I recently published a companion piece to NWN's recent "Forbes Flunks School of Second Life" for GigaOM: "Debunking 5 Business Myths About Second Life", a reference guide to the fistful of commonly recurring errors the mainstream press makes (and keeps making) when writing about SL.
Right on schedule, the LA Times just repeated variations of four out of five of those, along with several other errors, omissions, and misquotes-- "I don't think [the Times] entirely got the drift of what I said OR my position," notes Urizenus Sklaar. (The author, Alana Semuels, wrote an equally dubious SL story for the Times in February.)
As for the Times' reiterated goofs:
- "Even at peak times, only about 30,000 to 40,000 users are logged on" (Myth 1)
- "the sites of many of the companies remaining in Second Life are empty" (Variation on Myth 2, since the Times makes no mention of sites which do attract proportionally substantial visitors)
- "Angry avatars have taken virtual action [against corporate sites]..." (Myth 4)
- "Their interests seem to tend toward the risque." (Myth 5)
And once again, none of this is to say Second Life is an ideal place for real life advertising in all or even most cases, certainly not as it exists now. In fact, I'm seriously contemplating a follow-up guide, "Top Five Actual Legitimate Criticisms of SL as a Marketing Platform", in the hopes that some reporter out there is actually interested in writing a nuanced and in-depth article on the subject. But then, that'll probably require a writer who doesn't immediately assume a few dozen people waving signs constitutes a widespread anti-corporate revolt.