A residents' association in Paris is running a contest in Second Life in order to put a little pressure on the first-life city government. Plans were unveiled for a new garden at Les Halles, but residents are complaining that they're not being consulted about plans for this important project in a prominent spot near the center of Paris:
The association is urging locals to come up with their own ideas for the area's gardens and post them in the online world of Second Life, where people create virtual doubles of themselves called avatars.
Accomplir will shortlist five of the best projects, which will then be displayed on an island in Second Life.
The winner will be announced at the end of June and receive a reward of 275,000 linden dollars (785 euros, £530), the currency used in Second Life.
Accomplir will then go to the town hall with the winning idea, aiming to put pressure on officials to speed up the redevelopment process.
Using the web to get citizen input in a public way is a great idea, but I do find the to choice of Second Life as the place to do it kind of strange. It effectively limits the input to a pretty small group of people; most people don't use Second Life and aren't interested in Second Life. Despite the figures that we see for the number of "citizens" of the online world where, for the most, avatars stand around and look lost (approaching 6 million, according to its web site), the number of active users appears to be quite a bit smaller.
Not surprising, given that participation requires downloading software and learning to control an avatar and navigate the place - it's just more effort than most people are interested in expending. When you're trying to start a community initiative online, it's wise to lower the barriers as much as possible - let someone sketch their idea for the gardens, scan it, and upload it. Or create a video presentation.
In other "seduced by technology" news, CareerBuilder is going to let people add videos to their resumes. Kevin Dugan at Strategic Public Relations predicts that it will be "painful and entertaining." I think that's about right, but more importantly: who will watch these videos?
Think about how CareerBuilder works: people put their resumes online, so that they can be contacted by outfits holding cattle-call interviews for "sales manager" positions that usually involve no paycheck, and other such scintillating opportunities. Employers post jobs, and people reply, at which point their resumes are ignored.
It's almost impossible to get someone to read a resume on one of these services; does anyone expect employers to actually take the time to watch a video?
A better approach, I think, is a kick-ass resume that rises to the top of the electronic pile and includes a link to your web site - where you can post videos, portfolios, whatever will show off your talents - and which someone might actually look at once your resume has caught their attention.
Sometimes, the simple technology is the right approach. When you look at a resume, you expect to read something. When you open an email, you expect to read something. If you want community input, you make it as easy as possible for the community to provide it.
I do wish the folks at Accomplir in Paris luck. And those video-producing job hunters. I just wonder if there isn't an easier way for all of them to accomplish what they're trying to do.