Digital Diplomacy: Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds

Rita King (IBM Analytics Virtual Center)

The Digital Diplomacy: Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project was lead by Rita J. King and Joshua S. Fouts who are both Senior Fellows at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. The project was funded by a grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

The idea for Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project was hatched with a very specific idea in mind: How could people learn about other cultures in an authentic, experiential space — specifically, how could we learn about cultures that self-identified as Muslim? In turn, how could this information supplement or augment the physical world work of foreign policy and especially public diplomacy practitioners? Fouts and King chose the virtual world of Second Life as the platform for their research for many reasons, among them that it is the best international platform — more than 70% of its users are from outside the United States. The goal was to to see what they could learn about Islam — not by inviting particular people with particular perspectives into Second Life, but rather to follow the trail of what was already happening culturally in the space that might yield new insight about Islam.

The findings included a trilogy of actionable items available in digital format. By releasing three types of reports — policy recommendations, documentary video and graphic book — Fouts and King hoped to make what is still a very new medium as accessible as possible.
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Rita King

IBM Analytics Virtual Center

Rita J. King is Innovator-in-Residence at IBM’s Analytics Virtual Center, a Senior Fellow at two think-tanks: The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York City, and the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington DC. She is the Creative Director of the Imagination Age and CEO of Dancing Ink Productions. Her essays, various writings and works of art have been commissioned, published and exhibited globally. She thinks of technology as a prism held up to the bright beam of the imagination to create a new global culture and economy. @RitaJKing can be followed on Twitter.