January 15 2009 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Metaverse Year: 2009 Rating: 1
I am a big fan of the Meetup system because of how easy it has made it to locate like-minded people and compelling events. Still, every now and then there's a diamond-in-the-rough gathering such as this month's NYC Metaverse Meetup, Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds, that simply stands out as a must-go.
On January 29 at 6pm, Carnegie Council Senior Fellows Joshua S. Fouts and Rita J. King will present findings from their Understanding Islam Through Virtual Worlds project. After a year of exploring digital Islamic communities, Fouts and King conclude that engaging with people in virtual worlds who self-identify as Muslim can be part of a broader public diplomacy strategy to foster inclusive perspectives on religion, society, and coexistence.
How can virtual worlds serve as new windows of insight into real life social dynamics?
Here's the argument from the presenters:
Virtual platforms, while they involve real people, do not involve physical contact, making them a useful medium to explore productive responses to conflict without the threat of violence or intimidation. The U.S. government has recently taken note of these trends, as evidenced by the State Department's move toward Public Diplomacy 2.0 and the Army's presence in the virtual world of Second Life.
Though I'm sure the Army has additional reasons to understand virtual worlds, I agree that more dynamic non-physical interaction can reveal much about human reactions to conflict and information.
I'd further contend that they also permit different interaction with ideas and behaviors that can be externalized through and around avatars in new ways, which I'm sure will be a topic of discussion at the compelling meetup.
Overall, it's nice to see steady research progress being made through the virtual worlds medium, which I contend will be a powerful force in our ongoing quest to boost our intelligence by Climbing the Stairs of Abstraction. (If you're interested in other intelligence amplification efforts based in virtual environments you may want to check out the impressive Second Life Data Visualization Group organized by Melanie Swan.)
Big shout out to Metaverse Meetup organizer Annie Ok! (I wish I could attend, but I have already committed to a friend's Bachelor's Party.)