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Last I looked, there were in excess of two thousand educational and non-profit organisations with estates in Second Life. Today, with a shade less than 3 months notice, Linden Lab announced that the discounts traditionally applied to those estates would be slashed from the start of the year, effectively doubling the cost of those installations.

Educational and non-profit organisations are, of course, the most price-sensitive organisations you’re likely to find, so the move seems to be difficult to justify for the Lab, unless it is desperate and clutching at revenue sources. I didn’t think it was, but I’m having a bit of difficulty reading this another way.

The time-frame given is too short for many of these organisations to make necessary budget or funding compensations, so it is reasonable to expect educational and non-profit estates to decline, perhaps with some clubbing together to maintain smaller holdings.

Some months ago, I spoke with Doctor Jason Zagami of Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia), who gave me his take on large, themed educational installations in Second Life for education.

“Less and less am I finding that I need a specific location to use [Second Life] for educational purposes. Other than student building activities (which can be done in various [sandbox locations]) there does not seem to be a real need to maintain a large themed location.”

“Most of the time we only use it as a place to begin before moving off to locations scattered throughout [Second Life]. We do like to gather for discussions, but I have a couple of sites elsewhere where I have rights to manage these processes.” – The Virtual Whirl: Virtual worlds must accommodate, adapt, evolve or die.

It certainly seems to be a recipe for the reduction of themed installations, and the shift to a smaller number of common-use spaces, and could have a significant negative effect on Linden Lab’s bottom line.

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