Colin Delany May 24, 2007

Examining the Complexities of Activism in Second Life

To toss you guys a final morsel from last weekend’s PDF unConference, Josh Levy led a great discussion of activism in Second Life, using as a starting point a short documentary he created. The film itself is an excellent introduction to Second Life and its use for education and persuasion — if you’ve never played in this virtual world, the video will give you a sense of what it’s like and why people are drawn to it as a place to spread political messages.

Josh doesn’t shy away from some of the tough issues involved, though — he asks appropriate questions that Second Life evangelists sometimes gloss over. Would time and energy spent in Second Life be better used to make something happen in the real world? More subtly, can the cathartic experience of “visiting” a Second Life exhibition on an issue (Josh goes to a Darfur education display as an example) actually make people FEEL as though they’ve already done something substantive and end up making them less likely to take real-world political action? As I watched the video, I couldn’t deny the beauty of some of the worlds and characters created in Second Life, but I also couldn’t help but notice how empty of people much of it is. If you ask me, the jury’s still out on this tool, but give the film a look and see what you think.


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