The main theme of X|Media|Lab was virtual worlds, and one of the most well known is Second Life.
Keren Flavell is with SLCN – the Second Life Cable Network, which broadcasts programmes from Second Life or events in SL.
She is a strong believer in SL and talked about the empathy that people feel as an avatar. SLCN broadcast a presentation by an education consultant Intellagirl Tully about how distance learning attendance rates had increased to 100% since moving to SL because it was clear that you were there or you weren’t. Intellagirl Tully argued that SL provided a unique way to provide community and engagement for students.
Keren also showed how film companies were using SL to promote films and highlighted the launch events for Die Hard 4 and Transformers. Die Hard fans could jump into poses on virtual film sets based on the films, and Bruce Willis took questions from residents in SL.
SL residents feel a strong sense of involvement with the virtual world, and she showed town hall meetings in SL where residents were fighting for their rights. People are creating newspapers in SL. She also argued that virtual worlds were satisfying human needs that 2D social networks don’t.
They produce a programme called S’Life about goings on in SL and a talk show called Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe, satisfying a lifelong dream for her. They remove the obstacles to creation for residents in SL, she said. They also allow SL residents to play the role of sports broadcasters by calling hockey games or car races in game. “We feel we’re filling an important role in the burgeoning SL community,” Keren said. Marshall McLuhan was right when he said:
Instead of directly experiencing each other and nature, citizens of information societies share the world through media.
We all know that we’re operating in an attention economy. Google and YouTube are succeeding because they generate benefit for everyone who participates, and Keren said that was the model for SLCN.