Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 289–297 | Cite as

Avatopia: a cross-media community for societal action

  • Ylva Gislén
  • Jonas LöwgrenEmail author
  • Ulf Myrestam
Original Article


A cross-media platform was designed for a community of young teenagers oriented towards societal change. The platform involved an interactive web-forum featuring creative and communicative collaborative tools in a 3D avatar environment, and a weekly show in national public-service television. Informal assessment of the work indicated that (1) an integrated spiral of production and consumption across the two media channels involved is a viable design concept to support community building, (2) off-the-shelf avatar technology and consumer-grade Internet connectivity can form a feasible infrastructure for collaborative storytelling tools, and (3) a participatory design process wherein participants transition into the role of mentors and norm carriers upon deployment can be a feasible way to support subcultural community building towards “difficult” topics, even though it entails considerable resource demands. All of these findings are potentially transferable to other design domains and audiences.


Cross-media Community Sociability Public service Participatory design Avatar world 



The following people (in alphabetical order) made crucial contributions to the Avatopia project: Andreas Carlsson, Marie Denward, Marcus Gårdman, Fredrika Narheim, Andreas Nilsson, Johannes Nyholm, and Johanna Wallin. The Avatopia project was funded in part by Ungdomsstyrelsen and Stiftelsen Framtidens Kultur.


  1. 1.
    Ehn P (1988) Work-oriented design of computer artifacts. Arbetslivscentrum, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gislén Y, Löwgren J (2002) Avatopia: planning a community for non-violent societal action. Digit Creat 13(1):23–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gaver B, Dunne T, Pacenti E (1999) Cultural probes. Interactions 6(1):21–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jakobsson M (2006) Virtual worlds and social interaction design. PhD dissertation, Umeå University, Sweden. Available from
  5. 5.
    Wellman B (ed) (1999) Networks in the global village. Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Jenkins H (2003) Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Digital cinema, media convergence and participatory culture. In: Thorburn D, Jenkins H (eds) Rethinking media change. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lambert J (2002) Digital storytelling: capturing lives, creating community. Digital Diner Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Davis M (1997) Garage cinema and the future of media technology. Commun ACM 40(2):42–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arts and CommunicationMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden
  2. 2.Swedish TelevisionVäxjöSweden

Personalised recommendations