John Edwards Works The Second Life Corner

    February 15, 2007

Various sorts of virtual destinations such as movie theatres, diners, media agencies and back alley prostitution rings can be found gracing the digital streets of Second Life. Now, you can add the unofficial campaign headquarters of presidential hopeful John Edwards to that list.

As if the virtual world of Second Life weren’t full of enough debauchery, now it’s home to a whole new form of prostitution and depravity — a process that these days we formally refer to as campaigning for the U.S. presidency.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m as patriotic American as they come. I have the deepest respect for the rich tradition and legacy of freedom that has been laid down by our past presidents.

But somehow, It just seems wrong to me on so many levels to set up a campaign headquarters for such an important office a mere few blocks away from a place where someone is paying to have their avatar tied up and ball-gagged for kicks.

Unless you’re going for the S&M voters; in that case, Second Life is probably the place you want to be.

Nonetheless, a grass roots movement supporting John Edwards has set up shop in the virtual world that Linden Labs operates. Second Lifer Jose Rote (real name Jerimee Richir) manages the in-world campaign, and talked with Steve O’Hear about its purpose:

[T]hink of this as a scouting mission… it is unofficial in that the campaign is not spending money, and I am not paid, however the campaign is aware that we are organizing in Second Life, and cooperating as much as they can. I keep them updated on what I have learned, and they let me know things that will be helpful.

Rote also commented on some of the prevalent issues that Edwards will address in efforts to appeal to Second Life residents:

Net Neutrality is going to be at the forefront of Edwards’s SL campaign. Rote said, “Avatars don’t eat or sleep but they do lag.” If Net Neutrality laws flag, smaller companies like Linden Lab may be unable to pay the high fees associated with greater bandwidth and faster service, and users of SL will be the ones to pay the price. “While I can’t promise that Edwards could do away with lag, I can tell you that he would support Net Neutrality, and that would ensure that the problem wouldn’t worsen,” Rote added.

Yes, that’s dandy. I’m sure Second Life residents would love to stand around and chat about Net Neutrality and other pervading issues in the Web 2.0 landscape. Virtual worlds are a means of escapism for most and this type of radical commentary is such a departure from what people are used to in their First Life.

Oh wait, I’m sorry. My bad. It’s exactly the same. So why would people even want a presidential campaign headquarters in Second Life?

Am I the only one who sees this endeavor meeting a very ugly and humiliating demise? Am I the only one who grasps the limitless ends that people will go to in Second Life just to get a quick laugh or a cheap thrill?

Honestly, while I’m sure that supporters of the virtual campaign mean well, I believe that it’s all just going to wind up as a target for pranksters looking to cause grief and get a chuckle.

Don’t believe me? Talk to CNET about Second Life.

On that note, I’m laying 10:1 odds the Edwards headquarters will be attacked by flying genitalia within a month.

Any takers?

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