26 April 2008

New Linden Lab CEO announces user-centred vision for Second Life

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Mark Kingdon
Earlier this week, Linden Lab, creator of the well-known virtual world Second Life, announced a new CEO: Mark Kingdon, currently CEO of digital marketing firm Organic. He will be taking over in mid-May.

Technology Review assistant editor Erica Naone spoke with Kingdon earlier this week about his plans for Second Life.

A lot of new users seem to have trouble getting to that place. They get confused by the controls, and aren’t sure what to do inside the world. Do you have any thoughts about how to make it easier to get started?

I’ve got a lot of background in the kind of user-centered design work that’s going to be important for Second Life, especially as you look at the first-hour experience. I haven’t come to any specific conclusions yet, but I think it starts with understanding what the resident needs in order to make a powerful experience, and looking at the kinds of people that you want to attract and bring in-world. The answers will emerge very clearly from that.

How do you plan to get different types of users acclimated? For example, business users might just want to get in-world quickly to have a meeting, while other users might be looking for a more playful experience.

I think the first thing that I need to do … is really immerse myself in the different user bases and then think about if, by giving them additional tools, they can create that entry point for themselves, or if it’s something we need to encourage, or if it’s something that we need to create for them. I think the question is, how do you make that happen without becoming the primary content creator?

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