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Will we miss meetings?

A short article in The Hindu’s Business Line about IBM’s corporate use of virtual worlds, including international team meetings in Second Life:

“People use their avatars to immerse themselves in the meeting. Despite being scattered around the globe, they can come together in a way that is more like an in-person meeting. Creating a collaborative culture across a diverse and global workforce is the best way to achieve common goals.” – Simon Thomas, CRM Leader, IBM India

This would seem to echo some of the conclusions of Forrester’s recent research. As more people work in multi-national and multi-organisational teams, and more people work from home or remote locations, we’ll need to look for more ways to recapture the sense of being a team that might otherwise be lost.

Could virtual worlds be the way forward for those of us who are missing the meetings?

User Group first meeting announced

We’ve scheduled a date for the first meeting of the Union Island User Group. It’ll be 4 March 2008. We’re holding two, one at 9am GMT and one at 7pm GMT so that we can have more convenient timings for a greater number of people around the world – just drop in to whichever suits you best. Read more »

Now we have a theatre…

meeting hall

Here’s our new training and presentation building, just being put together. Hopefully small enough to be comfy, but big enough to avoid the headache of camera angles when you’re trying to pay attention. Read more »

Who owns Union Island?

Union Island is managed by a loose coalition of organisations representing unions around the world. We think it’s better to build one core community for trades unionists, rather than have them scattered amongst different sites for different organisations – it will make for a better networking experience for our users and help us to learn from each others’ valuable different perspectives.

You can see a list of our partner organisations here. We hope the list of partners will grow as the island’s community grows, and we are already talking to other organisations in the international union family about coming on board with their own campaigns and events.

There is a steering group comprising people from all these organisations. We also plan to give voice to our users and union members in how the island is run, through the Union Island User Group, which is open to any individual to join.

If you want to join up, just search for the Union Island User Group from within Second Life – we look forward to seeing you.

Why set up a dedicated island for unionists?

Virtual worlds are new to most unions, and setting up facilities in an environment like Second Life has costs, both financial and in terms of the learning needed to run them. By coming together in one place, we can share the costs and overcome the knowledge barriers, providing easy access to ready-made shared facilities for unions around the world.

By building a community for all union members, we will also be able to pool an international audience to the benefit of all our users. Second Life is one of the most popular virtual worlds, but it is still a vast place, and many areas of it receive only a comparatively small number of visitors. Bringing all our activity together will help to encourage networking between users, and improve the experience for everyone.

Why Second Life?

Unions are first and foremost about people. In many countries, unions are the largest form of voluntary organisation, and there are hundreds of millions of union members worldwide, with millions of people taking on voluntary activist roles in their own union.

Individual trade unionists stand to gain a lot from online networking, both in their own countries and internationally. An environment like Second Life helps form networks of friendship and partnership between ordinary union members that just couldn’t happen offline. Over the long term, we aim to build a strong community of grassroots trades unionists around the world.

There are also many other benefits from providing a central facility for trades unionists of this type, in terms of distance learning, and in raising awareness of many different union campaigns and issues.

What is Union Island?

Union Island is a place in the virtual world Second Life (www.secondlife.com), intended to be a virtual home for all trades unionists around the world.

Union Island is a virtual island (yes, surrounded by virtual water). It has virtual buildings – facilities for users to share events, campaigns, discussions, training and much more.

Union Island will be a resource for all unions in the International Trades Union Congress (ITUC) family and a welcoming community for their activists, members and supporters.

What is Second Life?

Second Life is an interactive 3D environment that users explore through their internet-connected computer. Millions of people around the world (as well as thousands of companies and organisations) use it to chat, network, create, conduct business or play games.

If you’re new to all this, Second Life’s creators, Linden Lab, have a helpful definition of their own:

Second Life is an online 3D virtual world imagined, created, and owned by its Residents that offers a platform for communication, business, education, and organizational development to anyone who wants to try it. Developed by Linden Lab, Second Life was launched to the public in June of 2003. Since then, the Second Life world has grown dramatically with Residents joining from all over the globe and a virtual land area of over 4X the size of New York City. A tool for innovation, Second Life attracts not only individuals but non-profits, universities, big brands and government agencies, who see the potential for collaboration, education and communication.

The Three Key Elements of Second Life are:

  • Community — Residents create avatars, form groups and establish a persistent presence in the world.
  • User-Created Content — Residents create and own everything in the world. Using easy-to-master building and scripting tools, Residents create anything from houses and animations to clothing and vehicles.
  • Marketplace — A vibrant economy results in the buying and selling of Resident created content.

Second Life is not a game, instead it’s the next evolutionary stage of the Internet. It merges many qualities of the Web, online games, social networking, user-generated content, creativity applications, and telecommunications technologies. Second Life is whatever you want it to be — a social hangout, a business opportunity, a creative outlet or classroom. While there are no dragons to slay or levels to attain, there are plenty of games INSIDE of Second Life created by enterprising Residents.

You can read more of their introductory factsheet here.

Any Questions?

Do you have any questions about the project? Contact us with them, and we’ll try our best to answer. Any we reckon are useful for more users, we’ll add to our FAQ section, to help satisfy everyone’s curiosity!

A walk in the park

library

Trees and walkways going in now. Makes the stroll up the hill to the library look very pleasant. The idea is to make an environment that is easy to get around for people new to SL, but also natural and enjoyable to walk through – heightening the sense of being there.

© Trades Union Congress 2007