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SL Pro! and Viewer 2.0

by admin on February 23rd, 2010

Today marks the first day of the SL Pro Conference . It started with a key note by Tom Hale and I’ve recapped some of his major points below.

Alluding to the new SL Viewer 2.0,  he talked about taking the wraps off the new user experience work that Linden Lab has  been working on during 2009!  He started with a summary of some 2009 statistics:

  • 2009 User-user transactions grew by 65%.
  • Xstreet Sales grew 74% 2008-2009.
  • User hours grew 21% to 481 million per year.
  • Active users grew by 5%
  • Announced Linden Endowment for the Arts, designed to support, encourage and highlight Second Life artists. Recipients of an arts endowment will include a land grant; the creation of a dedicated Second Life arts committee; and the capability for Linden Lab to store art creations for future generations.

But so much of the content has been in a walled-gardent, because of “thick” downloads and viewers.  “We must make it easier to amplify your awesome“.

In order to bring in new users, creators, business’s, organizers, etc., and because Linden Lab knows that new users become consumers the only way to do this (to increase the 5% user growth noted above) is to make the platform/ecosystem successful.  In doing this Linden Lab looked to lessons learned from Facebook and iPhone -“experience matters”; the  Quality of the Experience!  The eco-system (Second Life)  creates the experience.

For 2009 the focus has been on the user experience and how it is mediated via the viewer.  The complexity of the viewer made it hard to adjust to Second Life, creating a feeling for new users of being overwhelmed.  To address this issue  Viewer 2.0 is being rolled out as a Beta today.

Viewer 2.0 –  is the most ambitious project by Linden Lab to date (hmmm I’m thinking the Second Life platform had to be pretty abmitious for them).  Some of the Viewer 2.0 capabilities are: shared media (support for Flash – finally), better search, easier navigation, alpha masks, and most importantly it is easier to use!

Search:  Powered by Google Search Appliance,  my understand is that search will be an html experience allowing for search to be  desegregated from the client.

Communication:  Separate public from private chats. Made an effort to make voice more easily accessible.  Messaging can now be managed (just like an in-box).

Home Panel – 100% html, will be (or can be) account and location aware.  Mesh is not part of 2.0 but is coming later this year.

Shared Media (game changer??) – place any web URL onto a surface and allows you to interact with it just like a web browser, as you click a part of the web page the viewer will animate the  camera to view the media – it breaks down the walled garden of Second Life including access to flash.  Opens up Second Life to web-standard type tools and technologies.  Supposedly this feature is drag and drop!

For 2010 Roadmap Linde Labs will be looking at asynchronous and synchronous interactions and how that works.  But more broadly thinking how to improve the overall experience for the full life cycle, not just the newbie experience.  Social experience, creator and developer experience will be targeted.  Introducing new capabilities Media, Mesh, investing in platform (more scalable, modular), virtual goods, etc.

Intellectual Property – new tool for IP, called the viewer directory that lists 3rd party viewers that respect the rights of content developers.  Viewer developers must comply with SL policies and SL terms of service.  IP complaint process, IP takedown tool, Viewer Directory, Seller Register, and a new Commerce System.  The openess of SL can not harm integrity of SL, SL will protect creators.

SnowGlobe 2.0 was also announced.

Tom’s biggest message seemed to be Linden Labs supporting “Amplifying the Awesome” by creating a platform that will help developers and through the new viewer allow new users to enter Second Life and not be overwhelmed with the “what do I do now” question.  The attempt is to make the functioning of Second Life more intuitive – lets see how things shake out.

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