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The notion that the biggest single barrier to new-user retention in Second Life is the viewer/interface is a simple, intuitive and obvious conclusion to arrive at.

I also believe that it’s dead wrong.

That’s not to say that the viewer doesn’t have issues and areas that could or should be improved, however, the viewer is only the end of the story.

I don’t think Linden Lab wants to hear that. The Lab certainly never wanted to hear that before.

The seductive notion is that viewer is essentially a machine – a tool – that can be fixed like any machine, and that the retention of new users will essentially sort itself out from there.

Well… no.

When it comes to handling new users, the Lab hasn’t ever had a holistic or synergistic solution. Each team has just worked on its own Holy Grail du jour, confident that fixing just one thing would remove the barriers to mass adoption and mass retention.

The viewer is the end of that story. Another time, I’ll talk about the bits that come before that, but here’s a hint in the form of a metaphor. If you’re starving, it doesn’t matter how lousy the food is. If you’re not hungry, the best restaurant on the planet can’t tempt you inside.

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