The news is full of commentary about how significant the speech that President Obama is going to give in Ghana tomorrow is going to be. And the White House is making a serious social media effort –Facebook, SMS, Twitter… And virtual worlds, as the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy notes. And Metaplace is working with them to host an event with a live video stream of the speech, plus additional speeches and music afterwards, crossworld with Second Life. It’s all happening early tomorrow morning.
This is exciting to me on many levels. Lately, a few of the speeches I have given have been about the broad question of where virtual worlds are going, and how they may connect to real people’s lives. What we have here is a powerful tool for social media, one with different affordances than are brought to the table by SNSes or streams — but in many ways it is underutilized because of the barriers of entry and the ways in which VWs are still tied to models established in the 1970’s.
I’ve often stated that the clear killer app to date for virtual worlds is escapism. How much of this is because virtual worlds have been islands unto themselves, not interacting with or interwoven with the larger Internet? In many ways, it may be permeability that opens up the many use-cases that are possible — not just for serious purposes, but for escapist ones as well. Virtual worlds need not be a world apart. Here we see virtual worlds taking their place alongside other social media in a discussion that is truly broad, bringing the unique characteristics of placeness and co-presence to the table.
On Saturday, July 11, a global conversation will push definitions of citizenship by demonstrating how new technologies enable global civic participation. Citizens from numerous countries will meet together in virtual worlds to collectively watch a speech from President Obama, view Twitter feedback on his talk, and a join in discussion with musician and activist D.N.A. (Derrick Ashong), Ambassador Kenton Keith and African historian Professor Tim Burke.
President Obama will speak to a live audience in Ghana, Africa. His speech will recognize Ghana’s stable democracy and leadership in the region. It is expected that Africans from all over the continent will converge for this momentous speech. The White House is using a Twitter feed which will enable individuals from around the world to participate in the conversation and share their thoughts with President Obama.
This event provides a public sphere for people to come together as citizens sharing independent views which in turn shape the political institutions of society. These conversations, literally hosted in a virtual physical space, are essential for the marketplace of ideas in our globalizing society. Following the event will be music from D.N.A. Please join us for this historic event.
Come to http://www.metaplace.com/Interval/play on Saturday the 11th at 5:00am Pacific for this great event!