SIMULACRA AND SECOND LIFE
It's probably fitting that the country which produced Baudrillard and Foucault now has the most prominent presence of major real world politicians in Second Life. Days after the strife over the arrival of France's far right Front National, the country's Socialist Party has a virtual location in Second Life as well, promoting the Presidential election of Segolene Royal. (Direct teleport to Segolene's site here.) The glamorous center-left candidate is seen there on a video loop, welcoming visitors to her SL headquarters. (No word yet if she has an avatar herself.)
If Ms. Royal wins the Presidency (and she's the odds-on favorite) she'll become the first woman to head France-- and in the process, the first international leader to implement Second Life as part of a successful political campaign, as well.
As for the Front National, they've left (or been driven from) the land of Porcupine, though their new locale in the center of an established housing district has been almost as unwelcoming. Several neighbors have since departed, according to one homeowner, who built a giant billboard facing their HQ, helpfully informing them: "You are NOT entitled to negatively depreciate our neighborhood. PLEASE MOVE OUT."
Protesters have gathered outside, too. "Heard heated and sour discussions," Rejin told me, after being ejected from the area. "'Free speech, Nazi, World War II'... Mostly FN friendlies there cursing Americans and discussing free speech hypocrisy."
No reports on gunfire, as yet, though Tenjin tells me one protester covered the FN entrance with an impromptu field of flowers. "Flowers seemed to arise and fill the grounds and fade," he says, "then others replaced [them]. The FN people were running around talking about how they might 'fix' the problem."
In both cases, the Traffic ratings-- Linden Lab's metric for measuring foot traffic in terms of Residents who visited, and the time they stayed there-- are now close to 20,000, for both the Socialist and Front National site. Quite active, suggesting hundreds of visitors daily.
By contrast, the Traffic for the virtual Washington DC, Capitol Hill-- a site promoted by a US Congressman, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's support-- now stands at a notably paltry 200.