SLActions — Mixed-media research conference


So how do you get hundreds of researchers to simultaneously present their papers at different places in the world, on a conference spanning the globe? The ingenuous solution: use Second Life.

Starting today, and going on until the 26th, SLactions is live. Researchers in virtual worlds all over the world will be presenting their work and results to their colleagues, and they’re using Second Life to join the conference. So far, this is not very innovative — a lot of similar conferences have done the same in the past.

But it’s also a mixed-media event: people can watch and interact, either from Second Life or a real life location, with each other. It’s also not big news.

The whole conference is being streamed live to a Web page. Also not exactly a novelty.

No, the radical approach is that there is not a central physical location. Instead, researchers and participants can join the conference from wherever they are. If they prefer to stay at home or at the office, they can simply log in and go to the NMC Conference Center in Second Life — which is, for all purposes, the central virtual location for the event. But if they prefer to attend the conference physically, they can pick from one of several real life locations, in Brazil, Israel, China, the UK, the US, or Portugal. They’re free to choose the one nearest to them: it’s the same conference, not separate tracks/sessions. Each institution hosting the conference physically has a similar setup: a room with good broadband connections for the attendants to log in to Second Life. So you can talk with your colleagues in the same physical room where you are, but chat via SL to any of the others spread around the world. While the conference’s official language is English, at each physical location you’re free to talk to your fellow attendants in whatever language you prefer, of course.

Presenters and panelists do their presentations in Second Life using voice, and in-world video and slideshows. That way, everybody has the same image, and attends the same conference, no matter where they’re logged in.

And if you’re completely out of luck to log in to SL, either because your computer cannot handle SL, or you just have a poor wireless connection, and too far to any of the physical locations to attend in flesh-and-blood, you can still watch the video stream…

Now that’s an innovative concept 🙂

The organisation is also spread out around the world:

  • Ana Boa-Ventura – University of Texas-Austin, USA
  • Leonel Morgado – Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal
  • Nelson Zagalo – Universidade do Minho, Portugal

And the official website is at

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