Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SL Human Rights Festival (and a small gripe)

I received this card a couple days ago out of the blue:

"The 60th Anniversay of the Declaration of Universal Rights is being celebrated by a huge festival in Second Life. More than 60 concerts mark the 60 years and the talents of 100 artists and musicians are part of the celebration. More than 30 sims reflect the 30 articles of the UN Convention.

The festival is the first time a themed programme of events on this scale in Second Life has aimed at raising real life issues. It draws on the talents of artists, musicians and campaigners from many different countries including Argentina, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. Some well know SL musicians are headlining the festival including:


Artists whose work will be displayed include:


There will also be talks from Ghana, Switzerland, Poland and the UK, poetry slams and stand up comedy.

The UN Convention sets out the universal rights of all humanity. However as well as a celebration, the festival is also designed to raise rights that are breached - the right to free speech, a fair trial, shelter, rights of women and children to be free from violence etc.

The opening of the Festival includes a live interview from Paris with Draxtor Despres (Bernard Drax). He has just been awarded a Every Human has Rights Award for his machinima on the Guantanemo Bay build Gone Gitmo by Nonny Writer and Ping Rau explained " Virtual Gitmo is the prime example how an immersive environment, which has the power to collapse geographies and enable communcation in real time across cultural boundaries, can help people engage in important issues concerning human rights." He will be speaking about the award and plans to bring other awardees to the discussion at Angel's Nest at 8am SLT on 10 December. Then a concert by Jaynine Scarborough will launch the full programme of music with 12 concerts in the festival (including 3 at the Amnesty International sim) and other events around SL.

One of the leaders of the festival, musician Junivers Stockholm, has been appointed one of the musicians for the Amnesty International Small Places Tour ( This is inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt's words "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person... Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." This is the first time Second Life has been the venue for concerted citizen action to highlight human rights across the world.

Junivers and activists Any1 Gynoid and Medora Chevalier explained that they are really excited about the growth and power of the festival plans.

Junivers Stockholm said: "Wow, this is growing! Person to person, network to network - the connections grow and we'll build on them to back actions for humanity now and in the future."

Any1 Gynoid said: " We have an awesome array of SL's finest talents backing the festival. Everyone says yes, they want to stand up for human rights. This is going to be a festival to remember! Woot!"

Medora Chevalier said: "There is a new mood of optimism spreading around the world. We no longer need to be divided. We can act and campaign together, as humans caring about humans, sharing solutions, making change happen. The connections made in this world make ripples spread across the world to strengthen human rights."

There are a range of good causes in Second Life associated with the festival. These include Amnesty (featured on 10th), Uthango™ a social enterprise based in South Africa (featured on 11th), Keep Kids Safe/DrivebyAgony (featured on 13th), Peace Train/Twilight's Peace (featured 14th). Many others are featured in the sims visited for concerts or exhibitions during the festival.

The Festival started with an idea at discussions following Carp's the Rings Rock Opera, which raises social justice issues using music and drama. The performance of the Rings on 14th December at NMC Labs will be the last for some time as a break is planned. It has been featured on the popular SLTV programme Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe

Festival details are shown in the notecards below; on, on the Festival Travel HUD available at Angel's Nest and at many many other supporting sims throughout SL.

For more information contact by IM in Second Life Junivers Stockholm, Medora Chevalier or Any1 Gynoid"

Please check out this worthy and important set of events.

That being said, I want to make a small gripe. Had I not heard about this from my friend Jaynine, who is a center of a very large and interesting universe in Second Life, I would not have heard about this at all.

Announced at the opening event I attended today with 36 others (five or so of whom were being interviewed in voice in a rather disorganized chatter and another 10 of whom were organizers) was that there are 60 sims devoted to this event (as opposed to the 30 listed in the card). Holy cow! SIXTY sims!

Did someone not ask the Lindens to take note of this? Where is the promotion for this? I looked on the Second Life blogs, on the New World Notes, on SLNN, on the Herald--nothing. Looked at plurk. Checked twitter. Nothing. Facebook? Nada.

I am sorry to say, but the announcement poster leaves a lot to be desired, which is a shame since there are thousands of worthy graphic artists in SL. And the notecard? It desperately needed an editor.

I can guarantee you, more people know who Miss Virtual World 2009 is than know about this very worthy and ground-breaking event because there were people doing graphics, writing concisely, and promoting Mimmi Boa's ascendancy. Take a lesson from these silly fashionistas, all ye high-minded people. The world of commerce has a lot to teach you.

What irks me is that there was a lot of work put into this. I can only imagine how much time and effort went into creating content for 60 sims. I know some were already done and linked in, but a HUD was made to travel them. That alone is a lot of time. I am sick to think that all this time was spent for only a few hundred or thousand to view it when we are seeing concurrencies of 70,000 now. If no one is there to hear the tree fall, has it fallen?

This points out a huge gap, a difficult gap, in our Second Lives--getting the word out. It's not easy. But it also points out that half of what you need to do in Second Life is not just content production but also getting the word out. Keep it in mind.

Do I have a solution? Nope. This is what I struggle with every day for RFyre. However, I think the organizers could have done a lot more than they have.

So I am doing my small part. My five dear readers, please check it out. Poorly-syntaxed slurl listed above or in the blog you can kind of read about in the graphic (and which is misspelled in the notecard).


chestnut rau said...

Thanks for posting this Harper. I had no idea about this event so I agree with you about the lack of effective publicity.

Harper Beresford said...

OK one reader down, four to go...

Charlanna Beresford said...

Thanks for posting this, Harper.

As someone who writes about events in SL, your gripe touches on something that I see far too often. Putting it plainly, the majority of people do a miserable job of publicizing their events in-world. The norm is to barely promote it (submitting it to the SL events list or maybe even just announcing it on a random blog) or to promote it only at the last minute. I can't tell you how often I get announcement that essentially says "Hey, I've got a cool event starting in three hours!" Finally, too often information is submitted and is missing crucial details like a time or a SLurl. There are some people who publicize events very well, I just wish there were more!

If any people with events are reading this...please, please, please follow Harper's suggestions in the blog.

Dale Innis said...

60 sims?? Holy cows.

/me whispers, the URL you posted for the blog needs adjustment. :)

Michele Hyacinth said...

Will definitely check it out (60 sims? wowsa! Maybe the planners/organizers ended up spending mega time/focus on the planning and organizing of such a huge event ... such that the marketing became an after thought (at best) ... clearly a guess on my part. But in any event, thanks for your post (and for the discussion on marketing in SL). Am certain your very *many* readers will check it out, thanks to your announcement of it.

Harper Beresford said...

Dale, I took all my urls and slurls off their notecard :P

Prokofy said...

o The Lindens did put this on the splash page in fact, I saw it, but it was only for a day or so

o It is not the job of Linden Lab to publicize events in SL, and such events that do get publicized are a result of blatant FICery and the most obnoxious shilling and shameless TPing of Lindens to sims, so sharpen up your elbows and join the roller derby to get noticed, too, that's all that can be said.

o I gave this event a pass, even being interested in the topic, when I saw some of the tired old leftist memes and predictable avatars had gotten a hammerlock on it

o Harper seems to be flogging these topics of PR lately possibly because she envisions herself as running a PR agency? Or the diva of the universe? I'm not getting the sense of entitlement and outrage.

Medora said...

Hi there. I was one of the 3 organisers of the festival. It grew quickly from our initial idea of a day with some concerts through to many people running with the idea and setting up their events on the theme. Our commitment was to hold central information and make a HUD.

People did pass information out along their networks. Many thousands saw it.

Apologies for the websitenot being up to your standards! I couldnt find a volunteer in the 3 weeks we had and ended up making my first ever. I know very well others could have done it better.

Despite that in about 4 weeks we had 83 events and an estimate 2500 people. The opening event sadly coincided with some of those hours when SL just drives you mad. I crashed out of it 4 times. So sorry about the customer experience.

Because we did not own the sims for events we couldn't post central listings. Some sim owners did, others not. Still many events were full.

Volunteers with experience and willingness to help very welcome for future events we are planning. Bring your commitment to social change, roll up your sleeves and just do it.
Join the Rings Discussion group.

Medora said...

For those of you who'd like to check out my offendingly poor website :))

Here it is:

Please offer to come and help improve it for our next event.

Also offers of help from people experienced in promoting events to the media very welcome too.

In fact anyone who is committed, will work and isnt precious or just critical is welcome!