Filippa and Lina are two Master’s students in the International Marketing and Brand Management program at Lund University in Lund, Sweden. They are researching how social VR users express identity in virtual environments, and they wish to conduct interviews. Filippa told me via Discord chat:
We are hoping to learn more about how social VR users express identity in virtual environments because we think that it is the future, and we have noticed more and more physical retailers that are showing an interest in selling virtual goods. Our field is called consumer culture theory, so we believe that there is a link between our possessions and identities.
Yesterday was the first episode of a new, livestreamed weekly book club series called the Second Life Book Club, hosted by Draxtor Despres. If you missed it, you can watch it here:
Drax, the truly indefatigable video chronicler of both Second Life and Sansar, is also an avid reader and book lover. He has been hosting The Drax Files Book Club Show in Sansar for well over sixty episodes, interviewing various authors in his broadcast studio tucked away in the basement at 114 Harvest, every Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. So it was perhaps inevitable that he would become involved in this new initiative: a book club in Second Life!
As book publishers adjust to coronavirus-era restrictions, the virtual world Second Life is launching the Second Life Book Club, a new “virtual world book tour” initiative that enables authors to have real-time book readings, engage in meet-and-greets with their fans and promote their publications in front of a live audience within the Internet’s largest user-created virtual world.
The Second Life Book Club, which debuts April 8th at 10 a.m. (Pacific), will kick off with a multi-author panel that will discuss the new reality of writing and selling books in the age of COVID-19. The event will feature a live Q&A with best-selling authors Matt Ruff (“Lovecraft Country”), Ken Liu (“The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories”), SL Huang (the Cas Russell series) and CB Lee (the Sidekick Squad series).
The Second Life Book Club is hosted by virtual world personality Draxtor Despres, who is also producing the series in partnership with Linden Lab (creator of Second Life).
“When I first reached out to authors, some of them very high profile, I was surprised to get super enthusiastic feedback like: ‘Of course I will come on the show. Can I be a tentacle monster? Can I be a parrot? Can I fly?’,” says Despres. “It’s a dream come true for a book nerd like me!”
Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg adds, “Second Life offers a safe, fun retreat during a time of great anxiety, stress, and social isolation. Through the virtual world, people can stay connected and engage in friendly conversations and fun social activities such as visiting live music performances, virtual nightclubs and deejay events and now even book readings. Virtual world interactions offer a much deeper connection with other human beings than for example video conferencing: through the avatar and the shared space we feel as if we are fully present together.”
This is a win-win-win situation: a win for Linden Lab, a win for the authors, and also a win for Draxtor Despres, whom I believe to be the hardest-working man in virtual worlds, a non-stop whirlwind of activity! Drax is busy making promotional videos for Second Life, hosting regular shows and events in Sansar, running The Drax Files Radio Hour podcast—and on top of all that, he found time to complete and release a well-received, full-length feature documentary on virtual world use by the differently abled, titled Our Digital Selves: My Avatar Is Me. He’s truly an inspiration.
The Second Life Book Club will be every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Second Life Time/Pacific Time. And you can join the live studio audience on the new Book Club Island! (Be sure to pick up a stylish free Book Club T-shirt for your avatar at the entrance!)