Avatopia: planning a community for non-violent societal action


Young teenagers are as concerned as ever about changing society and their own situation, even though they turn their backs on organised politics in favour of one-issue organisations and other vehicles for action. The role of public service broadcast media in these processes is not well understood, particularly in relation to the rapid development of digital media and their intrinsic qualities. Based on a sociological and media-cultural analysis, we propose a conceptual design for Avatopia , a virtual community intended to provide the means for non-violent societal action among young teenagers. Avatopia is based on four cornerstones: cross-media presence (including public service broadcast TV), a strategy for seeding the community, collective narration as a vehicle for action, and a custom-designed avatar world (a 3D-graphical ‘place’ on the Internet where participants are represented visually and can communicate verbally) providing necessary tools and structures. A qualitative assessment of our design concept yields a set of expected benefits, anticipated risks and success criteria informing our further development.

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