[sldev] Development philosophy

Rob Lanphier robla at lindenlab.com
Wed Feb 14 13:52:38 PST 2007

Hi folks,

Based on the chatter I see on IRC and other unofficial channels, there
seems to be some consternation about Linden Lab's policy with respect to
collaboration with the free software/open source community.

One disconnect, I believe, is that many people may have an unrealistic
picture of Linden Lab as a monolithic Borg-like structure with a
completely unified view of the world and its role in it.  It's an
understandable mistake, since many corporations actually pretend that
they operate that way.  However, no group of two or more people operates
that way, hence the reason why children the world over have learned they
can play one parent off of the other (e.g. "but Mom said I could!"). 
Linden Lab doesn't even pretend that's the case, hence you'll see lots
of blog postings from lots of different people here at Linden Lab, each
in a unique voice.  It's hard to have an authentically human voice when
everything get blandified/corporatified by the consensus and approval
filter, and we feel like the quality and authenticity is better than
making sure every single thing we say is 100% representative of every
person at Linden Lab.

The reason I bring this disconnect up is when I'm asked the question
"how does Linden Lab want to work with the community?", I can only
answer with how *I* want to work with the community.  And that answer is
going to change depending on our situation and who we're able to hire.

Right now, I'm the only person who's stated job description involves
working with the open source community.  Therefore, I'm going to be
focused on working out the process of working with the community.  Since
I'm not a developer, and since people at Linden Lab choose their own
work, other people at Linden Lab will have to be convinced that this is
the cool happening place for other developers to join in the external
collaboration.  Just about everyone currently at Linden Lab hired in
before they knew that Linden Lab was going to release source code, the
natural instinct of those developers is to keep plugging away inside the

We've got many issues to deal with right now, mainly centering around
the phenomenal growth in popularity of Second Life, and the ability (or
inability) of our infrastructure to deal with it.  Collaboration with
the open source community is something that we also want to do well, but
it's going to take some time and effort to make that investment pay
off.  So, in the short term, we're trying to make sure we at least get
the transparency and infrastructure in place for a deeper collaboration
down the road.

You may disagree with that priority of things.  One way of fixing that
problem is to draw those developers out with high value activity, which
seems to be happening.  Another way is for new developers to come from
the group who is reading this email right now and doesn't think that
Linden Lab is doing enough in the community.  If you want to really
accelerate this initiative, come work for us, and show us how it's done!


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