Division of labor

Apologies all round for the lapse in posting, especially so soon after launching this blog, but I have plenty of excuses lined up. They’re not that interesting, so I’m listing them at the end of this post.

Work on the Second House of Sweden is continuing apace. What’s interesting is how the work is naturally ending up being divided into tasks that correspond to the different types of content we’re going to have:

  • The platform: Our presence in Second Life is taking shape across two sims. Both are being styled to represent islands along Sweden’s coastline, not unlike what the Stockholm Archipelago looks like. One sim will give visitors new to Second Life a quick orientation, while the other will hold the virtual embassy and the amphitheater. A lot of attention is being paid to getting the mood just right — Swedish nature is quite distinctive, and we’re trying to capture that. The idea is that first impressions will be very positive — to that end, Söderhavet are plying Electric Sheep with plenty of photography and art detailing precisely how the archipelago looks. I can’t wait to see the end result — Electric Sheep are proving themselves to be master builders.
  • Repurposed web content: The Swedish Institute sits atop a treasure trove of information about Sweden in a variety of media, and much of this is already accessibly via our web sites — recipes, music, PDFs, pictures… These are easy pickings for repurposing in Second Life. What’s a challenge, however, is that some of this content is best suited for viewing in 2D rather than in 3D, so the focus is on building a compelling gateway to the content already served on our websites. Our PDF booklets, for example, will be downloadable from virtual bookstands, while our recipes will be linked to from within SL. A Swedish music stream will be available as you amble through the islands.
  • Second Life-specific content: More exciting perhaps are the projects that involve completely new content created specifically for delivery via Second Life. The embassy will house three exhibition areas, and two of these will (likely) house completely new 3D material around Swedish themes. (I’m not going to give away what precisely just yet.) In the longer term, we’re looking at changing these exhibition spaces every three months or so, though we may keep past exhibits accessible — hey, it’s Second Life, it’s not as if we’re cramped for space.
  • Events: It’s the events that are going to provide the most compelling reason to revisit the Second House of Sweden, I suspect. If you look at what are the most popular (serious) places in Second Life today, they are the ones that manage to regularly set up interesting group activities — discussions, debates, presentations, interviews, film showings, concerts, art installations, press conferences… Our first such event will be the opening of the virtual embassy, and it will be attended by Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt. Afterwards, we’re hoping to provide a regular stream of interesting events. Planning these will be a challenge, but I think that plenty of venues already cater to pure entertainment, so we’ve pretty much got the market to ourselves when it comes to debating Sweden’s politics and culture from a more scholarly perspective — especially as voice chat is coming to Second Life, which will make presentations much more compelling.
  • That’s the main outline of how development is proceeding on our end. I’ve been meaning to put up a quick flyover of the model for all this, just as an teaser, and I promise to put something up in the next few days.

    (The excuses, as promised: Most of last week I spent in Sweden, which was chock-full of meetings, the kind that don’t really work via Skype, and then last Wednesday, March 28, the Swedish Institute hosted a conference for Swedish organizations that either are in Second Life or are thinking of going into Second Life. On March 29 some of us at the Swedish Institute travelled to Budapest for a series of internal meetings, and I finally made it back to Cairo on Tuesday, April 3. Today, April 4, I finally (after a three week wait) got an internet connection delivered to my apartment, and you are now seeing the fruits of that.)

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