Eric Rice is one of the interesting folks I met at Gnomedex this year. Very cool guy. Doing a TON of stuff – podcasting, Hipcast, and a lot of work in Second Life. I am still trying to figure out how he does all of this on a daily basis. We actually participated in a podcast while at Marc Canter’s party during Gnomedex (thanks CrapMonkey).

Tonight he posted a pretty thoughtful post about Second Life and Linden Labs and their users/partners and some blogospheric pr issues. First Phil Linden used a blog post to talk about how great a place LL is to work at while there are problems with downtime and bugs/exploits, and then a major member of the community was banned for 3 days for pointing out a bug (the rules say you cant post an exploit – he was pointing out a problem and seems to have been wrongly punished).
As an outsider, SL/LL seems to have a huge amount of momentum right now. Tons of press, subscriber growth and and conversation-equity. Large corporations (including a couple of clients I know/had) are taking a close look at SL as an example of yet another space to connect with their customers. They have an active community of Makers who, for both fun and profit, are as invested in SL as the folks who work for Linden Labs. Tons of potential.
SL/LL has a community that is developing and tweaking and taking its platform places that werent imagined by the LL team who built and maintained it. Users want to push the envelope (especially when they are making money doing it). SL/LL, while it is open for users to affect their environment, has a platform that needs lots of TLC, maintenance and upgrades.Users want stability, uptime, bugs fixed and exploits crushed.

LL has upgrade cycles, fixes to push, prioritized buglists, and naughty users to punish, etc.

SL is growing damn fast – one estimate has the userbase growing to 1 million users by this time next year. It can grow too fast: have servers crash and die, bugs left unfixed, ticked off long-term users and totally confused or disappointed newbies. Or it can listen to the users, reward those who catch bugs/exploits (bughunt anyone?), spend a little more time talking about _how_ SL is growing (adding new servers, etc). Transparency for the users is as important as transparency within the company. Manage the growth.

As a young lad I worked at a dotcom in Silicon Alley. early in the last boom. We were hip. We were public. We were Macromedia’s Shocked Site of the Day a buncha times 🙂 We were growing damn fast. My old CEO used to call it ‘hypergrowth’. When I naively asked him what was wrong with hypergrowth (Thats good, right?) he said –

“if we dont manage it we are f*cked”.

SL has a chance to manage it now. Passionate users are giving LL a reminder – ignore us at your peril.

The real PR problem occurs when the folks _stop_ talking about them. And seeing as I just started exploring – that better not happen.
(disclaimer – i have only been on SL 10 times – way noob)

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