Africa in Virtual Worlds

…Journal of our Experiences with Social Media and Virtual Worlds to date…

It’s all About Individuals! Africa @ SLCC07…

We were not able to attend the actual conference in Chicago last week, but we DID have the pleasure to participate in the conference in Second Life itself at a few lovely virtual venues. For those of you who could also not be there…here follows a snapshot of the Conference posted on YouTube and flavoured with a few personal notes about our own first-time experience of the Conference: Watch SLCC07 YouTube if your BandWidth allows it..

Our presence at SLCC07 was made possible at very short notice by the unexpected generosity of the landowner of Artificial Isle, ZATZAi Asturias, who is very adept at working with the media, establishing business partnerships, and the design and construction of facilities and promotional graphics. ZatZai and her green monster strolled around on the Isle throughout the weekend to ensure that things are going well…

Sponsor Articial Isle

Artificial Isle was one of the main SL venues for panel discussions: It is a sim set in a near future setting with good display areas and a convention centre – surrounded by a large body of water. The primary purpose of the isle is the hosting of events and their professional approach was clear from the onset. Within 3 hours, our volunteer Sminters Meriman and helpful onlookers assisted Uthango to get its booth equipped with posters about our real projects and a nice vibe – marimbas, African flags and all! The greatest surprise was a generous donation of L$15 000 from an established metaverse developer, Kitten Lulu (Lupi Software), cruising by and dropping (without a word) the funds into our very first donation bin. No grandstanding, just pure goodwill…and trust!

Our bookkeeper, WilberForce Rau was delighted to record the funds as a contribution towards replacing a computer at an under-resourced IT centre close to the Ocean View community in Cape Town. Not long after, LukeConnell Vandeverre, and Australian entrepreneur associated with Hope Capital Ltd. also contributed L$10 000 to the project and numerous other philanthropists joined in with varied amounts. The weekend assisted us to raise 15% of the funds needed to replace the computer in real life!

Uthango at SLCC07

We tried to participate in our first SL Conference as best as possible – I looked at the menu of topics and decided to add Uthango’s voice to the online discussion on Philantrophy in Virtual Worlds, hosted by the MacArthur Foundation. One of the main points we made during this discussion was the importance of relating any SL initiative back to RL projects in a distinct, accountable and measurable way. For Virtual Africa, it means that our projects will have ‘twins’ and measurable benefit in Africa’s first world. This RL/SL integration and value-chain – and barriers to African participation at present! – was the main topic of our discussions with Philip Rosedale (Founder of SecondLife) and Chris Collins (business analyst for Linden Lab) in the week of the conference. More about this historic meeting later…

HOW we ensure the meaningful participation and representation of Africa is a collective challenge that we need to define together with other credible organisations and companies wishing to make a tangible difference beyond virtual communities… In this massive task, we find many experts and volunteers (not mutually exclusive!) that speak up with us in their encounters with influencial decision-makers. It does not go un-noticed.

We have a few very specific ideas how to bring benefit to our African clients in poor communities by harnessing the power of SL and Web 2.0 (and yes, I do know many people don’t like the term!)… One of these projects is starting to take shape after a month of interacting and a recent groundbreaking partnership meeting between the Directors of Uthango Social Investments and Directors of OpenMLS on 31 August 2007 in SL:

OpenMLS Meeting

From right front counter-clockwise, Enakai Ultsch, LinLin Yip, Neo Prinz and Alanagh Recreant met at a good-looking venue to discuss a possible social partnership and collaboration during the very first Real Estate MetaVerse Conference and Expo scheduled for end of October 2007, an initiative of OpenMLS. According to Neo Prinz, the CEO, “This long overdue conference will be the first of its kind and will connect real life and second life real estate communities virtually”. Not only is registration for the conference free of charge, but real estate agents, developers, and residents who register as an OpenMLS Seller will be given access to the MLS free of charge so that they can maintain basic real estate listings.

The idea to link the virtual conference to real housing challenges in Southern Africa took shape and everyone is keen to see how this relationship will become a reality, with very specific downstream impact on the infrastructure in a community in Africa. Uthango’s involvement in social housing projects in South Africa has recently also gained new momentum with an agreement with a property developer who is also a social entrepreneur. Watch this space…

There is little doubt that savvy real estate individuals such as ZatZai Asturias (Artificial Isle), Neo Prinz and LinLin Yip (OpenMLS) and social investors like Kitten Lulu and LukeConnell Vandeverre, as well as Tara5 Oh, the great metaverse evangelist (UgoTrade) and so many other supporters will be the individuals that make a difference for us. They will become our critical mass for Virtual Africa and offer relevant solutions in big and small ways – for the first and second lives of many residents of the world…

More than this, we are creating new ways for innovative, lateral-thinking individuals to bring their creative ingenuity and resources to the same spot in a virtual world and create a better global living planet! I have again realised that virtual worlds are all about individuals, about personal intention, and relationships… business, social or educational… and it is no different in this sense, than any other world we experience!

We were at SLCC07 in Chicago in spirit because individuals with a passion for Africa made sure we could be there…


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2 thoughts on “It’s all About Individuals! Africa @ SLCC07…

  1. Good content and nice design layout.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. theresecarfagno on said:

    Hi Alanagh

    Love your blog, and good to see that you’re so active. I’ve written a short piece about you on my own blog. My RL article on you has been printed. Trouble is, I let a friend borrow my magazine, and I can’t scan it and send it to you before I get it back. But in time, you’ll get it 🙂

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