Thursday, March 14, 2013

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Linden Lab Quietly Offering 50% Discounts to Select Non-Profit & Educational Groups Who've Given Up Their SL Sims

AM Radio Second Life

Ball State's IDIA Laboratories, one of many SL sims abandoned after losing its educational discount in 2010

Linden Lab has been quietly contacting a select number of non-profit and educational institutions who've abandoned their Second Life sims over the last few years, company spokesman Peter Gray confirmed with me last night, offering them 50% tier discounts. I learned this earlier yesterday when an educator told me about receiving an e-mail to that effect, offering his organization a full private island for $1,770 per year, or $3,540 for two years. This move partially reverses the company's 2010 decision to end the 50% discount on educational/non-profit sims, which is generally credited for the loss of hundreds (if not thousands) of sims whose organizations couldn't afford to pay standard tier.

"I'm not able to share numbers," Gray e-mailed me, "but can confirm that we've extended this special offer to a targeted number of educational and non-profit institutions that have recently left Second Life." The next question is how many institutions they're offering this to, but there, he is mum. Furthermore, there's no way for former sim owners of this variety to request this discount:

"There isn't currently a way to apply for this; it's a special offer we're extending directly to some nonprofit and educational institutions as part of our customer win-back efforts," as Gray puts it.

If you received this offer yourself, please let us know in Comments. In any case, this news is surprising to me, because I predicted such a discount would never happen. For a select number of organizations, at least, that turns out to be wrong. However, I'm still skeptical that many institutions will take them up on the offer: $1,770 is still a pretty steep yearly fee to pay, especially when you account for all the management that goes into owning a sim. (There's also a lot of bitterness between these groups and Linden Lab, largely due to the company's decision to end the discount in the first place.) However, I think this is exciting news, because it opens up the possibility that great sims like IDIA Laboratories, home to some work by metaverse artist AM Radio, may return.

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Shockwave Yareach

It's a start. A tentative step toward a tier reduction and the Welcome Back Home program.

Wizard Gynoid

A step in the right direction. Secondlife's ridiculously high tier payment schedule is the main reason why growth has stopped and is in fact in decline. Supply and demand simply says, lower the price and demand will go up. Revenue will increase. The decline will halt and growth will start again. It is Linden Lab's own resistance to lowering tier that has led to the current state of affairs.

Eric Hackathorn

It may have been a billing error, but we never lost our educational discount. That said, we still closed our presence in SL. It actually wasn't the expense that finally took down our project but the lack of control and portability of "our" content. Until this changes I don't see a return to SL especially considering the availability of alternatives like OpenSim, Cloud Party, and Unity.

A.J.

Come back. Join our dying world again.

Sorry we were unappreciative the last time, but rest assured that we value your money now.

Come try out our new viewer. You'll love it.

And building with mesh is as easy as 1-2-3.

And our customer service is second to none.
(actually, it's just none).

Can't wait to see ya'll again.

Huggerz

Dominik Bauer

Well, either do it for all or don't do it at all. It's majorly unfair to the general "population" of SL owning islands, if this goes out to only "select group".

I would offer this to everybody who's willing to pay annual or semi-annual in advance for their island billing.

That way it would seem fair and everybody wins.

val kendal

It's a good move, hopefully it will help return some more educational and artistic content to the world, good for them for recognizing a mistaken decision (how rare).

Ken Hudson

Really?! Wow! I am somewhat taken aback by this reversal...but let us remember how this came about, and what educators did in response:

1) LL suddenly fires all the community builders and educational support people

2) In a budget-tight sector such as education, LL gives 2 months notice of a 100% rate increase

3) Mavens and advocates in the EDU sector (who had already stuck their necks out for SL) are left scrambling for solutions

4) Being VERY SMART PEOPLE they come up with better solutions than SL which they own and control, and they prosper

5) SL becomes a footnote to their wonderful journey

I certainly have many fond memories of SL, but I would never ever ever ever (is that good grammar) bring my institution, nor recommend any EDU ever commit to SL as an educational solution. But I love that LL believes we all forgot how they dicked us around. We didn't.

Seven Overdrive

Good news for that select group. Would be great if the Lab would offer a similar discount to everyone else that are willing to pay per year. Wouldn't it?

Metacam Oh

Hey come back, if your an organization that already has funding we'll offer you 50% discount but the rest of the rodents can pay $295

Wayfinder

Hmmmmm... will Linden Lab also paid for our teeth they kicked out, the surgery required to remove the knife from our back, and the trip to the eye doctor for the dirt they kicked in our face?

"...customer win-back efforts." lol... Translated: "We messed up big time, we're hurting financially, and the stockholders are ticked at the Board of Directors for being flippin' idiots."

We didn't get an invite back. I'm sure LL knows better than even try.


Wayfinder

(Pardon any typos. Mid afternoon and no coffee.)

Sinead McMillan

thing is, would you ever trust the lab again in that particular case? so many things ARE broken, broken chinese, as it is.
-----------
your DECISION - your world - your imagination...
-----------
i love to see the edus coming back in larger amounts

Alberik

It's a hopeful move executed in a particularly stupid way.

LL already has a reputation for offering privileges to favoured customers. What they really need to do is put on their big boy pants and re-establish the educational discount. I realise that involves the utterly unthinkable prospect of admitting that the original decision was wrong, but sometimes life can be tough in the fast lane.

The EDUs added massive value to the grid by creating attractive and interesting regions. LL ran the numbers through a spreadsheet, ignored the value added, and decided to run with the money. Malls R Us is not really a viable way to make a virtual world worth visiting, or, and more important, worth committing to.

LL need to employ an economist to give them a brief seminar on Price and Demand 101 as a prelude to setting tier at a rational level. A quick seminar in Customer Relations 101 wouldn't go astray either.

Iggy

From LL I smell the sweet scent of desperation.

/me high-fives A.J., that scamp.

@ Sinead, many I know of would not come back, what with the bent-over-a-barrel reaming from the tier-hike of 2010 (in the middle of a fiscal year, no less) being a bit raw, still. Those with grant money got particularly buggered.

Second, LL should offer this to all or none and preferably, to all users (yeah I know that means the end of SL, tier cannot be lowered, etc.).

On the other hand, some folks would love to return their work to SL, but LL would also need to give them a one-time OAR import.

Ciaran Laval

@Iggy the point about the tier hike being in the middle of the fiscal year is very well observed and even now, this news breaks whilst many insitutions are deep into business planning for the next academic year.

James OReilly

What about SL Vendor Lock-In?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vendor_lock-in

In 2010, Second Life was de-listed by Harvard's Immersive Education Initiative iED
http://immersiveeducation.org/go/iED_Article_Taking_The_Initiative_CGW.html

Discount loss was only one item among many. SL doesn't qualify for Harvard's "Education Grid" due to Vendor Lock-In...

Fraudal Seller-side SL Collusion http://ow.ly/iQAce vrs Buyer-side Education Procurement (iED Education Grid Requirements Specifications) http://ow.ly/iQA5E is the main question...

James OReilly

SL discount pricing remains monopoly pricing

versus

Opensim monthly fixed tier prices (75% less)
Opensim/Kitely time-based pricing + monetization

versus

Steam one-time prices

James OReilly

Beyond pricing, monopoly + anti-trust, seller-side collusion and buyer-side procurement processes... there are also technical + developer issues...

Year-in + year-out, we face unresolved Anti-Patterns
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-patterns

Not to mention, Convergence Culture + Benchmarking with...

- Cinema-class Steam with access to mobile + TV
- PixieViewer for Opensim with access to mobile + 3D printing

Wolf Baginski

I remember some of the educational regions, some of them multi-sim sites, and from my dabbling with OpenSim, I would not be surprised if a similar facility were running on in-house hardware, better controlled and just as accessible to the students. And with proper back-ups of all the data.

It's much the same for a lot of the corporate users.

Given the need for good support for the students and staff using such virtual environments, what is there that Second Life has to sell? Public access is all I can think of, and if you want that, LL aren't going to do much to sell you to the public.

Paying tier is like renting a billboard: there's a lot of work you have to do to make it worthwhile.

Desmond Shang

A few quick points; some may even seem to be at odds with each other but not really...


a) To Eric Hackathorn: Strictly speaking, your content isn't locked into SL. It's only locked in if it was created there. For instance, you could create all the content you want on Sim On A Stick, and import it into SL. Furthermore you can back up your offline content and share it to whatever extent you want, with your own highly specific licencing terms. This is what I recommend at the very least to all my .edu clients. It works great. The one really big loss is that of realtime 'collaborative building' ~ which is a much bigger loss than what it might sound like, at first blush. Even mere seconds between offgrid platform content creation/import, and inworld collaboration can kill a lot of the creativity and just about all of the collaborative experience.

b) This is probably the 'third rail' of all opensim issues, but say one day Linden retained a rabid lawyer who decided to chase every last thing that Linden had rights to, right down to the virtual dirt textures. Could opensim continue under such circumstance? Obviously this would not be a rational move but consider that Star Trek fanfiction was allowed for years, then legally pursued (1996), then tolerated again. The 'if not SL, then opensim' option falls apart if SL ever runs a risk of failure through competition with a clone of itself. Too easy for Linden to claw back its rights, or at least give it a shot if there's nothing left to lose.

c) Quite a few of the former edu's had an administrator or other such person that rented land. This gets into a grey area; I won't elaborate but there are a host of issues there. As long as other people pay more, there's an inherent incentive to cash out the difference. For what it's worth, I still support bringing back the edu discount, regardless. My own estate survived such competition just fine for many years; long term relevance to educational institutions is worth the risk.

d) It takes forever to write an educational grant and get it approved. I would be surprised if this effort gained any traction until maybe fall of 2015.

e) Anyone, and I mean anyone, can ask for anything of just about any business in existence. You may not get it, of course. But you can just about always call, email, or even shout "I'll buy two sandwiches instead of one for 10% off" over a lunch counter. If 10,000 people put their money where their mouth was, Groupon style, and said "I will get a region for two years minimum for 195 a month" ~ any sane business would at least run the numbers before rejecting such an offer.

James OReilly

Well, SL actually honeytrapped the majority to build in-world first... what newbie was ever directed to build on Sim-on-a-Stick first...

Consumer Detriment actually materialized in a long list of case studies.

No one received an overview of a meta ICT data structure, which was consistent with the evolve of a "Create Once, Experience Everywhere" iED Education Grid...

The main intent was/is to create a collusion with the seller-side, and to dismiss buyer-side procurement processes.

James OReilly

You would need to know that Thinkbalm produced a study - sponsored by Linden Lab themselves - as to How to Procure a Virtual World...

This was published in Jan 2010 before dropping the SL edu discount...

Thinkbalm Decision Making Guide
http://www.scribd.com/doc/25899407/ThinkBalm-Decision-Making-Guide-Jan-19-2010-FINAL

You will find that the USE CASE approach is used, not the TOOL approach.

A Tool does not look for its Use Case, its vice-versa... A Use Case looks for a Tool.

Use Cases are stable and Tools change, thats why Harvards iED Education Grid Requirements Management from 2008 http://ow.ly/iQA5E are still valid now, whereas Tools change over time...

No Vendor Lock-In is the killer feature for an Education Grid, and if you keep repeating the same old legacy mistake, you represent a dis-service for virtual worlds endorsing Consumer Detriment in the final.

Graham Mills

I do not understand the reference to Harvard's iED. Afaik they are separate entities.

2013

This is a bust. SL isn't a new and exciting platform for higher education to dabble in anymore. Back in the day (06ish), it would of worked, not 2013.

Arcadia Codesmith

Sounds like they're testing the waters before reinstituting the discount. If that's the case (and I'm just speculating), good for them. We need NPOs and educators.

But if you want to lure back people you've already hosed once, you're going to need a sweeter deal than the way things used to be. A start would be a binding contract not to jack up the rates again, at least not for a very long time.

Shockwave Yareach

Arcadia - I'd be quite surprised if they get even 10% of those polled interested in returning again at any price. Once bitten, twice shy, they say. And it'll be especially hard for real schools to sell this to their administrations again.

"So. We were doing business with this virtual world provider for 150$ a month. Then without warning, they doubled the price, and we had to cancel our project in the middle of the academic year. Oh what fun it was dealing with the grant committee and convincing them that no, we weren't committing fraud, due to unforseen circumstances. We lost our virtual classrooms and servers, which caused our Distance Learning group to lose a few teachers and resort to simple lessons on webpages.

And now you tell me that Linden Labs, without so much as an apology or admission of error on their part, has invited us to come back and repeat the whole mess with them all over again?! Ms. Swann, I am beginning to think you don't really want to teach in this university..."

TrillianTraal

The rates for sims is incredible unfair and out of touch with reality. $300.00 a month? Really? I know people that that would be the same as half their real life rent. In addition this rate doesn't allow for income. If there is an educational discount? There should be a sliding fee scale for people on disability. People should not be penalized and prevented full participation in the fullest extent of expressing their creativity in SL due to low income.

Max T

Trillian Traal wrote: "People should not be penalized and prevented full participation in the fullest extent of expressing their creativity in SL due to low income."

Why not?

2013

Kids in 2013 are trying to develop new phone apps, the next greatest game, they don't want to come into already chartered waters (SL) to develop stuff. This is 2013, they are trying to get their piece of the pie ($$$)

planetearthcalling

@Trillian

Try that low income bit the next time you go shopping in real life. Watch them laugh in your face.

TrillianTraal

@planet Next time you need empathy try remembering your statement here.

A.J.

Okay, I'll try not to be sarcastic this time. I just happened to be one of those people that was introduced to SL as a team member of a RL non-profit organization and I can firmly say that the organization has completely moved on from SL and has written it off as an experiment that didn't produce the desired results. The Great Tier Increase was just a reason to give this tiny project attention to the Dept. Director who concluded that we couldn't justify our $40,000 yearly budget for our Virtual Playground.

This organization could afford the tier, but concluded it wasn't worth the time.

From my vantage point, SL has become a place where people get together to admire their own reflections in a magic mirror. That's fine, but LL needs to get real about how much a person is willing to spend for that luxury.

LL Top management must go. Any reasonable budget director would conclude that they simply aren't worth their salary. SL needs a Bill Clinton at the top. Someone who actually likes the people of this world, who enjoys being admired, and who understands the needs of the average person. It's not about big organizations any more, it must be about the people who are here right now.

We will build this world if we are allowed the tools and the environment to thrive. We will bring new people here to admire ourselves and we will teach them to admire themselves while all of us blindly spend money on our virtual vanity.

It's time to feed the troops and stop dreaming of empires.

Leadership must go. No confidence.

Eve Kazan

"Kids in 2013 are trying to develop new phone apps, the next greatest game, they don't want to come into already chartered waters (SL) to develop stuff. This is 2013, they are trying to get their piece of the pie ($$$)"

Do you know that a lot of Learning Language Lab are actually in SL ... Teachers are there, and this new it's very very awesome !

Personnaly i was co-owner of an EDU sim during 4 years, and the abort of the program killed us. We were a little organisation, and the LL decision was totally unfair.

2013

@ Eve

How long ago?

ZZ Bottom

So in the end what we can learn from this topic!
That LL is in no way a company that any can trust!
That is management is completly out of reality!
That there are alternatives now that didnt exist 3 years ago, cheaper, more trustable!
That all Sl needs is some that really understands its purpose, its user base and can ensure some trust?


sadly

Sorry to say this effort by the Lindens is too little too late. Educators are happily building worlds with opensim, Unity3D and other software. The Lindens might get some artists and a few nonprofits back, but educational institutions can't afford to have the rug pulled out from under them and most will never trust the Lindens again.

Merry Chase

I find this somewhat disturbing. I'm pretty new to SL. Reading the comments, and getting a glimpse of what killed many wonderful sims, makes me wonder - I really am excited by the the vast educational possibilities in virtual worlds but is SL going to handle that potential well? If not SL, then where, and how? Once only people with budgets for very expensive equipment could make films. Now filmmaking is possible on every home computer. Will creating something like an educational sim someday, too, be possible from everyone's home, with common and readily-available programs that compete? It takes a ton of time and creativity to build and maintain a really good sim. How can the tools be made and kept available in a way that is accessible to nonprofits, who must rely on long-range grants and budget plans to employ the necessary builders? Or is it all just a playground for those with the money and leisure to avail themselves of its delights?

TrillianTraal

@ Merry Chase

SL is largely a playground for the rich. I know of two partners that have $1200.00 a month to throw at rent for a music venue that sits on four sims. It really gets a little disturbing just how much money is put into SL over what could be given to a domestic violence shelter for one example.

There is no reason other than greed that Linden Labs is in operation. To fully access the experience involves more money than is reasonably affordable. Their rates are ridiculous.

Issa Heckroth

What I would like to know is if LL have some way of resurrecting those trashed/abandoned sims. All the time and effort that gets put into creating amazing sims does not seem to factor in LLs calculations here. After the treatment Educators received, who in their right mind is going to come back if they have to start from scratch all over again?

Looks like a crap-shoot to me, and also a good indication to the rest of us that LL are still going with the same "special treatment" model they always have. The SL Plebs will still be paying through the teeth, and SL will continue its slide into irrelevance. At least we can confirm that LL are just as out of touch and delusional as ever.

Stone Semyorka

I am director of the SL campus for my RL university. We have been in SL on the mainland for six years and have been, and continue to be, very active as a state university delivering courses and presenting workshops and conferences in-world.

In 2012, I was forced to abandon 43,840 sqm of campus land on the mainland. The reduction was entirely due to the high cost of land owning in SL. As a result, my campus holdings dropped from 225,952 to 182,112 sqm. Even now, the high cost threatens even more cutbacks.

I would not have made the decision to retract if Linden lab had offered me their 50% tier discount.

Having made the move and suffered the hardships of it, it is particularly galling to hear they now are secretly extending their offer to selected non-profit and educational institutions. Who? Where? What institutions? How were they selected? We need complete transparency from LL. And some deeper cooperation with all of us continuing the educational effort.

Archangel Mortenwold

I wonder if this is a sign that Linden Lab might finally relent and lower tier across the board. It seems like they're testing the waters to see how many nonprofits and educational institutions actually return to the grid with the offered discounts.

Iggy

I asked folks on the SLED list who has been getting an offer. One person who did replied, and the odd thing? They are ready to give up 2 SL sims and move to InWorldz. Only one sim of their two in SL gets the offered discount, and that's not the one they'd chose to keep :)

Left hand? Right hand? Huh? More Linden competence at work, it seems.

James OReilly

Graham Mills, you would need to understand two things,

1. What is Convergence Culture and Black Box Fallacy,

2. Why SL Vendor Lock-in is an Anti-trust issue killing the evolve of an Education Grid,

Then it would dawn on you, how much you are captured in a SL Black box Fallacy, which prevents the evolve of an Education Grid. Thus, making iED Immersive Education Initiative not "another entity", but the "benchmarking entity" with their Education Grid Requirements Specifications.

You still haven't grasped the ICT process... Use Case first (meaning requirements management), then choose a Tool (as based on those requirements).

How can you operate in Cybergogy Constructivism without starting with constructivistic client requirements first, before choosing a tool?

Archangel Mortenwold

I'm gonna disagree vehemently with A.J. on his statement:

"SL needs a Bill Clinton at the top. Someone who actually likes the people of this world, who enjoys being admired, and who understands the needs of the average person."

SL doesn't need a right-wing extremist hellbent on cutting everything in sight — from taxes and regulations to badly needed social insurance programs — to placate a bunch of Wall Street suits. What it needs is an FDR or Henry Wallace, or a Hugo Chavez, someone willing to invest in the company and make life more affordable and enjoyable for its customers.

Thaiis Thei

All I can say is, BWAHAHAHAHAhahahahaha!! As if!

rjs

"Linden Lab Quietly Offering 50% Discounts to Select Non-Profit & Educational Groups Who've Given Up Their SL Sims"

I don't see anything wrong with this. The fact is the educational groups and in-world education zealots offer no eduction at all. None, zilcho, notta, nothing. They teach pupils how to put two prims together. Maybe even a simple swing script. They are not teaching the mathmatics associated with the C# code that makes it work. Why? Because your educators are idiots and teach the uneducated how to spend money on something they cannot afford instead of doing a simple google search for an answer.

The words education and "educators" when speaking about Second Life is a huge friggen joke.

--rjs

Gunnar

SL account owner since 2007, I am the builder and system admin for our Universities SL Island. It was shortly after 2010 (the year when they cancelled the edu discount) that I looked into OpenSim. Then it wasn't great and a lot of scripts and functionality was not supported. Different now, so I do have a test server running with 16 sims.
My last invoice went quietly from 1,770.00 to 885.00, indicating (Edu/NP). I never received a notification and also did not cancel the account.
Does this stop me from standing on my OpenSim feet? No, $885.00 is more acceptable now but I am so far with OpenSim right now that it is 'too late too little for me'.
Will cancel my longstanding account at the end of the term, October 2013.

Kim Hoffman

We received the 50% offer ($1770 per island) in 2011 but then when we renewed our two islands this year the Annual Island Maintenance was back up to $3540 per island.

Looks like some even got a better deal - "My last invoice went quietly from 1,770.00 to 885.00, indicating (Edu/NP)".

Thaiis Thei

I would NEVER trust LL again after the debale that was the way they abruptly cancelled the education diiscount on such short notice last time after people had invested so much time and money. Once bitten twice shy. Besides Open Sim is better. One main reason being that one can back up whole sims easily.

Too little too late.

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