Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds

Rita J. King recently spoke about the Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project at the 2010 Business Innovation Factory (BIF-6). Here’s the video:

(Rita J. King also presented the Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project at the 2009 O’Reilly Media Gov2.0 Summit and Expo, for which she was recognized with the first-ever Gov2.0 Award. You can view that presentation here.)

 

 


Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds

With this report, Josh and Rita have illuminated a new path–a definite intelligible plan–for practical public diplomacy in an area of supreme urgency. Furthermore, they have done so by elevating humanity’s most distinguishing feature: the imagination.“ – Joel Rosenthal, President, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Cover page of the Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds policy recommendations.

On January 29, 2009, Dancing Ink Productions released the findings from the Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. The project was funded by a grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. The findings included a trilogy of actionable items available in digital format here.  By releasing three types of reports — policy recommendations, documentary video and graphic book — we hope to make what is still a very new medium as accessible as possible.

The idea for Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project was hatched with a very specific idea in mind: How could people learn about other cultures in an authentic, experiential space — specifically, how could we learn about cultures that self-identified as Muslim? We chose the virtual world of Second Life for many reasons, among them that it is the best international platform — more than 70% of its users are from outside the United States. Our goal was to to see what we could learn about Islam — not by inviting particular people with particular perspectives into Second Life, but rather to follow the trail of what was already happening culturally in the space that might yield new insight about Islam.

Read the Press Release announcing the project findings here and here.

Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project findings:

Watch the short documentary (low-res version) on YouTube:


Comments on the project: 

“With this report, Josh and Rita have illuminated a new path–a definite intelligible plan–for practical public diplomacy in an area of supreme urgency. Furthermore, they have done so by elevating humanity’s most distinguishing feature: the imagination.”
– Joel Rosenthal, President, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

“The project’s use of Second Life virtual experiences, where internet users can interact with each other through avatars to engage in intercultural dialogue, is indeed a pioneering initiative.”  “A ‘second life’ for public diplomacy in the Middle East,” by Prof. Muhammad Ayish, Abu Dhabi’s “The National”

“Joshua and Rita are THE great explorers of new possibilities and media for public diplomacy.”
– Tish Shute, propietor of UgoTrade.com and TishShute.com

“A fascinating clash of best intentions and actual spiritual desires, transplanted into the virtual realm.”Wagner James Au in New World Notes.

Eureka Dejavu in hijab
Pictured: Eureka Dejavu, avatar of Rita J. King in hijab before the virtual hajj.

Read Rita J. King’s remarks from the January 29, 2009 release of the Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project, delivered at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

In case you missed the event, you can watch the complete video on the Carnegie Council website. Carnegie Council has also uploaded the complete event transcript.

Evan M. O'Neil, managing editor of PolicyInnovations.org at the January 29 event.
Evan M. O’Neil, managing editor of PolicyInnovations.org at the January 29 event.

The Carnegie Council has uploaded edited excerpts from the January 29, 2009 release Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project. Each video is about a minute and a half long.

Non-Violence in Virtual Worlds — Rita J. King

Creativity in Virtual Worlds — Rita J. King