Interview with Xiola Linden

Interview with Xiola Linden

Yesterday, for Second Life’s 15th birthday, I had the opportunity to interview Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab. Today I am sharing my interview with Xiola LindenLead Community Manager for Linden Lab. 

If you follow Second Life accounts on social media or go to any of the Linden meet and greets inworld, you have no doubt bumped into the lovely Xiola Linden already, or at least heard of her. She is the most stylish and bad-ass looking Linden I’ve seen. She is also just about the sweetest one I’ve met as well. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with her for many years now, and she is just a gem.

Here are the 10 questions that I was able to ask her: 

BERRY: Hi Xiola, thank you so much for doing this. I was wondering if you could share with my readers how long you have been working for Linden Lab and what is your position or job description?

XIOLA: Thanks for chatting with me, Strawberry! The pleasure is truly mine – working with the Second Life community is a dream come true for me. Even when the work involved gets intense ( as it tends to do during the birthday celebrations), I stop and think how fortunate I am to do what I do. Being Lead Community Manager for Linden Lab, and more specifically for Second Life is an ever evolving position. When I started at the Lab back in 2011, it took me about ten minutes on my first day to realise things were unique about this role, in the most wonderful way. One of the first things I pushed back on was the idea that Lindens were encouraged to not go inworld. I thought, what a missed opportunity that was – and I was really happy when Ebbe came along and lifted a lot of the policies that had been in place. Here, almost 7 years since I joined the Lab, I am still so excited that I get to hang out in Second Life as part of my job every day!

As for what I do, or what my job description is – I’d be hard-pressed to capture it all in writing, but I will say that I focus on all things community and social media for Second Life ( after about 2 years of focusing on both Sansar and Second Life). I work with the community to promote their events where possible, coordinate our own official events like Music Fest and the inworld Shopping events we host, and much, much more. I spend a lot of time reading blogs, forums, and other websites as well to keep up with the ‘word on the street’ so to speak. I am excited to see what else comes my way!

BERRY: You are probably one of the most stylish lindens on the grid and I was wondering, where do you get the inspiration for your avatar’s style?

XIOLA: Thank you for the compliment! I think, like most Residents, a lot of my avatar style inspo comes from aesthetics that I am drawn to in life. I’ve always been this strange blend of seemingly opposite ingredients. I love B-movies, horror, punk, goth, monsters, and things with dark themes, but I also love unicorns, glitter, pastel colors, and retro/vintage things. When those two dichotomies come together, I am over-the-moon. It’s funny, I think of myself as kind of an anti-social, sarcastic person, but then I happily socialise with an entire community of people on a daily basis. Is conflicted and confused a style I can capture in Second Life with my avatar? My tax lady told me I am the most cheerful person she’s ever met. I told her she must have low standards. I guess I channel all of that into the looks I put together for Xiola’s wardrobe.

BERRY: Who are some of your favorite content creators and stores in Second Life?

XIOLA: Oh, this one is tough! I wish I could list them all. I should get into blogging more like you do so that I can share all of the incredible finds I gather. There are so many different styles – something for everyone really – in Second Life. I could easily list 20 creators of hair alone that I am obsessed with. Thinking about what my avatar is wearing right now, – an outfit I put together for my appearance at SL15B’s Meet the Lindens series –  I’d say Blueberry – her fit is amazing and her designs are fun to style with other items that maybe don’t seem like they should go, but I make them work. Addams – also some very fashionable pieces with a good fit. I also love accessories and jewelry – I think I am wearing (Yummy) rings and necklaces and .Pekka. necklace, as well as .:E.A.Studio:. Nails and yet another necklace from SPELL. Head is Catwa, body is Maitreya, and hair is from little bones. And some super cute bunny ear platform boots from {Livalle} . Chances are by the time we get finished with this interview and pic, I will have something else on – and can provide details for that look as well. The fact is, there is just so much good stuff out there – I can’t choose just a few faves!

BERRY: What is it about the Second Life community that you love the most?

XIOLA: The creativity and tenacity of the community. I have never had the pleasure of encountering, let alone working with a community like this anywhere else. Every day, practically, I am delighted by something new someone is trying or doing. And we really come together and show up for so many important things. I remember getting an email from one of the victims of the Pulse shooting in Florida. He was recovering from his injuries in the hospital and saw the collective donation made from Second Life Residents to a gofundme set up by Equality Florida for the victims. This was something Casper Warden had championed and that the community embraced, and I saw the impact in his email to me, thanking the community for their generosity and kindness. And, it was very emotional for me. I think one thing Second Life has always celebrated is diversity and inclusivity – that has always been such a huge piece of what it represent and stands for – it really says a lot about who we are and who we can be if we lay our differences aside and lead with love.

BERRY: If you had the opportunity to give Second Life Residents some advice or a suggestion, what would it be?

XIOLA: To spend as much time appreciating the talent and uniqueness of one another. To spend more time and energy on lifting one another up, than on criticizing one another. This is the same suggestion I would give to anyone – not just people in Second Life. We live in a culture now where it seems we’ve almost lost the ability to disagree without resorting to name calling and insults. What happened to the art of diplomatic debate? It’s perfectly okay to disagree about things, but it is how we discuss those disagreements that, as individuals, we have the power and control to lead by example. So take as many moments as you can to focus on the positives, because that will help you when you encounter the negatives.

BERRY: Were you a Second Life Resident before you began working for Linden Lab and if so, what drew you to SL?

XIOLA: I was! My original ‘rez day’ is in the Fall of 2006. A friend of mine from LiveJournal told me about Second Life. He mentioned it was similar to some of the social networks we had back then, but with 3D avatars. I was sold! When I first logged in, I thought you had to walk everywhere so I really explored and encountered so many strange and unusual things – and I myself am strange and unusual. *wink* After I wandered for a week, my friend got around to sending me a teleport to a club he was dancing at, and I was fascinated by the concept of just being able to pop around and go to so many different spots with friends. I still get excited when I hear that infamous teleport swoosh sound.

BERRY: How do you like working for the Lab? Is it as hectic or chaotic as it seems?

XIOLA: I love it! And the answer is yes! One thing I love about this place is that people in house care so much about Second Life. They work hard, they succeed and fail, they own up to their failures and tend to not tout their successes too much. I feel it is part of my job to not just let them know about the cool stuff that Residents are doing but also let Residents know about the cool stuff the team is doing. There’s so much going on at any given moment, and as chaotic as it can get, it has to be done thoughtfully and meaningfully. I mean, let’s face it – Second life is a very complex creature – we have to be graceful and choreographed to move parts around for feature development and deploys, but there are so many ideas and projects to consider all the time. I also have had wonderful managers in my time here. Peter Gray, who recently left us after a long haul was key in teaching me a lot about handling the chaos as deftly as possible, and Brett Linden who I have had the pleasure to work with as a co-worker since I started here, recently moved into a leadership role for Second Life, and he’s been wonderful to work for.

BERRY: What do you find most challenging about your work?

XIOLA: Sometimes it’s really tough to decide where to start and what to work on in what priority. There is so much community energy and enthusiasm ( not a bad problem to have), sometimes I have a hard time keeping up with it all. I am sure I miss things … so please always feel free to send info my way. I may not be able to always confirm or reply, but it’s helpful. Ideas, events, feedback – it’s all appreciated.

BERRY: What are some of the new and upcoming things that the Lab has planned that you are pretty excited about and can share with us?

XIOLA: ANIMESH. EPP. Stuff you’ve heard about already, but we’re getting so close that one or the other may be out before this blog is published. Lots of thought around how to balance things out more and make land more affordable, etc. Our product team is unique in that many of them are long time Residents and they understand Second Life from both the inner workings to the consumer experience. That’s exciting to me because that means they know what would be cool and what is possible. They also listen to feedback like no other team I have worked with. If there is a feature you have asked for but don’t see, it’s probably because it’s exceedingly difficult ( for underlying reasons) or it’s one of many on a moving list of priorities to investigate and possibly implement.

Aside from that – one thing I am loving to see lately that isn’t so much a planned feature but very important – is that more and more Lindens are taking the time to update their avatars. I respect those who have a strong link to their avatar in whatever form – but I have really pushed for those who are open to the idea to try out some new things that represent 2018 Second Life avatar customization capabilities. Our community has made so many incredible things! It’s a lot of fun to take a Linden through the process of updating and shopping, and showing them how huds work, etc. I’ve had a great ally in Patch Linden as well. We’re making willing Lindens over one at a time!

BERRY: Since I joined Second Life in 2007 the one thing that I hear constantly is that Second Life is dying and will be closing any day now. Can you give us your expert opinion on this rumor? Is Second Life dying and when should we start packing our virtual bags?

XIOLA: The short answer is absolutely not. This is one of those things I have a hard time understanding. We hear it all of the time even though we repeatedly show that it is not going away. Maybe it is because some voices are louder than others, and those people feel their time with Second Life has come to an end, but there are so many Residents – old and new – who still spend lots of time, money, and effort in Second Life. I’ve been reading comments on our social media from people who have been here 15 years, and some for a year or less, and what they say they love about SL is not that different. I don’t think it’s any kind of revelation to say that as with all things, sometimes the nay-sayers actually have more to say than the yay-sayers, but there are a lot of people – both in our community and in the Lab – who are dedicated to supporting Second Life for a long time to come.

 

A big thank you to Xiola for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions and pose for the picture you see in this post. It’s always a pleasure for me to take her picture.

Xiola has also confirmed that she will try and join Draxtor, Ebbe and I on Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 at 11am PDT when we tour SL15B to celebrate Second Life’s 15th birthday. I hope you guys can join us at SL15B as well, or watch it live on my YouTube channel.

Xiola did her ‘Meet the Lindens Event‘ on Monday, June 18th and you can watch that interview at this link. You can also watch her ‘What Second Life Means to Me’ video from 2015, it’s one of my favorites: https://youtu.be/bF2VQ7WqEfI

UPDATE: Xiola was kind enough to share her style credits for the image:

HEAD:
Hair: :::Phoenix::: Aimy Hair [Buns]
Head: Catwa Uma

BODY
Shape: Customized
Body: Maitreya Lara
Dress: Blueberry – Ime – Lace Dress –  Maitreya
Addams “Charlize” Biker Mesh Jacket
Shirt: ::drbc:: cara collared shirt – MAITREYA – spells
Tattoo: ::drbc:: cloak of fortuna {FRESH} – Maitreya
Tights: Big Beautiful Doll – Nylon Polka Dot Tights – Black ( Maitreya Applier)

MANICURE
Nails: .:E.A.Studio:. Moray Nails  Maitreya
Rings: (Yummy) Sweet Like Candy – Maitreya

JEWELRY
Necklace: (Yummy) Eye of Eternity Ring – Silver
Necklace: SPELL : Two moons pendant  {Ruby & silver}
Necklace: (Yummy) Strange and Unusual Necklace – Silver
Rings: (Yummy) Sweet Like Candy – Maitreya

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2 thoughts on “Interview with Xiola Linden

  1. Great interview, thank you Strawberry and thank you Xiola!

  2. Thanks Ryan! Welcome back, you were missed. <3

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