Spending a lot of time recently thinking about application development in general and Second Life's future in particular.
So my friend Albert Lai up in Toronto recently launched his world-beating photo-sharing app called Bubbleshare. He and his team have been banging on this thing for the last couple years and it's really a thing of beauty -- so simple and user friendly, optimized for pure viral glory. Once I tested it, I gave him a buzz and asked him who had actually "done the work". The names (him and two partners) are really less interesting than the backstory, which sort of boils down to Albert saying, if you want to replicate this kind of development, learn as much as possible about 37 Signals , a tiny Chicago-based web design company (that also created the Ruby on Rails framework.
So I did -- what I found is that these 5 guys have done some very impressive stuff (Basecamp Project Management app and others), but the coolest thing is there Development Philosophy which can be summed up neatly as: "Be Cheap, Think About the User, Focus on Small Problems and Embrace Constraints".
Rather than barrel headlong into how to apply this asceticism to Second Life (one of the more complex apps in history, I'd argue), I'll just drop these links and ask for feedback. What features, UI changes, etc. are most needed in the next 3 months? Oz Spade's Comparing Virtual Worlds and Feature Voting