Some readers misread yesterday's post to infer I was slamming Second Life, so I've written an update to it. I was confused how the post (which entirely reflects points I've written before) apparently upset some folks, but this comment from "HaveWhat" gave me a chance for some reflection:
In Eric Grundhauser's article, he did a fine job of covering many of the main aspects of SL, and please note, he did mention the sexual angle as well. Sex is alive and well on Second Life, but it is by no means the sum of it. The same is true for the internet as a whole, there is enough sex there for everyone and their dog. But, when introducing the internet to some remote village in a far away land, do you classify the internet as a primarily pornographic tool? The fact that it has a large seductive presence should not distract from the fact that there are vital sites with valuable information on any subject known to humankind, at your finger tips. A warning to a new audience is necessary, but coverage of its positive features is both helpful and rounds out the experience with accuracy. SL has a static, biased reputation, even though it contains gems all over the grid (The arts, music, machinima film, literary events, vast charity fund raising, schools, social gatherings for specific interests, and for those with various handicaps, and many more venues besides). Eric's article if anything, will promote what is already good in SL. So please keep in mind, his article was written as an introduction of Second Life to Real Lifers. I think we deserve to finally be heard beyond our formerly tainted reputation.
Emphasis mine, because it bears emphasis. I actually agree with this entire comment (though I'd add an "at the same time..." in several places), but I can't expect every reader of this blog to read this massive article I wrote on Polygon last year about the Second Life art community (even though Grundhauser mentioned and linked to it in his own article), nor can I assume new/casual visitors have noticed that countless posts about great SL content/community members. (Like, over 12 in just the last 2-3 weeks -- scroll down, see for yourself.) I often remind Iris that we should expect a rush of readers suddenly showing up from a Google search or a social media share, who've never read New World Notes or know its history, and we have to write with that assumption in mind, and I should have followed my own advice.
So to be clear:
Second Life and its user community are the most fascinating and inspiring topic I've ever written about in my entire career, and I always intend to write about them for the rest of my career -- both in its current incarnation, and its follow-up. Seriously, I'm literally writing this passage right now for a major magazine article: "The endless creativity and devotion that Second Life users invest in this alternate world is among the Internet’s most remarkable works of collaborative creation."
So why be negative in some posts, like yesterday? Because "New World Notes", which has been the name of this blog since it was a Linden Lab-backed project starting in 2003, is just that -- notes by a journalist/blogger on an emerging, constantly evolving online community. Which by definition includes its conflicts, and failings, and internal contradictions -- just as a journalist writing about America would report that country's problems (unless they were working for FOX), and still be able to be a patriot and advocate of what America stands for and strives to be.
That's always been my approach when writing about Second Life, even when Linden Lab was contracting me to write it -- and certainly now, as the community needs to confront and discuss some hard truths (along with the many great items I mention and along the way), and needs to prepare for the next evolutionary step, in which the idea of Second Life will transition to new platforms.
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