The soul of Philip Rosedale

Did I miss something ? Sometimes I think my english language escapes from me to hide away things that I would naturally see in french… But no, I think I did not, things are just the way they seem to be. We entered in a new era and we are going to adjust, as usual.

This week end, while I was writing the last post, Engage me again, I went thru the readings of a lot of twitts and blog posts, to see what was the general mood. Coming out of those, were a lot of doubts, a lot of anger, like if everyone was deeply concerned by what happened last week. M. Linden was often seen as the bad guy of the film. Some were even calling Philip Rosedale to come back. But Philip was silent, M. Linden was short on his post and his letter, and the rest of the team was not responding to mails… Maybe they were all watching the football worldcup…

So Clara decided to go to SL to see how was the mood inworld and to catch up with a few friends. Or maybe just go and work on some new trees. The problem is that when you work out of virtual worlds to promote virtual world, you gradually end up losing the sense of it. When evening comes you rather want to keep it quiet, away from the computer, away from work… Hanging around the sad Linden graveyard at Rouge, Clara met a friend she has not seen for a while, and started a conversation about life and jazz, then solved a few problems with lands, and end up exploring the forest of Leni and Timmi. A couple was riding a horse, a fairy was flying the site, avatars were popping in. And Clara finally started to design a pine-tree. No noises from the outside world, no conversations about the lay-off. The world was just going on its own way. And one more time the magic was there, in the smooth breeze of the wind… there was the soul of Philip Linden.

Early morning, I opened the Second Life website from a browser which I do not usually use, (which means where I am not logged in), and fell on the new home page of the website. A nice graphic and  motion welcome interface, including full panoramic machiminas. As I clicked to join as a noob, I was proposed to choose between 3D very real animated characters (maybe it is in test, because I could not find it again). So far away from the world we found in 2006. But so close to what is our world, our imagination… Today’s world, in all its facets…

The words of Philip Rosedale, talking at SLCC 2007 in Chicago came back to my mind.

« (extract from Virtual World News) (…) I think as a company we’re at a transition point. Part of that is the size of the room, the number of people building, and so on. We’re at a very interesting point here. The company that built Second is called Linden Lab. And on a bad day, you might feel like the subjects of the lab. Labs are organizations that have a vision about what can make the world better and then will try them out on people, unsuspecting or not, to try and make it happen.
Here’s the point. Second Life is exceedingly complicated, and it’s a dream that people have tried to make happen for years and many of them have failed to achieve the critical mass and spark that we have now. We got there now because we were a Lab. We were a small group of people willing to work very fast with little concern for the troubles people would face using it.
(…)We haven’t tipped yet. Everyone is always jumping ahead and eager to say that the future has arrived. We’ve built the metaverse, and we’re all going to walk in and disappear. We’re still building it. I think some of you here, and even I, don’t appreciate how big these things can get. I worry about crashes and revenue with my head in my hands, and I don’t remember how big these things can get. We’re just the first people to the party. This is an incredibly small phenomenon right now. This is something everybody on the earth is going to use. 
This is bigger than the Web. That’s a bold statement. How can I defend the statement that what we’re all working on is going to be bigger than the Web. (…)

One year after, at Tampa, Philip had given the lead to Mark. Second Life had to become a serious business to keep the leadership of the new born industry. Philip Rosedale seemed sad (like if some light was out of him) but resigned. I guess it is like to see your child going away from home. But, unless Steve Jobs who claimed he was fired of Apple, Philip Rosedale was proclaiming that this was the right choice… and if you think of how SL was before and what it is now, you can see that Mark did a lot to professionalize Second Life, and I think he could do so because he did not have the same history with the residents. The resistance to change, especially when the relation to SL is so affective, must be a real challenge.

Reducing the Lab team to make the vision happened, targeting new populations to enter in the platform and bring new blood and energy to the world of Second Life, accelerating the move to make virtual worlds bigger than the web, all of that was also the will of Philip Rosedale.

Strange thing though is that we feel something is missing. We can’t say it with words, it is just a feeling, irrational and empirical. The magic is still around, the possibilities are infinite, the challenge is everyone’s, but it seems that the soul of Philip is away... maybe watching the football games...

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