The Perils of Engagement in Second Life

Antennaria (moderate)

Ghost’s photo↑ took me to Antennaria↑ for today’s explorations and, as usual, I managed to link what I found with what I’ve been thinking for the past number of hours.

Before I get into my personal take on a few recent announcements I want to recommend you go visit this bizarre and fascinating island. Dimento Babenco↑ may be well named but he builds with humour and imagination and he has brought us a very cool place. I know he’s still making changes and additions but all builders do, go visit his “baby”. :)

Sooooo JIRAs will now↑ be visible only to those who create them and only for a portion of the process. They say that the existing ones will remain public but oddly enough I can’t see any of the ones I was following.

Antennaria (moderate)

They knew the reaction to this would be negative. A (frankly) darling Linden on Plurk made a vague “you’re going to hate me” post in advance, I suspect they were all braced for outrage and attacks. Within hours there were blog posts proclaiming the end of Second Life (there’s a shock) and you could feel the anger levels rise in various social media venues.

My reaction wasn’t positive. There are things I care about in the bowels of the “issue tracker” and they’ve vanished into a black hole.

I spent some time thinking back and the introduction of the JIRA was not received well – at least not unanimously. It was complicated, unfriendly and harsh to those of us who wanted to participate but don’t speak the language of byte wizards and don’t have the defensive tools to fight the self-appointed hall monitors. But, and it’s a big but, it was an engagement tool that (for those who cared) did work.

You could learn about problems, find work arounds (if you ignored the unproductive rants) and feel like you were involved.

Antennaria (moderate)

In the olden days, the same period of time when crossing a sim boundary meant having your hair stick out of your butt, we used the bug reporter button under the Help dropdown menu in the viewer. It’s still there but it now leads you to an explanation of the JIRA. They’ll get around to fixing that.

I don’t remember a lot of complaints at the time. It was just the way things were, it’s what we expected and what we lived with.

Expectations have been changed with the JIRA. Those who were involved now see its removal as a personal affront – and it is. The most engaged residents have lost something important and the Lab knew what they were doing.

If you look at other recent changes, withdrawals from Community events and tools, one must assume that “engagement” on the part of users/residents/customers isn’t what Linden Lab seeks.

Having a population of individuals who wish to actively participate with you in your product offering puts a heavy burden on your resources. It has a lot of benefits but I suspect those benefits aren’t in an area that’s high on the list of LL’s priorities. I also don’t think it really matters to the future of our world.

Antennaria (moderate)

If you think about it very few people (as a percentage of residents) are “engaged”. Some read blogs, some chatter and vent on forums or plurk/twitter/facebook. An even smaller number got involved in JIRA creation or discussion. The rest won’t even notice the changes. These people are much lower maintenance and are the ones that matter.

I was hit harder by something  Rodvik↑ is quoted↑ as saying about adding SL to Steam: “As a creativity platform which requires a significant amount of tech savvy to enjoy it seems like a good fit.” See I don’t have “a significant amount of tech savvy”. The joy I get from the grid is from community and art and taking photos. My nightmare is that all of the land will be devoted to games and teenagers with guns.

I don’t know if Dimento is actively engaged in all the drama of the blogosphere or forums. I have no idea if he ever opened a JIRA. He’s slightly older than I and working in a remote part of the ocean to create something wonderful and I suspect he’s oblivious to all of the screaming and ranting and emotional venting. He’s happy and will continue to be so unless he one day discovers that the grid has become exclusively the playground of pathfinding, gun toting, score-counting gamers.

That’s when we’ll both leave. The exit is there and I doubt we’ll be missed.

Antennaria (moderate)
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  1. I read that “significant amount of tech savvy to enjoy” with total disbelief too. For one thing prim building is very easy, for another there are a lot of people with very nice homes who never build a thing — surely LL has heard of Marketplace! :)
    Life goes on, until we can’t take it any more.

    • I can ignore the “game” culture as easily as I can Gor :) But, if it becomes the only thing that matters then I’ll be truly heartbroken.

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