It’s a new year, and my day has been filled with new resolutions, new hopes, and new prospective clients. However, this new air of opportunity was temporarily put on pause when I read a blog post from Gene Yoon (aka Ginsu Linden), who was formerly Vice President of Corporate Development at Linden Lab (and General Counsel at the Lab before that).
In his post, Ginsu honestly and almost poetically takes responsibility for his role in the failure of Second Life. While I refuse to agree that a platform which has so powerfully changed users lives for the better is a failure, I can completely understand and respect Ginsu’s assertion that “failure can only be judged by the ones who were trying to succeed.”
For anyone who has been invested in Second Life for several years, it’s no secret that the platform did not fulfill the dreams it’s core team had for it. While my own reflections can never begin to compare to the “intensely personal” ghosts that seem to haunt Ginsu, I myself have spent countless hours anguishing over when the Linden Lab core team turned that corner, who gave up and let it happen, why they let it happen, etc, but there are two thoughts that always set my mind at ease:
1. Second Life is astonishing.
To the Lindens past -
I know the Second Life we have now is not the one you dreamed of and aspired to. I, an outsider, can’t even pretend to understand what that means or how that feels, but as a human I know that we are all fragile. We set out on noble missions larger than ourselves and sometimes get lost along the way. We make mistakes and choices we come to regret that result in unfulfilled dreams. While there’s nothing I can say to change that, I need you to know one thing. Second Life is astonishing. As a whole, it may not be what you dreamed of or set out to create, but a part of your mission can still be found there. Your struggles and losses were not for nothing. Right now, the things that happen in SL are seemly ordinary and only touch a select few when compared to it’s once dreamed of potential. It’s magic is easy to miss, still unknown to many, and far less tantalizing to those with other motives, but it’s there. Second Life changes lives. It’s far to powerful to explain with words. For those that have experienced it, every journey is different and personal. We grow and find ourselves. We turn off the external noise of our daily lives and lose ourselves. We get inspired, we inspire. We question, we learn, we teach. We listen, and speak freely. We fall in love. We share our stories and create new ones.
I know I have the luxury of not being chased by the ghosts that haunt Ginsu, but I am thankful for the experience we have even if Second Life’s true destiny is unfulfilled.
But honestly, I think Second Life (even with it’s aforementioned unfulfilled destiny), was before it’s time. Many don’t understand it’s magic. I often relate the experience to that of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The Violet’s and Augustus’ of the world don’t get it. Undoubtedly, they are most likely the ones that pushed the original core team away from their goals in the first place. I think Second Life is very much the “World of Pure Imagination” that Willy Wonka spoke of and we need a Charlie to keep the dream alive.
2. The dream is still alive.
To the Lindens present -
It’s all in your hands now. You are the only ones with the power to turn the car around. Second Life could have been so much more, but it still can be, can’t it? It’s not just about bug fixes or the best way to market SL. It’s time to think bigger. Learn from the mistakes of the past. Put the higher goals above personal greed. Encourage your teams, don’t silence them. Have fun again! Inspire to be great! We live in a time where anything is possible. Games are literally changing the world. YOU can too.
Anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.
Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.