More Politicians In The New World

It’s no secret that we get really excited about the little things here at Medialoper, especially the bright and shiny things. So when I caught wind of potential presidential candidate Mark Warner (he’s now running the State of Virginia) appearing in Second Life, my first thought was (and I quote), “Huh?”

It was quickly followed by “Hmm, interesting.” Things moved rapidly to “Cool!” before I had a chance to refill my coffee. That’s the Internet for you, always moving at the speed of the mind.

First the backstory: Unless I have missed something, Warner will be the first major politician to make a, well, appearance at a . He’ll be popping in at 12:30 California time, ostensibly to announce the first virtual town hall for American politics. I say ostensibly because once you’ve entered a virtual world, who’s going to stop you from sticking around and maybe putting down roots.

Second Life sounds a bit like the Multiverse from Snow Crash — you know, virtual communities forming a larger entity, avatars doing what avatars do, people blending the virtual world with the real world. In other words, a good time. Over half a million people are part of the community (leading me to suspect there are more than a few anchorites in the bunch) and they’re spending money like mad.

But that’s not what grabbed my attention — after all, virtual worlds aren’t all that novel. What I liked so much was the way I entered this ‘verse: via a reporter’s blog. Not just any reporter happens to cover Second Life as his beat. I do so like that. Anytime you extend the fantasy, I’m into it.

Via his blog New World Notes, Wagner James Au covers the daily events of his community. Au will be interviewing the Governor, or, rather, will be interviewing his avatar (which is apparently quite presidential). Others will likely cover the fact that there’s finally a politician out there who understand that communities are everywhere, not just in the bricks-and-mortar world. We hear rumors of them slipping into MySpace, but this is the first time I’ve heard of a politician taking proactive steps to interact with an online community, beyond your standard (and often boring) chat.

Au’s blog mixes standard reporting on his virtual community with opinion about the underlying technology. What makes it especially fascinating is the fact he’s operating outside the Second Life world while doing so. So often these communities are closed to outsiders. In a way, it’s like allowing me, a Pasadena resident, to read Cheyenne, Wyoming’s daily newspaper. I can learn about the community without moving there. And if I choose to pack and relocate, well, at least I know what I’m getting myself into.

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