All posts by Netroots Nation in Second Life

Web 2.0 on Steroids: A FREE Portal to Netroots Nation

This week our friends at Democracy For America are announcing another round of winners for their Netroots Nation scholarship contest. If you weren’t on the list of winners and you can’t find the money/time/energy to get to Pittsburgh August 13 to 16 for the convention, don’t despair…there is another way!

For the third year in a row we’ll be taking advantage of the rich multimedia capabilities of Second Life to bring you live streaming audio and video from Netroots Nation right to your own computer monitor. Through Second Life we’re able to bring you not only streaming video, but also real time discussion and participation in the panels from the comfort of your own home, exclusive online panels and information displays from nonprofit organizations, online retailers and great progressive companies. Oh, and did we mention it’s free?

Join us over the fold and we’ll walk you through the particulars of how to participate and how to support our work with sponsorships.

I know, I know, you have questions. We’ll get through some basic stuff in this diary, and if you have other questions please feel free to drop them in a comment and one of our volunteers will respond.

What is Second Life?

Second Life is all kinds of things for all kinds of people. In short, Second Life is Web 2.0 on steroids. Second Life is an online virtual world made up of “residents” from all over the world. Through our internet connections we can come together to chat, discuss issues, share streaming media content, share information, sell products, and best of all, party. You interact with the Second Life universe through an online version of yourself known as an “avatar.” Your avatar will walk, run, and fly through Second Life and interact with other avatars through the software’s built-in chat software. While in-world you can watch online videos and listen to music, too, and we’ll be taking advantage of this technology to stream panels live from the convention in Pittsburgh.

How does it work?

The free, multi-platform Second Life software connects you to the virtual world. To get started, simply go to and click on “Get Started.” You’ll be prompted to give a little bit of information about yourself, choose a basic look for your avatar, and download the software.

Once you’ve successfully done that, we’ve set up a Welcome Center where you can learn how to move around, how to watch videos and hear audio, and how to customize your Second Life avatar with free clothing and accessories. From there you’ll join us either in the Netroots Nation Arena or the Netroots Nation Ballroom where you’ll be able to watch the action on huge video monitors while interacting with other Second Life residents.

Second Life is *not* a light-weight application: You will want a relatively recent computer with a nice graphics card and a good broadband connection for the highest-quality SL experience. The good news is that Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux OSes are all quite well supported. You can find the official requirements at the SL website.

We hope to be able to stream large portions of the real life Netroots Nation into NNinSL, so you can watch and, in several cases, interact with real sessions even if you cannot make it to Pittsburgh.  More information will be forthcoming as we get closer to August, but we strongly recommend that you try it out in advance to get your bearings so that you can get the most out of the conference and not be overly distracted by the mechanics of how to get around, talk, and find events.

Why is this better than watching the videos on UStream?

So if you join us “in-world,” what can you expect to see, hear, and experience at NNSL? While the agendas for neither NN nor NNSL are finalized yet, during last year’s convention, many events in Austin were streamed into Second Life including six keynote events, another half-dozen panel discussions, a multi-faith service conducted by Street Prophets founder Pastor Dan, and a both-worlds meet-up that brought together Second Life users and attendees in Austin. We also provided unique SL-only content, including an additional four panels, several social gatherings including dances, and a documentary film screening.

Therein lies the difference. Beyond offering you live, streaming video, we’re also offering you the opportunity to connect with other convention-goers through online discussions. We will have NNinSL staff on both sides of the convention and we’ll be offering you the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the discussion panels in real time, as the panels unfold.

This year, we are expanding our focus to include content and events year-round rather than just during NN, beginning with live music events last winter and our own Inaugural Ball, continuing June 20 at 5:00 PDT with another documentary, the Second Life premiere of Kristen and Marshall Thompson’s moving A Soldier’s Peace, their chronicle of his walk for peace that covered the length of Utah, followed by an in-world interview with Marshall. After the interview we’ll be having live music and a wonderfully eclectic DJ. If you want to get a sense of what NNSL is all about ahead of the conference, join us at the Netroots Nation Arena this Saturday at 5:00 PDT.

Sounds great! Anything else?

YES! In addition to the events we’re bringing you from the Netroots Nation Arena and Netroots Nation Ballroom, you’ll be able to stroll through Exhibitors’ Row and check out wares and informational displays from all sorts of great progressive organizations and companies. If you or your organization are interested in being a part of Exhibitors’ Row, email us and we’ll get you set up. Our staff of expert Second Life builders will even help you with getting your booth set up.

Here’s the hard part of our pitch, so we’ll make it as quick and painless as possible: while we’re pleased to offer Netroots Nation in Second Life absolutely free for participants, the truth of the matter is that we do incur substantial costs in doing so. For starters, the folks at Linden Labs (the company that runs Second Life) do charge for the privilege of owning the land on which the NNinSL setup sits, to the tune of a couple thousand dollars a year. We are authorized to raise funds through the Netroots Nation organization (which raises money through its parent organization, so if you’re so inclined we’d love to have your support.

Awesome! I’m in!

Great! First and foremost, go to and sign up for a Second Life account. Download the software, then log in! Click on this link and Second Life will “teleport” your avatar to the Netroots Nation area. The first thing you’ll encounter is our greeter, which will get you signed up for our in-world mailing list. Then follow the black arrows to the Orientation Area and go through the steps. By the time you’re finished you’ll be ready to join us August 13-16 for Netroots Nation in Second Life!

In the meantime, follow us on Twitter for updates, join our Facebook group (Netroots Nation in Second Life) and check out our website.

That’s it from us. What questions do you have?