Talking with Philip Rosedale about organizational dynamics

On this week’s Innovators show I talked with Philip Rosedale about the ways in which Second Life, the virtual world, and Linden Lab, the real company, are laboratories for experimenting with social, economic, and organizational principles.

As I was editing the show, I sent some of the notable quotes to Twitter:

On transparency and central control:

As communication technology makes transparency cheaper, the need for central control drops.

On why Second Life works well for group meetings:

We spatialize the audio so you hear where everyone’s voice is coming from.

On distributed development:

We don’t specialize roles by geographic location.

The Linden Lab experience with decentralization, transparency, and fluid team formation echoes what we’ve heard from Andy Singleton. Philip Rosedale adds this thoughtful observation:

There’s a tension between people’s desire to work together in a cohesive, familial kind of unit, and the organization’s need to have people work together in the way that’s optimal for projects, where you want to attack a problem, work together, disband, and then reform to work with different people on the next problem.

Even if you will never fly an avatar around in Second Life, or use the in-world construction kit to build a 3D object, it’s fascinating to hear about the organizational strategies that Philip Rosedale believes make it all possible.

3 Comments

  1. > Have you had subsequent, more fruitful
    > SL experiences?

    Jean-Claude Bradley took me on a tour of Drexel’s chemistry-oriented SL space, and we had a long talk about that, and I could see the value. So that’s one thing.

    The other is that I’m sure the folks who create SL, and are by definition are the most advanced users of it, can enjoy the benefits Philip described. (Although even he noted that SLers use Skype not SL for spontaneous collaboration, because SL is heavyweight and even they aren’t in it all the time.)

    I didn’t want to steer the conversation towards what is required to gain that level of mastery, because the real purpose of the interview was to hear about Linden’s experiments with organizational dynamics.

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