Friday, May 12, 2006


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Memory Harker

Now I've read (much of) Zuckerman's comments and your article, and so offer a few relevant comments myself, Hamlet.

And, sure, you are --- and always have been --- all boosterish regarding SL. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, and not that it doesn't also provide evidence of your intergrity, since you're no less gung-ho now than you were when you worked for the Lindens.)

And Zuckerman's also right about the basic need being to get the raw RL information OUT of Darfur (or sadly similar situations) in the first place.

But of course: How else to know to take necessary action?

But your point about the effectiveness of SL's 3-D immersion in providing an emotional, almost tangible connection with what's going on in remote (to so many) sections of the world ... your point is well-made and well-taken.

The experts and authorities, sure, their focus will be the raw data. But if general public response and support has ANY worth at all, then it will become imperative (if the 3-D, avatar-inhabited metaverse expands beyond its present, admittedly rarified, community) ... it will become imperative to present the data within that SL-ish environment.

Because, yes, goddamnit: "The quality of a virtual world punctures the fourth wall, removing the barrier between medium and participant, and translates into a willingness to engage that mediums before it do not usually encourage."

You carefully refer to that (quoted above) as anecdotal evidence. But how much anecdotal evidence is necessary (I concur, my friends concur, everyone I know that has stayed in SL for more than a few months concurs) before ... well, not before it's accepted as fact. (Because, hell, then religion would be equal to science and we may as well give up and just kiss the feet of the whole Intelligent Design crowd of idiots.)

But how many people need to experience "Active Enagagement via Embodied Interaction" before it's a viable, significant force?

When it comes to public awareness/action, it's all just a numbers game, isn't it? Like so much in this world.


But I think you're right that the 3-D immersive metaverse would INCREASE those numbers beyond whatever amount might be reached otherwise. That's not "utopian thinking," that's simply a fact.

(Although, yeah, I'm a mite cheerleaderish about SL, myself. Guilty as charged.)


Just my somewhat errant thoughts on this complex topic, Hammie ...

Keep up the good work!



I'm reading this and nodding my head all the way through.

I'm really excited about the way the internet and online communing is developing and evolving.

I can see some amazing shifts and changes in the world over the next 50 years. Driven by the transparency of the internet. The less walls it has and the more ways to pool our knowledge and interact with each other, regardless of where we are or who the more benefit will be derived from it.

It's exciting, I can't wait to see what unfolds...
It's an incredibly exciting time and I feel that things have yet to truly take off.


Hamlet, thank you for helping us illuminate the process behind Camp Darfur. I wish the timing had been better on the Metaverse Roadmap Summit.

As an educator and media producer I've been handed a very unique challenge; to design experiences that motivate people to take action on an issue that we'd rather forget about. It sucks being the one who tells kids what genocide is! Camp Darfur in SL is one piece of that story, an idealized displacement camp where everyone is protected by superheroes and has the food and care they need to survive. A hopeful place where people can rebuild.

We live on Better World Island because we believe that we need good examples to follow. We look for positive uplift and the best new solutions from around the globe. Our scouts are from five continents...they are accountants, artists, inventors and actors. Some have laid their lives on the line to protect the people of Darfur or others in their care. Some are in Africa now building an orphanage, others are planning large humanitarian efforts for later this year.

At the RL Camp Darfur in Los Angeles we took potatoes and made skull stamps. Students came by and dipped the potatoes in the paint ten times, each stamp representing 100 lives. By the end of that day 400 students memorialized 1000 people lost in Darfur. By the end of those five minutes those kids understood a scale of tragedy that they had not comprehended before.

I haven't figured out how to make these kind of experiences real in Camp Darfur SL yet....the videos walls are coming online next week and the Camp Darfur Comix tries to bridge the education gap for kids....but it's a meager start. We're two months in now. I'm so thankful we've had the support of the Green Lanterns and others who have been getting involved in SL and through RL advocacy in every corner of the globe.

You've hit on some very important points....I'll be sure to pass on the comix link for you soon. There's tremendous potential on remixing Second Life culture for youth education and we definitely welcome suggestions as we script and finetune Camp Darfur.


What seems to be getting lost in much of the back and forth in the blogosphere is that it's possible for both Hamlet and Ethan to be ... *hold your breath* ... right. I don't see either position being fundamentally incorrect. What I see are disconnects occurring at other levels. That's a shame since it puts people at odds who should be united.

As to how the technology can be better utilized in general so that it's usefulness is more apparent, I'd refer to something posted on RCommunication by Rebecca Mackinnon:

"The question we really ought to be focusing on is: how can citizens and professional journalists work together to create a better and more well-informed public discourse?"

I disagreed. Here's my response:

"I would phrase that differently. Perhaps to something like this: how can citizens and professional journalists work together to make well-informed public discourse fashionable?"

SL is becoming fashionable. And those interested in getting the word out might consider that it's not about educating people, it's about helping people educate themselves. Give people a reason to stop their own activities (which are their escape from life's difficulties) and make them want to learn. That's a tough order to fill, but it's the one that has to be placed imo.

Memory Harker

"To make well-informed public discouse fashionable."

Hee. Csven, I always suspected that Bruce Sterling was one of your meatspace alts!

No, but really, that's such a smart distinction you made above, and coincidentally following the reasoning behind Sterling's Viridian movement.

Yeah, we're all of us at some kind of crux right now. Let's just try to make sure it doesn't lead to crucifixion ...


"Hee. Csven, I always suspected that Bruce Sterling was one of your meatspace alts!"


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