Have you spoken to a few owners of virtual land in Second Life (R) the past month or two? In developing a new media strategy and virtual world presence, we follow the trends as closely as possible, and it is with some distress and a pinch of interest that we listen to the discontent of land owners. Prices of private islands (sims) have been slashed by Linden Lab.
After all, we also used some donated funds to purchase two islands, Virtual Africa and Robben Island, to drive our project in-world – at the original prices. Landowners in Second Life (R) have been the backbone of the the virtual economy, and their investment of (very real) money ensured that the platform grew rapidly since 2003/4. However, it does seem like the devaluation of land by dropping prices of private land will take its toll on the enthusiasm and free enterprise spirit of many of those that have developed the vivid spaces for others to use. I can just imagine what it must feel like to see your investment of time, energy and money disappearing with every new announcement from Linden Lab. Second Life resident Erbo Evans is quite outspoken about the recent developments in his blog: “LL to Island Owners: Drop Dead“.
This is as good opportunity as any to thank one such landowner and pioneer associated with Second Life News Network, Doeko Cassidy (SL): Uthango established its offices at one of Doeko’s beautiful islands, Sunset Commerce after a visit to Ina Centaur (SL) – at the time busy with a building for SLiterary – and we got our first little office in this events centre, next to Jilly Kidd (SL) – who has since moved to Cookie and now drives the popular Meet the Author chat show on the in-world television channel SLCN (Second Life Cable Network). But let me not start with another topic; our own vision related to African literature was shared with these two professionals early in 2007, and we still need to execute it…
So, Uthango wanted a way to establish a visual in-world presence, and we approached the land owner who had the plot next to the first sLiterary building based at Sunset Commerce. I (Alanagh) sold my little privately-owned CapeCod beach house, and bought the prefab office with some Lindens I made from the deal. We still use a year later. Its developer has since founded another virtual world platform! More about that later…
By the end of 2007, Doeko Cassidy agreed to graciously sponsor Uthango by waving our weekly rental and he has been doing that ever since.
Even though we now also have two private islands, we would love to retain the office at Suncet Commerce – it is a lovely environment and we have been visited by many newcomers to Second Life. Sharing the beautiful sim with SL companies such as GRACILE (whose owner made her piece of land available after some negotiation) has only been a pleasure – and not only because the clothes are stunning! Sunset Commerce is not managed heavy-handedly and we get on with the business of being creative.
We hope that the landowners of Second Life (R) will get the respect they deserve for contributing to the growth of the SL platform, and to the overall community, but also for the goodwill that they so often show their tenants and the way they manage to create spaces that have meaning… like Doeko Cassidy, in our own Second Life journey. If you have the broadband connection, and you have the graphic card you need, we invite you to register for Second Life, and to visit our offices at Sunset Commerce:
If you struggle to access Second Life, or do not have the right computer equipment, we invite you to stay in touch with this project here. We continue to pursue ways to address digital divide in realistic ways. There are individuals and companies worldwide that assist us in doing so… we respect their efforts and hope that their role will be recognized and a win-win-win will be crafted as we move forward – between the platform-creator (Linden Lab), the landowners and average Second Life users wishing to have a meaningful experience. Is it too much to ask?
Ps: After all the lessons learned, one of our sims, Robben Island, is set up to host pro-Africa companies, individuals and organisations wishing to have a presence in Second Life. Contact us (preferably via email) for more information.