Category Archives: Announcement

Free Swedish lessons in Second Life — starting October 2

What: Free Swedish lessons for beginners
When: Four courses, starting Tuesday, October 2, 7am SL time (4pm Stockholm time, 10am New York time)
Where: Second House of Sweden auditorium, Swedish Institute sim.

Ever wish you spoke just enough Swedish to break the ice with the cute Swedish boy/girl/furry you’ve been spying at the other end of the dance floor? The Swedish Institute can help.

Starting Tuesday, October 2, at 7am SL time (4pm Stockholm time), we’ll be giving a series of free Swedish lessons in Second Life for beginners. You’ll find that you in fact understand quite a lot, even if you have never have heard spoken Swedish before. You don’t need to prepare beforehand or know any Swedish — just show up, hang out and have fun learning.

Instructor Lasse will be conducting four courses in total, using Second Life’s voice chat technology and a video screen. Expected dates for the subsequent courses are October 9, 22 and November 5, all at 7am SL time. Attend one, some, or all.

See you there!

Note: Please be sure to have voice-chat enabled (to hear Lasse and others) and Quicktime installed (to view the live video).

Gallery Talk #2, by Nationalmuseum (Sept 25)

What: Gallery Talk by Nationalmuseum at Second House of Sweden
When: Tuesday, September 25, 15:30 Stockholm time (06:30 Second Life time)
Where: Second House of Sweden, Swedish Institute, Second Life
Who: Helén Hallgren Archer, Nationalmuseum’s curator for art education
How: Using Second Life’s new voice technology

Nationalmuseum’s gallery talk in August got great reviews and feedback, and we are happy to host another one this week. Helén will be talking about four of the artworks from Nationalmuseum that are on display at the Second House of Sweden, exploring how nature inspired these Swedish artists in different ways.

The four art pieces are by these artists:

Ernst Josephson (1851-1906), “The Water Sprite”, painted 1882;
Anders Zorn (1860-1920), “Midsummer Dance”, painted 1897;
Prince Eugen (1856-1949), “The Cloud”, painted 1896;
Märta Måås Fjetterström (1873-1941), “Unicorn in the forest”, textile from 1920.

During the last gallery talk, we were testing to see if Second Life’s voice technology really works when used with a lot of people. It did. This time round, we hope to have ironed out some of the kinks, so the whole experience should be a lot smoother. See you there!

Invasão Sueca: Swedish music in Brazil… in Second Life (Sept 21)

Invasão Sueca (“Swedish Invasion”) brings Swedish pop music to Brazil, and now also to Second Life. This whole week, Swedish bands such as Love Is All, Hello Saferide, Maia Hirasawa and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names are playing in Recife, Porto Alegre and Sao Paolo — on September 21st, the performance is also being broadcast live via streaming video to the Second House of Sweden, Sweden’s virtual embassy in Second Life.

The concert starts at 23.00 Sao Paolo time (Sept 21), 22.00 New York time, (Sept 21), 19.00 Second Life time (Sept 21), 04:00 Stockholm time (Sept 22). On stage will be Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and Maia Hirasawa. See you at the Second House of Sweden on the Swedish Institute sim.

auditorium.jpg

About Invasão Sueca: Invasão Sueca is a project by the Swedish Institute and Export Music Sweden to promote Swedish music in Brazil. In 2006 Jens Lekman, El Perro Del Mar and Hell On Wheels toured Brazil, which resulted in front-page news on the culture pages of Sao Paolo’s largest daily papers. In June 2007 José Gonzales toured Brazil with Invasão Sueca.

About the live video broadcast in Second Life: As with everything we do in Second Life, we approach this project as a playful experiment. We will do live but informal testing on September 20th (same times, but 24 hours earlier, so do drop by Second House of Sweden then and help us stress test:-) What’s the technology involved? On stage, a video camera and microphones relay the concert to a computer connected to the internet, running Wirecast. Wirecast encodes the video and sends it to Qbrick in Sweden, which in turn broadcasts the video to all those who visit the auditorium at the Second House of Sweden.

[UPDATE: Due to technical difficulties — a bad internet connection in Brazil — we weren’t able to bring this live. Apologies all round, that is the way it is new technology:-)]

Polarbear Podcast comes to Second Life

Andy Nyman’s Polarbear Podcast, a weekly radio show about all things Swedish in English, is now being piped into the Swedish Orientation sim. Press play on the music player while walking around there, going for a swim or while sitting in the Sauna to listen to the latest edition.

Andy’s show joins Radio Sweden’s daily English language podcast, which is broadcast daily from the Second House of Sweden on the main sim.

The only tricky bit — moving from one sim to the other interrupts what you’re listening to. That, alas, is the limit of Second Life technology today:-) Best to stay put in the sauna then.

We’re getting staffing help

Since the launch, we’ve been manning the Second House of Sweden for a few hours every weekday, using our own existing internal resources. But we’re short on manpower at the Swedish Institute (in real life), and an embassy needs to be manned for longer than that — even a virtual one, as people can visit at all hours.

Starting September 1, we’ll be raising the number of hours you can find somebody staffing the sim to a minimum of six hours per day, seven days a week. If you want to learn something about Sweden, its virtual embassy in Second Life, or even just Second Life, come and pay us a visit; chances are good you’ll find someone to talk to.

To help us in this endeavour we’ve hired Praetores Laboratory AB to recruit bright and knowledgeable Second Life residents. You might have heard of Praetores Laboratory before: They’re the very talented people behind the “Second Sweden” sims.

We’ve had many people responding to the “We’re Hiring” sign at the reception desk. Praetores Laboratory will now be interviewing people, with a view to hiring suitable candidates.

Nationalmuseum to do a gallery talk on Aug 22

What: Gallery Talk by Nationalmuseum at Second House of Sweden
When: Wednesday, August 22, 15:30 Stockholm time (06:30 Second Life time)
Where: Second House of Sweden, Swedish Institute, Second Life
Who: Helén Hallgren Archer, Nationalmuseum’s curator for art education
How: Using Second Life’s new voice technology

Helén writes:

I will give a gallery talk about four of the artworks from Nationalmuseum that are on display at the Second House of Sweden. These four motifs were made at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. We can see how nature inspired these Swedish artists in different ways. Nature reflects the inner moods of these artists, while at the same time the artists express Swedish tradition and culture through these motifs.

The four art pieces are by these artists: Ernst Josephson (1851-1906), “The Water Sprite”, painted 1882; Anders Zorn (1860-1920), “Midsummer Dance”, painted 1897; Prince Eugen (1856-1949), “The Cloud”, painted 1896; Märta Måås Fjetterström (1873-1941), “Unicorn in the forest”, textile from 1920.

See you there! It’ll be interesting to see how the new voice technology can be used in this setting.

Wallenberg room, unplugged

You can still visit the Wallenberg room in the Second House of Sweden even if you are on a computer that doesn’t have the Second Life client installed. Budapest’s OSA Archivum, who contributed the material for the room, also have a web page up describing the room, with plenty of screen shots. There is even supplementary material, such as a complete transcript of the radio play (mp3) that you can hear while in the room.

Inauguration of Second House of Sweden (the video)

Now that we have the raw video feed from the inauguration on DVD, here is the part where Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt inaugurates the Second House of Sweden. Taken on May 30, 2007 at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm:

Launch day – and Second House of Sweden is live

What a day this was! This morning Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt came to the Swedish Institute in Stockholm and inaugurated the Second House of Sweden at a press conference that was broadcast live into Second Life.

We had a really good setup: Bildt and the rest of us each sat in front of our own laptop, each of us controlling our own avatars in Second Life. Behind us, a large screen either showed a closeup of us in real life or else what my avatar, Belmeloro DiPrima, was looking at in-world. Whatever was on the screen behind us was also being broadcast to the auditorium at the Second House of Sweden, where in-world journalists and other invited guests were able to watch the proceedings. The same feed also went to Second Sweden, where more people watched.

All this provided plenty of opportunities for wonderful feedback loops. The feed into Second Life has a delay of 12 seconds — that’s just the way it is with Quicktime Streaming Server — and if the camera was pointed at the screen showing my avatar looking at the screen in Second Life — every 12 second a new iteration of the screen would appear, slowly fading into infinity; real life, Second Life, real life, Second Life…

But enough geeky wonder:-) We also had two music acts (Natalie Moody and SL Art Ensemble), and one comedy act when Bildt maneuvered his avatar to the ribbon-cutting place. He’s quick-witted alright, Bildt: When a Norwegian journalist asked him a question he ended by promising to visit the Norwegian virtual embassy… in a few decades.

And then the embassy was opened to all-comers. The only hiccup was that the account-creating tool that we have on Sweden.se wasn’t working for Internet Explorer, though that got fixed a few hours later.

And tonight, we had our first protesters. Some Danes stood outside the embassy with placards denouncing Sweden for entering Second Life in an official capacity. What was interesting is that an entire crowd outside Second House of Sweden started arguing the question; and luckily for us, most found the Danes’ arguments unconvincing:-)

With hindsight, I think the press conference today was actually a bit daring — a technical high-wire act that could have gone wrong in so many ways. But since it didn’t, nobody needs to know about this:-) And after not having had much sleep last night, I am going to get an excellent night’s sleep tonight:-)

I’ll add some photos tomorrow — but you could always go look for yourself in the meantime. Search in-world for “Swedish Institute” or use this SLURL.

May 30 is launch day for the Second House of Sweden

Suddenly a lot of news:

  • The inauguration of the world’s first virtual embassy in Second Life is almost here. On May 30, at 9am Stockholm time, we’re going to be holding a press conference, or rather, three press conferences: A real-life press conference at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm, a simultaneous press conference in Second Life at the Second House of Sweden, and finally, a press conference set up by the Open Society Archives in Budapest. (Why the last one? Read on.)
  • Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt will be attending the press conferences in Stockholm and Second Life (hence the relatively short notice for the launch date — Mr. Bildt is a road warrior, albeit for peace:-))
  • While this isn’t finalised yet, I’m hoping to be able to have live streaming video of the real-life press conference piped into Second Life, where it will be shown on the Second House of Sweden’s screen, and if it works out, at other Swedish SL locations as well. This would help solve the capacity problem we may have — Linden Lab servers can only really support about 50 avatars per sim/island at any one time before lag sets in, so the list of invitees to the inauguration is necessarily going to be way too short. (Yes, I still need to send out invites — I’m trying for later today.)
  • The reason for the simultaneous press conference in Budapest is that one of the main inaugural exhibits in the Second House of Sweden is a re-enactment involving the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat stationed in Budapest at the end of WWII who helped save thousands of Jews from Nazi concentration camps. OSA Archivum (The Open Society Archives) have made a number of archival sources available and has been intimately involved in the process of recreating Wallenberg’s last day of freedom as an interactive multimedia exhibit. The net effect is not only educational, but engages emotionally as well, and I think it pushes the envelope for what you can do with a technology platform like Second Life.