The reactions to Sun's announcements about the Java platform moving to GPL produced a deep amazement in many people. A crowd had gathered waiting for the news, and there were definitely critics waiting to find fault. When we actually announced the news, it turned out we had gone further than anyone expected.
In fact, apart from the odd voice of self-interest (from what others call "strip miners"), the only serious criticism was over holding one of the events on the announcement day as a "virtual" Q & A in Second Life. ZDNet newbie Larry Dignan was pretty harsh, for example. To be honest, if that's all people can find to criticise them I'm pretty happy!
Having said that, and being like Tim a teachable sceptic of the value of Second Life, I actually thought it was a pretty good thing to do. Despite what this comedy writer said:
Sun, of all companies, recently hosted a Java developer Q&A in Second Life. No Web cast, no conference calls, no live forum. If you wanted to participate, you had to become a Second Life resident.
(and Larry implied), there was plenty of opportunity for engagement
. We briefed press all over the world, provided a press release translated to local language, had press at the launch event, held an IRC chat which was so heavily attended it was almost unmanageable, wrote blogs and responded to comments - and so on. The Second Life event was an experiment, and just one part of the overall picture.
Moving on from the ephemeral and the complaints of those outraged by the new, was the content any good? Well, I didn't find the immersive environment added anything much to the experience, but the content was actually very good indeed. Floyd has a good summary of what went on and you can listen to the audio recording too. True, it was amusing to see the penguin cruising around the auditorium, and guessing which avatar was which person was fun too, but the questions were good and so - even though I say so myself - were the answers. If that's the quality we'll get every time I want more, break-dancers or not..
Overall, I think this was a good thing to do. I think we'll see more use of immersive collaboration spaces to augment more traditional communications, so this was an interesting experience. It got plenty of coverage and brought the OpenJDK news to more people than would have heard otherwise. And best of all, despite all the straight-laced tut-tutting, it was actually pretty good fun.