How amusing. The British government has established an "innovations centre" in Second Life. The BBC reports that it has cost twenty thousand pounds to set up and will cost twelve thousand pounds a year to run, but those numbers don't make sense. I thought the journalists always told us they were superior to bloggers because of their editors and their obsessive "fact checking?"
A "private region" or "island" in Second Life - as owned by such companies as Mercedes-Benz and BMW - only costs a thousand US dollars to set up, plus two hundred and ninety-five US dollars a month in "tier fees" (Second Life's "land tax").
From the annual maintenance fee, it therefore looks like this "Innovations Centre" straddles about 4 private regions (almost twice my personal holdings in SL). Yet the reported setup cost would have bought more than twenty regions (even at current exchange rates). I infer that our highly-educated civil servants were incapable of navigating a few set-up screens and have paid a third party taxpayers' money to do it for them. The centre may be virtual, but the fees are real enough.
For what it's worth, I think the government is right to explore the possibilities of using Second Life for virtual meetings etc. It's a bit of a joke at the moment, I know, but it has within it the seeds of Web 3.00. It's just ridiculous (though typical in all but the small amount involved) that it should waste money in the attempt. I would have cheerfully have rented it a centre for $12,000 a year with no setup costs and full support from my in-world staff! Indeed if they called it the Tom Paine Centre for Innovation, I might be prepared to host it for free. If only for the amusement of watching Civil Service noobs staggering about the place.