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What’s going on at “The Lab”

Over the last few months we’ve seen a rash of people leaving employment with Linden Lab, the owners of Second Life.  Some of the most recent ones are names most people would not recognize but they were important players working “under the hood”.  There have been, of course, some very big departures – many of which have been written about in other blogs, if you have a link please feel free to leave it in the comments section.

Today, John Lester announced that he will be leaving “the lab”.  John, who is better know as Pathfinder Linden, is an amazing guy and has been an awesome evangelist for education in Second Life.  This is not an under-the-hood, behind-the-scenes low-level department.  And, unlike a few of the others, John is not “leaving to pursue the next adventure”, as is evident by his recent note to the Second Life Educators list:


Due to recent reorganizations at Linden Lab, my current position
(Evangelist, Market Development) has ceased to exist.  There are
no alternative positions available to me, so as of March 12th I
will be leaving the company.

I am not sure what the future holds for me, but it will probably
involve something at the intersection of online communities, 
virtual worlds and neuroscience.  I will be remaining open to 
new opportunities.

I'll continue to follow this mailing list, since innovation in 
education and healthcare remains near and dear to my heart.

You all are doing amazing work, and I'll be sticking around to 
see what you come up with next!

Take care,
-John (formerly Pathfinder Linden)

This follows on the heels of another shake up of the EDU community when a very prominent figure, Jokay, who blogged regularly about SL in education, and also created a well-used wiki, was unceremoniously served a cease-and-dissest order from Linden Lab for using the “SL” in her wiki name.  Linden Lab lays legal claim to the “SL” in capital letter in the use of anything related to virtual worlds and Second Life.  The tool that integrates Second Life and the learning management system Moodle, originally called SLoodle, was forced to change its name after being served a similar cease-and-dissest, although this pre-dates what is now being called “The Jokay Incident”.

After the Jokay Incident, the SL Education Roundtable decided to change its name to Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable (VWER – and to also expand its consideration to include other (read: non-SL) virtual worlds.

Something is up at Linden Lab.  Instead of the “Google”-like atmosphere I used to image in, I now have images of evil scientists running around trying to figure out how to rule the world and keep their subjects in line.  Perhaps its just my over-active imagination.

What do you think about John (Pathfinder) leaving Linden Lab?  How do you feel about what is going on for the EDU community in Second Life?  Do you think things are better today than they were for us a year ago?  Two years ago?  I don’t mean the platform itself, I mean the consideration we (the EDU) community are given?  Do you think we are still important to Linden Lab or is this just a readjustment phase?

Category: Second Life
  • Heather says:

    Wow, John is leaving?! I put off reading the SLED list for alittle while and I miss this? This is…troubling. I’m in the mood to follow John to see where he goes.

    Hey AJ, not all scientists are evil. But I agree with you. What is it about big business that has the knack for the doing the wrong thing and the wrong time? What’s with the push-out?


    March 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm
  • Arieliondotcom says:

    As I told @Pathfinder on Twitter, someone call 911 because Second Life is making suicide gestures. As little of the “pie” that the Ed community has had it looks as if Second Life is abandoning the platform as innovation and just getting ready (witness the 2.0 viewer) to pitch it as the AOL of virtual worlds to the lowest common denominator.

    March 9, 2010 at 7:50 pm
  • Desideria Stockton says:

    Pathfinder, Claudia, and Blue Linden are the three people that have always championed educational offerings in SL (and Iridium – who has long since jumped ship).

    Linden Lab is digging up the wrong pile of sticks by screwing over the education community once again. This new regime just isn’t interested in the money we bring to the world (and quite a lot of money it is, eh?).

    I am not surprised that they let Path go because after the Jokay Incident and the Dante’s Inferno incident (donating land for it and then “mysteriously” claiming it was just for two weeks and tearing it down) and the Path incident just demonstrate how committed M and the new bosses are about educators in SL.

    But, never fear…the rape-capture-role players will still be around, and LL will gladly take their money while the rest of us find our way out the virtual rabbit hole and into another universe.

    WTG, Linden Lab.

    March 9, 2010 at 9:17 pm
  • jokay says:

    A sad day for the SLeducation community.. and yet another impossibly stoopid move from the Lab.

    Although Pathfinder and I havent always seen eye to eye and certain events could have been dealt with better, I’m disappointed that we’ve lost an important advocate both inside and outside the Lab.

    All I can say is thank goodness for Opensim! ;)

    March 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm
  • ajblogsat says:

    The following conversation took place in Second Life today, at the times indicated in the time stamps.

    [19:35] AJ Brooks: [DISCLAIMER: I'm planning to copy/paste this exchange into my blog]
    [19:35] Tegan Jenvieve: k
    [19:35] AJ Brooks: Anyone have a thought on Pathfinder leaving Linden Lab
    [19:35] Aerdna Beaumont: no
    [19:35] Julie Sugarplum: hmm, hadn’t heard that
    [19:35] AJ Brooks: His last day will be March 12th
    [19:35] Claudia13 Rossini: who is Pathfinder?
    [19:36] Julie Sugarplum: wow
    [19:36] AJ Brooks: He was the original EDU person for LL
    [19:36] Julie Sugarplum: was this announcement made somwehre officially?
    [19:36] AJ Brooks: He is the reason we are where we are in SL today – in large part
    [19:36] Robin Mochi: yes, I was sad to hear that today
    [19:36] Robin Mochi: many posts on twitter about it
    [19:36] AJ Brooks: Julie – yes.
    [19:36] Eurominuteman Jameson: his reasoning?
    [19:36] AJ Brooks: Here is my blog – one sec (I’m not the official source – but you see his email)
    [19:36] Julie Sugarplum: oh, i’ve been off the grid most of the day, that would explain it
    [19:37] Claudia13 Rossini: you know, since they got that new ceo a few years ago LL has taken itself rather off a good path
    [19:37] AJ Brooks:
    [19:37] AJ Brooks: He first posted the notice to the SLED list
    [19:37] AJ Brooks: I’ve copied/pasted that into my blog posting, including some comments and thoughts
    [19:37] Julie Sugarplum: wow, he had a big part of the education piece of sl
    [19:38] AJ Brooks: A few other peopel have posted comments also
    [19:38] Robin Mochi: I also read your blog post, AJ – and saw pathfinder’s post on the SLED list…couldn’t tell how pathfinder himself feels about it…didn’t seem too sad
    [19:38] AJ Brooks: I plan to pop into SL over the enxt few days and see if I can grab a conversation with folks about it
    [19:38] AJ Brooks: Well – he got fired – I’m sure he’s not happy
    [19:38] Robin Mochi: there was a bit of a movement on twitter to get LL to take him back…they were directing the tweets to Mlinden but…
    [19:39] AJ Brooks: I see that LL is moving in a particular direction
    [19:39] AJ Brooks: and its a large ship, and the only way to change course, usually, is to change captain
    [19:39] AJ Brooks: and there is no sense that that will happen any time soon
    [19:39] Eurominuteman Jameson: fired on what grounds
    [19:40] Robin Mochi: I wasn’t sure, though it sounds like he got let go, that he really wanted to not leave…I just wasn’t positive how pathfinder felt about it
    [19:40] AJ Brooks: His position was eliminated, he says in his posting
    [19:40] AJ Brooks: and there was nothing else for him there. If I read that correction
    [19:40] Robin Mochi: yes, his position was eliminated, which seems strange and even stranger if that was true that there wouldn’t be something for him there…
    [19:41] Eurominuteman Jameson: a re-structuring…
    [19:41] Robin Mochi: and I wonder what that means for educators, do they feel they don’t need anyone working with us?
    [19:41] Julie Sugarplum: if that’s true then someone is not reviewing hte stats correctly
    [19:42] Robin Mochi: or maybe they feel Claudia and others are enough? not sure what the thinking is at all on this
    [19:42] Eurominuteman Jameson: whats the new structure
    [19:42] Claudia13 Rossini: LOL.i’m assuming you don’t mean me
    [19:42] Robin Mochi: LOL
    [19:43] Eurominuteman Jameson: what are the basic assumptions of this new structure
    [19:43] Julie Sugarplum: finishing this greedy game then doing some research on this. thanks for filling me in
    [19:44] Claudia13 Rossini: i think you’re right though AJ…but companies like this tend to self distruct looking only at a bottom line instead of building for an inovative future
    [19:44] Robin Mochi: I need to head out, nice chatting all, I am sad that many educators are continuing to feel disheartened by LL, there was and still is such great work going on here. I know there are other grids but it’s going to take time to get them to this level. Have a lot of mixed feelings about educators abandoning ship over this stuff…
    [19:45] Robin Mochi: bye all
    [19:45] Julie Sugarplum: totally agree Robin
    [19:45] Julie Sugarplum: and gotta run myself. have a great night everyone.
    [19:46] Claudia13 Rossini: oh there will be some that leave Robin……but i think if we look at change as a challenge to build stronger bases we ca look forward to VW’s being better as time moves on
    [19:46] Eurominuteman Jameson: the real basic assumptions of the re-structure need light
    [19:47] Eurominuteman Jameson: the innovation speed of open source is the benchmark, LL was falling back on this
    [19:49] Eurominuteman Jameson: and many SL educators dismissed this sustainability risk, a false assumption
    [19:50] Claudia13 Rossini: think about it though.there is no reason for not having a large educational base using different VW’s depending on their needs…it’s still the internet and instant communication across all kind of web based mediums
    [19:51] Eurominuteman Jameson: thats exactly what the education grid is about, open source
    [19:51] Eurominuteman Jameson:
    [19:52] Eurominuteman Jameson: web 4.0
    [19:54] Eurominuteman Jameson: so to say
    [19:55] Eurominuteman Jameson: CERN – GridCafe: The place for everybody to learn about grid computing
    [19:57] AJ Brooks: Thanks everyone. Off to update the blog.

    March 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm
  • Ener Hax says:

    yeah, who is next? Torley?

    Torley has stopped blogging purely on SL and does mainly his music. once your joy becomes your toil, it’s hard to keep up that ener-gy

    when Jokay got smacked for being an incredible evangelist and doing only great things for sl, well . . . it was our wakeup call (plus lots of policy things that kept hurting our estate)

    but what LL’s action against Jokay clearly signaled was the very clear turn away from being resident-centric and supportive

    it’s a real shame, i loved Second Life like mad but you can only bang your head so long. and when you can’t move toward your goals, it’s time for putting your energy where you can do what you want to do

    for us, education has been important and now we can pursue it with 100% attention over in Reaction Grid which works better for us than SL was

    Pathfinder was seemingly a cold guy, but wicked smart and clearly LL does not value the evangelism part and since they don’t want to pay someone to do it and they poop all over those of us that did it because of our love of sl, i guess they don’t need anyone to tell anyone else about sl (sheesh, that was a run on sentence!)

    well M Linden, good luck with this strategy . . .

    March 10, 2010 at 1:25 am
  • Ellie K says:

    I am merely a recreational resident of Second Life. However, I’m sorry to hear of Pathfinder Linden’s departure. Just found out now btw, via @sorryafk’s blog, as I find the official Second Life blogs and forums impossible to navigate! I liked idling away time on SL in Pathfinder’s office in-world. He had a nice harpsichord and fun informative artifacts strewn about on his desk and floor. He also appeared to be a critical thinker and contributor in the healthcare field. It would’ve been prudent for Linden Lab to keep Pathfinder on staff, rather than “eliminating” his job.

    Regarding the role of education in SL… well, it is one of the best claims to legitimacy as a non-gaming application that Second Life has!

    From a purely business point of view, Linden Lab should work hard to continue educational usage of Second Life. Many big-business, media and information service organizations seem to have abandoned corporate usage of Second Life. And there are plenty of computer and role-playing game alternatives (what an understatement!) to Second Life that are far more accessible. Second Life cannot afford to lose the traffic, positivie visibility and revenue brought by educators and students.

    March 22, 2010 at 3:01 am

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