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E-democracy in Animation

E-democracy in Animation

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Published by Steve Thompson
My talk at the CIRN 2009 Conference in Prato on the subject of using a Second Life Movie to effect change and regeneration.
My talk at the CIRN 2009 Conference in Prato on the subject of using a Second Life Movie to effect change and regeneration.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Steve Thompson on Apr 06, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs


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E-democracy by Animation

can a virtual world activity influence and engage with the real?

The Village of Skinningrove sits between two very high cliffs on the East Coast of England. Some would say they are to the South of Teesside. Others might say they are in North Yorkshire. Certainly they are in rural East Cleveland which is an appropriate name as the name derives from its Saxon name: Cliff-Land. Skinningrove was built on an industrial heritage first with Ironstone mining to feed the blast furnaces of Middlesbrough and then their own steel works which sits on top of the northern cliff. The ironstone mines are now closed and the steel works that once dominated and overshadowed the village below is much diminished. In 2000 the village was devastated by two successive floods. The post flood months were the Skinningrove’s darkest days. Many villagers were uninsured when the second flood hit and a lot of people abandoned their homes for good. For a while there was a dark joke about house prices in Skinningrove: “buy one get one free”. However, those that remained pulled together and they campaigned for flood defences and to have Kilton Beck which caused the floods to be re-categorised by the authorities as a River because with river status they would be afforded greater protections. They won their River status and they got their flood defences. But they didn’t stop there. They continued making improvements to their village and it is largely unrecognisable today to someone who knew it pre 2000. Several months ago two of Skinningrove’s bestknown activists, Tommy Evans and Barry Hunt decided on their biggest scheme to date. They would re-generate the Skinningrove Jetty which had stood derelict and dangerous for many years, unneeded by the declining steel industry. They enlisted the help of Teesside University’s Steve Thompson to help envision this scheme. Thompson suggested building and launching the Jetty in Second Life and he recruited colleagues and local people to help as well as distant contacts in the Second Life world. He also engaged the two local schools that served the village as well as the areas Member of Parliament, Dr Ashok Kumar. A lookalike Avatar of the MP was fashioned and he recorded his jetty re-launch speech to emanate from his lips. Over several months a film was made in Second Life to show what a re-furbished and re-opened jetty would look like in Real Life.

The film premiered to great acclaim in February 2009 in an event presided over by the Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland, Councillor Mike Findley. Councillor Findley was much impressed and asked to visit both the real and virtual Jetty. When he arrived at Teesside University to take a see the virtual Jetty he was greeted by Tommy and Barry who caused their Second Life look-alike Avatars to bow reverentially to the Mayor. The Mayor was so delighted when shown his own look-alike avatar fashioned by local artist Derek Mosey that he declared he wanted to be in a movie himself. He recorded his voice over there and then and the team worked over the next few weeks on a new production, “SuperMayor (You’ll believe a Mayor can Fly) The Mayor then arranged for the Jetty Film and Supermayor to be shown in Council Chambers and Thompson, Evans and Hunt were given the opportunity to make their pitch to 60 elected members. So much support has so far been generated among decision makers who have all been quite taken by innovation and pure fun of doing it all in animation. The story continues. Movies: http://bit.ly/skinjetty -|- http://bit.ly/teachtv -|http://bit.ly/edemanim Steve Thompson, s.d.thompson@tees.ac.uk Institute of Digital Innovation, Teesside University. www.steve-thompson.org.uk http://www.slideshare.net/stmedia

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