Dear M Linden …

or: a concept for Linden Lab.

… here’s an open letter.

I talked to several people about the following and my feeling is that this could be of some interest so I figured I better write it down.

I don’t want to sound like a used car salesman here but if I could make a suggestion to M Linden (you are actually quite responsive so I guess I can)  it would be the following:

Divide the existing Linden Lab construction into several companies.

To explain why I first enumerate these companies with some abbreviations and names:
1) LL: The ‘original’ Linden Lab (with focus on ‘Lab’) responsible for supplying technologies for persistent 3D virtual worlds.

2) SLGF: The Second Life Grid Foundation. The world that started it is the biggest grid, but should not be the only one.  These are the guys who run the Second Life Grid. They maintain a free, persistent virtual world without age limitations and free citizenship. I think this is close to the vision Phil Rosedale had initially.

3) LLPS: Linden Lab Professional Services, the guys who consult all the grids out there that are technically based on LL grid server. One of these grids is the Second Life Grid, but there could be/should be be several others.

Like the …

4) AGC: Adult Grid Corporation, the guys who run the adult grid. This would not be connected to Second Life (except that they use the same technology). Probably not too good of a name, I know, somebody can do better. I’d like to stress the following here: I think it’s important not to white list the innocent (that’s why I think the teen grid is not a good idea) but rather separate the adult content.

Why would this make things different?

  1. The areas that these companies work in need to be addressed by completely different business models. You need to do different things when you run a service compared to provide the technology let alone make money from communities.
  2. Service providers doing Internet business could walk up to their customers and sell Linden Lab technology without even mentioning Second Life – which would be badly needed in Germany for example.
  3. The importance of different clients – preferably white labeled would be obvious then. And Phil mustn’t do this with his own league of extraordinary developers but as part of LL work (see also my note here).
  4. The goals of Linden Labs (i.e. the different units) would be transparent and believable. Nobody needs to wear many hats.

Let me make some examples:

  • IBM would talk to (the new, independent) Linden Lab to buy the technology for their customers since they usually would do consulting on technology on their own since they want to adapt that to there machines (like in hardware) or in their software (like Sametime 3D).
  • An effort like OGPX (former MMOX as Infinity pointed out to me) would completely be led by the new Linden Lab which would be an independent  technology provider not a service provider with it’s own interests.
  • There would be a distinction between the grid and the technology behind it (which would be very important for the success of the AWG).
  • (the new) Linden Lab could think about OpenSourcing it’s server technology easier since there is no dependency into other business models anymore.
  • If any of the grids goes down for some reason, the technology provider would still be there. And we wouldn’t have to wait another 7 or 14 years for virtual worlds to arrive.

The thing missing from a technical and a business stand point (apart from the no-brainers like stability) most badly IMHO is a hyper gridding mechanism. I say ‘a‘ hyper gridding mechanism because the one currently in discussion and partly implemented by the great Diva Canto/ Christa Lopes in the OpenSimulator community is not the only possible implementation. And maybe not the implementation that the current Linden Lab wants.

But now Linden Lab doesn’t push Hypergridding enough because it’s not in their business model right now … but you sort of need it for the Immersive Workspace Initiative.

So I guess, Mark, you are wearing different hats in this game now.


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