Last week at the TPV (Third Party Viewer) Developer meeting on Friday June 20th, Linden Lab’s CEO Ebbe Altberg confirmed that Linden Lab is at the internal demo stage of the next generation of Second Life.

The community has dubbed the new project as SL 2.0. To be clear, despite the adopted moniker sounding like an upgrade, this is not an upgrade. We won’t one day be in Second Life as it is, click a button and automagically be upgraded to SL 2.0.

SL 2.0 is a new virtual world that will run parallel to Second Life. Ebbe Altberg has confirmed that the virtual world as we know it, may come to an end. In the meantime, everyone one of us will have a choice to make. The options are to (a) remain a resident of Second Life, (b) migrate to SL 2.0, (c) both, or (d) neither.

Welcome to the World Cup of Conjecture! It really is shaping up to be quite a tournament.

Because I just love to observe human behaviour, I’m going to have a field day with this one. What will people do? What reasons will they give? What stories will they create? Oh, this is going to be so much fun. And I want to talk about it with you, at this Wednesday’s Basilique Chat Salon at 1pm.

So here we are, five days into the tournament and the rival teams have assembled for the mother-of-all contest of words. First up…

Huh? Wut? Whatevs. Oh! ::::::: I ❤ THIS T U N E ! ! ! ::::::: HOoOoOUlalalala!!!

First up is Team Wut 😐 ?, who aren’t really on the pitch. This team includes the majority of Second Life residents that are either blissfully unaware of the changes coming, or simply don’t care.

A small subset of this group might hear the news, and due to either apathy or misunderstanding, not bother worrying about it or carry on doing what they always do.

Given that most Second Life users don’t read SL social media, blogs, forums and industry news – which is the only place this news has been officially shared to date – this is a very large group.

I’m somewhat bemused by Team Wut 😐 , but observing them is a bit like eating meringue  – the high can be mildly interesting, but the overall effect is cloying.

Linden Lab is EeeeeVIL!

And on one side…. we have Team Doomsayers! 😡 This team likes to take a negative approach to most changes.

Players are known to stir up fears by scaremongering to wind people up with fantastical assumptions that are either deliberately incorrect or incomplete (e.g. LL is making a new world and none of your stuff will be compatible!!)

This team likes to speak for others that they often know little about (e.g. nobody will want this change, everyone will stop spending money, all creators will stop making things, all land owners will bail leaving Second Life empty).

They might overstate absolute claims without evidence (e.g. you will lose everything you own or have ever created).

Some players will invent facts, motives and question the ability of others to suit their world view (e.g. Linden Lab is stupid, greedy, compulsively lies to us, doesn’t care about residents, and is out to screw us over at every opportunity – basically, they are giant chorizos that don’t deserve to have us as residents… despite the fact we’re all still here…)

A special tactic they like to use is to label their opponents (those who disagree with their opinions) as shortsighted and ignorant at best, or fanboys and cheerleaders at worst.

In fairness, Team Doomsayers! 😡 can be the most entertaining of the teams to watch. Sadly though, it’s a bit like eating a Big Mac from McDonald’s – a tasty first bite, but whoa do ever you feel like throwing up a few minutes later.

This is interesting… (and maybe even a little exciting!) Let’s hear more!

And on the other side… we have the Team Cautiously Optimistic 🙂 

This team, while not overly content with everything about Second Life, see this news as a potentially positive direction for the world we hold so near and dear.

Some players might see it as an opportunity to fix so many things that we’ve all found less than great.

This team is open to hearing more, and while some of the players can be impatient (probably relative to the degree of the investments they made – emotionally, temporally, and financially), they appreciate that the future is being written as we speak, so “wait and see” is the best of all possible options that will at least reduce the risk of disappointment.

They are the wish-listers. They see this as an opportunity to start fresh, even willing to leave their baggage behind, if necessary.

Players on this team might be less attached to material things: Inventories that took years to create. Places we feel at home. The ways we navigate and cope with the world. Many feel the nostalgia and sentimentality surrounding the things they’ve made and come to rely upon, but they know they can move beyond it.

They’ll likely board the first ships with the little luggage they can carry. They’ll become the early adopters, and I’m guessing, reap the tremendous rewards available to those first embracing change.

What’s their secret weapon? What do they know that the others don’t? I think it’s that they know that Second Life – the experience, as opposed to the platform – isn’t about the stuff we have, it’s about the people that live in it.

I’ll wear my colours now: Team Cautiously Optimistic 🙂 is my tournament favourite and I’ll happily be counted to play for this team.

Many important questions have arisen. Many of the answers have either been “wait and see”, or “we’re not sure yet”. Our talk today won’t be about the technological or commercial merits of the move – that’s just more conjecture. Rather, I want to talk about how we’re going to emotionally deal this change, because the one thing I know for sure, is that we will have to deal with it – one way or another.

I believe this will be the biggest, most divisive challenge that we – as a community – have ever had to face. Because so much of what Linden Lab do depends on how we decide; what we do, what we say and what we think in the next 12 – 18 months will make a difference.

So… which team are you supporting?