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After the flood of comments that greeted our announcement of the upcoming Display Names feature, we’re happy to announce that we are now releasing a Project Viewer to help us further test performance and let Residents get a sense for how Display Names would work should they go into production.

Once you download the Project Viewer, you’ll be able to freely change your Display Name via the Profile Pane of the right-hand sidebar. Once in production, Residents will be able change their Display Names no more than once per week, in order to cut down on the risk of impersonation. In the Project Viewer, however, there are no limits to how often your Display Name can change.

The Project Viewer will also let you see how names generally can be configured through your Preferences pane, where you can elect to see usernames as well as Display Names, or have your Second Life friends’ names show as a different color from other Residents. The release is hardwired to connect to a test grid, so that any changes you make there will have no impact on your main grid account.

As mentioned, reducing the risk of impersonation is one of our chief concerns as we roll out Display Names. Our original announcement had over a thousand comments, with myself and the team reading all of your feedback. Many of those comments touched on the danger of impersonation. We’re currently discussing the great ideas and constructive feedback you gave and we want to stress that we certainly recognise and share the concerns over impersonation. We’ll be talking more with you about those issues soon and if there are changes needed we will talk about what we are thinking.

We’d like as many of you as possible to try out the feature as it stands today and let us know how it feels. We’ll continue to gather feedback throughout, both in the comments thread below, and on a specific pjira VWR-21053.

Late last week, we discovered a denial-of-service attack that was being served through the widely distributed Emerald third-party viewer. This is in direct violation of our third-party viewer policy (part 2, section d, paragraph iii).

We have removed Emerald from the list of third-party viewers, and are now in touch with the Emerald team to discuss what can happen next. We did this to do our best to protect the safety and security of Second Life users. We will not tolerate a viewer that includes malicious code, nor will we tolerate development teams with a history of violating users’ trust or disrupting their lives.

We take privacy, safety, and security very seriously, and we will act to the best of our abilities to protect it. We have not yet disabled logins via the Emerald viewer, but will do so if we feel the software and the team behind it is not able to meet the standards we’ve set. While Emerald is currently the focus of our attention because of what happened recently, all third-party viewers are held to the same standard, and must comply with the third-party viewer policy.

The third-party viewer directory is designed to be largely self-policing, but we take our responsibility to act very seriously when problems come to our attention. Our goal is that you should feel comfortable using many different viewers in accessing Second Life. While there are always risks involved in using a third-party viewer, we are doing what we can to minimize those, and we encourage and deeply appreciate third-party development. Our new Snowstorm project is an example -- allowing third-party developers to deliver more directly and rapidly to the Second Life viewer.

If you have been using the Emerald viewer, for now we would encourage you to consider either one of the Linden Lab viewers, or an alternative third-party viewer.

Français

As Philip announced at SLCC, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue Teen Second Life as a standalone product and to lower the minimum age of Second Life Residents on the Main Grid to 16.  Teen Second Life will be closing on December 31, 2010, and we plan to begin accepting 16-year-old Residents to the Main Grid on or before that date.

In the five years since it opened, the Teen Grid has been a space of incredible creativity for teens and also home to a number of innovative educational projects. However, supporting and developing for two separate grids has been a challenge for us, and has slowed progress on improvements that benefit all Residents. To help us focus our resources and development on the Main Grid, we have made the difficult decision to close Teen Second Life.

Second Life has a lot to offer teens, and they clearly have a lot to offer Second Life. We are proud that Teen Second Life has had a genuine and  positive impact on teens’ lives -- as a space for creative self-expression, as a tool helping innovative teachers make a difference, as a place for fun with friends, and more. We are also grateful for the contributions that Teen Second Life Residents and educators have made, and for the support they have provided to the greater Second Life community. Many Teen Grid Residents have gone on to become productive members of the Main Grid on reaching the age of 18.

The question of why all teens can’t enjoy the community and creativity that is present on the Main Grid has come up often in the last five years. Many teens want access to the rich experiences -- the variety of content, the broader marketplace, and the chance to interact with parents and older friends -- that the Main Grid affords. Parents and educators, as well, have often lamented the fact that they are unable to experience Second Life with their kids, or to hold classes serving a broader range of ages.

Lowering the minimum age of Second Life Residents to 16 is a first step toward this goal. As we progress with our plans to close Teen Second Life, we will be transferring 16 and 17 year old Teen Grid accounts, land, and content to the Main Grid. We are evaluating if there are ways to allow 13 -15 year olds to have safe access to limited locations on the Main Grid with appropriate controls at some point in the future. However, there is no guarantee that we will be able to do that, or when, as we weigh it against other company priorities at this point.

I will be talking to teens, parents, and educators about the needs of younger users and how we can work toward being able to serve them in  future. I’ll be setting up inworld meetings in the coming weeks to learn more about those needs, and potential short- and long-term solutions to meet them. I look forward to speaking with everyone, and listening to your feedback, thoughts, and suggestions.

For more details, see this wiki page, and stay tuned for further updates.

Philip Linden 2.0

by Linden on ‎08-18-2010 04:26 PM

Philip Linden avatar.jpg

When you think about someone with an iconic look, who comes to mind? Grace Jones, Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga? How exactly does someone create an iconic look?  Well, that’s not as easy to pinpoint. Some have a natural style that gives their appearance a larger-than-life status, others have extremely creative stylists, and sometimes it’s a mashup of both.

Since Philip Linden is one of Second Life’s most recognized and celebrated Residents, and his avatar appears on the pages of magazines, newspapers, and websites around the world, we’re looking for a special Resident to be his stylist and create a new iconic look for him.  We all know that a lot has changed in Second Life since Philip first created his rainbow-cod-pieced-chapped-Rocky-Horror-tee-shirt-spikey-haired avatar, and... the time has come for him to get a makeover!

Philip’s return to Linden Lab has inspired this renovation — “Philip Linden 2.0”, if you will. And, when exploring the idea of creating a fresh look for his avatar, he naturally decided to turn to the talented Second Life community to assist him in this endeavor.

In his SLCC keynote speech last weekend, Philip announced a contest, open to the community, to help him achieve his Philip Linden 2.0 dream (For more direction from Philip, listen to the video at about 41 minutes in). Keep in mind, we want some essence of the old Philip (he wants to remain a male avatar), but we want your imagination and creativity to shine through. If you want to participate, we ask that you create a full  look for Philip’s new avatar — hair, skin, clothes, etc. He’ll choose his top favorites from the images you submit, then we’ll open up the voting for the community to decide a winner.  The winner will be compensated with Philip's eternal gratitude for his new look.

There are a few guidelines around the submission process, so please make sure to carefully read the submission form. The deadline is September 6th, 2010, at noon (12:00 PM) Pacific Time.  We are excited to see your ideas!


Quick Link:
Philip 2.0 Submission Form

As Philip mentioned this weekend in his speech at SLCC,  I'm excited to tell you more about a new feature that's on the horizon for Second Life. Known as Display Names, it's a project that will not  only give Residents the tools to better express themselves, it will also help us grow the population of SL further, making it a richer and more  robust social environment for all. Most importantly, it brings a new element of creativity to your avatar, combining the ability to adopt  virtually any name you like in Second Life with the stability of having a  persistent underlying identity that lets everyone be sure at all times  which avatar they're communicating and transacting with.

In a nutshell, Display Names, set to roll out in a project release at the end of August and be deployed gridwide in late September, gives Residents two aspects to their identity in Second Life: a username that  is unique and does not change, and an optional Display Name you can change periodically and can be set to nearly anything you like -- including foreign Unicode characters, more than two words, and many other possibilities. The change means that Residents are no longer  forced to choose from a limited set of last names (which has scared off new users in the past), and makes it possible to use your Second Life name as a more powerful and expressive aspect of your online self. Whether you use your current SL name, your real name, a pseudonym, gamer tag or other ID, Display Names gives you more freedom to express your identity inworld -- not just in avatar form, but in name as well.

Why Display Names?

Moving to a system of usernames and  Display Names has a number of advantages. Above and beyond the greater  self-expression it allows, Display Names also relieves new Residents of  the need to choose a Second Life last name. New users signing up for  Second Life often abandon their accounts when they're asked to choose from a list of last names; Display Names removes this choice from  registration and lets them get into Second Life more quickly.

Display Names also supports European, Asian, and other Unicode characters -- an  important feature for our international Residents (who currently  account for about 60% of the SL community). For years, Residents have requested this capability and we are excited now to be able to share what's coming.

Display Names lets us provide more choice and at the same time provides a  consistent and unique identity for individual avatars. While you may  change your Display Name from time to time, the username associated with each account doesn't change, and will always be easily discoverable by anyone dealing with a  particular Resident. That means there should never be a question over  who you're talking to inworld.

Endless Possibilities

Display  Names gives you more freedom than ever to express your inworld  identity. You can use your real name, a fantasy name, hyphenate with  your inworld partner, promote your organization or inworld business name, or anything that you want other Residents to refer to you as. Torley Linden has created the video below that will give you an idea of  what you can do with this new feature:


More Information

We will continue to update you as we roll Display Names out. In the meantime, here's where you can learn more and share your thoughts.

French

German

Video of Philip Linden's SLCC Keynote

by Community Manager on ‎08-16-2010 11:46 AM

On Saturday morning, Philip delivered his keynote speech at the Second Life Community Convention in Boston. In the course of his speech, Philip announced coming changes and made several commitments for 2010.

You'll be hearing more (and more details) on those points soon, but in the meantime you can watch the full video of Philip's talk online to hear exactly what he said at SLCC. The video, made available by the SLCC organizers, is here (fair warning: you'll need to sit through an ad before the video).

I'd also like to give my thanks to the SLCC organizers - in particular Fleep Tuque - for all of their hard work on the event, and their flexibility that helped make it possible for Philip to attend in person.

Recently, I posted an update here on our blogs about on Linden Lab’s strategy. I mentioned my desire to hold an inworld meeting for questions before the end of July, and today I’m happy to share some details on how you can participate!

On Friday July 30th, join myself and COO Bob Komin (BK Linden) at 10am SLT/PST at Linden Estate Services for an Inworld meeting with the Residents of Second Life. It was announced this June that I would be returning as interim CEO and I’d like to take this opportunity to address some of the excitement, concerns and questions that have been circulating for the past few weeks. The overall goal is to open up the conversation with the community about our upcoming plans around the development and future of Second Life.

If you would like to attend, please fill out this form with your Second Life name and email address no later than 5pm SLT/PST on Wednesday, July 28th.  Admission to the live event will be decided by a random draw and the winners will be notified on the 29th by either an email or notecard with instructions on how to RSVP. Please keep in mind that the event will be in English and that both myself and Bob will be using SL Voice.

We are attempting to make this event as inclusive as possible so that those who are interested will be able to participate. We have partnered with TreetTV in order to provide live video and audio streaming of the event. In addition, we have asked Virtual Ability Island to provide a transcription of the event so that those with hearing impairments can follow along. You can also submit questions throughout the event to the SL Twitter account. The final 20-30 minutes of the event will be devoted to answering some of those questions.

I'm looking forward to hearing from the community on Friday, and keeping in touch with you as we move forward.

Thanks,

Philip

UPDATE: For those who didn’t get drawn in the lottery to attend, you’ll be able to watch, listen, and read the video, audio, and text transcription of the event live as it happens at http://slevents.treet.tv/slmeeting/. Treet.TV will stream the entire event, and Virtual Ability will provide a live text transcription in a dedicated IRC channel on the Treet.TV page.

Attendees will be able to direct questions to Philip and BK via an inworld IM to our moderator, Wallace Linden, and we’ll also be taking questions on Twitter: just direct a Tweet to @secondlife.

For those who were selected to attend, please arrive at the event a few minutes ahead of time and plan to get started at 10am PST. As noted above, Philip and BK will speak for approximately 30 minutes, and the second half of the hour will be devoted to questions, before we wrap up at 11am. We look forward to seeing you inworld!

Thanks,

Wallace

Today I’m pleased to announce that Viewer 2 (Version 2.1.0) has left beta to become the official release Viewer for Second Life! As mentioned in previous blog posts, our focus over the past few months has been on improving the stability and performance of the Viewer. After the beta release, the crash rate was far worse than our previous 1.23 Viewer and this is something our engineering teams have worked hard to correct. We’ve been closely monitoring crash rates and other key metrics and carefully tuning our code to provide a much more predictable and stable inworld experience. Over the beta period, we’ve watched crash rates decline steadily and we’re confident this release, Version 2.1.0, will be a great improvement over the previous release.

Version 2.1.0 is not just about stability and performance improvements, we’ve also introduced some great UI and usability enhancements in response to your feedback. Check out the Version 2.1.0 release notes for more detail, but here are some highlights:

  • Customize the bottom bar - Right-click on the bottom bar to show/hide the buttons you wish to have displayed.
  • Resize the chat bar - Click and drag over the right side of the chat bar to resize the field to your desired width.
  • Choose between sliding the world or overlaying it with the Sidebar - Many users didn’t like the squeezing effect that took place on their world view when they opened the Sidebar. In response to that, we’ve added a new preference (under Advanced > Automatic position for: Sidebar” ) that allows you to choose which Sidebar slide behavior you prefer.
  • Camera controls clean-up - The pan and orbit controls have been brought back together in one view, so you don’t have to toggle between the two.
  • Avatar appearance editing in the Sidebar - You can now edit your outfits and body shape right from the Appearance Tab in the sidebar.

We’ve also introduced a new voice feature - Voice Morphing!

Voice Morphing is a long-requested feature that allows you to change your avatar’s voice to match any number of tones and characteristics. You can change your voice to sound like a robot, furry, monster, or even a different gender! Voice Morphing adds a new dimension to avatar customization, allowing you to be whoever you want to be in Second Life, in both appearance and voice! To learn more, check out the SL Voice Morphing Microsite.

Resources
Download Page
Release Notes
Viewer 2 Forum
Jira
SL Answers
Knowledge Base
Twitter (#slviewer2)

Changes to Burning Life

by Honored Resident Philip Linden on ‎07-21-2010 12:19 PM

Hi everyone,

I wanted to announce some changes to the event known as Burning Life.  After seven years of support, the Lab has decided to transition the organization and ownership of the event to the official Burning Man team effective immediately.  Burning Life will be renamed BURN 2.0.

As we shift our focus to usability, the basics of running Second Life and ultimately, doing less better, we thought this was a good opportunity to take a project that has run pretty well since it’s inception and return it to the community who inspired it.  Over the years Burning Life has shown us again and again how creative and innovative Second Life Residents are.  From music and performance, to intricate installations and the occasional snail ride, Burning Life has been a joy and a surprise to experience, and I feel confident that this legacy will live on as BURN 2.0 continues to be organized and run by a coalition of passionate Residents.

For general information and communication, the BURN 2.0 team will use the SL group BurningMan 2.0.  Members of previous Burning Life groups will be encouraged to join the new official group.

Finally, http://www.burn2.org will be the website for news and information about this unique community event.

Thanks,

Philip

Hi Everyone,

It's been just over 3 weeks now since my return as  CEO, and I think I've gotten up to speed enough to begin communicating  with you in a useful way.   This post is an update on what we are doing,  and also to announce an in-world meeting where I'll extend on the  thoughts in this post, as well as answer as many question as possible.    Beyond the contents of this message and meeting, I hope to revitalize a  frank and timely exchange between the company and the Second Life  community.  You can expect additional posts from us in the coming weeks  expanding these focus areas to more specific projects.  This is a time  of great change for us:  a downsizing and restructuring of the company, a  change in executive leadership, and big changes to our strategic  planning and directions.

When I spoke at the seventh-birthday celebration, I said how we  needed to 'tear down the walls' that broadly keep more people from  getting into and using Second Life.  We have created together (both  Linden Lab and the many of you who create content and experiences) an  amazing shared experience which at it's best is a breathtaking social,  creative, educational, and entrepreneurial platform.  But we've gotten  ahead of ourselves.  We still have a lot of hard work to do to make this  experience accessible to a majority of people.  At a very high level,  we're slowing down work that we think we've started too early or in the  wrong order, and refocusing our team and projects on improving the basic  features which impact all users and which are essential to the  operation of Second Life.  Additionally we will focus on faster  iteration with more input from the community, as well as greatly growing  the virtual marketplace.

Here are some more details on the current state of that planning  process:

Inside the Lab, we've been using the expression 'back to  basics', to capture refocusing our efforts to re-examine, repair, and  where necessary, re-design the basic experiences and systems that are at  the core of the Second Life experience.   First on the list should be a  big attack on lag and crashes, clearly things that very negatively  impact all users.  We are looking at 'lag' broadly to encompass things  like chat failures and delays, frame rates, and scene and object loading  delays.  Beyond performance and crashes, wherever possible we will make  the basic user experiences (like getting clothes on, communicating, or  your first few sessions as a new user) faster, easier, and more fun.

Next,  we've been looking at how we need to more rapidly improve and innovate  Second Life to re-capture and sustain the technology leadership position  that got us to where we are today, and is vital to scaling the virtual  world experience to maturity.  In creating Second Life, we've solved  some very hard problems across a number of different areas, and few  people have been able to copy us.  We need to get back to being the  first to invent and deliver the solutions that evolve virtual worlds -  we are still at the very beginning of a huge market.  That's a lot of  different work, but in the short term you can expect to see greatly  shortened release cycles across all our systems and a focus on rapid  iteration with lots of community feedback as a first result of those  efforts.   The other key short term goal is to very rapidly make Viewer  2.x the best and most widely-used Second Life viewer.  We are unifying  efforts across the lab to make this viewer both the best-performing and  the most functionally capable for all different users, as well as  hopefully becoming the underlying codebase for lots of  third party  development.

We've also identified the virtual content (both goods and  services) marketplace as a key longer-term area of focus as well as the  key metric for our collective success.  There are 10's of thousands of  entrepreneurs, creators, and merchants working together inside Second  Life that have already created what is easily the world's largest market  for virtual items and experiences, with around $600M expected in total  volume in 2010.   We're going to redirect efforts to improve and grow  that market as quickly as possible.  Making content and experience  creators more successful is what ultimately drives the growth of Second  Life.   Optimizing from end-to-end the process of searching for, trying,  buying, and using virtual goods will be our first focus here.

We will make every effort to deliver visible and continuous  improvements in these three areas over the remainder of the year.  The  shift to shorter cycles with smaller deliverables  should allow better  community involvement and feedback.  We will make our changes, develop  code, and discuss plans in the open.  Before the end of July, we will  also hold an in-world gathering where we can  talk more about these  plans and take questions. More details about how  we can best  get a big group together and talking will be coming in  another post.

As a final note, I would note that we are not planning to change  Second Life to exclude any categories of users.  Our restructuring  messaging around 'consumers' and 'web' versions of Second Life seemed to  mistakenly suggest to some that we plan to more narrowly focus the  experience on a specific demographic or use model.  We aren't.  We are  reducing efforts across the board that in our opinion are being done in  the wrong order, but those resources will re-focus on creating a single  effective system that is better for all categories of user.  We believe  we first need to improve and complete the core experiences that drive  Second Life, before we dive into how to customize it for different  markets.

In closing, I'd like to thank the SL community,  and in particular  those people who sent me the many heart-warming email messages of  support that I've received since returning.  They have been both a  direct contribution to these plans, and also a way to keep a smile on my  face in these tough but exciting times.  If you have thoughts about  Second Life that you want to share with me, please keep those emails  coming.  I can't say that I can read or respond to everything, but I  have gotten great value from many of the well-written thoughts I've  received.

Upgrade of Second Life to Havok 7

by Linden on ‎07-01-2010 10:44 AM

This week we are upgrading the Second Life Grid from Server 1.38 to Server 1.40. We're currently on a monthly release cycle on the Grid, but with this release, one of the most important components was our integration of Havok  7, the most recent battle-tested version of Havok's Physics Engine. Because there are no new  features in this release, and the upgrade did not require us to change a large amount of our core code base, as was the case when we upgraded  from Havok 1 to Havok 4, this transition should go more smoothly than the previous upgrade. In fact, we have been beta testing Server 1.40/Havok 7 on our test grid (called Aditi) since January and I am encouraged by the results. After road testing the functionality, Resident testers were pleased with performance enhancements. That said, we encourage you to stay patient with us as we work through potential bugs and any technical issues that may arise.

We'll be rolling out Server 1.40 throughout the rest of the week, and when we do, you should experience a noticeable performance improvement thanks to a new set of physics libraries.

Key  benefits of the Server 1.40/Havok 7 upgrade include:

  • Reduction of crash rates
  • Increase of physics frame rate
  • More realistic interaction with inworld objects because Havok 7 more efficiently processes moving and colliding content


Looking  ahead, we're committed to keeping up with new versions of Havok to  bring you even more performance benefits and potentially new  physics-based features.

Try it out and let us know what you think. We encourage you to join the discussion, log bugs in Jira, and twitter about your thoughts using hashtag  #sl.

FJ

Returning to the Lab

by Honored Resident Philip Linden on ‎06-24-2010 09:04 AM

Mark Kingdon is going to step down as CEO, and I am going to return as interim CEO, working side-by-side with former CFO Bob Komin, who is being promoted to COO.

This is a big, tough change but one the board of directors and management team deeply believes in.  We owe Mark great thanks for the many things we've accomplished in these last two years -- most notably a great improvement in the stability of Second Life, and also the hiring and nurturing of a strong team of new leaders who are now ready to do some amazing work together.

Our thinking as a team is that my returning to the CEO job now can bring a product and technology focus that will help rapidly improve Second Life.  We need to simplify and focus our product priorities -- concentrating all our capabilities on making Second Life easier to use and better for the core experiences that it is delivering today.  I think that I can be a great help and a strong leader in that process. 

It is an honor to have a chance to help more directly again, and I come to this mission with energy, excitement, and an open mind about what we need and how we need to do it.  I want to see Second Life continue to grow, amaze, and change the world.  It's what gets me up in the morning.  Despite the challenges of such a big change, I am happy to be drafting this blog post while sitting in our San Francisco office, surrounded by the many Lindens who have made it all possible.

More to come, as soon as we all get settled and figure out how best to work together!

Craving birthday cake? Get ready to celebrate Second Life's seventh birthday party, otherwise known as SL7B!

The SL7B celebration begins on Monday, June 21 at 10:00am PDT and runs through Sunday, June 27, spanning 21 regions with over 700 contributors, over 300 exhibits, and over 200 live performers and speakers (including special speeches from Philip and M Linden). SL7B is a showcase for the art, innovations, and ingenuity of all Second Life Residents.

The regions will remain open through July 3 for people to enjoy, but the live entertainment ends on June 27—so be sure to stop by SL7B next week to get your fill of the amazing experiences that this event has to offer.

What can you expect? The unexpected, of course.

This year's theme is "Unexpected Collaborations," a celebration of that which is only possible through our virtual world. While the event is sponsored by Linden Lab, it's really an unexpected collaboration of its own—the fruit of the collective labors of exhibitors, volunteers, and Lindens.

The gates open on Monday at 10:00am PDT, but we'll be kicking things off officially with Philip, who will be joining us at the Main Stage on Monday at 11:00. Second Life will be seven years old on Wednesday, June 23—and M will be joining us for cake and birthday wishes at 9:00am PDT on the Main Stage.

Check out the Second Life Destination Guide and the SL7B Resident Blog for daily updates. For more information about the theme and the history of this annual event, please take a look at the SL7B Wiki pages. And to get yourself amped up to celebrate, take a look at the machinima teaser by Toxic Menges.

Many thanks to the wonderful exhibitors and volunteers who are making this happen!

See you inworld!

An Update on the Linden Dollar

by Honored Resident M.Linden on ‎06-16-2010 04:11 PM

This morning saw a decrease in the exchange rate of the Linden dollar versus the US dollar. However, Second Life's key economic indicators remain stronger than the levels we saw in late 2009, though recent weeks have seen some reduction in economic activity compared to the record activity of the first quarter, as well as some uncertainty in the wake of recent corporate anouncements. Linden Lab continues to monitor the exchange rate. Should the average exchange rate change more than 10 percent in any given day, automated circuit breakers will kick in to halt trading for at least one hour.

The first quarter of 2010 saw record economic activity in Second Life. That spike was due in part to the release of the movie Avatar, which drew many new Residents inworld, thus boosting the economy. Recent months have seen economic activity return to levels we saw in the fourth quarter of 2009.

That change, combined with uncertainty related to the corporate restructuring announced last week by Linden Lab, contributed to an imbalance between supply and demand on the LindeX today. Linden Lab remains committed to the Linden dollar as a virtual currency, and to the Second Life economy as one that continues to provide value for Residents, merchants, and landholders large and small.

Today we're pleased to announce the alpha release of Viewer 2.1, the next version of our new Second Life Viewer. (Look for the "test viewer" on the download page.) While most of our work on Viewer 2.1 went into improvements to performance, stability, and usability, as a direct result of Residents feedback, we're also excited to reveal two new features including single sign-on and Voice Morphing, that can change the sound of your inworld voice to match your avatar.

As an alpha release, you should initially expect less stability than our the officially released Viewer 2.0.1. However, we are releasing this early in the cycle so that we can get good experience and data with the performance and stability fixes we've made. We intend to release weekly from here on out. The more residents that run these weekly builds, the better our data will be. If the viewer crashes, then please allow the "Viewer Crash Reporter" to do its thing, and give us as much detail as you can on what you were doing when the viewer crashed.

Responding to Your Feedback
The performance, stability, and usability improvements we've made for Viewer 2.1 Alpha have come as a direct result of the feedback we got after the launch of Viewer 2. We listened closely to your needs, suggestions, and issues and prioritized our development accordingly.

In addition to all of the features included in Viewer 2, including Shared Media, you now have the ability to:

  • Customize the Bottom Bar: We've added the ability to customize the button bar, to suit your preferences and activities (in Jira: VWR-17010, VWR-18813, VWR-18889), including adding buttons for Build (in Jira: VWR-17130), Search, Map, and Mini-Map to existing buttons, including Gesture, Move, View, and Snapshot. Simply right click on the bottom bar and choose which buttons you'd like to see on the bottom bar.
  • Resize the Chat Bar: You can also now resize the chat bar by dragging the right edge of the input to the desired width
  • Option for Right-Hand Sidebar to Slide or Overlay Your Inworld Experience: One major issue that came up consistently was the right-hand sidebar (in Jira: VWR-17006, VWR-18324). We've responded here too, making it possible now to let it slide over your inworld view, rather than causing the inworld view to shift--your choice! (See the Advanced panel in Preferences - Automatic position for Sidebar.) The default preference is set for sidebar resizing of your inworld experience, just uncheck the box if you would like the world to stay as is.
  • Better Control Your Camera: Based on your feedback (in Jira: VWR-361), we've also recombined the pan and orbit controls to allow for more fluid camera control.

We've also improved performance and stability by tuning the graphics experience and cleaning up many bugs.
Of course, we continue to listen to your feedback and have a substantial backlog of features that we'll continue to work on. But, these were the ones that consistently raised as issues and, subsequently, were prioritized in this release.

Today, Viewer 2.1 Alpha is available in English, German, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Italian, and Polish. Dutch is coming soon.

New Character For Voice
Voice Morphing is a feature that Residents have been asking for almost as long as we've had voice capabilities inworld. Simply put, it's the ability to change your avatar's voice to match any one of a number of tones and characteristics. Want to sound like a robot, a furry, or the opposite sex? With Voice Morphing, that ability is now just a few clicks away. The ability to change what your voice sounds like inworld will not only make it a richer and more interesting experience to be part of a community in Second Life, but will also help introduce voice to Residents who have been reluctant to use it in the past because they were uncomfortable making their real voice heard inworld. With Voice Morphing, you can be whoever you like in Second Life in voice as well as in appearance.

As a first step, we're introducing 25 voices, available for purchase via subscription in five packs of five each, with the following themes: scary, feminine, masculine, tiny, and techie. You'll be able to sample each one for free to find the morphs that work best for you.

To learn more, please read our
SL Voice Morphing blog post and visit our SL Voice Morphing Microsite.

With OpenID, You Now Have Single Sign-on
OpenID allows you to authenticate to other Secondlife.com properties, such as the blog, Jira, and the SL Wiki, from Viewer 2.1 -- only one time. You no longer need to login multiple times on each property which saves time and frustration. Although some of these logins won't be available today, they will be soon.


Viewer 2.1 Alpha is a New Option to Choose From, Among Other Available Viewers
As you know, Viewer 2 will be the primary commercial viewer for all SL Residents: Viewer 2.1 Alpha and Viewer 2.0 are both available today. Keep in mind that Viewer 2.1 is an alpha release; expect more bugs and crashes than you'd experience in a "gold" version. Viewer 2.0 is still the latest "official" Second Life Viewer, and Viewer 1.23 is still available. In addition, the Third-Party Viewer Directory now contains 10 third-party viewers, many of which are based on our Snowglobe open-source program, for Residents with specialized needs. In fact, the Viewer 2.1 Alpha code will be available to the open source community shortly.

Moving to Rapid Iteration Cycles
As I mentioned earlier, we are aiming to iterate on viewer development more rapidly, releasing a new alpha version on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This will help us stamp out bugs and make performance improvements more quickly than we've been able to do before. So, try out this first alpha version and let us know what you think. We're looking forward to working more closely with you as we push ahead.

Lastly, we want to thank you for trying Viewer 2, sharing your thoughts, and helping us guide the development process. Your input has been invaluable -- so keep it coming! Check into the  Viewer 2 Forum, and post updates to Twitter as well (using the #slviewer2 hashtag).

Resources
Download Page
Release Notes

Jira
SL Answers
Knowledge Base for Voice Morphing

A Restructuring For Linden Lab

by Honored Resident M.Linden on ‎06-09-2010 01:13 PM

Dear Residents of Second Life,

Earlier today, we announced the undertaking of a significant restructuring of Linden Lab. (Read the press release for details.) Though the company remains in a solid financial position, it has become clear that we need to make some hard decisions in order to bring current and future Residents the kind of product and experience we feel they deserve. After three years of intensive hiring, we've come to a place where it's important that we reorganize our teams and find a renewed level of discipline and momentum as we move forward.


Our restructuring plan has three main goals:

  • to improve our focus as a company on the projects that matter most to Residents
  • to simplify our organizational structure and operate more efficiently
  • to achieve cost savings so that we can invest in platform improvements, new products, and new lines of business.

Reorganization in a company the size of Linden Lab is never easy, and this restructuring will result in the loss of a number of jobs, at all levels of the organization. None of these cuts are easy for us to make. I am extremely proud of the team we've assembled in recent years, and am not happy to have to say goodbye to any of them. But as an organization, we need to become more focused and more efficient, and this is the path we've chosen to meet those goals.

Linden Lab remains a great business. We have a strong balance sheet, and our revenue will reach record levels this year. The inworld economy continues its solid growth as Resident creators of great content and experiences do what they do best, and new Residents continue to join the phenomenon we know as Second Life. Here at the Lab, I'm concentrating on our reorganization. In coming weeks, I'll blog more about our focus for the remainder of the year. For today, I'm sorry to have to bid farewell to some great employees, but I'm also looking forward to what the newly streamlined company will be able to bring to our Residents in the months ahead.

Thank you,

M Linden

As I mentioned in the Q1 2010 Economy Blog Post, we're inaugurating a new regular featured post that we will share with you each quarter. While the economy blog post generally looks backward at the quarter just past, the Coming Soon post will look forward to the months ahead, and highlight some of the coming product releases. Just as M Linden kicked off 2010 with an outline of the year in his New Year's Day post, we want to keep the information flowing. 

Our intent with the Coming Soon posts is to:

  • provide Residents with early notice of changes we're planning to the Second Life platform and experience 
  • provide inworld businesses with an opportunity to see what's ahead and prepare
  • provide a regular forum where we can discuss what is coming down the pike

The Coming Soon posts will attempt to cover the most important product and feature developments that are on our near- to mid-term roadmap, although we won't always be able to share every aspect of every project, and we'll sometimes need to leave details to the official announcements. Instead, this post is meant give a general sense of the direction Linden Lab will be taking in the months ahead. As we develop new products, we will work with stakeholders as early as possible, then expand into beta tests, then broadly communicate about what we have planned via these posts.

Why Now?
Coming Soon posts are being inaugurated now for a number of reasons. The first is that we have lots of good things in the pipeline, so we're excited to share what's coming. The second is that we've received a lot of requests to share information about what we are going to ship. The third is that we are starting to innovate on shorter cycles, so we've decided to pick a regular time in the quarter (roughly 3-4 weeks after the close of the previous quarter) to share what we know. The final reason is that, as we get to be a bigger company, with lots of folks working on different parts of Second Life, our old model of sharing information mainly through Office Hours or inworld conversations is not meeting the need that the broad base of Second Life Residents have for information. Transparency has always been a fundamental value of Linden Lab, so we're making this a regular quarterly feature.

So What Is Coming?
There are lot of new products and features that we anticipate in in the next few months. While nothing is ever written in stone (or, where Second Life is concerned, prims and textures), the following are some of the things we are working on. There will of course be projects we won't mention here -- and in some cases there may be projects we mention here that don't end up shipping, for one reason or another. Our goal is to share with you what we know at the moment, in the hopes it will improve your experience of Second Life, and to update you regularly as to any changes. So here goes:

Second Life Marketplace Beta (Xstreet Redesign)
This summer will see the beta launch of a redesigned XstreetSL marketplace on a new technical platform. To be known as the SL Marketplace, the beta will feature a new look and feel, more in line with www.secondlife.com. More importantly, the SL Marketplace will have many new features for merchants and shoppers alike. The Commerce team is very excited to bring these new capabilities to Residents. For more information, read today's blog post announcing the new marketplace.

Viewer 2.1
The Viewer team is already hard at work on the Viewer 2.1 release, which we anticipate will arrive mid-summer. Built on the Viewer 2 foundation, this new release is focused on increasing performance and stability, tweaking the usability of Viewer 2 based on Resident feedback, and introducing a few new features, mostly around sharing and social tools for Residents. Suffice to say that the team has been incorporating feedback from a variety of Residents, and we're hopeful that we'll make good progress with the 2.1 release. Those of you who want to follow the release as it evolves can watch the open-source drops, as we'll be doing as much of the development as we can in the open branch of the viewer. (More info on how do that here.) The viewer team is making good progress and will be posting more detail about Viewer 2.1 in the next few days.

Search
We heard your feedback on Search in Viewer 2 loud and clear! We'll be introducing many incremental changes to Search in the months ahead. We are focusing on Land and Event search first, as well as back-end upgrades to improve speed and relevance.

Mesh Public Beta
We're happy to announce that we anticipate launching a beta test of mesh imports in Q2 2010. While we've publicly announced that bringing files into Second Life from standard authoring tools like Maya, 3D Studio Max, and others is on our roadmap for 2010, we're pleased to be able to put it in Residents' hands sooner rather than later. The beta will likely be limited to the Beta Grid, and to a special beta version of the viewer, but this is a very exciting development. This capability is a dramatic advance for Second Life content creators, as it opens up the door to more tools, more content, and more builders. We are very conscious of the potential issues around this capability, such as its impact on performance, the impact on current inworld businesses, and the large amount of content outside of Second Life that will be making its way into Second Life, and we're working hard to make sure that none of those issues will be showstoppers. Mesh has been in private beta since the beginning of the year, which has provided us with a great deal of valuable feedback, and we're super excited to take this next step. Stay tuned for more details from the Content Tools team in the next few weeks.

Relaunch of Avatars United
We acquired Avatars United in Q1, and since then the Avatars United team has been hard at work building up the scalability and feature set of the site. Our ultimate goal is for Avatars United to function as a set of social tools for Residents, including Web-based profiles for Second Life avatars and Second Life groups, and tighter integration between the site and the Viewer, and between the site and secondlife.com. Because the social experience is so critical to Second Life, we plan to launch a new, beta version of Avatars United, and ask for your feedback as we evolve that part of the service over the following quarters. We would like to see the site become a social hub for Second Life users, but we want to know your thoughts about lots of topics: what information you want to share (and not share), features you'd like to see (and wouldn't), and concerns you might have about privacy or the promotional tools of Avatars United. We hope to launch this new beta test of Avatars United by the summer.

Havok 7 and Server 1.40
Server 1.40 is primarily going to roll out the Havok 7 Physics Engine. The Havok 7 engine will provide some nice performance enhancements, but the work is foundational as we look ahead into later in 2010 and 2011. Also in Server 1.40 are web services that will make the integration between the Second Life Marketplace and the inworld Second Life experience smoother than it is at the moment. We anticipate shipping Server 1.40 by summer.

And More!
We anticipate releasing many other good things this summer, many of which deserve their own blog posts and more detail than we have room for here, so watch the Second Life blog for future developments.

We'll do our best to answer any questions you may have about the roadmap and features we've detailed in this post. Please join us in the discussion thread below, and use the #sl hashtag to spread the news on your favorite social networks.
Discussion.png

Q2 Coming Soon

by Linden on ‎05-03-2010 11:56 AM

Read T Linden's Q2 post on what's coming soon for Second Life, and let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

Highlights for the Quarter
The Second Life economy kicked off 2010 with strength in many key indicators in Q1.       
  • User-to-User Transactions totaled US$160 million, a 30% increase year-to-year and an all-time high
  • Total Sales on Xstreet reached US$2.3 million, an 82% increase year-to-year and a 24% increase over the previous quarter
  • Total L$ exchanged on the LindeX totaled US$31 million, a 9% increase year-to-year
  • Residents active in the Economy reached 517,349 in March, a 2010 high
  • Monthly Unique Users with Repeat Logins peaked in March at 826,214, a 13% increase year-to-year and an all-time high
Second Life continues to be the largest user-generated virtual economy in the world, and as we reported in our 2009 year-end economy blog post, reached US$567 million in user-to-user transactions in 2009, with gross resident earnings of US$55 million. The scale and continued growth of Second Life are a highlight in a quarter which saw the closure of a few longstanding companies in the virtual world space. We wish the customers and employees of those companies well.

Drivers of the Economy in Q1 2010
Strength in the Second Life economy in Q1 2010 was the result of:
  1. The creativity and energy of Second Life merchants, estates, and businesses, particularly around seasonal holidays, such as Valentine's day, and cultural events such as the release of the movie Avatar
  2. Linden Lab investments, primarily in new user acquisition via affiliates and search engine marketing
  3. Winter seasonality
A Strong Valentines Day
This year, February 14th (Valentine's Day) marked the highest ever single-day sales on the Xstreet marketplace, with Valentine's Day sales about 50% higher than the 30-day trailing average, and 28% higher than the previous all-time high (reached on December 24th, 2009). Even though Xstreet only represents a portion of the inworld economy, it's a reasonable proxy for the economy as a whole. The outpouring of new virtual items, fashion, events, and gifts around Valentine's Day is a testament to the richness of Second Life and the passion of Second Life Residents.

The James Cameron Effect
The popularity of the world-wide blockbuster movie Avatar had a positive impact on the quarter. The movie made the concept of an avatar understood around the world, and introduced the word "avatar" into common usage. In addition, the success of the 3D effects in the film, supported by the advent of 3D televisions and the increase in theatrical venues and releases capable of displaying 3D content, have created a halo effect around 3D immersion. As a result, searches and organic traffic to Second Life web properties increased in the quarter.

Attracting new Residents
In Q1, Linden Lab took incremental steps toward spending to promote Second Life to potential Residents. In Q1, we started to test various strategies, including search advertising (primarily with Google), affiliate programs (where partners and Residents can earn affiliate fees for driving qualified traffic to Second Life), display and video advertising (on YouTube and other properties), as well as email activation and engagement campaigns. While the amount of money spent by Linden Lab on marketing in Q1 was relatively small, it was a key driver of the increase in Monthly Repeat Logins (see chart below) to 826,000.

Experience Investments
We also invested in a few key parts of the experience in order to drive greater engagement in the economy by all Second Life Residents. In March, the introduction of the ability for purchasers to easily transfer in-world Linden Dollars to Xstreet and the Linden Dollar balance merge on Xstreet had a significant impact. Daily Xstreet sales jumped approximately 25% immediately after the introduction of easier methods for Residents to access their Linden Dollar balances. A portion of the jump in LindeX activity was also a result of these changes.

The introduction of Linden Homes drove an increase in the number of premium subscribers, both from new Residents, and existing Residents, many of whom reactivated their premium subscriptions in the quarter. Linden Homes also drove Xstreet sales, as Linden Home owners purchased items to decorate their homes, such as furniture themed to match their Linden Home and media players. (For a closer look, browse Linden Home themed items.)

Our investments in infrastructure also continued in Q1. In Q1, we migrated our data center from San Francisco to Dallas, increasing reliability and reducing latency. At the same time we moved our most critical MySQL database to the latest generation of server hardware. These investments will result in greater uptime and improved performance.

The introduction of Viewer 2 in public beta did not have a meaningful impact on the Second Life economy in Q1 2010, though we will drill down on the impact of Viewer 2 and the investments in the New User Experience in the Q2 2010 economy post.


Winter Seasonality
While seasonality is hard to quantify precisely, fewer daylight hours and colder weather in Q1 have in the past been contributors to longer session times and increased activity in the northern hemisphere. We observed this phenomenon in Q1 2009 as well.

Looking ahead to Q2 2010
As we look ahead to Q2, we anticipate that continued stability in the Second Life economy, bolstered by Linden Lab's promotional efforts and experience investments, will result in continued expansion of the Second Life economy. Over the course of Q2, we will be closely monitoring the behavior of Viewer 2 adopters to understand if their economic activity is different from what we've seen before. We do anticipate that the changes in Xstreet will have some effect on our overall numbers, as certain transactions that were previously classified as Resident activity will now be counted as Linden activity, and therefore removed from the overall numbers. You can also expect to hear more soon about the new products and developments we have in store for the rest of the quarter, as we work to give you information you can use to help keep your business stable as our experience evolves.

Evolving how we report on the economy

As we mentioned in the 2009 end of year wrap up, we are evolving our format for reporting on the Second Life economy. Based on your feedback, we added new metrics such as the overall world size, number of Residents participating in the economy, and total Linden dollars held by residents. We have organized the report into sections for the overall economy, a quarterly Spotlight to cover topics of interest, land metrics, and usage and stability. In addition, key indicators (such as the Xstreet gross sales) will be reported in US dollar equivalents* for consistency.

Over the course of this year, we will be continuing to evolve our reporting on the economy, with a greater emphasis on context and analysis. In order to inform the changes we'll be making, we would like to get your feedback on what information is most valuable to Residents. Please join us in the discussion thread to discuss the results and to let us know what you would like us to report on in each quarterly post.

With that, let's dive into the metrics for Q1 2010:

Key Indicators

Total User-to-User Transactions Reach US$160M, up 30% From Q1 2009 - The total of all transactions in Second Life reached a new high in the quarter. The sum of all L$-denominated transactions between all participants in the Second Life economy equaled a total value of US$160 million, a 4% increase over Q4 2009, and a 30% increase over Q1 2009. The increasing sequential growth rate in the first quarter is a function of new user acquisition, seasonal strength, and Xstreet growth.

The total User-to-User Transactions figure is our most relevant metric for the expansion of activity in the Second Life economy. While there are factors which could affect the precision of this number, such as payments between alt accounts, or scripted payments between objects, it has been measured in the same manner in every period and is checked for extremely large transactions and high volumes of similar transactions in an attempt to validate the number. We feel it is most appropriate as a measure of the growth and dynamism of the Second Life economy relative to previous quarters.

01usertouser.jpg

Total Xstreet Sales Jump in Q1 2010 - Xstreet, the web marketplace for Second Life virtual goods, had total gross sales of US$2.3 million in Q1. This metric represents the total US dollar value of all goods and services exchanged between Residents on the Xstreet marketplace. This represents 24% growth from Q4 2009 and 82% growth from Q1 2009.

Xstreet sales jumped dramatically in the quarter with the March introduction of the ability for purchasers to access their inworld Linden dollar balances via the option to transfer inworld Linden dollars to Xstreet and the Linden Dollar balance merge.

02quarterlyxstreetsales.jpg

Trading Activity on the LindeX Reaches a New All-Time High of US$31M - The value of all Linden dollars exchanged in Q1 2010  on the LindeX, the marketplace for Linden dollars (L$), reached US$31 million. This is 5% growth compared to the previous quarter and 9% growth over the same quarter a year ago.

03currencyexchanged.jpg

Residents Participating in the Economy - In March 2010, 517,349 unique Residents were active in the Second Life Economy, representing a 6% increase from Q4 2009 and a 13% increase from Q1 2009. This metric counts all unique accounts that paid, transferred, or gave Linden dollars during the month. The February dip seen in the chart below is a function of the 28-day month, and can be observed in 2009 and 2008 as well. The June 2009 spike is correlated to the dramatic rise in popularity of the Sion Chicken in that month.

04residenstspending.jpg

Linden dollars (L$) Held by Residents  - At the end of Q1 2010, nearly L$7 billion were held in Resident Accounts**. This metric represents the total spending power of Residents who hold Linden dollar balances in the Second Life economy.  Using the average exchange rate between Linden dollars and US dollars, this means over US$26 million was available to be spent on goods and services in Second Life. This metric measures the "money supply" available to participants in the Second Life economy.

This number is flat compared to Q4 2009, and an 18% increase compared to Q1 2009. Multiple factors contributed to the flat balances of Linden dollars held by Residents compared to Q4 2009, notably the merging of Linden dollar balances on Xstreet, increased direct Linden dollar sales on Xstreet as part of item purchases, and increased Linden dollar sinks on Xstreet in Q1. See the Spotlight below for a discussion of economic sinks and sources in Second Life.
05lindendollarsheld.jpg

Spotlight

Sinks and Sources and a Stable Linden dollars Exchange Rate

This quarter's Spotlight is intended to explicate the importance of Linden dollar sinks and sources to the Second Life economy. The goals of sinks and sources in the Second Life economy is to ensure a stable exchange rate.

Like most currencies, the exchange rate for the Linden dollar "floats" on the LindeX: it moves as the supply and demand for Linden dollars moves. However, a stable exchange rate is critical to a stable economy; inflation and deflation, left unchecked, could wreak havoc on the pricing of virtual items and the purchasing power of a Resident's Linden dollar balance. For the casual Resident, who may have only a few hundred Linden dollars in his/her Second Life account, most moves in the exchange rate are inconsequential. But for business owners in Second Life, who may have Linden dollar balances worth hundreds or thousands of US dollars, even a small change could be a cause for concern.

The below graph shows the Linden dollar exchange rate on the LindeX for the last 90 days. As you can see, the Linden dollar trades within a narrow range and is very stable.

06lindex.jpg


Linden Lab has a number of systems and processes in place to maintain a stable exchange rate and, as a result, a stable economy. One system is the automatic circuit breakers that halt trading should the exchange rate move more than 10% in any 12 hour period.

But the most important lever is the management of the overall money supply. The exchange rate of a currency is a function of supply and demand. Too much supply, and the value of that currency declines. Too little supply, or too much demand, and the value of that currency can skyrocket. While that is a bit simplistic, it captures an important dynamic in the Second Life economy, which is that the overall money supply (reported above as the Total Linden dollars held by Residents) is tied to the exchange rate between US dollars and Linden dollars.

So, how do we manage the money supply? Sinks and sources, of course.

"Sources" are sources of new Linden dollars. Sources represent L$ paid out to residents by Linden Lab. The single biggest source is stipends paid to Residents with premium accounts. These payments are one of the many perks of being a "premium" Resident. By regularly injecting L$ into the economy, Second Life Residents have more spending power and generate additional economic activity for the benefit of merchants, estates, and businesses. Sources increase the money supply, and exert a downward pressure on the exchange rate.

"Sinks" are L$ that are paid to Linden Lab from Resident accounts. Linden Lab does not resell these L$; they are simply removed from circulation. By removing L$ from the money supply, the L$ that remain in circulation rise in value. Some of the biggest sinks include payments for classified ads, forming a group, uploading textures, commissions on the LindeX and on Xstreet, and ads purchased on Xstreet. Sinks decrease the money supply, and exert an upward pressure on the exchange rate.

For the most part, sinks and sources are driven by Resident activity, not by Linden Lab. For example the number of textures uploaded, the desire of Residents to promote their business (via classifieds, group creation fees, and the like) -- all of which are sinks --  are the sum of decisions taken by the hundreds of thousands of Second Life Residents each month.

But there is one lever we do use to manage the exchange rate: the sales of Linden dollars by Linden Lab. These are effectively new Linden dollars that are sourced and placed into circulation. The vast majority of the Linden dollars on the LindeX are bought and sold between Residents. Linden Lab only sells new Linden dollars when the demand for Linden dollars is greater than the supply. That is, if there are not enough Residents willing to sell their Linden dollars to other Residents, Linden Lab steps in to make sure that the price of Linden dollars does not climb so high that it becomes a barrier to more people participating in the economy.

All of that seems fairly simple, and it is. But the money supply (see the metric above for "Linden dollars held by Residents") is fairly sensitive to changes. And the US$9-10 million of Linden dollars that is exchanged each month on the LindeX is especially sensitive to the flow of sinks and sources. Too many sources, and the value of the Linden dollar will drop, devaluing Residents' currency holdings. Too many sinks, and the value of the Linden dollar will climb. If the price of a bundle of Linden dollar was to climb too high, it could reduce the number for new participants in the economy.

The first quarter saw two significant changes that affected the dynamics of the Second Life economy. One was the dramatic increase in Linden dollars sourced as stipends due to the growth in premium subscribers as a result of the success of Linden Homes.

The second was the change in the relationship between the broader Second Life economy and sales on Xstreet. Before the changes, the Second Life and Xstreet markets operated relatively independently. However, with the tighter integration between the two, the dynamic has shifted -- and as the volume of activity on Xstreet grows, the commissions, ad purchases, and other sinks on Xstreet will have an increased impact on the economy, one that we'll be monitoring carefully.


Our overall goal is to create a stable exchange rate, and in so doing, a stable economy. As the changes we made at the end of Q1 start to take effect in Q2, and as we make additional changes in coming months, we will need to manage sinks and sources carefully.

Land Metrics

Total World Size Expands to 2,073 Square Kilometers - In Q1 2010, Resident-owned land, including Homesteads, Full Regions, and Open Spaces, as well as Resident-owned mainland, reached 1,903 square kilometers. Total world size grew 5% over Q4 2009 and 15% increase over the same quarter one year ago, to a total 2,073 square kilometers. Linden Homes, which launched in Q1 2010, drove the amount of Linden-owned land up to 170 square kilometers.

New Homestead sales and the rapid uptake of Linden Homes were the primary drivers of expansion in Q1 2010. In Q2, we expect that total world size will surpass the previous high-water mark, set in Q3 2008, which followed the introduction of Open Spaces in May of 2008.

07worldsize.jpg

Usage and Stability
Monthly Unique Users with Repeat Logins Reaches 826,214 in March - This metric captures the number of returning Residents in a month (i.e., Residents not new to Second Life that month).  This number is calculated by subtracting the number of Residents who logged in for the first time during a month from the total number of unique logins in that month. This represents 7% growth over the high set in Q4 2009, and 13% growth over March 2009. Growth in this metric in Q1 is a result of our investments in user acquisition via search and affiliates, increased focus on engagement email campaigns, and increased search activity driven by the movie Avatar.

08repeatlogins.jpg

User Hours Reached 116 Million in Q1 2010 - Q1 reversed the two-quarter trend of declining user hours. Second Life Residents spent 116 million user hours logged into Second Life in Q1 2010, representing 3% increase over Q4 2009 and a 6% decline from Q1 2009. Declining user hours are a function of policies introduced in Q2 2009 aimed at reducing the usage of scripted agents (bots) to influence search results. See the Q2 2009 Economy Blog post for an explanation of the impact of reduced bots on user hours.
09userhoursperquarter.jpg

Peak Concurrent Users Hit 81,156 in Q1 2010 - Within the quarter, peak concurrency was steady around the 80,000 mark. This represents a 5% increase over Q4 2009 and an 8% decrease from Q1 2009. Like user hours, downward pressure on concurrency is driven by the policy that resulted in a reduction in the usage of bots in May 2009.

10peakconcurrency.jpg

Minutes on the Second Life Voice Network in Q1 2009 - Total minutes of use the Second Life voice network reached  about 3.2 billion in Q1 2010. This is an increase of 4% compared to Q1 2009 and an increase of 3% compared to Q4 2009.

This metric measures all minutes of use across all types of voice sessions: Resident-to-Resident calls, group voice chats, and local, proximate voice channels. Minutes of use are counted when a Second Life client is connected to any kind of voice channel, but not necessarily speaking.

Resident-to-Resident calls and group voice calls are relatively straightforward to count for minutes of use. However, local, proximate voice usage results in minutes of use being counted for all users connected to a voice channel and proximate to an active speaker. This means that minutes of use are counted for all Residents who are nearby a speaker, even if only a single person is speaking.

For example, if 30 people in a single region (with voice dots active) are listening to one person talk for 1 minute, that counts as 30 minutes of use. This is similar to how conference calling service providers and VOIP providers measure minutes of use. As a result, there is a multiplier effect from multiple users listening to single speaker, or in a crowded region, when users are not necessarily part of a conversation but are connected to a voice channel, simply because they are near to an active speaker.

Second Life is unique in that joining a proximate voice channel is a function of distance from a speaker in a voice-enabled region, not a directed action like joining a conference call with the intent to listen to a speaker.

11voice.jpg

Continued Stability Supports the Inworld Economy - Our work on scalability and stability continued in Q1 2010 (see the Grid Stability Update for March). In Q1 2010, total downtime as a percentage of total user hours was 0.22%, slightly worse than Q4 2009's 0.18%. The increase in downtime was the result of planned downtime related to migration of core systems from a single San Francisco colocation facility to a more reliable and scalable network of colocation facilities.

We measure total user hours lost to downtime (planned and unplanned) as a percentage of total user hours as a gauge of the impact of stability on the economy. Because this metric includes planned and unplanned downtime, it is key to understanding the total user hours that are available for economic activity in Second Life. We use this metric because an outage on Sunday at noon when concurrency is at its peak does not have the same impact on the economy as an outage Tuesday night at midnight when concurrency is at its lowest.

12downtime.jpg

A Solid Q1 for the Second Life Economy - In sum, we're very pleased with the performance of the Second Life economy in Q1. As we continue to evolve the Second Life experience, we will work hard to insure stability in the Second Life economy going forward.

Give Us Your Feedback -
We are eager to hear what information and analysis you would like to see about the Second Life economy that would help your business. Let us know by joining us in the discussion thread below.

Thank you -  We owe a thank you to all Second Life Residents – the merchants, creators, builders, shoppers, educators, enterprises, businesses, estate owners, and many others.  Without you, Second Life would not be the rich and wonderful place that it is.

Notes:
*All L$ to USD calculations in this post use the average exchange rate of L$262 to US$1.

**Linden Dollars held in resident accounts counts all Linden dollars in circulation, excepting L$ held in Linden accounts, such as those used for administrative and functional purposes on the LindeX and Xstreet.

Discuss the Q1 2010 Economic Results

by Honored Resident T.Linden on ‎04-28-2010 09:25 AM

We are happy to announce this morning that the Second Life economy hit a new all-time high in the first quarter of 2010. Read the blog post with the full results, and share your thoughts with us here.

Moving data from document form to this Thread for easer access to people unable to read XLS format.


COUNTRY    USER HOURS
United States             48,741,401
Germany                   10,228,150
United Kingdom         8,154,332
France                       5,521,451
Brazil                          5,330,159
Japan                         5,061,794
Canada                      4,494,711
Italy                             4,314,643
Netherlands                3,723,998
Spain                             3,285,195
Australia                        2,377,603
Portugal                        1,109,248
Belgium                        1,050,804
Argentina                   779,883
Mexico                        730,951
Turkey                        708,514
Poland                        704,857
Switzerland                   704,314
Greece                        613,128
Romania                        600,299
Sweden                        573,032
Denmark                   563,421
Austria                        497,364
New Zealand                   366,478
Russia                       313,104
Venezuela                   289,750
Norway                        287,394
China                        287,288
Czech Republic         262,353
Philippines              250,284
Ireland                   237,803
Israel                        231,863
Colombia                   226,402
Finland                   216,166
Korea South         208,908
Saudi Arabia           208,478
Slovenia                   203,630
Peru                   199,240
Puerto Rico         190,653
Chile                   182,977
India                   177,704
Singapore              174,923
Egypt                   171,605
Taiwan                  158,004
Croatia              129,424
Thailand              124,727
Hungary                   118,451
Malaysia                  97,422
Hong Kong              88,327
Bulgaria                   76,809
Ukraine                        74,750
United Arab Emirates    72,601
Albania                        71,069
South Africa              69,813
Russian Federation    67,158
Bahamas                   65,442
Algeria                        64,821
Andorra                        61,419
Costa Rica                   58,354
Serbia                        57,793
Aruba                        53,845
Afghanistan              53,772
Slovakia                   53,468
Barbados                   53,313
Luxembourg              52,376
Armenia                   51,003
Angola                   48,828
Indonesia              48,515
Belarus                   47,392
American Samoa    46,681
Uruguay                   45,752
Estonia                   43,295
Kuwait                   42,095
Pakistan                   40,276
Antarctica                   37,771
Dominican Republic    37,365
Bahrain                        36,863
Belize                        34,820
Morocco                   34,683
Bolivia                   34,347
Lithuania              33,390
Anguilla                        32,511
Iceland                        32,212
Latvia                        31,860
Bosnia-Herzegovina    31,314
Ecuador                       30,484
Jamaica                        28,734
Tunisia                        27,841
Antigua and Barbuda    27,412
Malta                             26,049
Qatar                             25,695
Bangladesh                   25,144
Netherland Antilles         25,029
Jordan                        24,543
Cyprus                        23,817
Bermuda                        21,671
El Salvador                   21,505
Panama                   21,478
Azerbaidjan              20,608
Uganda                   20,539
Reunion                   18,791
Georgia                   17,252
Cuba                   15,940
Guadeloupe              15,504
Gibraltar                   14,817
Guatemala              14,789
Martinique              13,499
Vietnam                   13,123
Lebanon                   12,642
Democratic Republic of the Congo    12,526
Cayman Islands              12,000
Fiji                             11,383
Mauritius                        11,306
Cambodia                   11,164
Trinidad & Tobago    11,127
Honduras                   10,507
French Polynesia    10,397
Paraguay                   10,314
Brunei Darussalam    9,947
Macedonia                   9,850
Senegal                   9,591
Benin                   9,413
Botswana              9,410
Bhutan                   8,849
Guam                   8,731
Saint Lucia         8,620
Macau              8,166
Nicaragua             8,106
New Caledonia         7,935
Cape Verde              7,892
Sri Lanka                  7,505
Swaziland              7,238
Oman                   7,052
Zimbabwe              6,820
Moldova              6,717
Bouvet Island         6,682
Burundi                  6,436
Falkland Islands         6,058
French Southern Terr.    6,057
Syria                        5,816
Monaco                   5,730
Zambia                   5,564
Suriname                   5,512
Cote d'Ivoire                   5,481
Maldives                  5,389
Kenya                  5,239
Kazakhstan              5,202
Congo                   5,162
Christmas Island    5,145
Haiti                        5,102
Cameroon                   5,079
Nigeria                        5,054
Laos                        4,773
Guyana                   4,768
Iran                        4,766
Vanuatu                  4,402
Liechtenstein              4,355
Uzbekistan                   4,291
Korea North                   4,087
Vatican City State              3,987
Faroe Islands                   3,880
Chad                                 3,804
Madagascar                   3,645
Nepal                             3,408
Iraq                             3,370
Greenland                   3,294
Ghana                        3,165
Gabon                       3,149
Cook Islands              3,021
Yugoslavia                   3,013
Yemen                        3,009
San Marino                   2,765
Netherlands Antilles    2,729
Mozambique              2,709
Burkina Faso              2,640
Djibouti                        2,625
Libya                        2,595
Mali                        2,589
Papua New Guinea    2,502
Grenada                   2,469
St. Helena                   2,463
Sudan                        2,360
Samoa                             2,351
St.Vincent & Grenadines    2,347
Micronesia                        2,267
Namibia                        2,110
Tanzania                            2,055
Pitcairn                        2,044
Ethiopia                        2,009
Europe                        1,926
Rwanda                        1,771
Tonga                        1,639
Western Sahara         1,581
Tuvalu                   1,572
Malawi                   1,562
Mauritania              1,418
Virgin Islands, U.S.    1,313
Central African Republic    1,306
Montserrat                   1,286
Marshall Islands    1,243
Comoros              1,228
Sierra Leone              1,211
Sao Tome and Principe    1,177
Norfolk Island                   1,168
Seychelles                        1,146
Kiribati                       1,070
Nauru                        916
Togo                        908
Cocos Islands              895
Bosnia and Herzegovina    885
Gambia                             877
Niger                             871
Turks & Caicos Islands    866
East Timor                   848
Tajikistan                        829
Turkmenistan                   756
Equatorial Guinea              715
Wallis and Futuna Islands    706
Solomon Islands                   664
Somalia                                  525
St. Pierre & Miquelon    494
Tokelau                             452
Myanmar                             378
Serbia and Montenegro    332
Niue                                  289
Kyrgyzstan                   264
Mongolia                        254
Trinidad and Tobago    190
Liberia                        184
Anonymous Proxy    149
Palestinian Territory    133
Guinea                        125
Satellite Provider    103
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya    98
Palau                                  81
Lesotho                             70
Northern Mariana Islands    69
Svalbard & Jan Mayen Island    65
Cote DIvoire                             45
Saint Kitts and Nevis              41
French Guiana                        11
Iran, Islamic Republic of        10
Moldova, Republic of              8
Azerbaijan                             4
Kazachstan                        2
Virgin Islands, British         1
Asia/Pacific Region              1
Dominica                                  0
Tanzania, United Republic of    0
Turks and Caicos Islands              0
Lao Peoples Democratic Republic    0
Guinea Bissau                                  0

One of the things we've been working hard on here at Linden Lab, as M pointed out in his  New Year post, is the new Resident experience in Second Life.

Today, we're proud to announce an important step forward as we continue to improve the welcome experience for new Residents; it's a more streamlined introduction to our online world, one that is simple, linear, and integrated with Viewer 2. Our primary goal is to make Second Life more welcoming for new Residents, because more new Residents means more opportunity for merchants, landowners, creators--and for the whole ecosystem that is Second Life. However, Viewer 2 isn't just for new Residents. It also delivers a better, more intuitive user experience for all of us and gives everyone in Second Life the capability to integrate web-based media seamlessly into Second Life--a huge leap forward. And, what may not be immediately apparent--but equally  important--it provides us a robust and flexible platform to build on; we have much more goodness planned to roll out in 2010 and beyond.

The  key improvements are:

  • Second Life Welcome Island and Second Life Discovery Island: Welcome Island teaches new users basic Second Life skills in about 10 minutes, while  Discovery Island helps Residents learn about starter experiences in Second Life.
  • New Starter Avatars: Now, Residents can choose from a new line of starter avatars that reflects a diverse range of designs and cultures of Second Life communities around the world. We used the data from the current selection of avatars to help inform our designs.
  • Updated Terms of Service: Just as the community and  Second Life itself changes and evolves, so must the basic rules that govern Second Life. Today, we've announced some important updates to the Second Life Terms of Service that we encourage you to read and understand.
  • Updated Maturity Ratings: We updated the maturity ratings in Second Life to clarify the differences between the three ratings and make the names easier to understand for our international Residents.
  • Second Life Viewer 2 in Registration Flow: The new  viewer is now a part of the default download for new users when they create a new account. Viewer 2 is now out of beta and joins Viewer 1.23 and other approved third-party viewers as an option for all Residents. Viewer 2 also includes Shared Media, the ability to easily incorporate standard web-based media and content in Second Life enabling content creators to make more compelling, interactive experiences.


Of course, we are are also working hard to continue to improve other capabilities such as:
Second Life Search to help Residents quickly find relevant and interesting things to do and things to buy, Shared Media to allow Residents to easily bring web-based media inworld, and the information delivered in  the right-hand web-based sidebar. We've also recently created a more streamlined process for shopping on the XStreet  exchange with merged L$ accounts--very handy for XStreet shoppers.

Viewer 2 -  Why Now?
We launched Viewer 2 to existing Residents first, and your feedback, bugs, and comments helped us assess the stability and  performance of it "in the wild." Many thanks to everyone who downloaded the software and gave us feedback.

Existing Second Life Residents who adopted Viewer 2 had to relearn and adapt to the changes and, for some, the experience of Viewer 2 was liberating;  for others, it was confining. We recognize that for some Residents, the changes were too disorienting. For those Residents, Viewer 1.23 and third-party viewers may be the best choice. To that end, the Snowglobe, our open-source version of the latest version of Viewer 2, is also available today.

New  Second Life Residents will be using Viewer 2 for the first time, and so they will not have the experience of having to change everything that they have already learned. We have tested the Viewer 2 with new users (as well as experienced users), and we are confident that
the experience is smoother and more intuitive for new Residents using Viewer 2. We've optimized the support and discovery content, found in the right hand panel, and we've designed the first inworld experience to take advantage of new capabilities in Viewer 2. Based on this, and on feedback we received from the beta testers, we made the decision that Viewer 2 is ready for general availability. Viewer  2 is now the default viewer download for all new Second Life  Residents.

The Optional  Upgrade Notice on Your Login Page
To try Viewer 2, then just click on "Download Viewer 2" in the optional upgrade notice that appears in the upper right-hand corner of your Second Life login screen. Then, the software will automatically install. It's  important to note that Viewer 2 software will not replace the Viewer  1.23 software on your computer. Both Viewer 2 and Viewer 1.23 are available on the main download page.

What's  Next?
Viewer 2 is more of a beginning than an end.  The viewer team is already at work on the next release of Viewer 2, expected  mid-summer.  And since Search is a web application, we can continue to iterate and improve the search experience in advance of a new viewer  release. We will continue to collect feedback on changes and enhancements that you'd  like to see. We plan to release the next version of Viewer 2 in the coming months.


The  First Few Minutes

To inform our plans for the first few minutes in world, we surveyed new users, conducted tests, interviewed users who joined Second Life and then abandoned, and observed the behavior of new Residents. We also studied the many innovations introduced by Community Gateways and, by our partners in this effort, Ill Clan. From this work, we learned many lessons and best practices that we worked into our new orientation experience: Second Life Welcome Island.

The first point of feedback was that most new Residents didn't have the time or inclination to "figure out" what to do. Of course, the open-ended nature of Second Life is a key part of  what has made Second Life successful, but in those critical first few minutes, we need to make new Residents successful. In our new design, we focused on a linear flow, with clear tasks, and a simple set of interactions to learn the basic skills of Second Life.

A second comment we heard was, "I got to Second Life, walked around, but left because that's all there was." A significant portion of new Residents  didn't realize that there is more to Second Life than Help Island.  For those users, we focused on making the last step--in our linear  flow--about educating new Residents on the depth and breadth of Second  Life.

The third point of feedback related to the experience of being inworld for the first time. For many Residents, experiences and surprises were delightful and intriguing. But for other Residents, it highlighted a sense of jeopardy and perceived vulnerability stemming from a variety of sources ranging from a sense of unknown threats to unfamiliarity with basic tasks. To that end, we created an experience that is designed to be friendly, simple, and consistent. For example, many users commented that an "enclosed space" made them feel more comfortable and this feedback was integrated into the new orientation  design.

Once new Residents are through Welcome Island, they can then explore Second Life by teleporting to any destination or head over to Second Life Discovery Island. Discovery Island is like a Second Life exposition where we encourage users to explore a wide range of interesting starter experiences available to them. We have also designed spaces for Residents to begin to interact with each other, learn about shopping, Linden Homes, dancing, taking snapshots--all in the service of helping new Residents become more deeply immersed into Second Life.

Testing, Testing, Testing
During the month of February and March, we tested the new Welcome Island experience with a selection of new Residents. In an A/B test between new and old experiences, we've seen a substantial increase in the number of new Residents who teleport to a second location after going through the new  experience. We've also seen those same Residents go on to spend more  time inworld, more likely to make repeat visits, and more likely to participate in the economy.

One Small Step
We are far from done with the welcome experience for new Residents.  Welcome and Discovery Islands are designed and instrumented to help us  measure the flow of new Residents, and we will tune and adjust the experience as we go forward. Our next big effort will be to explore different ways of surfacing the richness and creativity of
Second Life Residents.

Thanks Go To...
The great team at Ill Clan have contributed mightily to the Welcome and Discovery Island  experience, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Another big thanks to Adam  & Eve, who designed our new starter avatars. And thanks to the  many Linden teams that worked on this release.

Download  Viewer 2 and Learn More

Throughout the next week, we'll be publishing more in-depth blog posts on Welcome Island, Discovery Island, the new standard avatars, and much more. Stay tuned for those.

In  the meantime,
go download the software and check out the resources to help you learn Viewer 2:

Ein  verbessertes Erlebnis für neue Einwohner

Inauguramos una experiencia mejorada para los nuevos residentes

Une nouvelle expérience pour les résidents

Un'esperienza migliore per i nuovi Residenti

新しい住人のSL体験を高める秘策を一挙公開

Lançamento da nova experiência aprimorada de residente

A  big thank you to everyone for your continued feedback and incredible response to the Viewer 2 Beta! Yesterday we released another update to the beta Viewer, and we hope you'll keep that  feedback coming. We're actively following your comments, ideas, and critiques in the Viewer 2 Beta Forum, PJIRA, and on Twitter (#SLViewer2). Your input is helping shape future Viewer releases and I want to personally thank you for your heartfelt and insightful feedback. If you haven't downloaded the latest update yet, you can do so from this link.

For more detail on this latest update  to the beta, here are a few highlights:

Bug Fixes

  • Upgraded the Vivox SDK 3.1.0001.8181 to address the three most common causes of voice  crashes
  • HUD attachment points no longer extend off screen with the right Side Bar is opened. (VWR-16967)
  • Voice notifications no longer steal keyboard focus by default. (VWR-17011)
  • llInstantMessage now sends messages to the correct places in nearby chat (VWR-16988)
  • 'Allow Media to auto-play' setting does not disable auto-play of music stream - Media streaming "enabled" check box, available in Preferences,  now functional (VWR-16985)
  • Notification position now takes UI size into account and notices should stay on screen (VWR-17074)
  • Viewer 2 frame rate has been improved (VWR-16976)


As always, if you would like to see additional details, then check out the updated Viewer 2 Beta Release Notes.

Resources to Help You Learn Viewer 2:

As you all know, on February 23rd we announced the release of the Viewer 2 Beta and the response from the community has been incredible. The feedback has been mixed, but most Residents agree that Viewer 2 is easier and more intuitive to use for a broader consumer audience--which was our primary design objective. Over the last few weeks, we have received hundreds of blog comments and Tweets (#SLViewer2), thousands of posts in the Viewer 2 Beta Forum, and many PJIRA submissions from folks who found bugs and officially logged them into our issue tracker. Your feedback, comments, and bug reports have been invaluable in helping us plan our Viewer 2 releases. Huge thanks to everyone who's downloaded Viewer 2 Beta and took the time to try it out and provide such thoughtful feedback.

Since launch, we've been hard at work identifying/fixing bugs, gathering new feature requests, and slotting them into the Viewer 2 road map. Today, I'm pleased to share with you the update of the Viewer 2 Beta. If you're running the previous Viewer 2 Beta, you'll be prompted to download this update when you next log into Second Life. If you would like to download the software directly, then here's the link. This latest beta version includes a number of critical bug fixes and a few minor user experience improvements. (And, if you're looking the updated open source viewer--Snowglobe 2--that includes the most recent Viewer 2 beta code, it will be available in the next few days.)

For those folks that want to know exactly what's new, here's a detailed list with a few highlights.
Many of these changes are the direct result from the feedback that we received from you over the last few weeks.

Usability Tweaks

  • Reintroduced "Inspect Object" (aka: see a list of creators/timestamps for all prims in a linkset). (VWR-16978)
  • Inventory panels will no longer auto-scroll during a search if mouse is over them. (VWR-17878)
  • Returned "Event Details" functionality.
  • Building grid has been returned to the easier-to-see white color.
  • Camera & Movement Control floaters position will persist across sessions.

Shared Media Updates

  • Ability to store Shared Media cookies per user instance rather than per Viewer. This is an important step towards addressing some security concerns. To read more about this, visit our Shared Media and Security blog post.
  • Media streaming "enabled" checkbox, available in Preferences, now functional. (VWR-16985)
  • Viewer 2 will not reveal media URLs when the URL is set to be hidden on land setttings. (VWR-16992)

Bug Fixes

  • Notification position now takes UI size into account and notices should stay on-screen (VWR-17074)
  • Tabs in the Tabbed Instant Messaging window now auto-focus the text field when clicked.
  • Click and hold the left mouse button and it will now let you browse tabbed IM floater.
  • Viewer 2 framerate has been improved. (VWR-16976)
  • Voice notifications no longer steal keyboard focus by default (VWR-17011)
  • HUD attachment points are now set correctly when extending the right UI panel. (VWR-16967)
  • Web views/links work correctly and no longer have links with spaces in them. (VWR-2933)
  • Instant Message now sends message to the correct place, not to "nearby chat" window. (VWR-16988)
  • IM window stays on the screen after right-hand side tray is open and closed.
  • My Landmarks search now auto-expands folders of found terms. (VWR-17156)
  • Standard wearables now work at first login.


We're working on more bug fixes and usability improvements that we'll be rolling out in weeks to come. So, keep the feedback coming in the Viewer 2 Forum! And Tweet to let us know what you think about the Viewer 2 update -- just use this hashtag: #SLViewer2.

As always, if you would like to see additional details, then check out the updated Viewer 2 Beta Release Notes.

Resources to Help You Learn Viewer 2:

Give us your thoughts about the MotD advertising trial offer.

For more information please see the original blog post and the offer description and guidelines page.

We often hear from inworld organizations and businesses that they need better ways to promote the great experiences, products and services that they offer to Residents. While working to improve other advertising channels in Second Life, such as Classifieds and XstreetSL, we've also been exploring how we can offer additional promotional opportunities that can reach Residents more broadly and effectively.

Advertise Your Business or Organization on Message of the Day
Message of the Day (MotD), that brief text message displayed below the progress bar while you're logging into Second Life, is one of the most visible communication channels in Second Life. It's carried by all official Linden Lab Viewers and some third party viewers. For years, Linden Lab has successfully used MotD to promote new products, such as Linden Homes, inworld events and other news items of broad interest to Residents. Last year, we also briefly allowed the big estates to advertise on MotD and the program successfully drove traffic to their websites. Now, as a limited-time trial, we're offering MotD promotional space to a test group of advertisers.

This is a Trial Offer
Starting today, we are offering qualified advertisers the opportunity to promote their inworld businesses and organizations using MotD, on a trial basis for about a month. Our goal is to gauge interest from advertisers and get feedback from Residents. We will be responsive to feedback, and the terms of the trial (such as price and duration) will be subject to change based on what we learn. If the trial is successful, then we will make it available to a broader group of advertisers. If the trial does not provide enough value to Residents, advertisers and Linden Lab, then we will revamp or discontinue it.

To start, we will only be accepting a small set of initial participants who meet all of our participation criteria (e.g. account in good standing) and who have a website for their inworld business or organization. In terms of process, potential advertisers will submit a form to Linden Lab that includes their draft MotD message and preferred time block. All messages will be carefully reviewed for adherence to our editorial guidelines. Upon publication, the message will include a link to the URL that they provide.

You can learn more about the cost and terms, and submit an ad request, from the offer description and guidelines on the SL Wiki. A few highlights:

  • MotD space will be sold in blocks of time.
  • Since this is a very high visibility communication channel, it is priced accordingly.
  • Validated nonprofits and educational institutions will receive a discount.
  • We'll begin scheduling ads once we've received a critical mass of requests. 

Your Concerns Are Our Concerns
Many of you will be as excited as we are to test this new, much requested, promotional channel. We also know that some of you may be concerned that advertising is going to "take over" Second Life. We share that concern, and it's not what any of us want. We have given this a lot of thought, and the terms and editorial guidelines are carefully designed to encourage quality MotD ads. If we decide to continue this offer after the test period, then we will consider adding refinements like better targeting by language or interests and the ability to opt-out of ads. We believe that additional features, along with good stewardship, can make advertising a benefit to advertisers that also enhances the Second Life experience for all Residents. For now, let me emphasize a few important things about the MotD trial offer:

  • We will always make it very clear which messages are from advertisers and which are from Linden Lab. Paid advertising will be marked with "Advertisement."
  • We've set up strict editorial guidelines and a review process to ensure that these promotional messages are engaging, helpful, and attractive to Residents.
  • If the program isn't successful -- based on advertiser results and Resident feedback -- then we'll modify or end the trial.

Learn More on the Second Life Wiki
If you would like to participate in this trial, then please read the
offer description, where you'll also find a link to submit your ad request. Additional information about this offer is also available to all in the FAQ.

Requests will be acted on in a first-come first-served basis, so send yours in now!

Give us your thoughts about the MotD advertising trial offer in this thread.


Check out Shared Media on YouTube

The Viewer 2 Beta is finally here, and with it comes a whole host of amazing improvements and  new features. There’s so much to be excited about that it’s impossible  (and unnecessary!) to pick a favorite. But -- if I really had to pick -- I’d  choose Shared Media, since I'm the Product Manager for Shared  Media. So, let me tell you about it.

Shared Media Brings the Web Into Second Life

Second Life Shared Media, a  new Viewer 2 capability, makes sharing  standard Web-based media in Second Life easy and seamless. It enables  content creators to make more compelling, interactive experiences.  Basically, Shared Media brings the Internet inworld.

For the more technically inclined, what this means is that you can now put media textures on any prim in Second Life.  More specifically, the viewer uses WebKit to create a fully interactive, dynamic texture from a Web URL.  This even includes support for Web-browser plug-ins, like the Adobe Flash Player. And, you can place dozens of them on the same region. (We still don't know what the upper  limits are. I'm sure that you'll let us know.)

A World  of New Experiences and Businesses Possible

By seamlessly integrating  the Web into Second Life, Shared Media unleashes a new wave of  creativity and new business opportunities. Imagine the richness of a SL store with interactive signs and displays. Think about Flash-based games, theaters, and innovative Web-based services appearing inworld. Display your Twitter feed on the front of your house! (Okay, don't.) Build a HUD to read your email  inworld.  Interact with walls that encourage graffiti or use your signature to sign guest books. Educators and their students can now interact in even more immersive classrooms. For the enterprise community, online collaboration tools (such as Google Docs, EtherPad, Webex, and Acrobat Web Connect) combine with the power of Second Life to make working inworld much easier and more powerful.

You're in Control of Shared Media

Viewer 2 introduces a new UI  for  controlling Shared Media. Shared Media authors have the option to  offer a  2D menu bar (similar to a browser-like URL bar) that will  appear in front of a Shared Media object when any Resident mouses over  it.  Also, a new Nearby Media control will enable Residents to more  easily control what media is allowed to play.

Web Skills Will Drive New Inworld Building  Techniques

There are also new Second Life build features for  Shared Media: assigning URLs to objects and faces, controlling  auto-play, auto-scale, size settings, etc. With Shared Media, SL  building now extends well beyond SL into the vast and varied skill set  of Web development. Suddenly, skills like PHP, SQL, ActionScript, Apache  and FMS can be used to create compelling inworld content. Flash and  Flash Media Server (FMS) become particularly useful tools for creating  animated, interactive Shared Media that can be kept in sync. Flash media  server hosting services, such as Influxis,  offer low-cost hosting.

Synchronicity is Content- and Context-Specific

Behind the scenes, Shared Media is different. Second Life always stays synchronized for all Residents. That is, the simulation takes place on our servers, and each person's viewer renders their perspective on that simulation -- everyone is looking at the same thing. Shared Media, on the other hand, can look different to different people -- sometimes. Everyone’s instance of the Shared Media is always  presenting the same URL. However, not everything will stay in perfect sync unless the content is specially designed to do that.  For example, a simple Web browsing session will keep the pages synchronized, but not the position of the scroll bars. We may both be looking at the same Web page on the same inworld object, but I might be looking at the top portion, while you might be viewing what's below the fold.

Consider a URL that doesn't  always serve the exact same page, perhaps a Web page that displays a random background color each time it loads. If an inworld object's surface displayed that page, I might see a green background while you might see a blue one. Even more striking: if an inworld object's surface was pointed at a site with user login like Gmail, you and I could both log into it, and we'd be looking at our own inboxes, not at each  other's.

What’s really cool is that sites that are specifically designed for synchronous collaboration, like EtherPad, for instance, will stay in perfect sync. So if it's the intention, it is possible to design content that uses a back-end server to stay perfectly synchronized in all cases.

In short,  synchronicity is content- and context-specific, making possible a world of new applications and interactions.

We Look Forward to Your  Feedback and Creations

With this release of Shared Media, we’re just at the starting  line; we need your feedback. Please post your thoughts and experiences on Shared Media to the Viewer 2 Beta Forums. And if you build cool stuff and want to share it with us for inclusion in a Shared Media Showcase, please let us know in comments.

Ok, enough reading about Shared Media. Go download Second Life Viewer 2, now in beta, and try it out!





Second Life Viewer 2 Beta, Now Available

by Honored Resident T.Linden on ‎02-23-2010 10:31 AM


Viewer 2 Beta Has Arrived
Today, we're excited to announce the launch of Viewer 2 Beta, the next generation of Second Life viewers -- combining an easy browser-like experience with
shared media capabilities -- providing what we believe is the best experience yet for accessing Second Life, and a new option to choose from among Viewer 1.23 and other Third Party Viewers. We looked carefully at the experience design of other successful social media and technology platforms--such as the web browser, Facebook, the iPhone, Twitter, etc.--and the key elements that enabled them to reach mass adoption. You'll see much of that thinking baked into new Viewer 2 experience design. Our primary goal was to create a more consumer-friendly viewer--an imperative to bring in a new wave of Second Life Residents. After all, more people in Second Life means that there will be more amazing content, more customers to purchase virtual goods, a thriving economy, more friends and communities, and we can do even more to improve the experience. All very good things for all of us.

Viewer 2 Introduces a More Intuitive User Experience
Viewer 2 has all of the capabilities of Viewer 1.23 and more; it has just been reorganized into a more intuitive user experience. In fact, it's chock full of cool features. Once you learn your way around, you'll definitely appreciate:

  • A browser-like navigation bar with forward and back buttons. You can even save favorites and review your teleport history.
  • A sliding right-hand panel that surfaces the most frequently-used features and makes managing your profile, contacts, groups, landmarks, inventory, and appearance easy.
  • Improved Search, powered by Google Search Appliance technology , makes it easier to find friends, places, and cool stuff to buy.
  • A superior alternative to invisiprims for non-human avatars. In Viewer 2, a new wearable type, called Alpha Masks, allow you to "mask out" parts of your base avatar to make entire body parts disappear.
  • And, you'll enjoy the new contextual help to help you acclimate to the new viewer experience.

Those are just a few highlights. There's much more! We'll be going into more depth on many of these features in future blog posts.

Viewer 2 Brings the Web Into Second Life

Yes, you heard that right. Shared Media™, a standard capability in Viewer 2, makes sharing standard Web-based media and content in Second Life easy, and enables content creators to make more compelling, interactive experiences. Content creators can now place Web pages, video, Flash content, and other web media, onto any surface in Second Life. We expect that Shared Media will inspire a creative renaissance in Second Life as Residents explore more immersive and integrated inworld experiences and business opportunities such as gaming or theaters. And, for enterprises using Second Life as a work environment, Shared Media allows everyone to more effectively collaborate and share documents. We'll be publishing a blog post tomorrow focused on Shared Media--so keep your eyes peeled for that.


It's the Little Things, Too
While much of the focus on the new viewer will be on the design and marquee features like Shared Media and Search,  there are lots of little improvements that should be sources of delight. Customization. Favorites. Inspectors. The right-hand panel. The notifications tray. The clickable names and SLurls in notifications. Icons for Residents. Outfits. Recent conversations. The notifications well. Clickable URLs. Selecting SLurls in the navigation tool bar. Global audio controls. Quick access to your audio preferences. Improved performance on the map. And, view controls with presets for over the shoulder and "What am I wearing?"

And a Lot Under the Hood
Search and the Home panel are web content. That means that we can continue to make updates to the content, design and interactions without forcing you to download a new version of the viewer. We believe that this will make a big difference for new users, because the content in that panel will help users discover the richness and depth of Second Life. Since it's web content, some of our recent acquisitions in the web space may soon be making an appearance--watch this space. We also focused on performance and stability. In fact, we believe this the most stable beta that we've ever released.

But, it's Still Beta
And that's why we're putting it into your hands now. So, put it through its paces, stress test it, and give us your feedback in the Viewer 2 Forum.

Getting Started
Viewer 2 is different enough from Viewer 1.23 and a few minutes perusing the Quickstart Guide will save you the frustration of "How do I do this?" or "Where is that?" Contextual support also available now within the viewer itself. If you're chomping at the bit to get going, then here are a few "high nails" that can help you get up-and-running quickly in Viewer 2.

A couple of features you may be looking for:

  • Camera Controls: Located on the Bottom Bar, labeled "View."
  • Voice Controls: The "Speak" button is now located right next to the nearby text chat entry field. Sound preferences can be set by clicking Me > Preferences in the menus at the top, then clicking the Sound tab.
  • Moving Around: Located on the Bottom Bar, labeled "Move."
  • Teleporting: You can teleport a number of ways:
    • Double-click a Landmark in the Places Panel in the Side Bar.
    • Type a Region or Landmark name in the location field in the Top Bar and hit enter.
    • Paste a SLurl into the location field and hit enter.


A few handy tasks:

  • Sharing Inventory: To share Inventory, start a Conversation (IM) with the person you to share an item. Click the "Share" button in the Conversation window which pops open the Inventory side panel. Then, drag the Inventory item over to the Conversation.
  • Pay L$ to Someone: There are two quick ways to do this: A) Right click on the person, then select "Pay" from the context menu. B) Click "Pay" in the Conversation window. The "Pay Resident" floater will appear. Choose the amount you wish to pay and then click "Pay."


But Where is My <Fill in the Blank>?
We tried to balance the needs of existing Residents with the general consumer, and made some dfficult choices like replacing pie menus with context list menus -- a broadly used design feature in most consumer software. If some of these changes are important to you, then the good news is that you still have choice.

The Choice is Yours
We celebrate and encourage viewer choice. When it ships in its final form, Viewer 2 will become the primary viewer, included in the registration flow for all new Second Life Residents, but there are many other third-party viewers based on Snowglobe, our open source viewer, that are designed for Residents that have specialized needs and requirements. Viewer 1.23 will continue to be available for the foreseeable future and we will continue to support it as long as it makes sense.

A Word about Third-Party Viewers
We're also announcing the Viewer Directory and the Policy on Third-Party Viewers. The Viewer Directory is a list of third-party viewers for Residents with specialized interests or viewing needs, such as languages that we do not support or additional navigation and accessibility features. To apply to add a viewer to the Viewer Directory, the software developer must be a Resident in good standing, and self-certify that the viewer complies with the Policy on Third-Party Viewers, which prohibits griefing, fraud, theft of passwords, and infringement of intellectual property.
It is important to note that we will not tolerate malicious viewers that violate our policies. Enough said on that topic. To learn more about our announcement, read today's blog post on the new directory and policy.

Snowglobe, our open source viewer program, will release later today. Snowglobe 2 is based on the Viewer 2 Beta code base. If you're a third-party developer interested in Snowglobe 2, visit our wiki page where you will find information and the downloads.

Resources to Help You Learn Viewer 2

And, if something breaks or you're really stuck, then contact Support and we're happy to help.

This is Only the Beginning and We Want Your Feedback
We're excited about what you'll experience today and we're only at the beginning. There's so much more that we'll be adding to Viewer 2 in the coming months. And, one of the most exciting things for folks at Linden, is that the Viewer 2 code base will enable us to improve the product at a much faster pace than ever before. So, that's where you come in. We need to hear from you! Participate in the Viewer 2 Forum and share your experience and suggest future enhancements. And, if you find a bug, then please log it in PJIRA. Then, go tell your friends! If you Twitter, then use the #SLViewer2 hash tag.

So, go download Viewer 2 here and try it out. We hope you like it.

UPDATE: We've posted a few answers to the most frequently asked questions we've seen in the first two days of the Viewer 2 Beta launch. And if you need more help, head over to the Viewer 2 section of SL Answers.

Client 2 Second Life version bêta, désormais disponible
Second Life ビューワ 2 ベータ版、ついに登場
Second Life Viewer 2 Beta jetzt verfügbar

Avatars, Unite!

by Honored Resident M.Linden on ‎01-29-2010 10:10 AM

Second Life made strides in 2009, as T talked about in his recent blog post, but we still have work to do. There are some big changes ahead this year as we start to make SL more intuitive, more relevant and more connected to the social Web. Today I want to talk about one of the social strategy initiatives we have planned, and tell you about an acquisition we've just completed that will help us in this area.

I've met many amazing people in Second Life and I am sure you have too.  This is a big part of what makes Second Life so powerful.   It's the "social glue" of experiencing an online world together that makes being there worthwhile.  When we talk to the users who sign up but then decide not to stay, they say they left, in part, because they had a hard time finding people to hang out with. Either their friends weren't there, or they have a hard time meeting new ones inworld, or sometimes both.  We need to fix this.

Another part of the "social glue" of any community is the concept of sharing.  Inworld, it's easy to share and we'll make it even easier.  But sharing between Second Life and the larger social Web is not as easy.  As an avid photographer (well, aspiring to be avid), I'd love to be able to easily share my snapshots from Second Life with my friends on other Web services, and be able to watch a feed of the people I'm interested in.  It's a great way to meet new people, find cool things and interesting places to visit.  Sure, I have my own work-arounds for those capabilities, but it's standard practice to build easy sharing into experiences today and that's what we're going to do.  More people will share in more places, and through that more people will discover the wonders of Second Life.

One of our priorities this year (and there are many, from making the experience more intuitive to reducing Lag), is to give Residents new and better ways to connect and share, through features like the following:

  • Searchable profiles
  • Friend and activity feeds
  • Widgets and viral content
  • Optional registration and sign-in using credentials from other properties (Facebook, Yahoo!, etc.)
  • APIs that enable developers to create widgets, tools, and sites pulling from selected SL data feeds

Our goal is to extend and support the great work done by so many on their SL-related blogs and Web sites, because they are a powerful network in themselves. We want to give you more tools, feeds, and connection points to build even more richness and depth into the experience of SL.  This is something we only want to encourage. Hamlet did a great post recently about the power of the Second Life "family" of blogs and sites.

One thing I want to be clear about:  The first design principle in this social strategy is respect of your privacy.  We aren't going to take away any privacy or anonymity for those that want it. We are not going to "out" people.  We are not going to force anyone to reveal any private or personal information.  But for those who want to connect their various online identities, we do want to offer that option.  Second Life has always been inclusive, and although there are many Residents who keep a strict separation between SL and the rest of the Web, others wish there was a better way to actively link their SL account to other Web services, and do things like share screenshots, locations, wish-lists, experiences and stories more easily.  Our proprietary stance on naming and social networking hasn't served that second set of Residents as well as we would like, and that's one of the things we'll change and improve. But for those who don't want to opt in to an arrangement like that, nothing at all will change.

To help us do all this, we're excited to announce an acquisition we've just made that will soon start to give Residents new and better ways to connect with each other and with the rest of the world: Enemy Unknown AB is a Swedish company that runs Avatars United, a Web-based community site designed especially for avatars. We're proud to announce that they are now part of Linden Lab.

Avatars United lets you make some of those connections that I'm talking about above.  It's a great site.  Check it out and add me, T Linden, and others to your friend list. As you do, you'll start to build an activity feed (similar to Facebook or Twitter) that keeps you in closer touch with the people you're connected to in Second Life. This is one of the most exciting things about the acquisition, this ability to reach my friends more easily, with more interesting information (and photos!), and in a more meaningful way. As we go, we'll be adding to these capabilities -- and because Avatars United provides developer APIs, anyone else can add to these capabilites as well.

One thing we're really excited about is the team behind the AU site. Thor Olof and his team bring a wealth of talent to Linden Lab. More importantly, these guys get it, they know that the social needs of avatars are often unique, and they know how to serve them. One exciting side effect of this acquisition is the prospect of having an ecosystem of Second Life apps grow up around Avatars United. The AU team already has an active and growing developer program, and we're looking forward to seeing what the endlessly talented SL dev community can do there. (I'm betting/hoping that a groups app will be one of the first to emerge.) What kind of Second Life apps would you like?  What kinds of APIs would you like to be able to develop on?

In coming months, we'll be looking at the best way to create new services for Second Life around some of the sharing and networking tools that Avatars United has to offer. The AU team is focused on how to extend their platform out to other social networks, sites, and blogs. That will also be key to how we want to connect the expanse of Second Life-related sites, and give them a higher profile on the Web. In the meantime, we invite you to create a profile for your Second Life avatar (or your avatar in another online world), and let us know what you think. As we work to bring AU closer to Second Life, we'll also be helping the company scale its own offering; the AU site itself isn't going away. One of the most interesting elements of AU is that there are profiles from many MMORPGs and online worlds on the site. We love this aspect of AU, and we're committed to keeping this ideal of a place where avatars from multiple worlds and games can come together. While our focus is SL, we will continue to support these communities and keep them engaged. We're looking forward to seeing what kinds of connections people build with the new tools we're working on, both within Second Life itself, and between SL and elsewhere, for those that want it. What kinds of connections would you like to see?