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Second Life for eParticipation? An exclusive sneak preview of Birmingham’s Virtual Library

16. November 2010 – 12:00 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)


Birmingham's Virtual Library. Click for larger image

It’s easy to reject Second Life as an eParticipation platform, but Birmingham City Council is just about to launch a virtual model of the planned £193m Library of Birmingham. I spoke to representatives of the Council and the company that they are working with to find out what they are doing, and how they are making the virtual library accessible to a wide audience. What I found was fascinating, and I really think Second Life deserves a second look.

Second Life is a virtual world that allows users to assume a second identity and explore a digital three-dimensional world. It’s not difficult to see how this could be used to enable people to “go” to places they wouldn’t otherwise visit, network with people from far away, or take part in virtual events. That’s the theory; but my big issue with Second Life is that it is a very niche audience and it takes quite a lot of effort to download the software and work out how to use it. Once you’re in there, it’s great to be able to look at these virtual buildings and access information; but I can view videos, read text, and chat to friends much more easily using the internet outside Second Life. So why would a city council be interested in Second Life? Read the rest of this entry »


17. May 2009 – 16:30 by POLITECH



As a following to Politech Institute’s video “Public Actors in Second Life” the persistent online game created by its citizens SECOND LIFE VIDEO, I went back “in world “, rushed to the “search” option, and typed European Elections to see if something were happening there: I didn’t find a lot on that matter, apart from a European citizens group of… 3 people, and a G&L Center, proposing an exhibition about European Elections: links to all Parties’ sites, but not EU ones…


Mainly, most of the regions I went to visit, where Public Institutions have settled, were desperately empty. But I remember that during the French elections, UMP and PS parties had regions and proposed discussion groups and debates. It worked pretty well, with interest from the SL inhabitants with this new eParticipation vector.


To ensure a successful Second Life installation for an Institution, it requires a number of factors and actors:

- A consistent approach with the Second Life world : it needs a good updated computer, time for learning the many tools and tricks, time to meet people and associate with “in-world” known and trusted old timers.

The presence in Second Life also involves the acquisition and maintenance of locations and to pay a monthly fee.


- A well designed project and well managed,

- A rich content, complementary to what is presented in Second Life, opening to the many activities, as eLearning, Culture sites, exhibitions or libraries…

For example, eLearning: a study investigating how the Second Life environment is being used in UK Higher and Further 


or how universities use Second Life to teach complex concepts:

- An animation by a team in Second Life, with the awareness to captive an audience to a region through new offers, dance balls, freebies and parties… This means the creation of a new kind of job, a professional virtual job…


- An interactive virtual mediation strategy, well defined. It has to be understood that people in SL come and go, have time some moments of their life, then no time. So the public is very varied. It’s not “won “when you have members in a group, it’s a day to day job…

And still has to be a Fun place! 


Yes, it’s a lot; an investment in preparation, implementation and like in Real Life, it has a cost, but I believe that the return on investment is interesting, and I will tell you more about it in my next post!

To be continued…

Claire Mercier

Politech Institute