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Bad news travels fast. People get nervous or worried and that mood spreads. Optimism and hope aren’t anywhere near as contagious as worry, anger or fear. Which is really rather a shame.

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock,
and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.

“It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
“Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad.”

Has Second Life plateaued? Yes, it has. And not for the first time. Services – particularly online services – often have many plateaus through the course of their operational lifetimes.

“It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
“It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

“The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
They’re singin’ out for rain.

“They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
“And all the tanks are dry.”
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

Is Second Life self-sustaining at its current levels? No, it’s not. That doesn’t mean that it cannot achieve the necessary levels to do so, nor does it mean that it cannot achieve them quickly. It hasn’t but that doesn’t mean that it won’t.

“There won’t be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
As I came down to Mass.”

“If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak –
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If rain don’t come this week.”

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

“We want an inch of rain, we do,”
O’Neil observed at last;
But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
To put the danger past.

“If we don’t get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

Are Second Life’s numbers in decline? They are. The usage metrics that we have show a slight decline. I stress, a slight one. You might be under the impression that Second Life has been declining significantly over the last – say – twelve months. How significant is that decline? Well, if the decline in usage continued at the current rates, Second Life would indeed fold up … in about 25 to 35 years.

That’s not soon. Yes, more or less obviously, a tipping point could come earlier than that, but all other things remaining equal, you wouldn’t expect to see one for at least a decade and a half more.

In God’s good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If this rain doesn’t stop.”

Now, Linden Lab (as ineffably and infuriatingly close-mouthed about things that affect its customers as it might be) has accomplished quite a bit lately. Despite recent and extensive disruptions to the grid, grid stability is back to normal levels.

The Lab has fixed more bugs in the last year, and cranked out more work in the same period than I’ve seen it accomplish in any three consecutive years. It’s cranking out an order of magnitude more work and much of that work has indeed been to the grid’s benefit.

There’s some stuff in there that we don’t quite know what to do with yet. There’s some stuff that might not end up being useful… but I am glad that the Lab is giving us more tools for our collective toolboxes. Bring on the tools. Even if some of us can’t figure some of the tools out, others will, and we’ll learn from them or buy from them.

And stop it did, in God’s good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o’er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o’er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
Went riding down to Mass.

Do I think Linden Lab has been missing the mark (so to speak) and making missteps for years? Sure I do. I know I have. Do I think the Lab gets it right more often than it gets it wrong? I do. Although communication is the exception and that makes it harder to see the Lab’s successes than to see its mistakes.

Do I think the Lab can pull the right combination of manoeuvres to grow the platform to a new self-sustaining plateau or beyond? Yes. That, I actually feel pretty right about. I’m cautiously optimistic. I have hope. I feel positive.

I’m not sure what Second Life’s going to look like, exactly, when that happens, but I’m really looking forward to finding out what we’ve made of it when that happens.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

“There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

– “Said Hanrahan” by John O’Brien, Around the Boree Log and Other Verses (1921).

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