The first I learned anything about Mark Warner, former
governor of Virginia, it was in “The Fallback”, Matt Bai’s much-discussed New
York Times Magazine cover story published earlier this year. By “fallback”, Bai meant the national figure that
Democratic insiders seemed to be considering, should Senator
Hillary Clinton’s presumptive ascension as the party’s choice for President in
2008 ever fall through. And though he
hasn’t declared his entrance in that race, I’ve often heard about Governor
Warner’s exploratory political action committee, Forward Together, since it's been reaching out to members of the high-tech industry and the political
blogosphere at large.
So it wasn’t totally shocking when a few weeks ago, out of
the electric blue, members of Forward Together’s staff e-mailed me, asking me
if I’d be interested in interviewing Governor Warner in Second Life. But it’s still a bit vertiginous to be in-world
standing there in front of the avatar of a man that leading Democratic Party
financier Chris Korge (speaking to Bai) pronounced as, “[T]he one to watch as
an outsider in this race. He seems
Mark Warner’s avatar seems presidential, too—tall, stern,
and statesman-like. And tomorrow at 12:30pm Second Life Time (i.e.,
PDT), in a public event sponsored by Forward Together and produced by Millions
of Us, I’ll be interviewing him, in a brief conversation that’ll touch on
national security, foreign policy, the Democratic Party-- and, of course, future
plans for the Governor and his team in Second Life.
It makes sense that a now-defunct television show which seems to enjoy a more passionate following on the Net than even its film version would make its way into Second Life, in tribute form. For that matter, it also makes sense that scarlet-haired SL blogger Rik Riel would be there on the scene first. And second.
For the most part, my feeling for Second Life is roughly similar to my personal sense of America: I dearly love what it is and can be, when it lives up to its ideals-- while at the same time, being just as teeth-grindingly frustrated by the failings that keep causing it to fall short. Especially when they take so long to reform, or worse, seem to backslide after subsequent updates (or if you prefer, elections.)
Which is a roundabout way of saying how glad I am to see the latest update come with substantial improvements to the Group management tools. (Three years later than I'd have liked them, to be sure, but welcome all the same.)
The SLCC survey results are in, and they're decidedly mixed for Linden Lab. The question was, "At SLCC '06, your concerns over Second Life's current and future issues
(user-interface, grid downtime, land management, scalability, IP rights
enforcement, etc.) were addressed by Linden Lab..." Of the 43 readers who voted, only 23.3% chose "Sufficiently" or "Somewhat sufficiently", while nearly 40% selected "Somewhat insufficiently" or "Insufficiently". Judging by that, questions and concerns still remain for the company to better address. (Full details here.)
Baba Yamamoto managed to create this Expo submission, "Life", strictly through the default avatar adjustment interface, without even using an accompanying animation. (Baba is also the model, and his avatar, he reports, is simply standing in "idle" mode.) Details on submitting your own Expo screenshots and videos here.
Back in my Linden Lab days, I once put together an Avatar-Based Fashion Expo, and the way I ran it was just about the worst mistake I ever made. The idea was to have residents nominate and vote on the best in SL fashion, which I'd then cover on New World Notes. And while the styles which made the cut were great, the selection process was an emotional bloodbath, with expo nominees and their friends accusing each other of ballot stuffing and backroom lobbying, spurring one contestant to withdraw altogether, rather than endure the ongoing skirmish, while another privately messaged me with the plea, "I'm being killed here."
And that was back in 2004, even before the prospect of making a real life living from the sale of avatar fashion was fully manifest. Now it is, with the very top designers taking an estimated $50,000-70,000 yearly, when their L$ earning are converted to cash. Unsurprisingly, that seems to have made the pressures and feuds even more acute, especially for the top SL fashion blogs and publications. I noted that when Second Style editor Celebrity Trollop posted a transparency policy on her blog, and during my panel at SLCC, which included Lo Jacobs, co-editor of Pixel Pinup and co-host of The Goods SL fashion podcast, who confirmed the sense that Second Life fashion was, like the real garment industry, a roiling cauldron of melodramatic hyper-competitiveness.
All this being alien territory for me, I asked Iris Ophelia, a talented regular contributor to several top SL fashion publications, along with her own charming blog, to file an NWN report on the scene from this high-drama world.