The Gold Solution Providers Programme

A few of us who are in Second Life® mostly for business have long ago complained to Linden Lab, in the years of 2005 and 2006 mostly, how little they cared about businesses in SL, and how little effort they put in expanding and opening the virtual world to healthy business from the real world.

In those days, SL was viewed by LL as a “cool place” for designers, talented creators, and programmers, to build their own virtual world. They were expecting youngsters to flock to SL and start being creative immediately. That utterly failed to happen — in real life, only about 1 in 100 people are really talented and innovative, the remaining are passive consumers of entertainment, but not producers. And SL couldn’t grow just with the happy creative crowd, even if that crowd is staggering in its huge size.

The alternative was to start to pitch Second Life for serious business use (as well as for research and academic teaching). This took Linden Lab years to realise, and they were very reluctant to do so. The first step was creating the Developers’ Directory, but, of course, this has little impact, since none of those developers were “certified” or “acknowledged” or even “endorsed” by LL. It was just a listing, one of many others, which just happened to be hosted on a LL server.

Later, Linden Lab introduced the whole business-oriented site, Second Life Grid, and added a staff of Lindens to start forging connections with the business and academic world. There have been many hurdles. LL is always fearful of being biased and showing “favouritism” towards others. So businesses — businesses as large as IBM, Xerox, Microsoft, Sun, Dell, and others — have been treated pretty much like the average Jane Avatar. For instance, businesses had a hard time to get invoices, and had still to pay for their sims using a credit card or PayPal — an impossibility inside most corporate structures — and there was still this stupid need of having to create a “special” avatar just for the purpose of owning estates (while the ToS forbade password sharing). And although some Lindens were open to hear a bit more about businesses and educators, they were reluctant to get influenced by them.

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