A virtual world rally against the Darfur conflict was held in Second Life Tuesday, with actress Mia Farrow speaking on the importance of educating residents about the struggle in Sudan and what could be done to end the crisis. Cambridge, Mass.-based Lichtenstein Creative Media, an independent media production company, organized a Second Life exhibit entitled "Our Walls Bear Witness -- Darfur: Who Will Survive Today?" The exhibit was unveiled by Farrow, who works as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador; John Heffernan, director of the Genocide Prevention Initiative for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience; and Ron Haviv, the award-winning photojournalist whose images of Darfur were on display. "The mantra of our family is that with knowledge comes responsibility," says Farrow. "I've been to the region three times, but I don't go just for me to understand. The whole idea is that I've had the privilege to pass on the knowledge." Farrow says Second Life is a perfect forum for disseminating what's she learned, because the virtual world extends around the globe. "I have a moral responsibility to transmit what I've witnessed," says Farrow. "
Second Life provides a unique opportunity to convey what I know to be so, with the hope that I can pass on this knowledge to others." Heffernan adds that Second Life "really allows us to build a subcommunity. It's far more interactive than a regular press conference. This back-and-forth is critical in helping to inform each other." Heffernan, who helped organized the event, says the goal was to reach out to "anyone and everyone. Second Life is something that hasn't been tapped yet. There is a multiplier effect. It's critical for us to reach out to as many people as possible."
The event was originally set for early December, but the offices of Lichtenstein Creative Media in Cambridge had to be
evacuated following an electrical fire. Bill Lichtenstein is founder and president of Lichtenstein Creative Media. A former producer for ABC, "20/20," "World News Tonight" and "Nightline," he said the event was better than he could have expected. "It was quite a view from the stage," Lichtenstein said, adding that 65 avatars were present at the event. "We really see this as the new public media, and we hope to do a lot more." Second Life, the 3-D virtual environment created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, is populated by both individual users and companies. While residents are creating 3-D identities in order to design and sell goods in this virtual world for real money, corporations such as Dell ( DELL), Sears Holdings ( SHLD) and Cisco ( CSCO) are making a big push into the burgeoning world. In the real world, photographs of Darfur taken by Haviv were projected onto one side of the Holocaust Museum during Thanksgiving week. The replication of this in Second Life includes those same photos, as well as video of the real-life event.