Rolling Stone calls Second Life “hottest spot on the net”

Wow, David Kushner (excellent tech writer incl a book on Doom), covers Second Life on — hope it makes it to a print edition. Kushner calls Second Life the “hottest spot on the net,” a characterization sure to enrage the doubters. The article though goes beyond the huff and puffery of Second Life as a business and spends several paragraphs on the genesis and culture of Linden Lab. And it’s in the “Politics” section so the real question it poses is who will control the 3D internet – Philip Rosedale (Second Life founder) or the inhabitants of SL?

New YT Feature: Active Sharing

YouTube debuted a bunch of new features Wed night (we tend to do major pushes every few weeks as anyone who tracks the site closely can observe). Included in yesterday’s release is Active Sharing, a fun opt-in thing that allows you to publish what you’re watching in real time and let others watch those videos too.

Active Sharing is the type of feature that makes YouTube special because it continues to evolve the community viewing experience. And it’s one:many – even if a small number opt in to be followed, anyone can follow them without needing to log in or expose their viewing preferences.

I hope we do a lot more Active Sharing-type features this year reinforcing the network effects within our community. In 2006 the YouTube team essentially helped create the checklist of basic features users expect to see in an online video experience. And while we continue to strengthen that core set, new “wows” are important. Especially when the “wow” is dependent upon and enabled by having a really big enthusiastic community because then it’s harder for other sites to mimic successfully.

Writing vs Editing

My journalist friends consider writing and editing to be different skills and very distinct parts of the creation process. Sure a writer looks over their own materials and changes words, cut extraneous sentences and re-crafts passages which just don’t feel right, but turning it over to an editor is a specific moment. The creation has reached a certain point and it’s now ready to be put in the hands of someone who will read it with a neutral mindset, a dispassionate glance and an eye towards the audience. The editor doesn’t try to make the writing fit her worldview, just focuses the author’s words and make sure it works within the context of the magazine, newspaper, book, etc where it’s being published.

I don’t know enough people in either profession to estimate how many people could do both jobs, or whether editors make good writers but not vice-versa. I also don’t know whether one group thinks they are superior to the other or they just live amiably side by side.

But I think the writing vs editing distinction is metaphorical and applies to my world.

Product managers start out as writers and the best ones develop strong editor skills although they’re the type of editors who assign story ideas in addition to scrub copy.

Managers are editors but sometimes you get one who thinks they’re still a writer. You know when you send a document to someone for a review and they completely redo it to reflect their point of view? That’s writing, not editing.

But sometimes when you’re asked to be an editor, it’s helpful to indulge in writer roleplay. When asked to review a presentation I don’t start by thumbing through the slides and giving notes on each one. I look at the topic and then write my own outline of what I’d cover and how I’d order it. Then I provide feedback not only on the contents of the current presentation but what might be missing (but not necessarily their hypothesis – I can disagree with portions of someone’s presentation and still help them make it better). By answering the question of “how would this look if I did it,” I’m able to go beyond wordsmithing. And I learn about myself too because the gaps between what I would have done and what actually is in the document teaches me something.

Many venture capitalists I know are proud and talented editors. One told me that I wouldn’t be a good VC because I still want to be a writer and the writer-editor VC (aka player/coach) is largely a myth.

The best professors I’ve had are editors.

The editors I admire used to be writers and can still write the hell out of something when they need to.

My mother is an editor. My father is a writer. I think it’s reasonable to generalize that writing is a male dominant trait and editing a female one.

I used to be a very good writer and an average editor. I’m now an increasingly good editor but sometimes I just want to write. And I get nervous that if I don’t write frequently, I’ll lose the skill.

Gartner Gets an Avatar

The headline to the press release reads “Gartner Says 80 Percent of Active Internet Users Will Have A ‘Second Life’ in the Virtual World by the End of 2011.'”

Even though they note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that 80% will be using Second Life (proper noun), this is a pretty big statement. Hyperbole? Not with products like GAIA Online and Club Penguin growing at a rapid rate.

There’s also a little bit of ego here in seeing ‘second life’ as a way to describe people’s identities in virtual worlds. I coined the name at Linden Lab and it’s exciting to watch people adopt.

Alanis Humps: Commentary

Ever since her turn as God in Dogma, Alanis Morissette has impressed me with a greater sense of humor than she displayed in her early “tortured emo girl” music. I must say that I’ve become a fan with a slight crush.

This month her My Humps tribute burned up YouTube. The LA Times has a nice piece about what these types of releases mean for the artist and YouTube. Some excerpts:

Morissette’s video is armed with a provocative subtext that has people abuzz with debate. It’s a fascinating piece of video art, an inspired combination of satire, social criticism and career reinvention that is a signature artifact of today’s viral Web culture….

This is what gives YouTube its real power. It is a forum not just for amateur pranks but also for career reinvention. For Morissette, this video — made at her home on digital video for roughly $2,000 — may transform her persona as much as taking a part in “Pulp Fiction” did for John Travolta…..

Universal Studios isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Nor, sadly, will Fergie and her humps. But the era of video activism is here to stay. Whether you’re a political activist or a singer eager to try your hand at social comment, the pop culture playing field has never been more open to ideas than it is today.