Boston Joins Second Life

Boston is the latest government organization to join Second Life, an animated online world where individuals can create virtual alter egos and interact with others. Boston officials plan to build a virtual Boston in which residents can visit virtual government buildings and chat with other Bostonians online, The Boston Globe reports.

virtual boston.jpg

Boston joins other public-sector groups that have done the same, including the Swedish embassy, the Vancouver Police Department, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (and reviewed here), and Ohio University (see below), to name a few.

Ohio University's YouTube promo for Second Life site.

Boston officials say they developed the Second Life site to encourage more people to participate in local government, and the city may use the site to promote tourism, collect public opinion about proposed developments, and, as Bill Oates, Boston’s chief information officer, says, just to keep up with what other cities and government organizations are doing.

Just how much Second Life will encourage Bostonians -- or for that matter, any citizen -- to become more involved in civic life remains to be seen. But as "istarr" commented on Planetizen, it's likely going to be a hard sell. "Expecting people to attend 'neighborhood meetings' in second life is unbelievable -- how many people do you know that attend neighborhood meetings in their first lives (where it might count)?"