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Rod Humble, CEO of Linden Lab There’s no doubt in my mind that Linden Lab is changing, and that the principal architect for that change is newly minted CEO, Rod Humble.

The Lab is not an entity that changes course quickly or easily, however. As I have previously said, agility is not one of its visible attributes.

That said, however, the Lab has been moving with uncharacteristic speed on a number of initiatives since Humble started warming the big chair.

The new user registration system is clearly making an impact. Completed registrations are way up. I don’t actually think it matters what the source of those registrations actually is, so much as that more people are getting through it. Coupled with the Basic viewer, that seems a step in the right direction. Yes, the Basic mode of the viewer has its… quirks, but I believe that is an evolving process.

One of the common pieces of feedback on the basic avatar choices presented to these new users was the lack of diversity in the initial selection. It was kind of odd to see only human avatars, and a not terribly ethnically diverse set at that. Says Rod Humble, “So, we’re adding 12 animal and 12 Robots and soon we’ll have Vehicles too. Then, we’ll also commission another set of human avatars that represent a wider, more diverse audience.”

Now there’s something you can just about take to the bank right there. There was feedback in a variety of social media about the choices, it’s been heard, and acted upon, and in Humble’s latest post we see that.

Listening is usually an invisible, undetectable process. Are you listening to what’s being said, or are you thinking about a holiday in Majorca? It’s difficult to tell.

Humble is giving us feedback on our feedback. Listening – like Justice – must not only be done but must be seen to be done, otherwise you’re not to know that it is happening at all.

Making more use of the Second Life login screen is a great idea. It once was used for quite a bit more than it has been in recent years. Particularly for new users, it’s your first real chance to grab their attention, and the remodel looks good. If I could make just one change to it, I’d move the “New to Second Life” item out of the left hand… (do they call them ‘pods’ these days?) pod, and place it in one of its own.

Coupled with that particular entry, the Lab has thrown the switch and lightning has funnelled down into the moribund figure that represents the Lab’s end of the Resident Help Network. The other end (driven by the users) has been chugging along without the Lab for quite some time now. However, without the active partnership of Linden Lab (which has been pretty thin on the ground since 2004/2005), volunteer programmes tend to start looking like virtual adaptations of Lord of the Flies, given time.

The Lab doesn’t have the resources to monitor and examine the new user experience ‘on the ground’, and the Resident Help Network needs support, checks and balances to stay current and on-course. Only together, as partners, can they make any significant change to the new Second Life user experience.

It is not, perhaps, all exactly as I would do it (or as you would), but it doesn’t have to be, nor should it necessarily be so.

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