Obama Inauguration Prompts Celebration In Virtual World
WeeWorld.com, a virtual world aimed at teens, has created collectibles such as hats, t-shirts, posters and signs for kids to wear, carry and post on walls in virtual rooms. The memorabilia is dated Jan. 20 to commemorate the occasion.
WeeWorld.com--which caters to teens--plans to hold an inauguration party in the virtual world, but young members have put together plans for parties and celebrations of their own. One member, who goes by "Elbowroom," has sent an invitation to "Celebrate Barack Obama's Inauguration" at 8:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 20 in "Victory Park in the World." The invitation asks that partygoers wear Obama shirts and carry signs.
"We know from working daily with the site teams this generation, which looks for ways to express themselves online, is more politically active and cause orientated than previous ones," said Lauren Bigelow, GM at WeeWorld.com. "To support the enthusiasm during the campaign we also offered hats, shirts, signs and posters of presidential candidates that members could wear or place in their rooms. Hundreds of thousands of WeeWorld members participated."
The youth who support Barack Obama think America needs change-- something the kids believe he can deliver. "Obama has excited many people, not only in this country but around the world; and not only around this world, but virtual worlds, too," said John Zhang, professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "The election caught fire. This is a continuation of his online strategy and excellent marketing skills. A new-generation president is using a new generation of technology to reach tomorrow's generation."
Despite the fact that the majority of kids frequenting virtual worlds have not reached the voting age, many became involved with the 2008 Presidential election. In fact, 70% of the 1,064 U.S. kids ages 8 to 17 who participated in a Harris Interactive study from Sept. 17-22 admitted to following news coverage, and 82% said they planned to vote when they are old enough. The Harris Interactive Youth Center of Excellence YouthQuery survey was released late last year.
Other online communities have also become involved in the presidential inauguration. Obama, the first president to use MySpace, will also begin posting his weekly fireside chats on his MySpace video channel, enabling millions to view who have an account, according to a MySpace spokeswoman.
MySpace said it has empowered more than 700,000 young Americans to vote via partnerships with Rock the Vote, Declare Yourself and The Ultimate College Bowl communities. MySpace Celebrity and Katalyst Media, an original content production company founded by actors Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, encouraged celebrities to record a pledge of service to Obama.
The videos represent ways that celebrities plan to take actions to lead nationwide change that has been motivated by Obama's campaign. The videos are directed by actress Demi Moore and housed on MySpace Celebrity.