Friday, November 18, 2011

What Did You Mean, Philip?

SecondLife founder Philip Rosedale, a.k.a. Philip Linden, according to an article in New York Times talking about SecondLife recently made two statements that have caused a great deal of speculation and concern among residents and bloggers.

The two statements are, "The problem with creating an immersive 3-D experience is that it is just too involved, and so it’s hard to get people to engage,” and “Smart people in rural areas, the handicapped, people looking for companionship, they love it. But you have to be highly motivated to get on and learn to use it.”

Among most bloggers the statements have been interpreted as derogatory and as an almost treacherous attack by the previously well liked former CEO, now Chairman of the Board, of Linden Lab. (See for example The Metaverse Journal Philip Rosedal spruiks new venture, talks down Second Life?Eddi Haskell Shame on Philip Rosedale. He´s Joined the Second Life Haters!, Ener Hax Philip even thinks SL is dead, Botgirls Second Life Diary Rosedales Milkshake or Sven Idyll (in Swedish) Second Life 2012 to mention a few.)

On New World Notes today blogger Herman Au makes a completely different - and more beneficial - interpretation on Philips statements in this post, No, Second Life Founder Philip Rosedale Probably Doesn't Think Second Life is "Dead". Herman Au writes,
"So I read what Philip's saying as good news: It's clear that he understands the challenges SL faces, and it explains why he's passed the reigns of its day-to-day operations to Rod Humble, who has managed to make a 3D virtual experience with user-generated content -- i.e. Sims 3 -- into a mass market phenomenon. For many years, Philip and other Lindens insisted the high learning curve and the 3D graphics and the heavy client and all that wouldn't hurt SL's growth. (I said as much myself.) But Second Life can only grow if its developers recognize who is using SL now, and what it will take, for people outside these smaller segments to embrace it."
Instead of everyone speculating about what Philip Rosedale may or may not have meant by his statements I wish he himself would come out and clarify what he actually does mean.

I hope that some of the major blogs with well developed lines of communications with Linden Lab - or those that are known to be read by Linden Lab officials or employees - will pick up on this as I do not expect this humble blog is on any of their reading lists.


  1. Hi Bock, Yes, Philip is right. There is a ton of research to support his statements. It's a huge problem that will be solved when those under 20 years old today become professionals. Let me tell you the university professors are shaking in their boots as they are totally unprepared for a generation of students who want to learn in 3-D. Linden Labs made a huge mistake when it decided not to give a price break to educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. It may take much longer for the world to come onboard with 3-D as a result. It will happen, it just may not be a Linden Labs property.

  2. Yes of course, Diana, I fully believe that Philips statements were based on research on demographics and other data collected or obtained from surveys made.

    But the way such well researched knowledge is expressed - or even thought of - after interpreting the results is important.

    I often repeat to anyone around me, that it is not what you say but how you say it that affects how the message is received and understood by those who receive it.

    Bare facts and also our conclusions of these can be communicated to others in several ways depending on what result you want to achieve.

  3. I do not agree. What Philip was saying was clearly inappropriate coming from a CEO of ANY company. As CEO. Philip has a responsibility to his investors, including those of us who spend much time and money inworld, not to say things like this to the New York Times.

    There is no way anyone could think that Second Life is successful reading these comments. And it will scare away potential investors.

    My guess is Philip is very disillusioned with Second Life, and probably has had arguments with other key investors about its future direction.

    Remember, Second Life is privately held. Who knows? Philip could be trying to sell out his shares now so he can invest more in his new company. In fact, there is no way that a CEO of a publically held company could say this and NOT be sued by stockholders.

    He DID imply that Second Life was (in his words in the New York Times nonetheless)
    “Smart people in rural areas, the handicapped, people looking for companionship, they love it"

    Well guess what! People in urban areas, who are the majority of users, like it just fine too. And although people with disabilities are represented in Second Life to its benefit, non-disabled people are in the majority. As I wrote last weekend, his overall tone was one that would scare away ANY potential investor.

    I will stick to my guns and say that Philip, as CEO, should have spun things much much more positively to outside world, even if what he is saying is correct -- which it is not.

  4. I will not challenge anyone of you on this, because it would still be speculation. Philip Rosedale should tell us what he means and not leave us guessing about his meaning.

    If Philip actually wants to pull out of Second Life and Lindens Lab I cannot see how it would benefit him to talk down SecondLife and it´s users as it could only lead to him receiving a lower price when selling out.

  5. Bock- let's agree on this.

    If Linden Lab ever goes public, and Mr. Rosedale as CEO speaks to the New York Times or any national publication of record again, that corporate council sit down with him and let him know all about stock holder lawsuits against company CEO's who generate negative publicity based on saying negative things which diminish corporate value, are open to interpretation, end up in print, and have a blogging community in an uproar.



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