Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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Portugal's Presidency Debuts in Second Life (Updated)

Tonjampae Amat reports on Portuguese culture in Second Life

Update, 3:30pm: Added photo of the President Silva, after the break

Portugal has a well known natural aptitude for new technologies (the high mobile phone penetration rates, the success of the electronic traffic system of Via Verde, the immense popularity of the children's computer Magalhães). It is not such a big surprise, then, that the Portuguese President, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, evidently became the first head of State in the world to make a speech that was broadcasted to citizens and communities through Second Life.

Portuguese president sees SL In red tie, Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and his wife, with the team that directed the project of Portuguese Presidency on Second Life, watching as Hugo Almeida (Halden Beaumont in SL) shows off the metaverse with his Space Navigator mouse (Photo courtesy Acc Virtual's Flickr Stream)

He did it last week, the day before the national holiday of Camões, Portugal and the Portuguese Communities, on the same day - and thus marking - the official opening of the Portuguese Republic Presidency's Island in SL. A source from Cavaco Silva's team told me that the timing of June 10th holiday was chosen due to their will to "create an innovating concept for the celebrations". With that in mind the metaverse had, at the same time that the real world, the opening of the exhibition Portugal 12-21 Identidade - in a very detailed reproduction into SL - and the transmission in real time of a concert by Rodrigo Leão, amongst other events. Of course, the President's speech was the headline and Residents were able to watch it at the same time it was being broadcasted by the Portuguese state TV channel.

But the Portuguese Presidency was onto SL for quite some time already. For over a year now they had been studying the best way to enter the metaverse with a solid project, ever since the platform was presented to them by the Virtual Cultural Community (Comunidade Cultural Virtual - CCV), a group of Portuguese Residents that uses web technologies and virtual worlds to promote Portuguese culture. Some two weeks before this June 10th, they were defied by the Cavaco Silva's team to put up together the Portuguese Presidency's Island.

"In spite of the crazy deadline to bring to shape such a huge project, we couldn't possibly say no", Hugo Almeida (Halden Beaumont in SL) tells me, a Portuguese filmmaker and machinima's talent, that presides to the CCV. The outcome is a beautiful space, filled with features and functionalities - across five main areas - done by 40 members of CCV in partnership with the Portuguese Presidency's Museum. And they even had the great idea to build an area, side by side with the Presidency's Island, where new users are not only taught on the main metaverse concepts, all in Portuguese, but also where they can be directly "born" if they enter SL for the first time through a link on the Portuguese Presidency's webpage.

I visited the sim last week and walked around it listening on the stream to the words of poets like Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Alberto Caeiro. It is a must see place, even for those not familiar with the Portuguese language, and a very good example of success of a joint project between SL Residents and official RL entities. I was saddened, though, that it turns out that Cavaco Silva himself doesn't have an avatar in SL like it was rumoured on the blogosphere. "The President does not have or have ever had any avatar", his team assured me, noting though that he was "very pleasingly surprised" with what he was shown of the metaverse.

As a sneak peak, watch the machinima Halden Beaumont made on the Portuguese Presidency's Island, which - I should add - is now part of the SL world showcase.

Tonjampae translates select New World Notes posts into Portuguese every week.


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Looks like a smart, well-researched effort by a national government to use virtual worlds effectively, building upon the existing citizens already in-world and the strengths of the platform.

In other words, the exact opposite of the "Awesome Philippines" island created by the Philippines Department of Tourism. More about that here.


I was really impressed with the president join this new aproach to show to the world the portuguese culture. The CCV team worked a lot as far as I know and I give them my congratulation for a great work and partnership. Very good indeed.

moncler norway

I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

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