‘Virals’ And ‘Definitives’ In Second Life®: An Essay By Extropia DaSilva


There is a rule, that if any resident of SL gets offered a job at Linden Lab®, they must change their last name to ‘Linden’. Now, imagine if it were also a rule that, whoever gets the job of CEO, the account they will use to log in and work/socialise within SL would always be ‘Philip Linden’. Philip Rosedale would be free to log in under any other name, but once he quit SL the ‘Philip Linden’ avatar would no longer be his. Well, of course, the idea sounds stupid. Philip Rosedale is so closely associated with that avatar, knowing Mark Kingdon would be behind it would make  ‘Philip Linden’ something like watching an Elvis Presley impersonator. Yes, you look like the King but buddy, you ain’t. So let us imagine that it is also a rule that the RL identity of Linden Lab’s CEO is to be kept secret. Imagine that Philip Rosedale had been some kind of true believer in the principles of immersionism and digital people. Everybody identified ’Philip Linden’ as the creator of SL and nobody knew who was behind that personae.

Now imagine that Philip Linden is addressing an inworld crowd:

‘I think we have made some progress there in the last couple of quarters. One of the interesting challenges we face is that, as SL becomes more international…’

Sounds like the kind of thing you would expect to hear from Philip Linden. Indeed, he really did say that during his SL5B keynote address. Well, he said part of it. The first sentence in my quotation comes from Rosedale’s address, but the second part was taken from Mark Kingdon’s address. In my hypothetical scenario, a crowd is listening to Philip Linden (some, perhaps, wondering about the enigmatic person behind the avatar). Totally unknown to the audience, in RL Rosedale went AFK, Mark took over, and Philip Linden’s speech carried on with barely a pause. 

In a way, it is a shame that Rosedale never arranged things so that my hypothetical scenario actually happened. Maybe then, he would have laid on his deathbed, knowing that Philip Linden would live forever, or at least as long as SL existed and LL required a CEO. But, getting back to reality, it would have been way too impractical for the CEO of LL to maintain such a strict seperation between RL and SL. Philip Linden, M Linden, have no choice other than to become ‘definitives’ and I think it is the fate of any resident who becomes a ‘definitive’ to achieve longevity only through a legacy.

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