Yesterday’s Town Hall Meeting

19 05 2006

At Pooley, 3 PM yesterday there has been another Town Hall Meeting with Linden Lab CEO Philip Linden. It was again via voice and the setup was as follows:

– Philip was standing/sitting in front of the audience
– there was a group IM chat going on with Jeska Linden in which the questions were supposed to be placed (but some general chatting was going on in there as well)
– there was an audio stream with Johnny Ming and Philip Linden
– text questions were read by Johnny Ming and answered by Philip Linden
– skype questions were introduced by Johnny and answered by Philip

At first there was not live audio transscript as Robin last time wasn’t really able to catch up (it’s a very hard job!) but later Prokofy Neva was jumping in and writing everything down in the IM chat what was said (thanks to Prokofy for that).

So why I am writing so much about the setup you might wonder? Well, it’s basically because it felt somewhat strange to me. It wasn’t really a meeting going on in Second Life anymore but beside it. You had Philip standing still or getting Away while you listen to him, you had this IM window open where some other discussion was going on and I personally also had IRC open with some more discussion on the topics. So having that, there’s no real reason anymore to come to that meeting as you can do everything also from whereever you are in-world or even if you aren’t in-world at all (just missing the IM chat then).
Which make me think that the amount of actual interaction has been minimized to nearly zero. In earlier meetings there have been at least some questions coming up directly in the audience and Philip was sometimes answering. Right now it would have made no distinction if Philip even would not have been there.

Moreover I had the problem that it was very hard for me to follow the voice conversation and catching up with any text chat as I then missed what was said in the audio stream. And opposed to text chat you cannot just scroll up and look what was said. So I might have missed some points there.

I will come back to these things in one of my next posts when I have thought about how this might be improved (and I also discussed this once briefly with some other residents).

Upcoming events

Enough now about the format, let’s move over to what actually was said. I won’t give a complete overview about all details (as I might have missed some anyway because of reasons stated above). Also there will be a text transcript available later as well as the recording of the meeting (on the media page).

So first of all the next event will be the release of 1.10 probably next week. I don’t know how the Pile On test worked out (as Vektor had to look into all the data first back then when I asked him) but when he says next week I guess it should have been ok.

Also he talked about Second Life Views, which is a program where 8 randomly selected residents (and one actually also from the teen grid) are invited to visit the LL headquarter in San Francisco and to hold some intense discussions with them. According to Philip one idea might be to show them a new feature in their office and discuss it with them. The first of these events will be hold on June 30. Unfortunately no information whether something of this will be reported to the community or anything like that.

Also in June, on the 13th to be exactly, dwell will be removed altogether. He spoke a bit about it and said that back then when SL was small it was a great tool to reward cool stuff but nowadays it’s not working anymore like that. There are also no plans yet to replace it with something else. He added that most people were positive about this change.

Features

Of course many people asked about new features. All of his answers have been a bit vague of course except the things you already can see in preview. So here’s a list of things in the pipeline (without information where exactly in it ;-):

– better search capabilities (something like Google)
– alternative interfaces (looked at Wii, under investigation)
– building with external tools (hard to import as SL uses a very compressed prim model opposed to usual 3D programs using a vertex model).
– raising the prim limit (they always are open to do that whenever it’s possible)
– boolean objects (not really in the pipeline, Philip wants to investigate on that)
– last names (see my blog post about it, seems to be in the implementation phase, some things need to be figured out like last name trails)
– avatar improvements (some BIG improvements are in the pipeline but he didn’t say that much about what exactly and when. But I think he wasn’t asked that one but started to talk himself about it)
– HTML on a prim (also in the pipeline. IIRC it should come directly after 1.10 but in two steps. Unfortunately I didn’t get the details as I was busy with some chat and I was unable to folllow).
– Better group tools (like groups with only 2 people in it, more groups and so on. There was something more but I missed it as well, as I missed the release date if there was any given. From Torley’s blog it sounds a bit as if it is coming with 1.10)
– voice chat (of course they are open to it but it’s hard not to alienate the people who don’t want or can use it)
– concurrent script editing (interesting idea, said Philip🙂
– disconnected mode (== run your own simulator. Hard to do right now as a sim is right now not supposed to run alone and thus not bundled as such. Not on agenda right now, is a lot of work)

He also spoke about the new features of 1.10 briefly, like occlusion culling where objects which are not visible (e.g. because you are in a box and objects outside are thus not visible) will not be rendered at all. The problem here might be though that you will not get that effect if you have windows in your house and thus we will see how much in terms of frame rates this will bring.

Land and Economy

At the beginning he talked a bit about the selling of Linden Dollars. He made clear that this will only happen in rare circumstances with all information available about why they did it, how much they sold, from which pools they have been collected and so on. He also said that sinks do not change the amount of money but people were not so sure about that because before money going to sinks was removed from the money pool and if it’s now again going into the pool then this might count as supply (maybe a definition problem😉

He also talked about stipends (as these are the main money source) and he said that their amount is ok relative to the complete transaction rate at the LindeX. He made some comparisons with the US market (which might or might not be valid) but I leave this topic to some economy experts anyway.

Beginning of next week there will also be a new way of buying Linden dollars introduced on the LindeX.

Regarding land I just remember that somebody was asking about a glut in the land market and he responded that from his perspective there isn’t one.

Society and Business

One question was what sort of culture SL is, like anarchy, kingdom etc. He assumed that it is free and open and maybe a bit of all (I myself assume that technically it is a friendly dictatorship😉.

Another one was about he fears all the big businesses coming into SL and swamping the world with their big ad signs. He wasn’t fearing that actually and said that they need to naturally compete with all the other businesses within SL.

About copyright infringement he said that they are basically handling it like any website. If you see a possible one you report it via a DCMA form and they investigate and ask that person to remove it.

This leads to the question if people attacking the grid or doing any other harm are also handled in RL. He said, they are of course as this falls under some US cybercrime law and they are also looking into new ways of dealing with it (like publishing the real names of these people).

Somebody then asked about the policies of political campaigns. From LL’s view there speaks nothing against it as SL is a very open platform as long as they conform to the community rules.

Then there was the question about the 75%/25% ratio between consumers and producers in SL and if Philip’s fear is that this ratio will move even more towards the consumer. He said that this is no real fear but might happen but still will be a better ratio than it can be in RL as it’s so easy to create things in SL.

I actually asked about Open Source as you hear it pop up sometimes but without any more information. And in fact I also did not get that much information except that it has a lot of power and they are thinking about it but no concrete plans have been made yet. I do hope that they will discuss
it a bit more open and at least say which parts of SL might be open sourced (also I know it’s not that easy as you need to have a plan and strategy for keeping the development going in a clean manner).

So that was the stuff I was able to get from the conversations going on. If something is not completely right please excuse me as I had a media overload at that time and please send some feedback so I can correct that!

PS: Thanks to Philip Linden for the meeting as such, to Jeska for organizing, to Johnny for doing the Audio and moderation part and to all residents asking interesting questions🙂

UPDATE: More Information about the changes at the LindeX can now be found here.

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