Ebbe Linden (AKA Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, makers of Second Life) spoke to a crowd of several hundred listeners at the 7th Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference.
Although the topic was of course Education in Second Life, many other questions came up as well.

Snapshot_016It was a bit of a shock when Ebbe walked onto stage completely naked.
Luckily this was not some sort of statement about nudism becoming compulsory in SL, but just a bit of mesh clothing loading lag.
And no, before you ask, I will not put those screenshots online.

It was very nice to see Ebbe inworld (again) and it was clear that most people there were very excited about meeting him.
It also seemed that what he said was welcomed with much enthusiasm.
I think Ebbe managed to make a lot of people excited and positive about the future of SL.

Snapshot_012There was some exciting news, or should I say potentially exciting, as the proof is in the pudding and we can’t judge it yet till things actually start happening.
But if things are going the way Ebbe apparently wants them to go, the future of SL is going to be very interesting indeed!
More and better communication between Lindens and us users, cooperation between SL and High Fidelity, easier exchanges of goods, people and money with other virtual worlds, etc.

I was also very glad to see that his avatar was not gigantic, but a more realistic (prim)scaled one.


I’ve tried to catch a few of his answers and share them here with you.
But as I had to do this while the actual talk was going on, and while I sometimes had to just copy/paste things from public chat and the (excellent) transcript, in stead from what I was actually hearing.
So please be critical and make sure you watch the video below to be sure of what Ebbe actually said.

Ebbe on education;

“We’ve made a mistake”, talking about taking away education discount.

On content and ToS;

We do not want to steal or profit from your content.
We’re not trying to lock you in, getting content in and out of SL should be easy.
We don’t want to lock in content. You should be able to export to other environments.
Nothing we are doing technically prevents export. Many get their content out.
maybe it is third party solutions
we are not preventing. Are we making it simple enough from our interface?
there may be few people who do this.
Maybe we need to make that more streamlined, we are not preventing it, but we don’t want it to be easy for others to rip people off.

On what is happening in the industry;

There is industry interest in solving the things we are trying to solve.
It gets more competitive but anyone of us moving the ball forward moves us al forward.
Yahoo’s acquisition was a tech talent acquisition.
I don’t think they want to get into our space
Facebook buying Oculus is excellent.
They see the future we have all been working on.

On new users experience and improvements;

The conversion rate of people staying with SL isn’t great
You have to be determined to make it through on your own.
We need to make this easier for normal consumers to use.
This is a challenge for a small company.
I lean to making it easier to use before focusing on interconnection.
We have a lot of work ahead, but a lot has been done, it’s better than 2 years ago.
There is still a lot to do in subcomponents of SL.
Most are not great.
It needs to go from a minimally appealing product to a product that appeals to hundreds of millions.
I know we can solve this.
My dream is to make this something a huge number of people can enjoy and contribute to, this is just the beginning, there is more to come.
It should be easier to get a nice plot of land with a mesh house.
improve the quality of that experience.
We have discussed how people navigate.

Communication between users and Linden Lab;

We are here. We are willing to listen and dialog. We want to talk about the future. The doors are open again.
We want to know how to make you successful.
I want to learn and listen.
You can reach out to individual Lindens if you think they are interested.
Maybe we can think of a place where we can list interest groups and what they are talking about, so we can hop in.
Like an interest group catalog to know meeting times and formats.
The general communications with you and us had deteriorated before I got here, from what it was years ago.
We want to be more transparent.
We want feedback, to learn from you, to correct things
If the community has things to do, if they want to invite us to participate, today you will find more people who can and are willing to participate.
There was a policy that Linden avatars being inworld, They could always use alts. That policy has been removed.
we had an all hands meeting yesterday, they told me to interact more with users.
That may create formal meeting plans between certain Lindens and interest groups.
As people start to be inworld, with their relevant projects, they will see how their work can improve.
I hope more Lindens will come inworld to interact with users so that can be a more normal comfortable thing.

About the Oculus Rift;

We released a beta viewer compatible with Oculus.
we will have an improved version in a week or so
You can be truly inworld in a realistic way I am glad Facebook bought Oculus.
it shows the market that this isn’t a niche.
It will have broad implications for many people.
We are the ones who have been working on *a* version of a virtual experience
the most advanced to this date.
I trust FaceBook will do the right things to benefit all of us, not just them.
With Oculus we have worked focused on viewing experience.
not yet the user interface
and it becomes harder to interact with SL
We want to explore how to make changes in how you interact with the world.
Without relying on keyboard/mouse
PHilip (rosedale) is doing interesting things and other companies.
We want to work with things that may become mass market.

About current state of SL;

Nobody else has an environment this open and where users take it where they want to take it
The GDP inside SL is hundreds of millions of dollars
we are ready to take it to the next level
nobody else is this far.

On education;

If there are groups not qualified as an education institution by our current rules, they don’t have credentials, maybe we can explore this.

About customers asking for changes;

When they express a need, that’s right.
When they tell us how to meet that need, it’s often wrong.

On Sl’s reputation;

It is unfortunate.
I don’t know how much is self inflicted, or dynamics of the market.
People need to understand the depth and breadth of what SL offers, no single vertical.
Not exclusive to any segment, just like RL you want to allow everybody.
It has as much variety in content as the internet itself.
One good thing, looking back, SL got overhyped too early, some was self inflicted.
Maybe there was a hope that tens of millions would use it
but complexities, it got as big as it got because of how easy or difficult it was to use.
The idea that a concept like this would displace the internet was swollen head thinking.
Our wish and the reality were too far apart.
that is unfortunate, there is a lot of good stuff happening here, not seen outside
We want to correct this.
The market is starting to embrace virtual reality, there is an opportunity to restate our role,we don’t want to over promise but we spend a lot on marketing

On expanding;

We want to make safer high volume transactions
There is a lot of extra eyeballs on this space because of what is happening with bitcoin
what that offering would look like, a virtual currency that goes out of SL, that’s another step
Ultimately, in order for SL to grow, it has to become easier to use.
we can’t go mass market as we are today.

Drax and I asked; what tech from High Fidelity will be used in SL?

I hope a lot!
I hope it will create many advances many can benefit from to move virtual worlds and virtual reality forward.
the more new hardware and interfaces, it moves us all forward.
Philip and I know each other well
Some of us will visit them in a couple of weeks to see demos
how we can help each other
it is early stages
I am transparent with Philip
we have assets that are valuable to them, and I hope we can collaborate
I am interested in the work they are doing with bringing emotion into your avatar experience
look them in the eye
they are working in that area
I want to be sure we provide that level of emotional capability to our avatar

Wow, that was pretty much exactly what we were talking about in The Drax Files Radio Hour!

The last words Ebbe spoke trough the microphone were;

How do I…

I couldn’t help laughing at that, he is still a bit of a noob πŸ˜‰

Let’s hope this goes a bit towards fixing the disconnect with the educators that have left SL and that LL is working on getting them back.