Originally published here.
Originally published here.So one day, you're briefing General Abizaid and Central Command; another day, you're briefing the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
I spent much of this month worrying how great a leap it would be for someone like Barnett, going right from the halls of the powerful to something so apparently trivial as an online world. At the same time, I had an inkling the divide wasn't so vast. A thinker who calls the tradition of American governance the "source code" for the future and his army of nation builders a "SysAdmin force", Barnett is a digital age Wilsonian, merging a strong-jaw internationalism with the metrics of a culture already ablaze with broadband. (That's not even to mention his prediction of a near future when an online world will overthrow a real world dictatorship-- but more on that later.)
So maybe it wasn't so surprising, after all, that when we teleported to the Second Life island made for him, he easily found and donned the custom avatar by lilith Pendragon, chuckling while he watched his alter ego morph into something resembling him, then when we had trouble teleporting into the United Nation's Grand Assembly Hall, he just began the journey there on foot, where an engaged and fairly rambunctious audience already waited for him.
And it was rambunctious. Since the talk started around Noon (PST), much of the audience there was from the EU, where it was early evening-- Britain, Germany, and France being the country names I caught, when my co-host SNOOPYBrown Zamboni gave an impromptu "Where you from?" shout-out to the audience at event's end. Generalizing broadly, most of the deepest skepticism to Barnett's ideas seemed to emanate from the European Residents gathered there. (Via Instant Message, one French
Resident described themselves as so scandalized that they were tempted to create tomatoes for the purpose of pelting Barnett's avatar.)
Barnett's own blog cites a review in a British publication which begins with qualified praise, but ends in a declarative, "[I]f you imagine modern Europe trying to follow his advice, you will laugh." It was fascinating to see that dynamic apparently play out in avatar form. And Barnett taking on all comers with a blogger's agile wit, when we moved to audience Q&A, generously staying with it for twice the 90 minutes alloted.