Articles Tagged: Second Life
It’s hard to say anything bad about Dennis Kucinich. It has been scientifically proven that he’s the one presidential candidate that Americans agree with on nearly every major issue. And then there’s his wife, Elizabeth. If he’s good enough for her, he’s good enough for America. Still, I have my doubts about where the Kucinich campaign is headed with its recent move into Second Life.
Kucinich is the second presidential candidate to officially authorize a campaign presence in the virtual world (behind Mike Gravel who has been here for almost six months). Somehow the title “Second Presidential Candidate in Second Life” doesn’t have much of a ring to it. When you’re running well behind the rest of the pack in real life, second place in the Metaverse doesn’t count for much.
I probably wouldn’t be so harsh on the Kucinich campaign if it appeared that there was a method to their madness. Unfortunately, after several visits to their new Second Life location, I’m almost certain there is no plan.
While I’ve said that second and third tier presidential candidates need to be more aggressive in their use of new media, I’m starting to think that Second Life may be the exception to this rule.
When Newt Gingrich strolled up to the podium on the steps of the virtual Capital Hill last week, it was almost like any other Washington photo-op. The differences were subtle, but noticeable to the trained eye: Gingrich looked to be a good 30 pounds lighter, the protesters were levitating fifty feet above the ground, and the audience was just a slight bit furrier than typical beltway insiders.
Such is the nature of politics in Second Life.
Political activists in Second Life have had a difficult time bringing real world politicians into the virtual world. Of the current crop of presidential candidates, only Mike Gravel has authorized a campaign headquarters here. The other candidates would apparently rather focus on connecting with voters through more traditional social networks.
Meanwhile the mainstream media has begun to cool on Second Life as the Next Big Thing. Over the past few months glowing accounts of virtual real estate millionaires have been replaced by sensational stories of illicit gambling, deviant sex, and, worst of all, a questionable virtual economy.
If Second Life has any hope of becoming a legitimate platform for real world politics, it’s up to the true believers to take action and make something happen.
As luck would have it, Newt Gingrich is a true believer.
Editor’s Note: The YearlyKos convention in Chicago this past weekend was a major milestone in the history of the liberal blogosphere. The event confirmed the ascendancy of bloggers as a serious political force — all seven of the Democratic Party candidates attended in an attempt to woo progressive voters. As part of our ongoing effort to bring Medialoper readers the latest news about the increasing influence new media is having on the American political process, we sent the head of our National Affairs Desk, Ronin Kurosawa, to report on the event. Due to certain budgetary constraints we were not able to send Ronin to Chicago. Instead, he reports from Second Life.
Friday Morning, 8:40 am
I’ve been to more conferences than I can remember and this is the first time I’ve ever arrived at one without either jet lag or a hangover. The problem with virtual conferences is that the open bars just don’t compare to real life. The technology is improving rapidly, but I suspect this problem will persist for decades to come.
I’m hovering two floors above ground level just outside of the Sears Tower. I’m not nearly caffeinated enough to attempt entering the faux building to ride the faux elevator up to the faux conference room. No, it really is easier to float in space and watch the Network Neutrality panel through the window.
I’ve missed the introductions, but I can hear the panelists discussing all of the major issues related to network neutrality, and beyond. Universal broadband – check. Personal data privacy – check. They’re discussing important issues that will shape the future of the net, and, by extension, the future of our country.
As political scandals go, this was an odd one. Gaming blogs were buzzing last week with reports of a bizarre incident involving the staff member of a U.S. Senator who (allegedly in a drunken rage) used a plot of land in Second Life to build an offensive display of protest against a fluffy pink video game character known as Kirby.
Early accounts of the incident raised more questions than they answered. An SLNN story failed to reveal the identity of the Senator, offered only the slightest of reasons why someone would hate Kirby enough to portray him as a sig heiling Nazi who “hates our troops”, and raised the possibility that our national security might be at stake as a result of the Senate staffer leaving passwords posted on his computer monitor.
When mainstream political pundits grouse about the risks of swimming too far into the deep end of the new media pool, I’m pretty sure this is exactly the scenario they have in mind.
After re-reading the SLNN story a half dozen times, the mystery surrounding the identity of the Senator and his staffer became too much for me to bear. I’m sorry to report that I’ve spent most of the past week tracking down the participants in this absurd tale, and untangling a web of accusations, lies, and deceptions.
Now the whole story can be told.
I always think of Japan as a technological utopia — a world of super-cool robots and ultra-high-tech gadgets. There are over 85 million Japanese citizens on the net, and Japan’s mobile phones make the iPhone look like a cheap toy. Given the fact that Japan has one of the most wired populations in the world, you would expect that its politicians would be using the latest technology to connect with voters. But that isn’t the case. In fact, it’s actually against the law for Japanese politicians to use the Internet to campaign.
Japanese election laws prevent candidates from updating their websites during the election season. This year the moratorium went into effect on July 12th. Candidates are not allowed to update their websites again until after the July 29th election. And it’s not just the candidate’s websites that are regulated. Candidates can’t make use third party social web sites either.
What does this all mean? Well, for one thing it means that Ichiro Ozawa won’t be acting on your MySpace friend request any time soon, and Yutaka Kobayashi won’t be Twittering, and Kan Suzuki won’t be appearing at his campaign headquarters in Second Life. In fact, Suzuki has temporarily closed his Second Life headquarters.