Second Life vendors: Victorian bushfire relief

lynne-bushfireAustralians and friends of Australians in Second Life have not surprisingly rallied to support the ongoing tragedy in Victoria. There’s a growing number of vendors selling goods in Second Life – a list of participating vendors is here.

The picture above is one of the many examples of goods available. If you’ve got some spare Linden Dollars, it’s another great way to show support.

Also, don’t forget our own t-shirt range on sale, with 100% of profits to the Red Cross appeal.

Thanks to Mal Burns for the heads-up.

Metaverse Aid – join the team

Back in October 2007, this site started generating a positive cash flow. After covering all costs, the decision was made to put excess funds to good use. Kiva was chosen primarily for its brilliant model of helping people help themselves, but there was also the tie-in of Kiva having a Second Life presence.

Since then, more than a dozen entrepreneurs in developing countries have been funded from our advertising revenue, but we’d love to see an even bigger impact from the virtual worlds community. In October this year we set up a Kiva team called Metaverse Aid and we’re now starting a campaign to build the team.

If you’d like to join the Metaverse Aid team on Kiva, sign up as a member, then join our team. When you make your first loan you’ll be able to select Metaverse Aid as the team you’re a part of. That’s it!

If you’re already a Kiva member, just click on the ‘Community’ button and search for Metaverse Aid.

Without some assistance, the people requesting micro-finance on Kiva will not likely have access to the opportunities that virtual worlds offer – here’s a chance to influence that.

A match made in Second Life.

Fighting the forest fire.

Public services.


What do these two things have in common? Typically, people outside those fields would consider them to be necessary but uninteresting. Many people have experienced the rough ends of these services. You’d think it would be difficult to create a useful and engaging experience in a virtual environment that combined the two fields.

In this case, you’d be surprised to find that those challenges have been faced and overcome.

The Ontario Ministry of Government Services has worked in concert with metaverse developers TheSLAgency to produce that most remarkable of things: a fun and educational experience about careers in the public service. No, seriously.

The Ontario Public Service Careers Island is situated in Second Life. At first blush, the build is pretty, the scenery extensive and attractive, and the main building contains web links for a whole variety of pertinent information regarding career choices with the Ontario Public Service (OPS). Look a little further afield, and you find that outside the main building (that also comprises the landing point), each section of the island has an instructive purpose that is not just interactive but also interesting and fun! For each career path available with the OPS, there is a representative display, with an activity that gives prospective employees some idea of what their job might be like.

Teleportation options board.

I visited the OPS Forest Fire Simulation first. You are given a hose to attach to your avatar to fight the fire, while in Mouselook mode. You also get a list of instructions to assist you in fighting the fire. It includes information about evaporation of water from the hose impeding your ability to put out the fire, the spread of fire, and letting you know where to concentrate your efforts. Our attempts to put out the fire were laughable in their futility. I suspect greater persistence is required in training water on the flaming parts. I spent a great deal of time taking photos during the process, too – photojournalism and firefighting do not mix.

Laboratory entrance

The second stop was the Water Testing Facility. You receive a HUD in the form of a vessel to contain water. You search the island for a body of water, and if you are close enough to the water when you click on the HUD, you will obtain a sample to take back to the laboratory. We found a small puddle of water out behind the airfield, and brought that back to be tested. Here is what the Water Analyzer CK-225 had to say about its quality: ‘This water suffers from heavy lead and hydrocarbons levels, petrol derivates, synthetic oil in quantities that makes its potability virtually impossible. This water is definately dangerous for health, and measures should be taken to clean up the area and limit its accessibility.’ Not a surprising finding, given the test sample’s location.

Traffic Media

The effort put into the project, and subsequent success of it, have not gone unnoticed or unrewarded. The ‘OPS Virtual Career Fair on Second Life’ received a merit award in the innovation category at the 2008 Showcase Ontario awards. TheSLAgency Managing Partner Joe Mastrocovi states, “Our innovative government work in virtual worlds has produced a lot of successes, and we’re honored that the Ontario government feels that our work is award-worthy. We’re proud that beyond awards, this engagement brings our client real results with increased job seekers, applicants, and final hires!”

Overall, it’s a neat idea that has been well executed. Other government and educational services would do well to take a look and incorporate some of these ideas into their own virtual environment projects.

Second Life Educators Blog created

Linden Lab today announced the creation of the SLED Blog, a welcome evolution from the busy SLED email list. Education is certainly one of Second Life’s strong points and a well maintained blog will help this along further.

Two key reports released on Second Life and education / non-profit sectors

The first is entitled: Best Practices from the Second Life Community Convention Education Track 2007 and was prepared by Cathy Arreguin, MA Educational Technology.

Get the report here or further details on it here


The second is Best Practices for Non-profits in Second Life – Fall 2007 by Rik Panganiban.

Get the report here or further details on it here


If you work in either the education or non-profit sector these are well worth a read.

Kiva – real outcomes for the real world

I’m a bit slow off the mark with this one. Kiva is a brilliant non-profit organisation that funds disadvantaged individuals via microfinance. Essentially, you donate a minimum of $25 US to fund a person’s business and within 6-12 months the amount is paid back and you can choose to re-invest that amount in another venture or withdraw it from the scheme. The default rates are well below the developed world and Kiva has received a lot of attention from Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey which has grown Kiva substantially so it now has 16 staff administering the loans throughout the world.


I’ve invested some money in Kiva in recent months but was unaware that Kiva has been in Second Life for quite awhile. They’re launching some new in-world offices on the 5th January at 10.30am SL Time (6th January at 5.30am AEDT). If you can’t make the launch, do take the time to walk through their offices to find out more about the work they do.


Thanks to Business Communicators of Second Life for the heads-up.

Check it out in-world

Virtual Africa starts delivering for real Africa

I don’t usually post in full a press release from an entity within a virtual world like Second Life, but the information below is worth replicating in full. It’s good news on a small scale but if the growth in use of virtual worlds continues at a pace predicted in some quarters, then larger results for the real world may be seen.

“Virtual Africa’s Second Life initiative brings bicycles to South Africans in need

CAPE TOWN, December 14, 2007. The developers of Virtual Africa in Second Life began selling virtual African bicycles a month ago and have sold nearly 150 bikes to date – less than 20 bikes shy of financing the purchase of a real world bicycle. The project is now being ramped up to include the ability for residents to purchase a bicycle in the real world through inworld kiosks to directly benefit a South African in need.

The developers of Virtual Africa in Second Life began selling virtual African bicycles a month ago and have sold nearly 150 bikes to date – less than 20 bikes shy of financing the purchase of a real world bicycle. The project is now being ramped up to include the ability for residents to purchase a bicycle in the real world through inworld kiosks to directly benefit a South African in need.

“Buying a real bike can vastly improve the life of a South African needing transportation to a job, and it only costs $130 US to make this happen,” explained Dorette Steenkamp (Alanagh Recreant in Second Life), co-executive director of Uthango Social Investments, a South African charity working directly in various urban and rural communities with people live in poverty. “For just L$41,700, Second Life residents can purchase a real world bicycle for a real world family.”

All Uthango bike kiosks give residents the option to purchase a real world bicycle. The new initiative is the second phase of the [e]bizikile fundraising drive to explore RL/SL integration. Inworld, residents can still purchase virtual African bicycles through the kiosks for L$250. The bicycles are designed by Shukran Fahid of !BooPeRFunK! and can be used to participate in a grid-wide virtual bike-a-thon in 2008.

“It takes the sale of 167 virtual bicycles to just buy one real world bike,” said co-executive director Erna Sittig who is Enakai Ultsch in Second Life. “We hope residents will help us meet the greater needs by purchasing the real world bike in addition to – or instead of – a virtual one”.

The [e]bizikile fundraising event brings attention to how bicycles fit into the economy in African cities and rural towns. It is combined with a dynamic FLICKR website, with more than 100 photos of African bicycles.

The [e]bizikile fundraising event is supported by Charitable Hearts, one of the largest charity groups in Second Life advocating for the work of a few selected charities. The e]bizikile African bicycles will be available from Uthango’s office in Second Life or from dedicated affiliated businesses. Web-enabled vendors donated by Hippo Technologies will dispense the bicycles. Free vendors are still available to interested companies, organizations or individual landowners in Second Life.

For more information about the virtual and real world African bicycles, contact Enakai Ultsch. Second Life residents can also join the [e]bizikile group or IM Alanagh Recreant for further details. To visit the Uthango offices in Second Life, go to


Uthango Social Investments is a registered charity located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the first African-based company and NGO officially in Second Life, where it will launch VIRTUAL AFRICA in 2008. Read more about the developers of Virtual Africa on

Uthango Social Investments is an investment and development company specialising in sustainable poverty eradication through innovation. It focuses on the digital divide, micro-enterprise development, intercultural dialogue, crime prevention, community mental health, and infrastructure development.

(see our previous coverage of Virtual Africa)

Freedom Expressed

Freedom Xpress is one of the more recent memorials to appear in Second Life. Its subject is freedom of expression and the journalists who have been killed for doing their job.


The organisers of the memorial, Dakila Lacava and Galilla Sinatra, describe their motivations:

“Freedom Xpress is a place of tribute to those who have fallen in the name of freedom of expression and the press. We are also a group dedicated to promoting these freedoms as indispensable to genuine human development and understanding.

Today, people continue to be persecuted, even killed as governments and groups with dire agendas seek to suppress the truth and those who bear witness to it. Freedom XPress is our small contribution to the effort to stave off the darkness from descending on us.

At the moment, we have erected two monuments, one to Philippine journalists murdered since 2001, and another to slain Russian journalists.

We would like to invite journalists from as many countries as possible to join us, to build their own tributes to the heroes of press freedom and free expression in their lands. We also welcome those who, journalists and non-journalists alike, wish to join us spread awareness through SL about how freedom of the press and of expression continue to be threatened and attacked all over the world.

If you want to know more abut Freedom XPress or get involved with us, please feel free to IM Dakila Lacava or Galilla Sinatra. We would be honored to have you on board.”

Check it out in-world

Education & Non-Profit Organisations in Second Life

One of the problems we encounter in this information age is the enormous quantity of information encountered each day and the danger of overlooking the bleeding obvious.

Checking out the home page of Second Life every now and then to see what is happening can throw up some interesting gems. If you’re like me that may be every blue moon, but this week I happened to notice over in the right side margin an item labelled; “Education & Non-Profit Organizations“.


A perusal of this link will show there is an enormous wealth of information, web and SL based resources for those interested in either setting up an educational or non profit presence in SL. Or for those looking into the opportunities that SL offers in various educational areas.

At the educational level a click on the More… link towards the bottom of the page opens the wiki listing a pretty full list of universities and other education providers in SL.

A quick scan down the list shows that the “Australian Film TV and Radio School: Sydney, Australia” but no others from our neck of the woods. Perhaps its time for someone from the Australian Universities we have featured here on SLOz to pay a visit and add their details…

Where’s Australian charity in Second Life?

One of SL’s greatest strengths is its ability to muster the community for worthwhile causes. The Relay For Life is one well-known example and we’ve covered and the Garden for the Missing is another that has gained a lot of interest.

Given Australia is one of the larger contingents in Second Life, where’s the Australian effort in community service / charity? If you know of one, we’d love to cover it. Even if you offer free services to the SL community, let us know.

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