October 21, 2010

Dear Philip, Bob and Linden Lab Land Team,

On October 4th the members of SciLands along with hundreds of other educational and non-profit SL entities learned that our educational/non-profit discount will be discontinued during 2011 and subsequently land rental prices will rise by 100%. As long-time customers, and some of the most ardent supporters of Second Life, we are concerned about the impact this change will have on our ability to participate in the SL virtual world platform.

SciLands is a continent of 60+ regions for dozens of government agencies, universities and museums in Second Life devoted to science and technology. Members share borders to offer a wide range of educational content and activities in close proximity to foster conversations, ideas, networking and outreach that might not occur had each region been separate.

Most agency, institution and organization budgets are set well in advance of the fiscal year they follow and are not flexible enough to accommodate this additional financial burden. The entities that are in SL via grant funding are on strict financial guidelines and oversight. They too are unable to adjust their finances in near real-time. Given the current economic climate, most of those able to find additional funding are trading on political capital or swapping out resources from other programs. Groups who find themselves with no additional resources will be forced to withdraw from SL. The rate hike forces us to look at alternatives to SL, which we'd rather not do, as we've already invested considerably in SL projects.

The early lock-in renewal option provides more time to make financial arrangements and is much appreciated. The option underscores your commitment to educational and non-profit organizations that you had the foresight to support in the first place. However, the price increase will significantly impact our individual regions and the collective SciLands consortium.

We, the innovators that constitute the community SciLands, find ourselves in the position of requesting additional budget money for a technology that is often ahead of its time within our organization. While the SL rental increase is proportionally meager in the IT world, doing business in a virtual world platform is still not a fully accepted business practice. We must now convince managers of the intellectual business sense of virtual worlds for which support is marginal at best along with an increased pricing structure.  

Many of the First Life organizations that sponsor the regions that constitute SciLands are household names in the United States and around the world.  Together we represent an influential group that adds significant value to the reputation, attractiveness, and experience that is Second Life. We hope that you will take this into account and reconsider the price increase to instead offer a permanent educational/non-profit discount as is the practice of many major software providers.


The SciLands Senate

Victor Cid (SL: Toxie Cortes), National Library of Medicine, manager of Virtual NLM region

Jeffrey Corbin (SL: zazen Manbi), University of Denver and SciLands co-founder

Mary Anne Clark (SL: Max Chatnoir), Professor of Biology, Texas Wesleyan University

Anthony Crider (SL: Chaac Amarula), Department of Physics Chair at Elon University and SciLands co-founder

Adrienne Gauthier (SL: Ourania Fizgig), Manager of IYA2009 Second Life Projects, University of Arizona & Astrosphere New Media Association (Astronomy 2009 island)

Eric Hackathorn (SL: Hackshaven Harford), NOAA’s Virtual Worlds Program Manager

Daniel Laughlin (SL: Greyark Hightower), NASA Learning Technologies Manager, NASA eEducation Island

Carolyn Lowe (SL: Clowey Greenwood), Associate Professor, Northern Michigan University

Bruce “Spike” MacPhee (SL: Paradox Olbers), Director, International Spaceflight Museum, and SciLands co-founder

Troy McConaghy (SL: Troy McLuhan), SciLands co-founder

Jenny Oliver, PhD (SL: Silviana Jenvieve) Co-ordinator of Space Destiny island, research fellow, University of Kent, UK.

Katherine Prawl (SL: Kat Lemieux), Co-founder & Director, International Spaceflight Museum, and SciLands co-founder

Robert Stephenson (SL: Stephe Roux), Director, The Tech Virtual at The Tech Museum

Dave Taylor (SL: Davee Commerce), Programme Lead for Virtual Worlds at Imperial College London and SciLands co-founder

Barbara Wheatley (SL: Be Ewing), SciLands Support

Phil Youngblood (SL: Vic Michalak), Chair, Computer Information Systems, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas; STEM Island in the SciLands

Larysa Nadolny (SL: Larysa Freenote), Assistant Professor, West Chester University, SciEthics Island