Africa in Virtual Worlds

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

Archive for the tag “virtual africa”

Respecting Land Owners in Second Life…

Have you spoken to a few owners of virtual land in Second Life (R) the past month or two? In developing a new media strategy and virtual world presence, we follow the trends as closely as possible, and it is with some distress and a pinch of interest that we listen to the discontent of land owners. Prices of private islands (sims) have been slashed by Linden Lab.

After all, we also used some donated funds to purchase two islands, Virtual Africa and Robben Island, to drive our project in-world – at the original prices. Landowners in Second Life (R) have been the backbone of the the virtual economy, and their investment of (very real) money ensured that the platform grew rapidly since 2003/4. However, it does seem like the devaluation of land by dropping prices of private land will take its toll on the enthusiasm and free enterprise spirit of many of those that have developed the vivid spaces for others to use. I can just imagine what it must feel like to see your investment of time, energy and money disappearing with every new announcement from Linden Lab. Second Life resident Erbo Evans is quite outspoken about the recent developments in his blog: “LL to Island Owners: Drop Dead“.

This is as good opportunity as any to thank one such landowner and pioneer associated with Second Life News Network, Doeko Cassidy (SL): Uthango established its offices at one of Doeko’s beautiful islands, Sunset Commerce after a visit to Ina Centaur (SL) – at the time busy with a building for SLiterary – and we got our first little office in this events centre, next to Jilly Kidd (SL) – who has since moved to Cookie and now drives the popular Meet the Author chat show on the in-world television channel SLCN (Second Life Cable Network). But let me not start with another topic; our own vision related to African literature was shared with these two professionals early in 2007, and we still need to execute it…

So, Uthango wanted a way to establish a visual in-world presence, and we approached the land owner who had the plot next to the first sLiterary building based at Sunset Commerce. I (Alanagh) sold my little privately-owned CapeCod beach house, and bought the prefab office with some Lindens I made from the deal. We still use a year later. Its developer has since founded another virtual world platform! More about that later…

By the end of 2007, Doeko Cassidy agreed to graciously sponsor Uthango by waving our weekly rental and he has been doing that ever since.

Doeko Cassidy

Even though we now also have two private islands, we would love to retain the office at Suncet Commerce – it is a lovely environment and we have been visited by many newcomers to Second Life. Sharing the beautiful sim with SL companies such as GRACILE (whose owner made her piece of land available after some negotiation) has only been a pleasure – and not only because the clothes are stunning! Sunset Commerce is not managed heavy-handedly and we get on with the business of being creative.

We hope that the landowners of Second Life (R) will get the respect they deserve for contributing to the growth of the SL platform, and to the overall community, but also for the goodwill that they so often show their tenants and the way they manage to create spaces that have meaning… like Doeko Cassidy, in our own Second Life journey. If you have the broadband connection, and you have the graphic card you need, we invite you to register for Second Life, and to visit our offices at Sunset Commerce:

Uthango at Sunset Commerce

If you struggle to access Second Life, or do not have the right computer equipment, we invite you to stay in touch with this project here. We continue to pursue ways to address digital divide in realistic ways. There are individuals and companies worldwide that assist us in doing so… we respect their efforts and hope that their role will be recognized and a win-win-win will be crafted as we move forward – between the platform-creator (Linden Lab), the landowners and average Second Life users wishing to have a meaningful experience. Is it too much to ask?

Ps: After all the lessons learned, one of our sims, Robben Island, is set up to host pro-Africa companies, individuals and organisations wishing to have a presence in Second Life. Contact us (preferably via email) for more information.


Africa Day in Second Life: 24 April 2008

Please come and join us on Thursday 24 April for an exiting programme on the first annual Africa Day in Second Life, hosted by Uthango with support of Orange from their island. ‘Virtual Africa’ and the adjacent ‘Robben Island’ with its African Rain (club) will be launched on the same day!

The popular DJ Doubledown will conclude the day at 16:30 SLT with a party for our guests at the new, spectacular African Rain, a club for Virtual Africa, designed partly pro-bono by Eshi Otawara. Hamlet Au recently visited the Club for a sneak preview and write-up on New World Notes and Ally and Hamlet tested the dance floor (picture courtesy of NWN):

Opening the dancefloor at Virtual Africa\'s new Club...


The programme for 24 April‘s AFRICA DAY IN SECOND LIFE kicks off with a small art exhibition at Orange 1 (sim) to the beat of Soukous music at 10:00 SLT – and also include a mini-conference with the meaningful topics for discussion:

11:00 SLT -“Access to Virtual Worlds in Africa: challenges and opportunities.”

12:30 SLT – Sage Duncan (SL) – internationally acclaimed percussionist

14:00 SLT – Jean Miller, International Affairs Linden Lab

14:15 SLT -“New Media (incl. virtual worlds): a new voice for African cultures/ideas?

15:30 SLT – Virtual Africa Soft Launch / Official Opening

Note: The excellent percussionist Stacey Fox (Sage Duncan in Second Life) will provide for an exciting break between talks with a performance at 12.30 SLT – prior to visiting Virtual Africa. From her website: “Fox is an international composer, filmmaker and master percussionist. Her works often cross the boundaries between visual and performing arts”.

With the assistance of the lovely Caramba Vella (SL) of the African Music and Dance Group, we have also been able to convince Radio Soukous to provide African music during the day. We look forward to a wonderful day, that has been long awaited! Here is a pic of the upload of the RAW file for the African Savannah landscape a few weeks ago, and standing in the virtual Nile, now with some virtual crocodiles…. See you there!

Virtual Africa\'s Nyle

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