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Monday, February 28, 2011

SL ARTS & LITERATURE: Another One Bites the Dust

While preparing  another feature, this notice came across my virtual desk from Jilly Kidd of Written Word announcing the closure of the London School of Journalism (LSJ) operations in Second Life :

“We're sorry to say the LSJ is leaving Second Life in mid-March. Do pop over to enjoy this lovely island in the final weeks and to enjoy what the LSJ has been doing here.

“We're grateful for the space the LSJ has provided for writers and for writing events . . .  The LSJ teaches writing in a variety of forms as well as journalism and has a great free contest on the website every month, so stay in touch.”

While no specific information is available, it is not hard to connect this closure with the recent change in the pricing structure that eliminates tier discounts for Education and Non-Profit land owners on the Second Life grid.

Schools and Non-Profits all over the grid have either been circling their financial wagons and regrouping with less virtual real estate, or planning to discontinue operations during 2011.  Another example: after the announcement of the January 1 policy change by Linden Labs, the Community Virtual Library held a month plus of concentrated fundraisers.  Coupled with the generosity of a major donor pledging the balance of their goal, they reconfigured their estate from five to two regions and paid ahead for twenty-four months at the old discounted rate prior to the rate change.  Yesterday’s announcement regarding the London School of Journalism is a reminder that not all those affected by these changes are as fortunate.

The London School of Journalism is one of the UK's best known colleges for courses in journalism and all forms of creative writing. Daytime and evening classes are held in London and it offers a wide range of distance learning courses. The school has offered a 10% discount for students joining from Second Life through their Secure Distance Learning Program.

In addition, LSJ also maintained a number of websites and blogs for a variety of purposes.  Here are some of them:

  • - our student and tutor run Blog. Contains examples of student's and tutor's work, along with Administrator notices from the LSJ.

  • - you will find course, payment, and timetable information for all of our courses. You are also able to enrol on any course via our secure online enrolment website.

The LSJ has been conducting lectures on Second Life for students and members of the public. The School’s estate also includes writer’s cabins, a variety of classroom and event spaces, the Space Station, recreational spaces, a terrific orientation center, and one of the bases of operations for the group Written Word (previously featured).

The LSJ has hosted an annual Author Convention and Exhibition (The ACE) every May, and provided authors, writers, publisher and publications exhibit space in an Orb Space Station above the island which is open for visitors (see SL ARTS AND LITERATURE: Constellations of Writing at the London School of Journalism Space Station November 8, 2010)

If you live in the virtual world for any length of time, you realize that things come and go: shops, clubs, and friends.  The presence of schools, libraries, theatres, galleries, and charities on the grid adds cultural depth to what could easily become a very “game-like” superficial virtual existence.  One can only speculate how many more such institutions will be lost.  Surely, as in the corporeal world, economy and creativity are essential survival tools right now to reconfigure sustainable models for such organizations.  Conversely, we can also hope that those in leadership positions at Linden Labs will re-evaluate the tremendous value these institutions provide to a virtual community and make steps to keep them engaged and active on the grid.  As in your own community at home, work, family, friends often are the reason that you get out of bed in the morning.  Art, Literature, Music, and learning all connect you with why you do so.

Activities and programs of Written Word will continue on Cookie. Check out the London School of Journalism before it vanishes:

~Caledonia Skytower, Reporting
“Any ink is good ink, even if it is virtual”


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