In the Time magazine article Indonesia’s Artists vs. Muslim Extremists,by Jason Tedjasukmana, the author decries the “Talibanization” of Art in Indonesia. He recounts a story of religious fundamentalists defacing a statue of nude women with spray paint. Government officials and police did nothing to intervene in this and other incidents within Indonesia. There is a certain sanctimonious tone to the story. “Here in the democratic West we are so much better than that” is the assumption of the article. “Our secular society does not allow the religious nutty fringe to dictate our policies toward art”…. but is that true?
Earlier this month, at a virtual worlds event, in the leading edge of 3D art, an installation by Rose Borchovski was summarily ejected by organizers because the art’s nude figures were in violation of the zoning restrictions in the virtual world. Last fall, Linden Lab, the creators of the Second Life virtual world caved in to pressures from American social conservatives to push “adult” content into virtual red-light districts. One would expect openness and sophistication in the high tech international community of virtual reality residents and the arts community. Instead Linden Lab seems to have chosen to “Taliban-ize” expression within Second Life more effectively than the Indonesians with spray cans.
Forwarding on a press release that I got in my email today about an interesting presentation in virtual reality. I have been thinking a lot lately about the almost religious fervor people have for social media and their belief that it is going to change the world. There are some powerful communication tools out there. One only needs to look at tweets (twitter posts) with the hashtag #iranelection to see how ineffective shutting down news is these days when anyone with a cellphone, a blackberry, or a laptop can get news out. That’s the encouraging news.
On the discouraging front, this past week my husband asked his online group of teachers. (These are all practicing teachers already engaged in teaching our kids) to use a wiki to do some collaborative writing for a group projects. He set up the wiki in the very user-friendly Wikispaces platform. All four of the project groups rebelled. They found using a wiki too complicated and no one had “trained” them on this tool. Sigh. I wondered aloud if they needed someone to train them on the use of a pencil since wiki’s are almost as common a writing tool in our current era.
But that is the dilemma. We have these great tools but only the technologically literate are truly using them. While I intend to write more on this, here’s the information on this Monday’s talk. It’s worth dropping into Second Life for.
Beth Noveck talks about Wiki Government in Second Life on July 20th!
Please join a Second Life simulcast, from the Markle Foundation, of Beth Simone Noveck, now the deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House responsible for Open Government, presenting her new book, WIKI GOVERNMENT: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A, in which participants from both Second Life and in person can ask questions of the author.
In the digital age our lives are constantly being transformed by the way in which we connect and collaborate with one another, affecting the way we make decisions – on a personal level, an institutional level, and a national level. Drawing on her expertise, and more directly her experience in creating Peer-to-Patent, the federal government’s first social networking initiative, Ms. Noveck’s Wiki Government insightfully demonstrates how technology, along with citizen participation, can help the government become more open and effective at solving the complex social and economic problems we face today.
WIKI GOVERNMENT: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful
In the digital age our lives are constantly being transformed by the way in which we connect and collaborate with one another, affecting the way we make decisions – on a personal level, an institutional level, and a national level.
Beth Simone Noveck’s book provides a coherent and compelling “new vision of governance in the digital age – collaborative democracy – government with the people.”
Drawing on her expertise, and more directly her experience in creating Peer-to-Patent, the federal government’s first social networking initiative, Ms. Noveck’s Wiki Government insightfully demonstrates how technology, along with citizen participation, can help the government become more open and effective at solving the complex social and economic problems we face today.
About the Author:
Beth Simone Noveck is the United States deputy chief technology officer for open government and leads President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. Based at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, she is an expert on technology and institutional innovation. Previously, Noveck directed the Institute for Information Law & Policy and the Democracy Design Workshop at New York Law School. She is founder of the “Do Tank,” and the State of Play Conferences, and launched the first of its kind Peer-to-Patent Community Patent Review project in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trade Office. As a professor of Law at New York Law School, she has taught in the areas of intellectual property, innovation, and constitutional law, as well as courses on electronic democracy and electronic government.
For two years I have been presenting concerts in the virtual world of Second Life developing my series of live concerts at Music Island into one of the virtual worlds’ hot spots and attracting attention of both online and traditional journalists.
Now, having recently stepped down from my position as Executive Director of the Toronto Philharmonia, I would like to find ways to make my avocation part of my vocation. I am actively looking for (preferably Canadian) ensemble(s) or presenters that would be interested in partnering with me for a series of concerts/audience development activities in virtual reality.
I would see this collaboration as involving me in developing a budget and proposal and seeking funding for an artistic project we would jointly develop. I am an experienced proposal and grantwriter. I would also be able to supply the inworld expertise in streaming, coordinating the event and promotion.
One model that has occured to me would be a series of concerts in a Toronto venue that would be streamed into Second Life with streaming video from both worlds. The Toronto live audience would see the virtual performance/audience on big screen and the international virtual audience would see the Toronto audience on an inworld media viewer. There are other ideas that might fit. I see this as being of interest to local ensembles & presenters, individual musicians and also with some appeal to a venue or destination wishing to promote itself to international tourism.
You can contact me via a comment left here, or inside of Second Life by IM’ing Kate Miranda.
As teachers, librarians, artists, health care workers, and as volunteers in the many charitable and activist organizations of Second Life, women are a very visible element of our virtual community. The number of women’s groups and community centers is increasing, supported by an informal network of committed individuals. Those who come here out of curiosity often find themselves involved in these community activities, and those who came for professional reasons often find that their interests have widened and diversified as they have come into contact with Second Life society. Is what we do here just relaxation, a metaphor for what we do in real life, or do our Second Life activities have importance for our home communities and for society in general?
Virtual Concerts in the Park Linda Rogers (Second Life: Kate Miranda)
Executive Director, Toronto Philharmonia
There was a time when orchestras wanted to reach out to new audiences, they would go out and play in public parks or shopping malls. These days people are increasingly gathering on the internet and in virtual reality to play and shop. As an arts administrator I have been curious about the possibilities of audience development within Second Life. Who are the musicians that are active in Second Life? Why are they performing there? And who makes up the audience?
Virtual Praxis: In the Director’s Chair Phylis Johnson, Ph.D. (SL: Sonicity Fitzroy)Associate Professor & Interim Chair, Department of Radio-Television
Southern Illinois University
This paper looks at women involved in the creation, production, and distribution of news and entertainment content, and provides a wide scan of their contributions in-world. This content is created for and distributed to radio streams and news and entertainment cable services, and printed in magazines and newspapers in Second Life. The discussion specifically investigates the role of “media” women in SL content creation, and the potential impact on the larger media industry. SL users, internationally, are becoming notable media makers, and HBO featured the first documentary produced inside this digital community in early 2008. This paper attempts to create a portrait of an emerging woman producer who resides in this hall of media mirrors, and subsequently considers how much originality is realistically possible during construction in this parallel mediated universe. The Women of Chilbo Chris Collins (Second Life: Fleep Tuque)Instructional & Research Computing, University of Cincinnati
Chilbo is a community of artists, architects, educators, musicians, parents, hobbyists, students, and people from around the world who share a common vision that our interactions and experiences in virtual worlds can have a positive impact on our real world and our real lives. The Chilbo sim in Second Life is the cultural center of our community, but neither physical nor virtual location limits our ability to collaborate and share resources with one another.
A Village of our Own
Leta Hendricks, MA, MS (Second Life: Tamu Oh)
Librarian, The Ohio State University
“A Village of our Own” is a discussion of womanist resources available in Second Life. The Discussion will include a review of Second Life contacts, landmarks, and other womanist sources.
Gender and Race in Ultra-Conservative Groups in Second Life
Assistant Provost, University of Kentucky My presentation will focus on the role of female avatars in racist right-wing groups in Second Life. Why would a right-wing group choose to use Second Life for communication and outreach – and especially in regards to women? Katherine Blee’s Inside Organized Racism (2002) states that women are heavily sought after by American hate groups, making up half of all new recruits. Second Life is ideal for imagining and practicing gender and race, and ultra-conservative groups have found land, groups and events in Second Life that match their needs. There is a clear connection between some white power, nationalist websites and groups in Second Life. Individuals identified in fascist discussion groups and MySpace profiles sometimes post their Second Life avatar names. Portraits of female avatars participating in right-wing groups in SL will be described. Attendees will be given a party favors bag with hyperlinks to important rightwing groups’ websites and SL landmarks to interesting sites. Attendees may wish to be teleported to one particular site to see and discuss the symbolic structures present. In this session, as Ingeborg Reichle wrote in her 2004 essay “Remaking Eden,” (Cyberfeminism. Next Protocols): “the observer is no longer merely an observer, but rather becomes a participant.” The presenter will facilitate a short discussion on the role of gender and race in rightwing groups in Second Life.
This paper will explore the ways in which the concept of “women” in Second Life shapes the building of women’s homosocial environments within SL through an examination of the concept in terms of gender performance. The facility of constructing an SL avatar that is, by conventional definitions of sex and gender, incongruent with one’s physical body, is enough to place such concepts as “women’s community” in tension. This paper will explore the meaning of the phrase “women’s community” through the concept of performativity as it is understood through the work of Judith Butler. I will argue that the physical sex of SL users is filtered through the SL medium to obligate avatars in presumptively all-female spaces to perform “women’s community.” The creation of “women’s communities” in SL is a practice in referentiality wherein tropes that take their meaning in users’ understanding of women’s community come to be recognized and reiterated in the virtual context, but with a latent awareness that gender performance takes precedence over physical sex in the creation of such spaces. One SL space I particularly wish to examine is the Joyous Harmonious Park, formerly known as the Baths of Sisterhood, a women-only relaxation park with a history that seems to involve several characteristics stereotypically associated w
ith the creation and dissolution of women’s spaces.
Panel discussion: Is Second Life a welcoming space for women?
As educators, business people, community activists, artists and musicians, women make a strong contribution to Second Life society. According to the last published metrics from Linden Lab, 40% of user hours in Second Life are spent by people who self-report as female. While their achievements are to be seen everywhere in our virtual world, the energy and creativity of women in our community may face obstacles. Although no formal studies have been published, there is anecdotal evidence of harassment and intimidation. This panel will be one of the first attempts to assess the problem, beginning with a discussion our own personal experiences.
Anyone interested in learning more about classical music in Second Life might by interested in visiting the new My Space page of Akito Kuramoto. There is a little about the artist, but best of all some truly delicious recordings of some selections from his popular recitals in Second Life.
Pictured above, is a “live” concert by British community orchestra Sinfonia Leeds in the virtual world of Second Life. The concert appeared in virtual reality within an open-learning community Cedar Island, where I reside in my Second Life identity as Kate Miranda. Organizing and presenting concerts Music Island is part of my work and play within Second Life.
People unfamiliar with virtual reality usually have a few main questions:
1. How does it work? 2. Why present classical music in Second Life? 3. Who is performing in Second Life and what is there motivation?
How it works:
The performer or ensemble use microphones or instrument pickups to capture a live performance. That performance is encoded as an MP3 stream (usually using one of three popular programs Winamp, Simplecast, or SAM) and uploaded to a ShoutCast server on the Web. Meanwhile in Second Life, a venue owner tunes the media channel the URL to the streamed music.
At the same time the performers are using their computers to position their Second Life avatars to “play” virtual instruments, in fact triggering animations. Performers also can use the stream to introduce their works by speaking into a computer head set microphone or by using their avatars to text introductions.
Why present classical music in Second Life?
Well first let’s deal with the principal objections. The sound is no better than any podcast on the internet and the animations are not really linked with sound production in any way–something some consider a bit of a sham.
The principal reason for presenting classical music in Second Life, for me, revolves around the quality of the audience experience. Listening to a podcast or recording is a solitary experience. By contrast, concerts in Second Life are joyfully social, audience members are joyfully celebratory in their anticipation and appreciation of the music in a way rarely matched in real life orchestras. Unique to the medium, listeners silently text appreciative comments, hurrahs, and questions that they hope someone more informed will be able to answer. Sometimes Second Life avatars even decide to dance to the music in the manner of small children at a summer concert at the park.
Conversations quickly reveal that many of those attending classical concerts in Second Life have little or no experience of live classical music. While classical music series are having trouble attracting new audiences to conventional concert stages, it seems that the internet virtual audience is open to the experience of art music. It seems worth it to step into the virtual world to reach out to this new audience.
The other unique element to the SL live concert experience is the accessibility of artists. Performers can view texted messages and questions. They usually engage the audience before and after concerts and sometimes at breaks in the program. This accessibility is as rewarding to the performer as to the audience.
Not to be minimized is the “fun” factor. Even audience members and performers who are regulars in the real world concert hall are amused, engaged and refreshed by the experience of classical music in the context of virtual reality.
Who is performing in Second Life and what is their motivation? Classical performers in second life range from competent amateurs, music students, music educators, plus emerging and mid-career professional musicians.
Love of the music and interest in virtual reality is common to everyone performing in second life. You have to think it’s just a gas to be bothered. Those without a sense of humour will not be amused.
Some performers find it is a good way to work up new material and play it before a live audience before facing an audience in the concert hall. For students it is a way to get more live concert experience. For educators, a way to keep performance skills sharp.
Performers are warmed by the appreciation of the audience and the sense that they are reaching new audiences.
While some hope to promote real life careers and boost earnings, this last goal is more difficult. The requirement to have a pseudonym in Second Life hobbles name recognition. As Second Life evolves into a serious platform for art, corporations, and learning, this role-play with fictional names seem more and more out-dated.
On Music Island we have been getting around the name recognition issue with posters, T-shirts and even virtual CD stands with links to performers’ real world websites.
Anyone interested in learning more about classical music in Second Life should join the Classical Group in-world. Please contact me–Kate Miranda–if I can help you or answer your questions.
The calendar is on the wall for strike planning, the strike headquarters is ready, even the T-shirts on on the rack ready to be donned.
It’s just another day in union organizing, right?
Because this strike is being organized in virtual reality and some of the strike action will take place there also. You can read all about it here.
I spoke to one of the organizers yesterday and the biggest push right now is to get workers who haven’t used Second Life to sign up and get oriented in the world. The global union organization has done a good job of providing bare bones orientation. In fact Linden Labs could take some lessons in concise information as included in the unions sign up kit!
Even as I spoke, interested activists were teleporting into the centre from around the globe and offering help to novel action.
The union headquarters can be found inworld at Commonwealth Island 103.171.22
Very interesting post yesterday about the myths and realities of the virtual reality world, “Second Life”.
As a habitue of Second Life, I agree with the statements. Second Life is fun, it’s growing and there is a lot worth logging on for!
Yeah, it’s not perfect. There’s a lot of commercialism and seedy stuff that I have no use for but there is also the same heady feel of the early days of the internet. I love what people are doing on “Better World Island” a community for peaceniks and environmentalists full of hopeful displays and opportunities to learn about work going on in international development and conservation.
I’ve recently joined an intentional community on Cedar Island dedicated to exploring some of the positive uses of technology for education and social empowerment.
And strange as it seems I also have joined a virtual Quaker Meeting, pictured above at one of our regular Saturday am meetings.