1. Billing Issues at LL: the activity in this area is encouraging. There seems to be a new push to at least understand that billing issues cannot be automatically resolved nor can mere form letters sent out by a program in a demand format really address the snarls and tangles that result in a complex series of interactions. The 24/7 number is a huge positive step in acknowledging the needs of LL's customers, especially the ones who wish to pay LL money.
One of my friends, a Canadian, had some problems with exchanging money for Lindens and because of her hours, was frustrated trying to contact LL. I said, why not give this number a shot? even though it wasn't really a billing problem. She did... and surprisingly to both of us, the staff was helpful, courteous and took over an hour to help her get things straightened out. I guess they didn't have to - it wasn't strictly their area - but it does show an effort and an awareness that we are customers and that we are not something to fight. Hats off to the Billing Team.
2. Group chat tests - another very-encouraging announcement. Group Chat is a critical part of a social network and one of the oldest endemic problems in SL (and other VWs). You cannot foster community bonds when the channels don't work. Since this is a longstanding problem and is in the architecture I don't expect fairies to magically fix it overnight. But that it has some serious attention is a very positive sign to me.
3. The Twinkle story - I hope you didnt miss this event. If you did, you must read Jayjay at UWA's post "The Most Important Thing I Have Done In Second Life."
This has everything positive I see in both virtual community and the arts. Through the creator (Bay Sweetwater)'s suggestion of donating her (non-machinima) prize "100 Treasures from UWA" to a primary school, many things happened. The machinima she submitted to the competition, "Twinkle's Journey," had some attention refocused on it and revealed itself as a deeply-moving, personal work of art that shared the pain but also the hope of a very sad situation. In fact, it was good art.
In the rush of galleries, competitions and the like, we can lose track of the meaning and reason of art. We can become jaded and narrow ourselves down by seeking the trendy, the technically-interesting and surface entrancement of the flash-bang world. We can succumb to the judgement of the market. This is initially what happened to "Twinkle's Journey."
The story continued; because of Bay's generous offer, a cultural exchange took place between a woman in the US and a classroom full of children in Australia; a group of children (and their teacher) learned about virtual worlds in a very positive light, and through Jayjay's beautiful letter and announcement of this gift, many people reviewed 'Twinkle's Journey' and understood what they had missed the first time (Jayjay's posting of this story was awesome).
This is about as close as I can get to defining art - the sharing of a personal experience through artwork to other people, communicating the human condition. The whole story is an example of the power of this medium for communicating on more than a surface level and one of the fundamental beliefs I hold about the importance of these worlds we are making.
4. Inworldz' Phlox - very, very encouraging; the Phlox rollout fixed many problems with script handling and I can see the results instantly. Particles are finally looking right, functions are working properly and it's very fast and clean. Congratulations to the IWz team!
I have written about problems in Second Life; problems I see not only as complaint areas but areas that actually concern Linden Lab's goal of profitability; in the long run, helping LL to have a good program that I want to bring someone else to assures me of keeping the home and friends I have now. The suggestions I have made are based on many other people's observations and ideas, but most of those people are also motivated out of frustration only because they want Second Life to be a good place to go. They want SL to succeed.
So in fair balance I wished to write about some of the small but crucial changes in stance and attitude I have noticed in the past 4 weeks. This is actually pretty rapid deployment considering the size of a company like LL. Yes, they are beginnings, but "beginnings are a delicate time" as my Celt ancestors say. You don't pluck and pluck at the first shoot leaves that emerge from the soil if you want to have a nice garden.
These developments, as well as the thawing of some of the ice between LL and its customers, give me a nice little hope that perhaps this barrier between us, which evolved in a haphazard way and solidified, might be bridged with a little patience, understanding and communication between parties. The customers are not "hippie fantasy dreamers" doing nothing for the Company, and the Company has a vested interest in making a product that the consumers want, will promote and support financially as well as communally. Really, we are all in this together.
I know that these are beginnings. But that is more effort in that area than I saw in 2 years with M at the helm. I'm sure there will be glitches and disconnects; it's inevitable. But I am willing to extend my props for effort.
Gooooo Team! *waves pompoms*
*tries to do a split*
*reaches for Tiger Balm*
ps: a short post! I know! Don't faint :D