I am not best pleased with this linkjacking. I have been vocal on NWN about Wagner's slamming and disparaging of residents with his assertion that said residents and their widely-held opinion that Viewer 2.0 is a technically-challenged cobbleup are responsible for the decline of Second Life.
I enjoyed very much talking to Chestnut, who was interested, charming and very nice. I was quite pleased with her original interview. I view this repost/hijack of the link as an attempt either to curry favor with me or to make me out to be some kind of ungrateful wretch, as Bettina Tizzy implied in a tweet to soror Nishi, who was chided for objecting strongly to Wagner's position because "he was nice to you once upon a time."
I do not like Wagner using me to drive traffic to his blog while castigating me as a resident. If you wish to read/comment on this interview, please do so at Chestnut's blog. She deserves the traffic, not NWN.
Here is the comment I have posted at NWN:
"I suspect this link-referral to an interview I did with the charming and nice Chestnut Rau is some kind of clever offering or trap for my posting rebuttals and comments on NWN for Hamlet's unexcuseable and troll-like inflamatory position that I, and the very people who pay Linden Labs to rent their land and our membership fees as premium members are somehow responsible for the decline of Second Life because we object on technical grounds to the abortion that is Viewer 2.0.
If you'd like to comment, please do so on Chestnut Rau's article page and not on this page, as all it does is offer Mr. Wagner incentive to continue trolling for blog hits.
All in all, another example of why I do not read NWN anymore. I do not think Mr Wagner has anything of interest to say. I find his position untenable and disingenuous and this reposting of a link to drive traffic to his monetized blog rather than Chestnut's (non-monetized) blog rather sly and underhanded.
So... I had prepared this post last week (before the link posting at NWN) on the continuing carping of Wagner about why I, as a paying premium member and landholder putting money in LL's pockets, am the reason Second Life membership and landholding is declining. I held the post because I wanted to promote a stellar art show/event for a cause and organization I support.
That event is over now, and I give you the original post. Note the time frame: this post was written and completed in response to another one of Wagner's inflammatory posts at NWN, my comment thereon and before Wagner posted this linkjack that has really got me irritated.
I do appreciate all the nice comments people have left, but I do not appreciate being used by Wagner to steal traffic away from someone deserving just to increase his monetized bloggery.
And to Mr James Wagner aka Hamlet Au: don't do me any more 'favors'. You were never interested in my work before I started commenting on your ridiculous assertions and I don't think you are interested now. Address me over these issue if you like, but don't use me or attempt to curry favor or derail my arguments with your soft-soaping.
Original post follows.
So I made a comment on a blog which was kind of prickly; you get that way when someone keeps calling you names. But since Wizard says I get "articulate" when I am "frenzied," I thought I'd try to live up to that and articulate a bit more in response to this continual trumpeting from James Wagner about the failures of Second Life/Linden Labs being laid at the feet of the people who, according to Mr Wagner's own figures, actually pay the bills - the residents like me.
In the grand tradition of tech troubleshooting, I thought I'd make it easy to understand by using the tried-and-true car analogy. But then I wondered if, although the comparison of Second Life and Linden Labs to the Wikipedia entry for the Ford Edsel is pretty applicable and illuminating as to both product and marketing (i'm not joking; read the article), this might be too complex for a simple blog post (or at least one that anyone might care to read). So I settled on a much simpler hardware-store analogy.
If I Had A Hammer...
Suppose you were selling a widget you called a hammer. You sold this widget to a number of people, whose continuing income stream paid your bills and put money in your pocket. You start to get feedback on your 'hammers' from the renters (who originally were told, "Your world, your hammer") of these hammers. Many of those now-renters are knowledgeable Carpenters (some are Master Carpenters) and they begin to tell you of certain problems or flaws in the hammer.
The head flies off; they explain it would be simple to use a better wood or a better staple in the head of the hammer to prevent this. They also note that there seems to be variable quality; some of the hammer heads appear to be too soft and will not effectively pound a nail into hardwood, only soft wood. The angle of the claw end is not very good for removing nails. Yet they continue to rent your hammers in good faith, listening to your marketing department and trusting that you are an honest and forthright company and that you are all working with a new product and that bugs take time to work out.
This goes on for quite some time, becoming a bit sharper and more critical after several years of promises. The Carpenter community begins to talk amongst themselves, comparing stories of the failure of the hammer to work as advertised and intended; to do its basic function as a hammer. Concern is raised that, despite a company forum supposedly devoted to constructive feedback and problem area suggestions, the main failures of the functioning of the hammer are not being addressed. In fact, certain threads of the forum are shut down and closed after several years of mounting complaints, even though no solution has been offered.
The number of hammer renters, some of them really big hammer renters, begins to fall to attrition. Not only are no new Carpenters flocking to the hardware store, but some of the oldest and most-supportive Carpenters, who have paid your hardware store thousands and thousands of dollars for years, are declining their annual orders. Panic ensues in the hardware store's boardroom. The old Carpenters, some of them still talking and not walking (and paying) attempt to explain that a hammer which cannot serve its main purpose is not promoted by Carpenters and does not attract new Carpenters. This view is rejected by Management, who have seen new sparkly things in other hardware stores and take the position that their hammers need to be more sparkly.
New features are added: a big marketing blitz for SparkleHammer 2.0 goes out, explaining that the head is now covered with twinkly bits, the handle has been wrapped in racy stripes and the claw is shorter and more user-friendly in order to to capture the fancy of the New Market of young Carpenters-to-be. Marketing develops a campaign to lure new hammer-users in by explaining how much fun it is to use their hammer as a doorstop, how a user can glue fur onto the handle for a sensual experience, how to pretend to be a vampire using the claw part of the hammer and how you can spend a lot of money accessorizing your hammer (girls, if you had Barbie, you know what I mean!).
The immediate feedback from the Carpenters, who are still paying the bills, is almost unanimous: not only does the new hammer (or 'Ham 2.0') still fail badly in the necessary function of a hammer, but some of the new features actually degrade the hammer-experience, frustrating both new and old Carpenters alike.
Numbers continue to drop. There is an anger, based not only on this iteration of the Ham 2.0 but on the track record of the hardware store, which has baited-and-switched with their Mini-Ham (homesteads), refused or been unable to fix fundamental flaws (Group Chat, asset server crashes and loss of inventory, general sim crashes and crossings) and shut down feedback and communication with the Carpenters. More Carpenters leave, taking with them those thousands of dollars. They leave not because they don't like furry-handled hammers but because a hammer that doesn't pound nails or remove them is not a tool of interest to a Carpenter.
I'd Hammer On A Hamster
James Wagner, who once wrote of the possibilities of Second Life and who once declaimed, "it won't go away," has taken to calling the residents of Second Life "recalcitrant" and "averse to change" for their continued and now fairly-widespread criticism of Linden Labs conduct. Dazzling us with facts and figures, he attempts to address us as wayward and stubborn children.
By Wagner's own figures, we continue to fork over to LL some several million dollars for the priviledge of using a tool which has not been fixed and which underperforms and degrades with regularity. Unlike Mr Wagner, we did not flee to bluer pastures, trumpeting our with-it-ness and siren-calling to take carpenters away from their old store to a new one.
Note that last point: Wagner jumped ships and was disappointed when many residents of SL refused to go, citing the technical and content problems of Blue Mars. We all know what happened there; Blue Mars as a virtual world collapsed, morphing into a tiny phone-app which has yet to prove itself in the marketplace.
So he begins this schtick about "recalcitrant" users and sticks with it, despite mounting criticism and mockery; despite his absence from Second Life due to his year-long jaunt in Blue Mars (where his prediction of "the new happening thing" was demonstrably misplaced); despite his denial of even his own old columns where he himself wrote of several of the fundamental problems with SL architecture.
When, in thoughtful mode, people reply with facts and figures of their own, Wagner refuses to acknowledge the problems and makes one up of his own: it is we, the people still putting money in Linden Labs' hands; the people who have continued to do this out of love for the platform; the people some of whom have a vast array of technical knowledge; the people who spend, I am confident in estimating, more time inworld than 80% of the Linden Labs staff, who are the problem. We do not want to change! We are the ones killing our world!
This is patently ridiculous. The problems with Second Life can be easily simplified to one line: it is a communications program, and the communications suck. The communication between resident and Landlord (LL) and between client and server (asset server, chat, sim crossing, 'dancing' prims, missing inventory) are abyssmal. The client is unstable. The client has built-in artificial limitations (prim size, lack of shader support) which other viewers have handled quite adequately. In seeking to emulate some other program, ala Facebook or Twitter, LL appears to be attempting to mimick surface features without acknowledging this base truth: they are all communications programs. Their success is based on stable and reliable communication.
No amount of tarting up the interface or additional copied widget ideas will do anything to retain users or attract new ones if core functionalities are unstable and unreliable.
Mr Wagner, with his this-day "SL is dying" and that-day "We could really build something here if you all weren't such grumbly little children" is quite the font of negativism he accuses others of being. His fickleness has been demonstrated publicy by his own actions. His obtuseness to the fundamental underlying problems in SL is disingenuous. His continual harping on the "recalcitrance" of the consumers of the product to buy into a new, tarted up interface at the expense of the underlying flaws in the architecture begins to sound like nothing more than corporate shilling and trolling or the attempt of a once-relevant voice to regain its prominence.
If Mr Wagner and Linden Labs insist on an adversarial position with their customer base, that base will leave; it's that simple. Browbeating will not help. Refusal to engage the pertinent issues will be disasterous. No one who does due diligence on the company with an eye towards purchase will be fooled.
I hope that wasn't too snarky, but I am irritated. And I don't like being called names repeatedly.