Commencement Speech at Bryant and Stratton College

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I spoke Wednesday at Bryant and Stratton College’s in-world graduation for its online students, which I thought was a great Second Life moment.    So rewarding to see Second Life starting to be really useful for education.   I did the new thing of actually writing some thoughts down as a speech and then reading it – I have never done that before.  So I’m sure I probably sounded a bit wooden to the students listening, but I wanted to really give some deeper thoughts on the event.   Anyhow, here is what I said:

“I heard it said recently that engineering students entering college today will learn computer languages which will be outmoded and no longer be in use by the time they graduate.  This is a remarkable suggestion: because as an engineering student graduating fairly recently, in 1992, I learned languages which served me well and in fact some 10 years later formed the basic building blocks of this digital place where we stand today for your graduation.  But as both a futurist thinker and in my own experiences at my own company, I couldn’t agree more:  In the past 4 or 5 years I have seen the rise of whole new computing architectures unlike anything that existed when I was in school.  New technology platforms rise up and are built upon, rapidly obscuring the lower layers like sediment.  We don’t build software for computers anymore, instead we build Facebook and IPhone apps.  And those whole platforms didn’t even exist when Second Life launched in 2003.

It is this building of one thing on another that makes technology so exciting and terrifying.  Each advance creates tools or a platform that is used to make the next advance possible, and at least twice as fast as the one before.  Whether you are talking about computers, or batteries, or cell phones, or bioscience, we are now in the knee of the curve – the place where this acceleration suddenly becomes noticeable.  The crazy thing though, is what happens next.  The curve goes from rapid growth to an almost vertical climb toward infinity.  The company that took 2 years to start in the 1990’s takes a month today, and you can imagine a place like Second Life reducing that to 2 days.  The IPhone that we marvel at today – well in less than 10 years time that same amount of technology will fit inside one of your cells.  What will the world look like with changes of that magnitude?  Honestly I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else does either.

But fighting or ignoring these technology changes is like standing in the water at the beach and letting the waves hit you… can you remember doing that as a kid?  If you were strong, you could brace yourself and stay standing as the smaller waves crashed by you and the sand slid away under your toes.  But we live now in a time when each set of waves is twice as high as the one before, and to resist these larger waves, to pretend that they aren’t there or that you can stand against them quickly becomes hopeless.  Our hope and future lies instead in letting go of the bottom, surrendering ourselves and our pasts, and letting these waves carry us where they may, working instead to catch our breaths and try and figure out where we are going.  This isn’t an easy thing.  It is frightening.  In whatever world that is to come, we won’t yet know our own value or where we stand.  How we will make money is uncertain. Our friends, lovers, and co-workers won’t be the neighbors we grew up with, but instead will be people from all over the world, people our parent’s probably would never have even seen or met.

This college, and many of you as students, are from the United States, a country which at this very moment faces a serious economic crisis.  It seems unbelievable but possible that the US dollar could soon lose it’s status as the reserve currency – the gold standard – for the rest of the world.  The banks and industrial giants that drove so much historical growth in the US economy are declaring bankrupcy.  So much change after decades of constancy!  But does this mean that as the most recent children of the US educational system that you have already become as outmoded as the computer languages I mentioned earlier?  It does not.

By standing here at a formal graduation ceremony in the midst of a strange new virtual world, you are the embodiment of what I believe is the greatest and most unique part of the American Spirit – the willingness to take great risks:  to learn, to change, and to accept uncertainty.  This same spirit is what made at least some of your parents delighted and not dismayed to learn that you were going to be part of a virtual graduation.  I have traveled the world, and nowhere but here in America have I seen this persistent willingness to do new things and take chances.   You could be ridiculed for graduating as avatars, for wearing digital caps and gowns, but you are unafraid and in fact excited, or at the very least, amused.  This spirit, the one that made you willing to stand here today, will make you winners in the times to come.  As technology makes the future less and less certain, erasing the borders between countries, and rewriting the economic landscape, you can and will prevail if you strive to be as changeable and adaptable as your avatars.  Don’t trust the specific things you have learned, because they will change faster around you than you can imagine.  Trust instead that you have learned how to learn, and that by taking chances and letting go, you can ride the waves that are coming.  Graduating here today, in Second Life, is good evidence that you can.”

Posted in Education, Events

The Linden Prize goes to … Studio Wikitecture and Virtual Ability

Studio Wikitecture and Virtual Ability are the winners of the 1st Linden Prize!  Both projects will receive $10,000 USD–the largest award in the virtual world industry–in honor of their achievements.  After 230 applications and two rounds of deliberations, the judges decided that these two projects were “like comparing Tuesdays and Oranges”, so they will share the award!

“How do you measure the value of a project? Should making a deep impact on a select group of individuals weigh heavier than making an impact on a large population? Ultimately that wasn’t a question we could answer, so we decided to celebrate and honor both projects,” said M Linden.   “The reach, scope and success of all the entries – exemplified by the winners – demonstrates how individuals and organizations are using Second Life to improve the overall human condition, something Linden Lab has strived for since day one. Heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the winners, finalists, entrants and every Resident and organization that continues to demonstrate how Second Life is fundamentally changing the way people learn, play, communicate and collaborate.”

Studio Wikitecture

Studio Wikitecture explores how a geographically dispersed design team can simultaneously work on the same architecture or urban planning project. This includes sharing ideas, editing the contributions of others and voting on the success or failure of proposed design iterations. To help guide and manage collaboration effectively, Studio Wikitecture built a version tracking Wiki that it calls the “Wiki-Tree.” Unlike conventional wikis that track text documents in a linear history, Wiki-Tree tracks versions of 3D models and saves them within a continually evolving digital tree structure. Studio Wikitecture’s most recent project saw a number of different participants from varying disciplines come together and collaborate on the design of a health clinic in one of the more remote parts of Nepal.

Judges comments: “A brilliant social and technological evolution of the use of virtual worlds.”  “I can see a potential application to creating affordable housing in developing nations.”

Virtual Ability

Offering a series of courses and resources to help people with real-world disabilities get acclimated and start using Second Life, Virtual Ability helps realize the documented medical and psychological benefits offered by virtual environments. The organization has developed a unique orientation process that assesses individual skills, provides customized training and makes recommendations for assistive hardware as needed. Once users are comfortable in the virtual world, Virtual Ability offers a series of daily field trips, including everything from mountain climbs, skydiving, fishing, dancing, and countless other activities that are difficult or impossible in the real world.

Judges comments: “The orientation experience and resources are excellent.”  “It is a powerful, personally transformative experience for people.”

A big thank you goes to the judges and vetting committee, applicants and testimonial writers.  You have made the inaugural Linden Prize a rewarding testament to the creativity, and hard work of the Second Life community.

Congratulations to the winners, Studio Wikitecture and Virtual Ability!

For summaries of all the finalists and special mentions, please go here.

Posted in -Miscellaneous

Coming Soon…The Good Ol’ Days!

[2009-02-25 @ 11:10 AM PST] The new blogs are UP NOW! blogs.secondlife.com (note the extra “s”, the singular will also redirect to the new blogs soon).

[11 AM PST] WE’RE SO CLOSE!

[8 AM PST] Pardon the mess, it’s temporary. We’re upgrading to our new blogs! Stay tuned… 🙂 -Torley

UPDATE – Due to some last minute technical naughtiness, the launch of the new blogs has been delayed to early next week.

I’m disappointed about the delay of course, as I can’t wait to get started blogging in earnest.  If you are disappointed as well, I apologize.  But you know the old saying:  When life gives you lemmings, make lemmingade! And so without further ado…

Welcome to BLUE’S TOLD-YOU-SO COMPETITION where you can turn snark into valuable prizes!  The game is simple.  Just come up with the ultimate told-you-so to go with any event, whether it’s the delay of the new blogs, McCain losing the election, or your boyfriend getting towed for parking in a handicapped spot…it’s up to you.  I’ll even get you started with an example:

Yoz:  Hey Blue, we have to delay launch due to some technical issues.

Blue:  Told ya we shouldn’t be using that Commodore64.

The best comeback wins one lucky resident a dream date with me, your pal Blue, to an exciting inworld location as part of my SL Travel Blog.  Yes you heard right.  Immortalized…on a BLOG.  How can you resist?  Just write your comeback on a notecard with the title TOLD YOU SO and drop a copy on me inworld.   Even if you don’t win, a witty dis is its own reward!


The Second Life Blog was once a place where the Lindens talked casually with you about policy, their projects, recent news, the future of SL, etc.  Residents regularly told us that they loved having access to such broad insight into the company and frequent communication with the full range of Lindens.  And Lindens loved the ongoing dialog with residents.

Over time however, as more Lindens came to participate, the blog got a bit manic. Some of you complained that reports of temporary performance issues would eclipse larger conversations related to long term plans and features while others believed that tutorials and opinion pieces were distracting them from the hard news of inworld issues they needed to know about in order to run their businesses.

In other words, we outgrew our single channel blog.  It was no longer serving people’s individual needs. Perhaps worse was that the signal to noise ratio in comments had gotten bad enough that Lindens weren’t able to depend on them as a way to clearly hear the range of needs and desires of the community.  As such we had to limit blog participation to a smaller number of Lindens on certain types of topics and move extended discussion to the forums.

We knew it was important to get back to using the blog as a key means of constructive two way conversation with the community, so we put together a shopping list of must-haves for a new blog suite which included…

  • Individual channels of communication for each subject
  • Numerous means of accessing channels (including RSS and email subscription)
  • Discussion format sub-blogs for extended conversations with threading, voting etc…
  • Private sub-blogs for communities working in Second Life (like educators and Solution Providers)

After comparing options, we believe we’ve found one that will best suit our ongoing needs. We expect that it will allow us to get back to the days when any and all Lindens could participate freely and hope that it will provide a convenient way for you to engage us on a wide variety of topics.

So we hope that you’ll join us here, on Thursday the 19th of February, for the launch of a whole new Second Life Blog, where it will be the good ol’ days all over again!

See you then,
-Blue

Posted in Announcements & News, Blog Improvements, Blogroll, Business, Community, Community Gateways, Concierge, Customer Service, Education, Enterprise, Forums, Land, Marketing, New Releases, Tips & Tricks | Tagged , , | 150 Comments

SEARCH FOR THE GOLDEN HEARTS..and other happy valentines from Linden Lab!

SEARCH FOR THE GOLDEN HEARTS..and other Happy Valentine’s from Linden Lab!

golden-heart-teaser

It’s Valentine’s Day and Second Life is aflutter with love! This year, in addition to the Kiss a Linden, Kiss a Volunteer event and an unveiling of a newly revamped Cupid Linden avatar, we invite you all to explore your world in search of the Valentine’s Day Golden Heart!

Here are the contest rules:

  • Contest runs from 12:00am PST (midnight) on Friday, February 13 until 12:00am PST (midnight) February 15
  • More than 1000 candy boxes are scattered around Second Life
  • These Boxes are filled with candy hearts to collect and trade (including special edition Linden Lab hearts)
  • Mixed in are 20 special boxes containing golden hearts
  • Those who find the golden hearts will win L$5000 credit at Xstreet SL
  • Search the world and find them all!


And, we have a second valentine  for you….

We’ve made it easier to share the love with a new gifting feature on Xstreet.  You can now send a gift directly to any avatar in Second Life.  Here’s how:

  • Go to Xstreet, find the gift you want and click on it.
  • On the right, you will see box, “Choose Payment Method”

choose-payment-method

  • When you click “Purchase as a gift”, write in the recipient’s name.
  • Complete your purchase, and the gift will be delivered to the lucky Resident!


Take our Valentine’s Day Survey

In the future, we’ll be adding new features like registries, and we need your help! We’re sending an email survey to a select group of Residents to help shape these features.  Take the survey and opt-in to a focus group so we can make this product serve your needs.

So send a little love this Valentine’s Day, and make this the year when you don’t have to say, “it’s in the mail”. Of course, you can always claim Friday the 13th….

Happy Valentine’s Day!


FINE PRINT

1. Eligibility. Contest is open to all Second Life® world Residents (“Residents”) in good standing, 18 and older as of the start of the Contest. Residents of embargoed countries, countries where such contests are not legal or where access to the Second Life world has been blocked or disabled, as well as Employees and affiliates of Linden Research, Inc. (“Linden Lab”), and their familiies are not eligible to participate. Contest void where prohibited. Subject to all international, federal, state and local laws. No purchase is necessary to enter and win

2. How to Enter. Between the hours of 12:00am PST (midnight) on Friday, February 13 until 12:00am PST (midnight) February 15, explore the Second Life world in search of up to 20 Golden Heart objects. Along the way, you may also discover other special edition Linden Lab Candy Heart boxes scattered around. Click on the Golden Heart to claim it!

3. Prizes. Total Linden Dollars (LS) awarded as prizes: L$100,000, to be awarded to twenty (20) Residents as (20) awards in the amount of L$5000 Xstreet SL credit, There is no monetary value associated with the Prize, and (as with all L$) no promise or guarantee of redemption of any or all L$ awarded. The prize is for entertainment purposes only. Note: you will need an active Xstreet SL account to claim your prize. Register here: http://xstreetsl.com/

4. Prize distribution: Gifts will be awarded by Linden Lab via email, inworld or by mail. Linden Lab will notify winners by mail, in-world or e-mail of procedures for redeeming prize. The prizes must be accepted as awarded and cannot be exchanged for cash or credit. Winners who do not wish to accept the prize as offered may opt to forfeit the prize. There will be no substitutions. Awards are limited to one award per each natural (actual “real world”) person.

Posted in Announcements & News, Community, Events | 64 Comments

New Policy on Land Cutting

As you’ll have seen me discuss before, we’re in the midst of a long term plan to improve the Mainland as a place to live, work and visit. To make this happen, we plan to act as a more proactive Estate Manager than we have historically. Part of that means addressing issues that have a significant and negative impact on the Mainland experience, like we did when we banned ad farms.

More recently, we began a conversation with you about how we should deal with the practice of commercial subdividing of parcels (land cutting) which is causing the Mainland to become increasingly fragmented.

You can read that original post here and look at the forum feedback that resulted from it here.

We asked for your feedback on the issue of cutting and had hundreds of excellent responses. This has really helped us shape our policy into something that we believe is workable and fair.

After carefully taking your considered feedback into account, we have decided that we will no longer allow widespread subdivision of land on a commercial scale on the Mainland.

The aim here is not to stop you using your land in different and creative ways. We agree with your comments that there are plenty of good reasons to own small parcels, and we have no desire to interfere with that. We are also not looking to take action against people who have bought small parcels in an attempt to gain prim allowance or to simply expand their holdings or use their free tier.

We are specifically talking about the small number of Residents who are cutting land into many tiny pieces for profit, and often doing so across hundreds or in some cases thousands of micro parcels.

We expect this change to affect only a very small number of Residents. In fact, although many of you own micro parcels, and usually for perfectly good reasons, the top ten micro parcel owners hold well over 50% of all the 16m parcels on the Mainland between them.

Your feedback was that this should be a simple ruling, enforced fairly and consistently. So we will be talking to those involved and working with them to end this practice. Thankfully, because we can clearly see who is involved using the data we have, we will not need to use Abuse Reports.

In addition to the above, we will be looking further into whether we need some cap or limit on the way that micro parcels are sold. The very high prices at which these parcels are listed is something that many of you have complained about. But we won’t action such a control without more discussion with you first.

So to recap:

  • Large scale subdividing of land for the purpose of selling will be considered a violation. This is effective immediately.
  • This policy is not intended to prevent you from using your land creatively or to penalize everyone who owns small parcels.
  • This will only affect a very small number of Residents, for everyone else the only impact will be an improved Mainland experience.
  • Our governance staff will be contacting those landowners that already own large amounts of fragmented land (micro parcels) to discuss next steps.
Posted in Announcements & News, Land, mainland | 4 Comments

Residents Support Relief for Australian Bush Fires

Coming from Australia and working for Linden Lab in our San Francisco office, I am always keeping an eye out for the activities that are happening in my home country. My focus at Linden Lab is in the enterprise space, so I generally see the great work that has come out of several Australian corporations. This week, however, my attention has been focused on the amazing Second Life community that has rallied in support of the devastating bush fires that have hit Australia.

As many of you are aware, these fires are one of the worst natural disasters to hit Australia in over 100 years. In response, Residents have created several inworld campaigns to raise funds to donate to relief efforts, from donation boxes to concerts to vendors selling clothing to support the cause. There’s already been some great coverage of these efforts from outlets including Massively, the Metaverse Journal, and New World Notes.

Seeing Residents come together like this is another powerful reminder of the breadth and strength of our global community and another great example of how Second Life is being used in ways that can really make a difference in the real world.

I’d like to thank those who have initiated fundraising efforts or given their support to this cause.  Please describe/link to your inworld relief efforts in the forums.

Chris Collins (AKA Logan Linden)

Posted in -Miscellaneous, Community, Creativity & Ideas, Events, International, Inworld Content, Resident Experience | 2 Comments

Kiss a Linden, Kiss a Volunteer, Cupid Linden and More Valentine’s Day Fun!

This year we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day by continuing our annual tradition by awaking Isle of View, it’s sister island Isle of ViewToo and Hugsville for Teens (on Teen Second Life) back from their wintery sleep.

Isle of View - Celebrate Valentine's Day in Second Life

Hugsville for Teens - Celebrate Valentine's Day in Second Life

We’ve got hugging & kissing booths where you can share your affections with both the Lindens and Resident Volunteers who’ve shown so much L-O-V-E to our community! (Don’t forget to snap a photo of the occasion!)

We’ve also got lots of freebies and other Valentine’s Day goodies — including T-shirts, Linden bear collectibles located at the booths, special limited edition collectible Second Life candy hearts and more!

On Valentine’s Day, Saturday Feb. 14:

  • Volunteers will be around all-day for Kiss-A-Volunteer on both Isle of View and Isle of ViewToo
  • Lindens will be on Isle of View and Isle of ViewToo from 7-9 AM and 5-7 PM PST for Kiss-A-Linden
  • And for Teen Residents, Lindens will be present on Hugsville for Teens from 3-5 PM PST

Never met a Linden before, or would like to thank a volunteer personally? Come on over and enjoy the lovin’! Who knows, you might even get lucky and run into Cupid Linden who has an all new look!

Related Valentine’s Day Surprises Coming Later in the Week!

Watch this blog later this week for exciting information about the 2009 Second Life Valentine’s Day golden heart contest. This weekend your inworld explorations may lead you to discover a special golden heart, which contains a prize that will tickle your heart!

Posted in Announcements & News, Community, Events | 1 Comment