Watching Obama in Ghana from Metaplace/Second Life

by Alphaville Herald on 11/07/09 at 1:50 pm

Ironic ads courtesy of USTREAM video

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

A bit of unintentional irony was my reward for attending an early-morning cross world Second Life/Metaplace live stream of President Obama’s speech in Ghana today, as incongruous advertisements streamed along with the USTREAM feed rebroadcasting the Voice of America coverage of the speech.


Was I the only one who thought it odd that Obama's speech was being streamed with advertisements for paternity testing for immigrants? Another classic and distracting mashup was the “ObamaBudget Cut Medicare” ad in the picture above – apparently a solicitation from a political action committee with concerns about the administration's proposed budget. Perhaps Google's constant juxtaposing of conflicting ads will make this seem normal in time – unfortunate product positioning is the price we pay for "free" streaming media.

Coverage leading up to the Obama in Ghana event had seemed aimed at promoting the image of a wired up administration using SMS and Twitter – does online life get any better than a White House Twitter feed?  But Second Life and Metaplace were not willing to be left out and joined together to be part of the show.

Raph Koster scored some coverage at CBS in a story that suggested that deeper and more active engagement beyond 140 character tweets might be possible in virtual worlds. But deep engagement may come at a cost as Charles Cooper's story went on to remind everyone that the signature moment for social engagement in Second Life came several years ago with a flying penis attack on Anshe Chung during a press conference. 


we go to great lengths to be together and watch video… I kinda love that – Grace McDunnough

In response to the SL griefer menace, Linden Lab CEO Mark Kindon assured CBS that global support teams had been alerted in advance to head off any trouble. This may account for the reports of a locked down venue in Second Life. Apparently gaining access to the event in SL required asking for an invitation and joining a group before access to the secure sim was granted. One visitor to the Metaplace venue was surprised that in Metaplace event access was simply visiting a web page and logging in – but Metaplace does not have the strong tradition of event disruption enjoyed by Second Life, and seems to have been designed to largely avoid those sorts of issues.


one pundit falls asleep while another looks cloudy

After the president's speech, a panel of pundits were streamed between Second Life and Metaplace to respond to questions posed in Second Life and Metaplace chat. Metaplace players a seemed to enjoy watching the what were certainly very ornate yet stubbornly unresolved cloud avatars being streamed from Second Life.


Second Life video stream shows smoke avatars in the audience

As for the speech itself, there were some strange resonances for those contemplating governance in the virtual realm when Obama said, "No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives wayto the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that istyranny, and now is the time for it to end. In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutionsare the key to success _ strong parliaments and honest police forces;independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civilsociety. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because thatis what matters in peoples’ lives."

Was the Linden Lab governance team listening?

2 Responses to “Watching Obama in Ghana from Metaplace/Second Life”

  1. Amanda

    Jul 12th, 2009

    so the choice is a sometimes smokey avatar or a childish looking little doll thing and a childish looking world. I’ll come back to Metaplace when it grows up.

  2. JustMe

    Jul 12th, 2009

    While it was interesting to watch Obama’s speech from within Metaplace, I could have watched it on other webpages as well. I liked what he said and hope his efforts bear fruit for Africa and all the world.

    What really interested me, however, was the chat link between the people gathered in Second Life and in Metaplace. We were able to talk back and forth during the speech and then, afterwards, watch and listen to the Second Life discussion panel while in Metaplace. This chat and video linkage shows what kind of interesting things can occur … thanks much to the technoweenies (said with a smile) who made it all possible.

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