January 5, 2007 by jimstogdill
Congress in Second Life
Congressman George Miller held an in-world press conference in a virtual replica of the congressional chambers in Second Life yesterday. Afterwards he was interviewed on Rocketboom.
Unfortunately this first interaction was limited to an invite-only audience of reporters (many of whom must have picked up their newb av’s at the door given what is visible in the rocketboom video). Keeping it invite-only is probably smart though; no politician is going to want to end up in the mainstream media having been assaulted by any number of possible creative and distasteful griefer appendages.
To make an experiment like this useful it ultimately will have to be opened to permit forums between congress and citizens; as a way for members of congress to interact directly with remote constituents. However, working it out so that there is some hope of a civil dialogue will be difficult in a world where interactions are anonymous and often beyond social reprecussion.
It’s fun to imagine having a conversation with your representative’s av though. “Hi what is your position on Intellectual Property rights?”… “No, I’m not talking about software patent law, I mean do you think they should kill the LibSL project after that whole copybot debacle?”
I have to say though, I’m a bit skeptical on whether this will actually be useful. Typing via chat isn’t the easiest or best way to communicate when, more than just the message, you are evaluating the person. Also, it’s just difficult to have any kind of nuanced exchange. I can see messages getting dumbed down even further as politicos or their designated av operators pre-load their platform soundbites as gestures that can be called up on demand. Joystick campaigning.
Despite my doubts, Representative Miller should probably be applauded for being willing to try something new and maybe so should Clearlink and Sun who built/sponsored the replica congressional chambers. Although, it seems a bit sketchy to have the Congressional Chambers ACTUALLY owned by a private enterprise.
I had to laugh at this minor irony. One of the Clearlink team members listed as an owner of the land where the new congressional hall is situated is Atta Turk. Coincidence? Or can we too look forward to the day when we separate church, state, and ideology and become a secular nation? Hide that fez… 😉