The leaving of Rod Humble as CEO of Linden Lab and commander in chief of our Second Life world, has caused quite a bit of surprise and excitement.
When Rod announced it to me a few days ago in a facebook message I was rather shocked and surprised, I didn’t see that coming.
Let me just make it clear that Rod and I are not close friends and that I am not really a special privileged position.
We are Facebook friends but that is about it, we did not chat regularly and only met inworld once when he visited 1920s Berlin for the Drax files episode.
I was just bold and brazen enough to now and then bother him, asking him for a scoop for my blog, and to my surprise he didn’t mind and didn’t immediately mute me.
I guess I was just lucky asking him if he had any news for my blog just when he was about to tell everyone he was quitting LL.
Anyway, after I heard the news I wrote my blog post and soon It spread across the (virtual) world.
We don’t know why he left, I just asked him a few moments ago and he isn’t ready to talk about the subject in detail yet, so it will be probably another few weeks before we know more.
But now we are without CEO and where do we go next?
Lots of people are talking about what Rod managed to do during his time as CEO, where he succeeded or failed.
Opinions can be found on both extreme sides of the spectrum.
Some think Rod was the best thing since sliced bread, others feel he didn’t do a thing.
In the end it of course depends on your personal perspective, on the things that you find important.
For instance as a builder I’ve experienced huge improvements in the last 3 years, bigger prims, mesh, texture layers, speeding up rezzing of avatars, etc, etc.
To me personally, those things meant a lot and I felt that during Rod’s time more changed in SL than in the years before.
I am not in the position to be able to say if Rod was personally responsible for some of these improvements, but he was in charge and thus responsible.
Of course other things got worse or were not fixed at all.
The ToS debacle is still fresh in our minds and it took way too long for us to get fitted mesh clothes.
Anyway, now Rod is gone we have to start thinking about his replacement, even though we will have nothing to say about who our new “virtual king” will become.
Which is a bit of a shame, after all, we are a world of people and the next CEO will be in charge of our world.
We need elections!
One thing the farewell of Rod has shown is that Linden Lab still has a big problem communicating with its population.
Although I am of course happy that I got a ‘scoop’, this really should have been something we should have found out via a proper LL press announcement.
So that is one the next CEO really should sort out.
We know that it is not a good idea to try and communicate with all SL users at once, that a CEO that everyone can tweet or send a message is just asking for trouble.
But like many I feel that LL just isn’t very chatty.
Changes happen, like Rod stepping down, without us hearing about it.
If Rod had not told me and if his Facebook account had been set to private and if he had not also befriended a couple of other SL users, this news may still have been unknown!
Linden Lab needs someone who talks to us all, a lot.
A direct representative to the CEO or the CEO him/herself.
We want to know what is going on at LL, what are you working on, how far is the Oculus Rift project coming along, what happened when marketplace crashed, tell us about some sim the CEO visited and really liked, show us a new SL video we can share with our RL friends and, oh I don’t know, perhaps let us know WHEN THE CEO RESIGNS!?!
We should not be hearing something that important via someone who just happened to get a message on Facebook.
There are lots of things I could say about who should be the next CEO but I feel that the most important thing is that the new CEO understands Second Life.
I feel that a lot of previous CEO’s but also staff members at Linden Lab and even many of its users still don’t quite get Second Life or don’t see its full potential.
At the moment Second Life feels like a black and white TV with only one channel, the broadcasts are great and there is plenty to see… but nobody seems to realise yet that there are more channels… and that if you push the right button… we can even have broadcasts in colour!
The new CEO should spend a LOT of time in Second Life, travel all over the place, meet lots of people and see where things go wrong and where they go right.
Don’t just try it on your nice fast Linden Lab computer either, use a slightly older model as well and perhaps a slower connection.
Feel our frustrations!
But above all, understand what SL is and why it is surviving.
Because really, it shouldn’t have.
It is 10 years old, the graphics are behind on what we’re used to in regular games, there still is lots of lag, it has a terrible reputation and it hasn’t gotten any real publicity since the anniversary.
Its users find it too expensive, too laggy and pretty much every user can see 987231 things that need improving.
Yet most of us stay and love our Second Life’s.
Why is that?
The CEO NEEDS to figure that out.
Besides becoming a regular SL user who doesn’t just explore a bit but who rents a home, decorates it, goes to clubs, etc, the CEO should also get in touch with some of SL’s hardcore users.
Those people who own successful stores, own lots of land, manage role playing sims, are landlords, create amazing machinima, are brilliant builders, etc, etc.
But also add a noob, someone who joined just a week ago and who somehow has not ran away screaming yet.
Use them as consultants, let them tell and show you what needs to improve, what is important and what is so great about Second Life.
Let them make you fall in love with it, let them make you realise it is not just another game, let them make you enthusiastic so you can truly defend and promote it during your interviews.
I don’t care what you personally want to change in SL, or where your priorities are, I just want you to get it, to understand SL and us, its users.
We are not just people who play a game you’ll be in charge of, we are people who live in a world you are in charge of.
Treat us as citizens, not gamers.