Someone always has to harsh the mellow, don’t they? If it’s not grey goo (ding! ding! ding!), it’s do-gooders like the World Development Movement. Yeah, I’d never heard of them either, probably because they haven’t been adopted by Bono or Sting. Their big move is to place a counter in Second Life which ostensibly keeps track of the (estimated) number of children who’ve died from poverty and other preventable causes since the virtal world went live in 2003.
Unfortunately for the message, the counter is in fairly small type at the bottom of a large, underdesigned billboard which reads DON’T FORGET THE REAL WORLD. A valid if admonishing message, as is the counter, but what exactly are they expecting? That Second Lifers will see the billboard from afar, decide for some reason to come in for a (much) closer look, see the counter, then have an attack of conscience and do something about that world with its children croaking like clockwork?
An argument could be made that if it makes just one user, like Aimee The Scary Blowup Doll, get off their Frito-enhanced duff and do something”something” probably meaning making a
contribution to the WDMit was worth the effort. I guess, but even if Second Life shut down tomorrow, social conditions in meatspace would not improve. I’m reminded of the arguments against NASA and space exploration: we should take care of our problems on earth before we go into space! Yeah, well, if NASA was dismantled, the money would not go towards feeding the poor or educating children. When Napster was shut down, I kept an eye on the Billboard charts to see if Metallica albums would shoot to the top of the charts. Never quite happened.