Thursday, August 31, 2006

Flight Plan

The big event in virtual politics today was White House hopeful Mark Warner's appearance in the online role-playing environment Second Life. According to Game Politics coverage in "Likely Presidential Candidate Appears in Second Life Today," the event was intended to launch his PAC Forward Together.

I keep saying I want a digital rights candidate, but I'm not yet sure that Warner is the person. On the other hand, I have to say I admired Warner's virtual style and the fact that he had his avatar fly onto the stage of the New Globe Theater to address the audience, which included a representation of the Internet as it was described by Senator Ted Stevens. And judging from the transcript, it looks like he even fielded a few questions from the audience, even though it wasn't supposed to be a Town Hall style meeting.

Of course, there has been political organizing in Second Life for a while. The most ambitious laboratory for a would-be virtual nation-state is probably Democracy Island, where government entities and interest groups can have online space for rule-making exchanges. There have also been other real-time political occasions. For example, you could have heard a general counsel from Creative Commons speak or attended an activist event and art happening for digital rights sponsored by Free Culture. It is interesting that so many activists, like politician Warner, feel compelled to present avatars that approximate the general appearance of their real world public personae. There is even suburban style activism in the form of virtual anti-Bush lawn signs.


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