With the opening of the Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference on Wednesday, the announcement from Linden Lab that they were restoring the 50% discount they offered to nonprofits and educational establishments could not have come at a better time. This was, I believe, the first year that the VWBPE had taken place in Cloud Party as well as Second Life and Open Sim … as opposed to out-reach tours. So the announcement from Linden Lab was something of a distraction, it might seem.
Of course, until 2010, the reduction for nonprofits and educational institutions was standard – Inara Pey has details here (including the revision that occurred in March this year). There was a great deal of protest when the discount was abolished, with very little notice, and in the middle of the academic year (although there later emerged a way of keeping the low price for a period by paying in full in advance), This was a policy change that was never going to win friends and influence people, and a lot of institutions began to look seriously at Open Sim. Some, of course, looked and came back to Second Life, swallowing the bitter pill. But many others just gave up on virtual worlds. There are, after all, some alluring new technologies out there to spend money on …
So now we are back where we started – although a number of educational institutions and nonprofits are bitter about the way that they have been treated. So an area that should be – should always be – a good news story for Linden Lab was sabotaged by a very strange policy shift in 2010.
But the Lab’s good news stories seem very much focused on new products they are developing. I must admit I’m a little baffled by the fact that many of the positive initiatives undertaken by residents are largely ignored by the Lab. I can understand that, after all the negativity of the downside of the hype cycle, they are interested in maintaining a low profile and focusing on new products. But no outreach for the artwork that is being done here, perhaps best expressed in terms of news through the awards given in the University of Western Australia challenges? No emphasis is given to the fact that Second Life has – over the last nine years – raised over 2,000,000 US dollars for Relay for Life – over 375,000 this year alone. Surely this is worth a few external plugs?
If the press persists in perceiving Second Life where sad and lonely losers go to have sex in a vastly under-populated world, is it really the best policy to keep saying, “Never mind that – look at the other cool things we make?”
But perhaps I’m being unfair. The Lab did make a big PR push to celebrate the 10th birthday, and have been championing Draxtor Depres’ The Drax Files. It is always hard to keep talking when no-one’s listening.
At all events, in a good news story, the VWBPE continues until the end of today. Check out today’s events here – and you can catch up on some of the talks that you’ve missed here (currently under recent uploads but soon to have their own category).