Euro Banana Festival

Irony Of The Week (well, so far, anyway): The Sun, as part of its continuing effort to distract people from anything resembling real life or real politics, launches a campaign against the Human Rights Act (based on the usual lies and distortions). The HRA basically just gives people in the UK the ability to bring cases under Human Rights Convention in this country, rather than them having to go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. So really, the Sun is campaigning for Barmy Straight-Banana Eurocrats to make decisions instead of our courts! No way! Up Yours, Delors!

chris moyles
pushguns ahoy

Anyway, enough of that. Let’s talk about something more useful than the Sun – a virtual festival. This is slightly hampered by the fact that I didn’t go to the version of the Radio One Big Weekend in Second Life over the weekend. I don’t know, I was rather tired and not really in the mood, but I would have been interested to see it (some pictures of the festival on Flickr from other people).

Also, I heard a rumour that Chris Moyles was there in avatar form. Lock and load.

I was told by somebody who was there that the BBC had four sims of their own (note to non-SLers: a “sim”, short for simulator, is a 256×256 plot of land in SL, and each one has a name) which were imaginatively named “BBC Radio One”, “BBC”, “Radio” and “One”. That sounds to me like somebody didn’t understand a form they were filling out. Still, they’re only $1,000 each, plus $195 a month. That might sound sarcastic but it’s pocket change for them really, as would be paying residents to build and script the required scenery. Given the Newsnight virtual Paxman segment I imagine that they still have connections.

One might ask what the point of it was, given that it was already being streamed over the internet. I can’t speak for the BBC, but I’d probably give answers along the lines of:

  • international publicity in the geek / new media world, which improves their reputation as innovators, potentially attracting interested and talented people to this and further projects, as well as customers and collaborators;
  • exploring the potential for holding gatherings in a virtual environment is good blue-sky research, and in fact not that blue-sky, given that it’s actually happened, even if in reasonably crude form. (Looks to me like avs dancing in a field with some streaming video.) You never know what can be achieved with new technologies until you try. They’re already talking about getting musicians in there as avatars for interviews, for instance;
  • the sims will be kept for a year, and be reused for other projects, which makes them more economical as a virtual space for playing with other projects;
  • in a world where Chris Moyles gets paid a 630,000 salary, quibbling over a few grand for something that’s actually fun rather than an irritating gobshite seems pretty daft.

There wasn’t really much publicity at all, a piece on the BBC site from Friday, and a few mentions on blogs and word going around within Second Life, but I think it was something of an experiment and they didn’t want too much attention. I’m looking out for anything about how it all went and any further events. I’m fairly positive: it’s always seemed to me that the cool kids in the BBC Internet Stuff Department (a) want to do things with technology to make people’s lives better and improve access to information, they’re not just pissing about or after the cash, and (b) are actually pretty sharp and good at it.

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