Sweden’s virtual embassy launched!
Sweden’s long awaited and much heralded official ”Embassy” in the computer-generated world known as Second Life was launched on the 30th of May.
Second Life is a virtual world in which some 6 million players - called ”residents” - interact with each other. They can do basically anything that people can in real life, including buying and selling property, participating in group or individual activities, or socializing.
Sweden announced in January it would set up a virtual presence in the online world to spread information about the country and attract more young visitors. But it was the tiny Maldives, with a population of 350,000, that opened the first Second Life embassy on the 22nd of May.
The Swedish virtual embassy was inaugurated by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm.
Seated in front of a computer, Bildt had some difficulty guiding his scissor-wielding online character to the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
”There’s a question of finding the place,” Bildt said, as he crashed the cyber version of himself into a tree.
The online embassy was modelled after the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C., and set in an environment resembling the Stockholm archipelago.
It provides visitors with information about Swedish culture and history, as well as tips about places to visit and visa rules. It will also host exhibits, including a virtual version of the Budapest office of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who helped thousands of Jews escape Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War II.
While the reception in Sweden has been generally positive - the virtual embassy has already received its first protestors who gathered outside of Second Sweden House with placards insisting that a representation of an already existing building in the real world goes against the idea of building an alternate virtual world. The demonstrators proclaimed that the fact that they were Danes was irrelevant to the protest.
(AP, Reuters, Radio Sweden)