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Dear Ebbe,

February 25th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

Ebbe Linden as the Iron Giant

Welcome to Linden Lab©, Ebbe. I hope you have a long and successful career.

First off, I have to welcome you. I read that you have had some experience with Second Life™ before, and I think that’s great. A lot of folks have complained in ages past that Linden Lab doesn’t always use Second Life, or at least does not use it like their Residents. I hope that you get some time in just to see the world and try your hand at Second Life when you aren’t otherwise tied up keeping the lights on at 945 Battery Street, or working on some of the Lab’s other gaming properties.

My name is Marianne McCann. I’ve been in Second Life now for eight years, almost to the day. I’ve outlasted three other CEOs — one of them twice — and have seen the Grid go through some amazing changes in all that time. The world of Second Life is not the one I originally joined, and has changed countless times. With your new role, it will change again.

Many people, as I’m sure you noticed, will be asking for your attention, for all sorts of issues. Heck, there’s already a parody Twitter account dedicated just to all the things folks might feel you need to do. In a world as diverse as Second Life, I’m sure that any requests will be just as diverse, even contradictory. On top of that, you have to look at the big picture. You are answerable to the Board of Directors, and you have to do the good job they expect of you.

That said, I AM going to ask of you just one thing. Not for me, mind, though it will certainly make my Second Life easier: communicate.

Now I don’t mean that you need to spend your day jockeying at Twitter or posting to the Second Life feeds and message boards. While that is appreciated, it’s far from sustainable. You’ll get swamped in a heartbeat.

But I hope you will consider looking at how the company as a whole can better communicate to us, the Residents of Second Life. There is a reputation of poor communication, and knowing what was going on with Second Life from the Lab’s perspective has often been spotty. The Community team staff, cut thin in 2008, has remained so, and communications has been largely relegated to a grapevine of Residents. The JIRA was closed. “Office Hours” between Residents and Linden Lab employees were shuttered. Lab employees were barred from fraternizing with Residents.

When no news is provided, people build their own narratives — and they tend to focus on little more than doom and gloom. It hurt everyone, not the least of which is Linden Lab.

The Second Life community can be a best friend or a worst enemy. Some days they’re both. The better the communications, the better information and resources are provided to us — and the easier it is for us to do what we choose to do in Second Life — the more times the community will edge towards the former.

The community — some would say communities — of Second Life is your best asset. It always has been. We do more than build the content, host the events, and fill up servers: we evangelize Second Life. Or we do, when we feel there is something worth evangelizing.

Now I don’t think this is anything surprising or groundbreaking for you. I’ve read your tweets, and you do seem to get how important this is. I only ask, as you go forward, that you keep it in mind, and do what you can to open — rather than close — communication channels.

Thank you for your time, and I hope we’ll hear more from you soon.