I woke up at 3:30am and I couldn’t go back to sleep so i decided to log in to SL to see if i could visit with some of my international friends. I saw a large gathering at CommonWealth island so i headed over to see what was going on. This is what I saw
I teleported right into the middle of the staging ground for the IBM virtual strike.
IBM workers are organizing the first virtual strike in history. It is taking place on several of IBM’s islands in Second Life.
Based on the info available at the staging ground, the strike centers around a labor dispute in Italy where workers asked for a 40 euro’ raise during their contract negotiations. IBM refused and in turn cut their employees “productive results benefit”, a 1000 euro loss. Since IBM is often cited as a company with a Second Life presence, the striking employees thought it would be a good idea to leverage the press attention IBM receives and turn it towards their cause. I took a snapshot of the Protest information card, click on the image for a full size view.
Of course, my main interest in the virtual strike is in the approach the people use to collaborate through the virtual world environment. This virtual event is very well organized. A staging area is used on CommonWealth island where instructions are given to each avatar along with a protest kit that includes a t-shirt, several signs with slogans, giant floating fish that an avatar can attach to themselves, and a notecard with instructions and details about the protest. The protest packages are in several different languages. Strike leaders are positioned at the staging ground directing the strikers to a particular IBM island. Once there, avatars simply stand or walk around the island holding their signs. Below is a snapshot from the IBM Business Center at 4:17 am Central time.
In the picture you can see the protest t-shirts, signs, and a giant protest fish in the back ground. An interesting side note, during the setup period for the protest, the administrators of CommonWealth island “locked down” the island anticipating that anti-protester “griefers” would cause problems so they disallowed scripts on their land. Unfortunately, the strikers planned on using a teleport script from the staging area to the IBM islands. Since the use of scripts was turned off, strikers had a difficult time getting to the virtual strike. Keep in mind, the strikers are mostly Italian and the leaders seem to be English speakers (at least while I was around), which caused a lot of confusion. But, what happens when virtual world groups run into communication problems? That’s right, Web 2.0 technologies get introduced to save the day, in this case, a blog
The blog was used as an alternative means to provide teleporting coordinates to each striker. SLURLs were posted for each protest location along with instructions in English and Italian. The strikers are well behaved, they stay out of the way of any work going on at IBM islands and they are simply wearing low prim protest signs. At one point an anti-protester griefer did release a particle weapon but it was mostly harmless and the Mario images gave us all something to talk about : )