e-Democracy guru Steven Clift passed along a very helpful set of recommendations for non-profits on how to respond to online criticm, written by Jayne Cravens at Coyote Communications. In a nutshell, what she says is, respond respectfully and promptly to online criticism. I couldn’t agree more. Giving someone with a complaint more than a fortnight to stew is excellent kindling for a flame war.
Meanwhile, I see on Robin Linden’s blog that Linden Lab (the company that runs Second Life) has begun a face-to-face series of consultations with some of their most active residents on the future of Second Life they are calling "Second Life Views". In Robin’s blog, she is getting quite a bit of heat from residents about the decision to hold the meetings in the real world, versus in-world. Or as Aimee Weber puts it, "this meeting feels like American Airlines transporting special guests by train."
And the fact that the Lindens have cherry.jpgcked the eight people they want to meet with has ired lots of folks. My favorite comment is from Lewis Newd who wrote, I kid you not, "I demand that you dissolve this stupid idea immediately. Or at least
invite me, so you can actually learn how SL can grow properly instead." LOL.
Coincidentally, the Harvard Berkman Center sponsored just yesterday a discussion with Traci Fenton on "Organizational Democracy and the Future of Work." Traci talked about the growth of experiments with new forms of democracy in the workplace, i.e. how to better include your employees in your business’s decision-making processes. I dropped in toward the end, but caught enough to learn that lots of corporations are learning that listening to their workers from the assembly line to middle-management is a good way to increase worker satisfaction while improving product quality.
Sounds like just the kinds of practices that the Lindens are trying to put in place with their "Second Life Views," their "Town Hall Meetings" and their feature polls that they run on their website. The difference is that Linden Labs has an enormous population of residents who feel a strong sense of ownership over the company and the virtual world they have created, without actually being stockholders or employees or even customers. Channeling that enormous energy and commitment in ways that respect the community while also enhancing the profits of the company towards new markets and new directions is an incredible challenge. Meanwhile, Second Life faces tremendous competition from all the other MMORPGs (World of Warcraft, Everquest, Lineage, etc) that vastly overshadow the tiny market share the SL can claim.
It’s fascinating watching Linden Labs try and navigate through this difficult and competitive market. So far I have been nothing but impressed.