The Appeal to Linden Labs to save Okapi Island, October 2010


To whom it may concern,

Since 2007 we have enjoyed an ongoing relationship with Second Life, building OKAPI Island as part of our research on archaeological reconstructions and virtual worlds at the University of California, Berkeley.  Our team of professors, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students worked to reconstruct the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk, an important and ongoing site of excavation on the Anatolian plain in central Turkey. Through this reconstruction we have pushed the boundaries of archaeological interpretation, won an innovative educators award, published in major journals within our discipline, and held several events, including film festivals, lectures, and tours.  In Fall of 2009, an undergraduate class scripted, filmed, and created a machinima about the lives of theancient residents of Catalhoyuk for credit ( Our efforts have resulted in media exposure nationwide and have garnered two awards for us: 2007 Open Archaeology Prize; 2008 New Media Consortium Virtual Learning Award (specifically for Okapi island).

We had big plans for the 2010-2011 school year, with a team of

undergraduate research apprentices building a new interpretive museum, creating a script that automatically recreates ancient artifacts and pots from 3D scans of actual objects, developing a lesson plan for elementary school teachers to show their students around the island, and hosting an experimental film festival for the Theoretical Archaeology Group meetings being held in Bristol, UK in December.

Needless to say, the current policy of discontinuing educational

pricing gives us serious pause.  We are a small research group and coming up with the annual fee was difficult enough--doubling the price makes further investigation of Second Life as a platform impossible. The thought of abandoning the island that we have worked so hard on is dismal, but it will be necessary under your current pricing scheme.

We ask that you consider the value of OKAPI Island and the relationship with UC Berkeley to your enterprise, and to extend our educational discount beyond 1 January until at least the end of the academic year, by which time  we will have fully assessed our resources and the value of Second Life to our further research. By then also we will have had adequate time to assess our resources and alternatives. Such an extension of your deadline would also allow us to close down Okapi Island with minimal disruption of the research and courses in which the island plays a vital part.

Thank you for your consideration,

The OKAPI team