Monday, April 21, 2008

The Hate the Lindens Game

Strong Language Warning
Certain Words in This Post May Make Women Faint
Strong Men Cry, and Children Snicker

Written 21 April, 2008

The Hate the Lindens Game

This weekend a friend asked me what I thought about a newly-formed group. It was created by, said the notice she passed to me, a group of content creators who were outraged about the recent Saturday downtime.

Puh-leeze! One of Linden Labs’ internet service providers had equipment failure. It took them a few hours to fix it. And how is this Linden Labs’ fault?

It’s not surprising Linden Labs comes under fire whenever people are unhappy with what is or isn’t happening on the grid. Sometimes the company deserves it, but more often it doesn’t.

People are too quick to play the Hate the Lindens game.

The weekly tabloid The Avastar is famous for fomenting a crisis of competence in each and every issue. “Outrage over gambling ban!” “Bank Scandal!” And, this week “We won’t ditch SL!”, a piece of sleight-of-hand that suggests everybody is about to jump ship and go—

And go where? Hipihi? There? Central Grid? The Sims Online? Facebook? Give me a fucking break!

We are all of us—Linden Labs including—participating in something new and wonderful, something never done before, something only a couple of years ago considered beyond the limits of existing technology, a complex three-dimensional virtual world that allows unrestricted movement, communication, content creation, and commerce, all in real time. We’re inventing it as we go along. There is no playbook. There is no roadmap.

Of course it breaks sometimes. Of course it fucking breaks! The issue of scalability is immense. We’re talking about more than 17000 servers in three states interconnecting hundreds of thousands of users over millions of miles of telephone lines and cable and linkages to satellites. This isn’t Donkey Kong on your Atari 800! Servers melt down, telephone lines are taken by tornadoes, cables get flooded, power stations go down, a bit of code is badly written. It’s a wonder it works at all!

And when it doesn’t work, whose fault is it?

Sometimes it’s no one’s fault.

Because shit happens.

And if you can’t live with that, Donkey Kong is ready when you are.

1 comment:

Tycho Beresford said...

I have to disagree with you here. Yes, things break, but that can be anticipated. That is why you shouldn't have single points of failure. To have a multi-million dollar enterprise go down for hours of prime time because of problems with one piece of equipment as simple as a router is amazing. Linden Labs might begin to gain some credibility back if they published the disciplinary measures taken against their employess or their contractor's employees because of this fiasco.