If you read the announcement of the Firestorm-Phoenix (FS-PH) Q & A, you know there was a reason for having the secession. Jessica Lyon, the voice for the FS-PH Team, said the reason was anger and frustration in the community. So, what is the anger and frustration about and where is it coming from?
You probably know Third Party Viewers (TPV) developers are leaving, KirstenLee and Kirstens Viewer, and new ones are appearing, Cinder and Milkshake Viewer. We also know Linden Lab is advancing their viewer at a blistering pace. In general we see things moving forward and new technology is adopted. A Neilson report shows that Second Life has almost doubled market share (New World Notes) in the last few months.
The Second Life Mesh Statistics show mesh is being adopted. Sales of mesh objects doubled in the last week. We see viewer developers adding mesh support. Developers are being asked for mesh support and supposedly anticipating desire for the feature. Now that Phoenix is supporting mesh render we may find 80% of residents are mesh ready. It would seem this is a good thing.
Linden Lab is adding features to Second Life and that requires changes in the viewers. Mesh is the big recent addition. The Mesh Deformer Project is proceeding. Direct Delivery is coming. It is already a quarter late. But, we are anticipating its arrival in the first half of 2012. New tools are coming from the Linden Realms Project. All these things look positive for Second Life.
What is there to be upset about?
What is mostly hidden is how users are handling the changes. It seems the Phoenix team was/is taking heat for allowing the Phoenix Viewer to phase out and being accused of killing the viewer. The charge was the first item addressed in the recent Q & A. Where do people get these ideas?
Ideas come from our perception of events and the world around us. Primitives once sacrificed humans to solar and lunar eclipses so they would end or in some way make the gods happy. Their lack of knowledge leads to their beliefs. Something they did not like was happening, there was nothing they could do about it, and they made up something to do so they could feel better. It certainly did not speed up the eclipse. The same is true today.
It is difficult to know what SL residents are thinking or how many have similar thoughts. We have user groups and forums where we can hear what some users are thinking. There is no way to know how many are of a like mind or not. It is a little easier to know what users are actually doing, like buying mesh. We have statistics and such to help with the doing.
Within the forum I can see the anger and frustration being vented toward various people and groups in SL. The only consistent factor in the threads is a lack of knowledge on the part of the frustrated. Many, if not most, people in SL have no clue what is going on or why. So, they do what humans have done from the beginning of time. They allow their mind to jump to a conclusion and make up a villain to off load their fear and anger on. Both TPV Developers and the Lindens take a lot of heat and abuse from these people.
Keeping things in perspective is no simple task. Imagine being a viewer developer or a viewer support person and having to deal with a daily stream of abuse and anger… Sound like fun? Think your perspective of users might start to shift?
It is the anger and frustration that Jessica and the FS-PH Team hoped to reduce by having the Q & A and getting information out. Whether it will work and make a noticeable difference, I don’t know.
Last I looked, about 900 people had watched the 2.5 hour video at YouTube. I wonder how many of the 900 watched the whole video. I had a hard time making it through it. I was so wishing they would laser responses and stop saying ‘huh’. (They did a good job. While I don’t like the huh’s and rambles I appreciate how hard it is to adlib answers in a live on camera meeting. I am not criticizing Jessica or Nigma, I am making a point about it being hard to hang in with the video to the end.)
The meeting location was at the corner of 4 regions with 3 regions accessible for attendees. That suggests a maximum of 240 or so attendees. So, say 1,200 of the 400,000 people that download FS-PH viewers or about 0.3% of the user base.
Lets consider the video Q & A and see what we see. I agree and disagree with points made in the video. I’ll provide my take and sense of the issues. I’ve included time marks so you can find the sections in the video, if you want to get the actual feel and wording. My wording is paraphrasing more than quoting. Avoid attributing what I write to participants in the video unless I add quote marks.
The video is two hours and 30 minutes long… I found it really long and tiring. Props to Jessica for hanging in and handling all the questions. I mean ‘all’ in the sense that many questions were repeats condensed into one. Also, Nigma deliberately dropped questions that were abusive or rude.
Jessica starts with a monologue about the charge that the FS-PH Team is deliberately killing Phoenix. She says if anyone is killing Viewer 1 and Phoenix, it is Linden Lab. I think that is unfortunate phrasing. No one is killing the V1 viewers. They are dying a natural death as Second Life advances and technology improves. It is simply too laborious to update the old V1 code. A major reason for V2 was to get a fresh start and get away from the old computer code and all the patches and band-aids. As code is changed, patched, and added to for years it eventually becomes unmanageable. The old code is a minefield for programmers. To get new stuff the old code had to go, thus Viewer 2.
Also, the Lab is making the new API’s available to developers. The viewer uses an API to ask for data from the asset server, names server, map servers, inventory servers, and others. Any developer can change out the old API calls to the new API calls. So, theoretically V1 viewers do not have to break as the older services are turned off.
Much later in the video at 01:28:00 Jessica provides what I consider a more realistic and positive explanation of why and how Linden Lab will eventually bury V1 viewers, at least the SL Viewer 1.23.
Linden Lab is running services that only support the V1 code based viewers using old API’s. The resources could be better used to support the newer faster systems.
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