Getting a Second Life

07Dec06

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This is a very interesting use of new media to spread a message about social responsibility. The Spanish association Mesajeros de la Paz (messengers of peace) has placed a homeless child within the online 3D world Second Life (SL). He is not there to ask for money, but to raise awareness of homelessness amongst the residents of Second Life. The sign says “help a child have a second chance in his first life”.

There has been a bit of notice about this on technology blogs such as Boing Boing. Another blog, The Click Heard Around the World, has actually gone online and had a conversation with the homeless kid. Read it here. There is also a You Tube video up describing the project.

It seems as though this is not the first use of SL as a platform for virtual campaigning and will certainly not be the last. The Click Heard Around the World has a very interesting commentary about this phenomena, worth having a read of as you think about new ways to get out your socially useful messages.

I have been doing a bit more research on the business behind Second Life and now I realise that I have almost missed something quite massive, what have I been doing? Oh yeah, teaching! I had vaguely heard about people buying and selling virtual land for real dollars, but had no idea just how much was being traded, nor how many people were doing the trading. Currently there are 1,855,135 residents in Second Life. In January this year they spent nearly $US5 million in some 4.5 million transactions buying or selling clothes, land, games, whatever. In fact one Australian guy, Nathan Keir, has sold so many of his Tringo games within Second Life that Nintendo and Game Boy will soon have the game on their real world consoles. I got all that info from a Business Week article from May (yes I have missed the boat) which you can read here.

One of the other interesting things that the Business Week article mentions is that some companies are looking at harnessing the fun that people have in Second Life type games to make real-world work more enjoyable. So perhaps your next data entry job will be within an online world. They say that if they can make work fun, they can get people to do menial tasks more easily.

One company that is quoted as building this model is Seriosity. Their mission is “to change the nature of work by creating a new category of enterprise software inspired by concepts and technology from successful multi-player games”.

Another company based in London called Rivers Run Red have been working so hard on making Second Life feel like real life that they have held a music festival in it this year. Sponsored by BBC Radio 1, the festival included “performances” by Primal Scream, Snow Mylo,  The Streets, Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Keane, Pink, Sugababes, The Ordinary Boys and
Feeder. You can check out some of the festival “photos” (like the one below) at Flikr.

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