Newt Gingrich is speaking in Second Life today, but that is no surprise, for he follows other prominent politicians in-world. What is unique, it seems to me, is that when he appears, he'll be protected on all sides by a team of gorgeous brunette quintuplets wearing outfits from an old James Bond film (or at least Austin Powers.) Normally they wear miniskirts, but on this occasion, their client is the former Speaker of the House and lead author of the Republican Party's controversial Contract With America. (When critics referred to it, they often replaced "with" for "on".) So this time when the Metaverse Mod Squad keeps an eye out for griefers and other disruptions, they will be wearing slacks.
"That might seem too feminist [for him]," I suggest.
"Not at all," Twig Tomorrow tells me. We're standing with her sisters (all named Tomorrow) in the firm's posh office in the region of Knightsbridge. "Our major clients are in the entertainment industry. So wearing these uniforms is a little hipper. For some of the other events that include children, or in this case politicians, we wear pants."
That they exist as a business at all is symbolic of Second Life as it is now. Last year, when Virginia Governor Mark Warner made a brief appearance in-world, it was enough to call an available Linden staffer to scatter potential troublemakers with their God powers. But Linden peacekeeping forces have since become overstretched and over-taxed, and high-profile events like this one are still easy targets for guerrilla attacks. In effect, the Metaverse Mod Squad are roughly akin to real world security firms like Blackwater, providing extra-governmental protection to visiting dignitaries. (Without, of course, all those unfortunate international incidents.)
In any event, Speaker Gingrich's event is by invitation-only on a private island, so it's highly unlikely their security services will be needed. They have a much larger skillset than that.
"[W]e also assist attendees with navigating the event," says Twig. "A friendly person with knowledge of what is going on to direct them, say on how to fix a camera angle, or sit in a chair." Still, their presence "instantly brings an air of authority and order to Second Life that mirrors real life."
Then again, there will apparently be protesters there to oppose to Speaker Gingrich; by agreement of Clear Ink, the Berkeley-based Internet marketing firm hosting the event at their Virtual Capitol, and Gingrich's group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, they'll have a place at the event too. One of the Tomorrow sisters will hover just above them, in case trouble erupts.
"I'm guessing the protesters will be less disruptive than they would be at a real life event," Agent99 Tomorrow opines.
"I dunno, a protestor can't launch a gray goo bomb in
real life and knock
"Good point," Agent99 tells me, laughing. "But they can't physically eject a protester into the next county in real life." (I ask if they carry tasers, too, but Twig coyly tells me they're hidden in their overcoats.)
Their American Solutions client contact watches them with evident pride from the Capitol steps.
"Hamlet, this team was experienced as moderators on network chat boards," Stormy Westmoreland tells me, "Agent99 has moderated three presidential elections and worked with about every major politician in the last 13 years." A Republican, Stormy has only met Speaker Gingrich once in real life, but is a member of his American Solutions group. (He chose his avatar name in tribute to the Vietnam Era's embattled General Westmoreland, he tells me.) He networked through the group to bring the Squad here.
"Does that make you the Blackwater of metaverse development?" I ask out loud.
"If Congress hired Metaverse Mod Squad to moderate a virtual
Westmoreland laughs at that, and all the Tomorrows laugh, too.