Monday, February 16, 2009

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Understanding Islam in Second Life, the Mixed Reality Report

I've mentioned the "Understanding Islam Through Virtual Worlds" project from metaverse developer Dancing Ink Productions several times (as here and here).  The final report is available in various versions at this link, including an illustrated hardcopy book, and this machinima above, a very nicely polished production by ILLclan Studios.  Dancing Ink's Josh and Rita explore several Muslim-themed sites in Second Life and interview the creators and inhabitants.  Most fascinating to me is that a number of them were built not by Muslims but by non-believers seeking to understand Islam for themselves, often for political reasons stemming from 9/11 and the US-led invasion of Saddam's Iraq.  That includes, for example, a "methodist from Indiana" who became involved in the Al-Andalus Caliphate project in Second Life, and found herself clashing with a Muslim convert angry that some avatars are entering their mosque without first removing their shoes, as expected by Islamic tradition.  A fascinating clash of best intentions and actual spiritual desires, transplanted into the virtual realm -- read more about it here, including video of Josh and Rita's presentations at the Carnegie Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

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