it's more a comment from samanda Undercroft, who says, "I want to be able to share my screen, like on Skype. Any plans for screen-sharing?" ESBEE LINDEN: I don't have the Shared Media roadmap in front of me. I don't know if any of you saw 11
  • 12. earlier on in the year when we put a Beta out with Shared Media. We did have some residents start experimenting with things like VNC to do screen-sharing so we're looking at it, and you may see those options coming in the future. We'd like to make Shared Media as extensible and as feature-filled as we can. I think right now we're just trying to decide what is the next thing to hit. You'll be definitely hearing more about that from our Shared Media team in the coming weeks and months. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Let's see. You did address this somewhat earlier with Doug, but I'd also like to follow up a little bit more on this. The viewer is so intimately connected with in-world commerce, everything from search--well, I mean search is a very big part of it, but it is the way people communicate. It's the way people find land, find events to go to, find shops. And so I'm wondering if you could talk a little more about how integrated the consideration of the in-world economy and the in-world business community was with the thoughts of pulling together a new viewer. AMANDA LINDEN: I think I can start this off, and maybe Esbee can join in. We know that it can sometimes be difficult to find things in Second Life, using search. I mean it's just us, right? Let's all be clear. There are things that we can do to make it a lot easier, and so we have an initiative underway right now, and actually there's a blog-post planned, to come up this afternoon--it should be right after this session--specifically addressing search. And there are a couple of things that we did different in search, in Viewer 2, that you should all be aware of. First is that we are using Google technology. Obviously the industry-leading technology to power our search, which is different than what we've done in the past. So we're using the Google search appliance to make it easier to find relevant content and to be able to sort very quickly. And the sorting feature and the interface feature is the other thing that we really gave a lot of thought to. We wanted to be able to enable residents to very quickly sort through what they were looking for, whether it be a place or a piece of content, something to buy, a place to shop, an entertainment venue, etcetera. So we've given a lot of thought to that. Just, on a side note, we've hired several people from leading search companies such as Yahoo, Google, eBay and Amazon. So we've brought in some new talent to help us really make search a very powerful tool. And I would encourage everybody to look for that blog-post coming up a little bit later, with some additional details. Anything you want to add on that? ESBEE LINDEN: Yeah, actually one thing that I want to add that I was really excited about with Viewer 2 and want to point out is that we actually have a lot more web integration in the Viewer UI, and it's very seamless so it's not as noticeable. But the home panel that we've talked about a little bit, as a starting point for new users, is actually web content as well as the search floater is now a hundred percent web content. And what's been exciting for me, from a viewer interaction standpoint is that the web content is now seamlessly integrating with the UI and interacting with it. So a button from the web can actually trigger an event in the viewer. And so we're actually able to start directing people, as you mentioned, at the side panels that we spent a lot of time working on, to give them additional functionality that search can't always offer. And so, from a viewer standpoint, we've been really excited about what opportunities that can give us in the future as we continue to, again, revise and keep building Viewer 2. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Thank you so much, Esbee Linden and Amanda Linden, for joining us on Metanomics, to give us an insight into the present and the future of Viewer 2 for Second Life. We really appreciate it, and I hope everyone will track those blogs, look for that new blog-post on Linden Lab's site. Thanks for joining us. ESBEE LINDEN: Thank you very much. It was great to be here. AMANDA LINDEN: Thank you. This has been an absolute pleasure. Great questions. Great discussion. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have just a couple minutes left. Dusan, do you have any closing remarks? DOUG THOMPSON: I don't. I'm still trying to absorb everything. It was really useful to hear about the results of such a long effort. It was great to talk to both of you. Thanks. 12
  • 13. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And just for the record, I've been using the viewer since the day it was released. I can't tell you how much I didn't like it on day one, but now it feels kind of like home. So I really don't rely much on the old one over the last couple days. I do have just a couple announcements to make, as far as things that are coming up first. As Amanda mentioned, there's now a case study on Metanomics, that's on the Work website for Second Life. And I encourage you to send that--I mentioned I sent that to my mother already, and I actually encourage all of our viewers to send it to your mothers too because we really couldn't have had the success we've had without the community and the people who have been so incredibly active and participative as you all have been today. And I just want to let you know personally how much I appreciate that. We have a great session coming up next week, the Second Annual Virtual 2010 Symposium, is being put on by Drexel University. We're going to have several people from education and from industry joining us to talk about how technology is revolutionizing the way people access and distribute information. So look for a post on the Metanomics website about that. It should be a very interesting day. And, if you want just a little bit of fun, Saturday night I'm glad to announce that an organization called Zonta International, a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide, through service and advocacy, is having a gala in Washington, D.C., and they will also have conjoint with that an event that's going to be starting a little before 5:00 Second Life Time, right here in Second Life, and there will be a swing band playing: Beyers and the Reztones. So that's right, I'm going to be backed up by a quarter, singing jazz standards. The theme of the evening: An Evening in Paris. So I do hope you will join us for that. It's free. Any tips you provide go to the nonprofit Zonta International. So see you next week, if I don't see you this Saturday a little before 5:00 P.M. Second Life Time. Again, thanks to our guests Amanda and Esbee Linden. Bye bye. Document: cor1079.doc Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com http://www.hiredhandtranscription.org 13

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