Gov 2.0 Hero: Rita J. King

Rita J. King is CEO and Creative Director of Dancing Ink Productions and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

What was your path to Gov 2.0?

I’ve been studying the cultural effects of digital anonymity since 1996, but when I discovered a Muslim woman in a virtual Jewish synagogue in Second Life in 2006 I realized that global culture had entered a powerful new realm. The idea of “avatars” is polarizing. Some people instantly see the benefit of this new form of identity and community construction while others, believing that avatars dehumanize people, are appalled. I was not a gamer, nor did I ever expect to be mesmerized by the virtual world of Second Life after a friend of mine who works at IBM suggested that I check it out. I was reading Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth,” and I searched on temples, synagogues, churches and mosques during my first few hours and days in Second Life, which was how I found myself at prayer services in a virtual Jewish synagogue speaking to a Muslim woman.