Monday, November 19, 2007

Politics in Second life

There is really no place of this world where we can get rid of them.
Even our dreams.

A good many bloggers probably know by now about Second Life, the virtual world inspired by the stories of Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash) and William Gibson (Neuromancer et al.). More may know about this four-year-old experiment in networking and social contact through recent “appearances” on shows such as C.S.I.: N.Y., and through the discussions about making real money in the virtual world and the potential tax questions it raises.

Few understand all the potential ramifications Second Life holds. Nearly the entire world is created by its residents, purchasing or renting “land” from Linden Labs, the suppliers of the service, or from existing “landowners,” and creating virtual city/landscapes that are limited only by imagination and the technology available. The Grid averages around 45,000 residents logged in at any given moment — and with them comes their personalities, their goals and dreams…and now their politics.

Second Life has an active group reporting on the Grid’s “news,” ranging from professional stringers working for Reuters to bloggers with serious journalistic credentials. One of the latter (and best), Wesley James Au, writes the blog New World Notes; in a recent article, Au has posted a transcript supplied to him by an active participant in a fascinating roundtable discussion. For it seems that the presidential campaigns are not ignoring the potential of Second Life — rather, they are looking for ways to use it, as they have already done with the Internet and poliblogs. The roundtable was moderated by a person who has worked with the PBS current-affairs series Frontline, and is a very serious discussion of the potentials, pitfalls and potential hyping of the Metaverse in politics.

New Harper's Mews
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