Coincidence, probably… Synchronicity? Maybe… though there are better-tutored Jungians among my readers who might be able to discern if I was tapped into the collective subconscious of SL Residents.
Anyway… Three weeks ago I was doing some infrastructure maintenance on this blog, creating pages for special topics and going through the tags on each post to try to make them more relevant. On the way, I ended up reading some of my older posts; one of those was “SS, DD”, in which I stuck my neck out for the first time and predicted “Same shit, different decade” for Second Life in 2010:
Linden Lab will continue to stumble through yet another year of poorly conceived, haltingly communicated and inconsistently executed policies, procedures, public relations campaigns, and platform and GUI “improvements”. Those efforts will have the apparent intent of drawing more new Users, encouraging them to pay for Premium memberships, and perhaps even retaining them — and those efforts will, by their very nature, continue to dissatisfy, alienate, anger and (in the extreme case) drive off the core population of existing Residents.
For the first six months, it looked like I had nailed it. And before you take me wrong, let me assure that I wasn’t happy to be correct.
And then, the June 9th Earthquake shook the Grid, taking with it Lindens both good and bad (and probably many whose absence will not be noticed).
I have no shame at all in admitting to schadenfreude in one particular case: Tom “T Linden” Hale, whose absurd denial of a Culture of SL raised quite a few hackles across the SLogosphere, least of all mine… and who, as “Chief Product Officer”, was the ultimate mover behind the ludicrously misguided, frustratingly intrusive and ultimately failed project known (with no small amount of derision in some quarters) as Viewer 2.
The effects of the earthquake were immediate. Talk of Diaspora increased as more SL’ers — of both high and low profile — opened accounts in OpenSim worlds like OSGrid and InWorldz, while cutting back on their economic commitment to Second Life: “tiering down”, selling off, and dropping Premium membership. The LindeX took a dive, too, prompting a transparently lame entry in the official Second Life blog to add to the list of redundant and painfully hollow missives issued under the name of Linden Lab’s CEO, Mark “M Linden” Kingdon.
Make that “former CEO”. As of this writing, the virtual ink is barely dry on the PR Newswire web page announcing Kingdon’s “stepping down”, and the SL blog’s announcement that Linden Lab founder and erstwhile “chief visionary officer” Philip Rosedale has become Interim CEO.
In retrospect, the events of June 9 were a foreshock of magnitude 6.5 or so. Today, a magnitude 8 rocked the Grid, and its effects cannot be predicted. Many of us, myself included, find reason for optimism in the first of two speeches Philip gave at SL7B, in which he spoke metaphorically of castle walls, moats, and rickety structures cobbled together to get over them, contrasted with a concerted effort to remove the walls.
We shall see.
Meanwhile, my prediction for SL in 2010 fell down in today’s earthquake, and I’m glad.
Note: The quotes above are from “Crown of Creation” by Jefferson Airplane, and are paraphrases from John Wyndham’s classic SF novel The Chrysalids.