Thoughts on the SL NetRoots Meetup

10Aug07

So today I spent a very enjoyable hour or so with the great folks in the SL NetRoots group at their weekly meetup on Progressive Island. The preliminary agenda was a discussion of the recent YearlyKos and BlogHer conventions in Second Life. (Full disclosure: My employer was a sponsor of YearlyKos in Second Life.) As I had hoped, the discussion was great. Kudos to organizer Ruby Glitter for herding cats keeping the meeting on track.

In running my own RL meetings, I don’t really consider them a success unless everyone leaves the meeting with at least one deliverable. Usually, I end up leaving these events with a bunch of projects since I feel guilty if anyone gets more stuff assigned to them than me. So, like I good workaholic, I volunteered to help with the planning for a SL NetRoots voter registration drive.

I’m pretty excited about the assignment and judging by some of the ideas I’ve received from other NetRooters the excitement is contagious. This is exactly the kind of action that I’m interested in and one of the main reasons I started this blog. Let’s face it, getting a new face engaged on your side of the issues is the crack that political junkies crave.

I’m going to riff a bit here, so bear with me. I believe that virtual worlds can remove a lot of the barriers that keep people from empowering themselves politically. Let’s face it, in a world where the average American is working 100 hours more per year than our supposedly workaholic Japanese counterparts, most people would rather spend their free time with their family and friends instead of attending a political meeting. Americans used to have more time for personal enrichment, which many found in political activism. Second Life and other virtual worlds eliminates these barriers since one doesn’t have to drive to a meeting, reserve a room, etc.

On top of this, virtual worlds are the proverbial fertile ground for grassroots activism. According to a report from the Center for the Digital Future at USC, almost two-thirds of online community members who participate in social causes through the Internet (64.9%) say they are involved in causes that were new to them when they began participating on the Internet. More than 40 percent (43.7%) of online community members participate more in social activism since they started participating in online communities.

 

Progressives need to harness this inclination towards activism. Gartner recently noted that 80% of active Internet users will be active in virtual worlds by 2010. I’ll use a historical hypothetical to put that into context. In 1952, there were 1.4 million television sets in U.S. households. By 1968, that number had increased to 15.1 million. A political organizer in 1952, armed with the knowledge that a new communications medium would increase its reach a potential new audience of 13.7 million in 14 years would have a pretty good idea of how to plan media campaigns going forward. I would suggest that we are at a similar time now with virtual worlds. As progressives, we have a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t in virtual world organizing now, before the stakes are so high that you can’t afford to make a mistake.

 

Well, that’s all I have time for tonight. Thanks again to the SL NetRooters for letting me join their merry band. Until next time, mahalo everyone.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on the SL NetRoots Meetup”

  1. Thanks for coming to our Obama meeting last night and talking about your event. We are all pretty excited about it and will be doing what we can to promote it.

    The link above is to the blog post.

    Julles/Julia


  1. 1 lotusmedia 2.0 » Virtual registration of real voters

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