Second Life and Poor User Centered Design.
Yesterday I wrote a post about how copybotting can essentially be seen as the consequence of bad design, I spoke about how the design of Second Life is such that some people are willing to take great risks in-order to compensate for design related problems. I think it's safe to say that much of those problems are the result of a Second Life designed for the SL community of yesteryear, where the needs of the community were different. To change those design choices now would be disruptive to the user. Sometimes I wonder if the Lab still have the old community in mind with present decisions too. Take these for example:
Linden homes are a new initiative by Linden Labs whereby all premium users will be given a small plot of land and a home so that they have "a virtual address, a place to begin socializing with new friends and a place to express oneself with decor and furnishings." Of course it seems that expressing oneself is ok, provided it conforms to the theme, and doesn't include a skybox of any sort. Granted, they outlined that they didn't want to be seen as competition to the SL land market, but why does the covenant have such major restrictions on aesthetics? And I wonder who's going to enforce these rules, if they end up being so restrictive that they push everyone into becoming a transgressor.
To be fair on them, they claim to have extensive user feedback on this one, so perhaps it will work out.
According to Twitter (hat-tip to @SLAnnOtoole, for this one) - Linden want you to integrate your Second Life with your Real Life. Yes, in the notoriously anonymous virtual world that is Second Life - LL want you to divulge details about your real life. I'm sure that they're not going to force this function on everyone, but again it outlines two issues from a user-centered design perspective. One is that Facebook isn't popular with everyone, some people just don't use it, and in some countries there are much more popular services on offer. Second is that, like I said, people on Second Life don't like integrating SL with real life - and perhaps with good reason. I know there's a lot of horror stories out there from people who allowed the line to be crossed.
To me the main benefit of Facebook integration is for Linden - they'll presumably post updates of somesort to your Facebook wall through their app - I'm guessing things like 'Johnny Avatar just bought a 'BDSM FLOGGING BOARD HARDCORE EDITION ~192 POSES~' on XStreet SL. See it on XStreet here, or sign up to Second Life and see it in world for yourself'. So free social advertising for them. I wonder how they think Facebook integration will benefit the user.
Another blog post by Linden has revealed that there are plans to start replacing ALLEGED copyright infringing items with placeholders. Previously an innocent-until-proven-guilty approach was taken where the offending item was simply removed. So once this new policy comes into action, if someone gives you an item of clothing that you hadn't even realised was copied and you go to wear it, you'll get branded as a copybotter in front of everyone in rezzing distance. OK so this might be enough to put off some copybotters (although if potential legal proceedings don't, I'm not sure how this will), but I'm not sure tht publically humiliating potentially innocent individuals is a good idea somehow.
So there you have it, a few recent Linden Labs design choices that I felt were pretty bad ones. Ones that I'm thinking were probably made from the standpoint of the system rather than the user. OK I'll agree, I do tend to be needlessly picky sometimes - but nothing riles me more than poor user design. I'll go back to my cave now and try to remember to be less bitter in the future.