Dem. Congressman holds press conference in Second Life

The techno-optimists will condemn this as another example of the messy real world intruding on their utopian2nd_life_virtual_simulcast cyber-reality (although damn few people still subscribe to this Pollyannaish view of the web as a place where we all sing the Smurf Tra-la-la-la song and skip happily through fields of sunlit daisies).

The hype merchants will seize this meme and use it to scam some more startup cash from gullible angel investors – "Yeahhhhh … see, it’s all comin’ together now! If wanna do business in Washington these days – and who doesn’t, right? – then you wanna get them where they are. Which is on the web. You can’t take the congressmen on junkets no more – in the real world – but there’s nothing in the law that says you can’t take them on a virtual private plane and golf junket, right? You wanna get in on the ground floor of this one, trust me pally … "

[Note from Dave: In retrospect, that’s as good a scam as I’ve heard recently. Damn, I’m good! Someone get me an appointment with IdeaCrib and GrowThink! 2nd_life_congress_floor_2
(C) 2007 Hard News Inc., all rights reserved.]

And the snarksters amongst us will wonder how many Congressmen are already trolling the notoriously kinky demimonde of Second Life et al., getting their Mark Foley on… 

As jubilant Democrats in Washington celebrated their newfound
control of the U.S. Congress on Thursday, Rep. George Miller was doing
the same thing in a more unusual place: Second Life.

Miller appears to be the first member of Congress to hold something
akin to a press conference in this virtual world, which is operated by
Linden Lab and boasts its own currency and a population of more than 2
million "residents."

The event, which lasted about half an hour, took place in a virtual adaptation of the Capitol building on an island in Second Life.
Instead of a neo-classical dome, the virtual equivalent featured an
open-air amphitheater, mammoth video screens and an orange sky above.

There’s a massive "gold rush" fever going on right now, amongst marketers and advertising firms, still trying to wrap their expense-account fattened noodles around how to use Web 2.0 to hawk their shite. Hey – I’m not complaining.  it’s keeping a lot of arrogant shit-for-brains in Beemers and Upper West Side 2+2s … and away from the rest of us bitgrunts.  This event took place through the ausipices of the Clear Ink marketing firm, which set up the virtu-cast and tried to round up a Second Life crowd for something other than being tied up in stocks and spanked by a Rhinemaiden-type. (BTW – I have a grudging respect for Clear Ink – you gotta love anyplace that whimsically names one of its apps "Banana Slug" – shout out to the grads of Uncle Charlie’s Summer Camp, eh?)

The results for this little exercise are decidedly mixed – one the one hand, they got sweet coverage on CNet, and it fits in with the Democratic party strategy/belief that the future of the party lies with the cyber-connected Gen-X, Y & Zers – who are responding to the way that the Dems are reaching out to them on blogs and the net. The netroots, despite being derided by the entrenched Old Bull power structure as the "nutroots" were instrumental in the last election – and the news flash that they ain’t going away, but are going to come back in two years even harder seems to be penetrating even through the fabled Foggy Bottom reality-denial filters.

Thus, the Dems are moving aggressively to build their party’s presence in cyberspace, because they know that how you are perceived on the net winds up in the meatspace media.2nd_life_from_headon

But on the other hand, the anarchic nature of the net intruded even here (although at least they weren’t assaulted by swarms of flying penises – see earlier post in these regards) as a leather submissive-type wrapped himself around the podium during the conference.  Not something you’d expect to see on C-Span. Although, once again, if the GOP had gotten another coupla few years, we might’ve tuned in to see Hastert wearing a leather cowl half-unzipped over the mouth and brandishing a flogger, while Ted Stevens sodomizes a tranquilized polar bear while arguing for more oil drilling in the ANWAR.

Was that over the top? Really? You think so? Ok, check it out – as more of our national discourse moves to the web, you are all going to find that the griefers out there are going to create surreal scenes of mass absurdity.  Which, on some level, I find rather gratifying.  Viz:

the elements of Second Life that make it attractive to users make it a
highly volatile place to work in. You can deal with nasty comments on
your corporate blog much more easily than you can handle someone with
in-world superpowers deciding that your press conference would be a
great venue to unveil his exploding chicken bombs that shower your
island with porn.

"Take someone and deprive
them of any sort of ‘real’ social contact. Give them the ability to
script any program, animate any action, or build any object through
intuitive processes. Allow them to own their creations, and to sell
them to the highest bidder. …Now make the person in question the
psychotic neighborhood kid who slashes holes in the back of the
schoolbus with his Swiss Army knife, and you will begin to realize the
Lovecraftian horror of Second Life. "

— Chris "Petey" Peterson, Second Life Safari (Not Safe For Work, unless you work for a marketing agency and are reading it for research. Ahem.)

If nothing else, as we work out how to toss a rope around this bucking bronco of Web 2.0, it’s going to make for some interesting viewing…