Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are We Getting Some Good Tweets About Second Life 2.0?

It was a bright, profitable day in San Francisco.

In a posh suite at the Ritz, a throng of high-tech investors and plugged-in analysts gathered for a sneak peek at the next big thing. Non-disclosure agreements were signed and muffins were consumed. Conversation grew to an audible tizzy, accompanied by the clicking of innumerable Blackberries.

Suddenly, a crack team of web-savvy executives strode into the conference room, confidence stitched into every seam of their Armani suits. They gave a brief presentation; it was brilliantly received: the investors opened up their checkbooks, the analysts pronounced the whole thing "webtacular!" and the executive team got back into their magical flying cars and zoomed back to Google.

Meanwhile, several miles away, in an abandoned box factory, some Lindens began to rise from their makeshift beds: cardboard boxes lain across wooden palettes. Around the metal barrel that served as their collective stove, they began to gather, heating tapwater and Sanka in old coffee mugs scavenged off of Craigslist.

"So Talky, what's the word about Second Life 2.0?" asked T Linden, dropping some restaurant sugar into a chipped blue Pets.com mug. "Are we getting some good tweets about that? Got to get some good tweets about that."

"Not really," admitted Talky. "There's more buzz about this 'Botgirl Questi is a guy' thing. The podcasters are particularly upset.

"Who? What?" Philip Linden sputtered. "Nonsense! Listen! We have spent half a year moving everything onto new tabs and renaming the menus. This is a veritable sea change!"

He enacted his metaphor by making swooshing, ocean sounds with his mouth and waving his arms like a surfer. "Surf the information superhighway, Talky. Ride the next wave of innovation and change!" he said, in his best tech guru voice.

"The feedback seems to be that it's, um, too little too late," Talky said. He then stood up straighter, gulped, and continued. "I hate to bring this up again, but you know, I spent years making those helpful videos showing how to use the current interface and if we change that --"

M Linden interrupted. "But we are the first company to ever put the word 'Geek' right on the menu bar. We are programming our contempt for our users directly into the interface. This is groundbreaking stuff. You don't see that in World of WarCraft. Where's the menu bar for 'LAZY SHUT-IN' on your product, Blizzard? Huh?"

"The users are saying it's just a bunch of useless UI tweaks, instead of a true sequel that quantitatively reinvents the game."

Everyone stopped and stared at Talky Linden. "Did you just refer to Second Life as a game?"

"I meant, I meant the world!" Talky said, desperately clutching his scored and pitted Beenz.com mug, his hands shaking. "An actual sequel that changes the world."

There was an ominous silence, and everyone looked to the leader, M Linden.

"Take him to the Love Machine," M Linden said finally, in a quiet, measured voice that augured horror.

Two members of the RESI team seized the sobbing, pleading Talky and dragged him into an old utility room. Moments later, the lights flickered as an ominous crackle, like a giant bug zapper in mid-sizzle, shot through the warehouse. The victim's screams of primal pain rang in their ears like a dentist's drill.

M Linden smiled at the sound, rubbing his hands together, before resuming the meeting. "I do believe the Watermelon has a point, though. Changing the menus around and adding shit to the Website isn't much of an upgrade, T Linden. If that is your real name." He glared at the other executive darkly, with a meaningful glance towards the utility closet.

"Well what do they expect Second Life 2.0 to be?" demanded T Linden. "Some sort of new program with high end graphics, massive concurrent user support, industry standard content creation tools, and breathtakingly realistic avatars? I mean, that's just crazy talk!"

The circle erupted at such a ridiculous notion. "Earth to crazy people! Hello!" laughed M Linden.

"Yeah, what do they think this is, Mars?" said Phillip Linden.

"I know, really! Some kind of Blue Mars!" said T Linden. "As if!"

They stood for a moment, laughing and chuckling, before filing out, one by one, as they did every morning, onto the loading dock where they chained up their old grocery carts overnight.

Tenderly, they unlocked each and filled them with plastic bags, then fanned out through the city, collecting cans and other recyclables to trade in for precious, precious server money.

It was a bright, profitable day in San Francisco.

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