April 5th, 2014 by Marianne McCann
A strange thing happened this week: I met Ebbe Linden
Now I suppose this should not be too shocking, given I have a lot history of meeting Lindens. He’s not hardly the first, nor is he the first Linden Lab® CEO I’ve known. What makes this unusual, though, is how hard it has been to find Linden Lab employees inworld over the reign of the last CEO.
There were policies in place, I have heard, that prevented Lindens from socializing inworld. Instant Messages would go unanswered. Governance and support Lindens were hidden behind “Governance Linden” staff accounts. Office hours became user groups, and most of those were quickly shuttered. Linden Village – already decimated after the June 2010 layoffs, became an empty ghost town. By the same token, the blog and other forms of “official” communication went silent.
I can understand a lot of the reasons why. There were other policies that forbade Linden Lab staff from being on social media, too. No one wants the company tainted with a Justine Sacco-like situation. Likewise, the company insisted that they wanted the focus to be on the things its Residents created and did, not on their employees’ efforts. Fair enough.
Yet from its earliest days, Second Life™ has been a collaborative effort. The Lindens and the Residents, at first, worked very much hand in hand, with the Lab’s Liaison program hiring from the Resident pool. Additional Lindens worked with the Mentor program, or worked with both Lab and Residents in other ways.
This began to change during Mark “M Linden” Kingdon’s era, and while many hoped that Rodvik “Rodvik Linden” Humble might revive some of that spirit, instead things went very much the other way.
Now — to steal liberally from Crap Mariner — it is not Ebbe Linden we should be seeing so much of. Yes, he should be there for the big events; the SL birthdays and such. He should be busy doing “CEO things,” however. Steering the company, keeping it profitable and well. At the same time, he should have people who work for him who can be that face, who can serve to communicate his and the company’s vision, who can help the community, and manage the same.
It would not be the first time I’ve noted this, but I think Second Life is better when Linden Lab’s staff are present on the Agni grid, experiencing what all of us experience. See what works and what does not, and understand what Second Life’s users experience.
I saw a big first step with this, not from seeing Ebbe inworld, but the following day
First, while out shopping at Happy Mood, I came across Marissa Linden at the same store. I then went to a new island in the chain of Linden Village regions on Northwestern Sansara, where I witnessed half a dozen Lindens setting up their own homes.
Linden Village during the Rodvik era was a symbol of how bad things were. It was abandoned, Empty, full of damaged and disused parcels. The feeling was, to me, that they really did not care for this world any more. They had moved on.
So this was heartening to see. It was great to see Ebbe, but it seems far better to see Linden Lab staff there, in Our World, with us. Experiencing the same joys and heartaches of any other user. It was a new symbol, one of renewal and hope.
Second Life is a shared experience, and really is best when it is shared at all levels. We all have something to bring to the table, and there is no better place for that than within Second Life itself.
Welcome Home, Lindens.