I spent a wonderfully entertaining evening playing drums on stage at Live 8 last night.
Not in London of course, I left that to U2 and Madonna, but in Mauve where Jamie Otis organized an SL event streaming the concert live from Hyde Park. Initially we just hung out, listening to the music and talking about the event, but it wasn’t long before people were pulling Stratocasters, Flying Vs and Drum Kits out of their pants and taking to the stage to indulge in a marathon karaoke session. Scripted guitar riffs and drum loops mixed with the audio stream, we played and sang along and danced and I added 3 minute drum solos to nearly every song. We had loads of fun, hung out, reminisced about the original Live Aid, talked about the concert and the politics behind it and even helped add a few names to the Live 8 list.
It felt a lot like the UK election event I held in Second Life a few weeks ago: people getting together in SL to mark an event in the real world and talk about it. Once again Second Life wasn’t another world, but a place connected to other places in the real world. Our gathering in Mauve was the same as the gathering watching a big screen in Manchester: a local community coming together to witness global events. Over 3 billion people watched or listened to the Live 8 concerts. The whole world was connected by media streams to what was going on and so were we. Second Life was part of the world.
When we were building swing-o-meters in Ambleside in May the people of the UK were struggling to differentiate nearly identical political parties. A few weeks later, the EU was plunged in to chaos when the French said no to Europe, or maybe just no to a kind of Europe, or maybe just no to the French government. There was no such ambiguity with Live 8. People around the world stood together and said there must be an end to poverty. It demonstrates a new way of doing politics in which individuals or groups use the media to rally support for particular issues. As Second Life struggles with political issues it will be interesting to see whether this new society built upon and infused with communications technology develops traditional political institutions or takes the new way of doing politics even further.