Archive for April 25th, 2007

Saving Seals in Second Life

Kevin Reid with IDI wrote in yesterday to highlight an ongoing series of Second Life events that the International Fund for Animal Welfare is holding to try to mobilize public opinion against Arctic seal hunting. I’m normally a bit of a Second Life skeptic, but this is the sort of mass-appeal campaign that’s most likely to get some benefit from venturing into the virtual wilds. Cute seals! It’s hard to beat charismatic megafauna for getting attention, though in the Second Life context they can get a bit distorted: it looks in one of the photos as though there might be some delegates on hand from a Furry convention. The site has a transcript of a prepared statement, and I’d be curious to see how many questions came in from participants.

I’ve heard of other groups that use Second Life as a virtual meeting room to allow people from around the world to participate — an example of using the strengths of the medium rather than trying to force it into being a mass-communications device.

cpd

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Candidates Had Better Keep an Eye on Wikipedia

A new study from the Pew Center for the Internet and Public Life finds that 36% of online Americans use Wikipedia, roughly half the time getting to the site from a search engine link. Better-educated folks and broadband users were more likely to turn to Wikipedia than their less-educated and slower-connected brethren, meaning that the collectively-written online encyclopedia is disproportionately likely to reach potential voters (since voting tends to rise with education). Hmmmmmm, the presidential campaigns are reputedly already monitoring Wikipedia just as they monitor blogs, but what about down-ballot races? Coverage of big-city mayoral, senatorial and congressional elections may start popping up in its pages, and candidates had better be aware of what’s written about them. Thanks to Micropersuasion for pointing the study out.

Update: by focusing on political races, I forgot about issue-advocacy. What are people writing about YOUR issues? You might wanna check….

cpd

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We’re Finally Getting Used to this Digital Politics Stuff, Part 2

For an example, let’s take a quick look at the front page of yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer: “After weeks of blogging about the Philadelphia mayor’s race, Sam Katz has taken a step toward jumping into it.” Would that sentence have made any sense whatsoever ten years ago? If you’d have used the “b” word in 1997 (or 2001, for that matter), most people would have wondered, “what the hell is ‘blogging’ (and is it legal)?” Now, most readers would pass right over it without really noticing. New tools lead to new practices lead to an entirely new vocabulary.

White House email scandal? Email’s an older technology and an older word than “blog,” but it’s still only become ubiquitous in the last decade — I can remember talking to folks in DC in 1996 whose organizations were “going to get email in the next six months or so.” Now, electronic mail might just bring down some folks at 1600 Penn.

(See previous article on this theme here.)

cpd

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“Survivor” Creator and MySpace to Create Online/Broadcast Political Reality Show

In a meeting of pop culture powerhouses that surely foreshadows the coming Apocalypse, Mark Burnett, the guy behind “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” has teamed up with MySpace to create a competition to find “the nation’s next great politician.” Viewers of the broadcast component of the contest, to be called “Independent” and currently looking for a network home, will help eliminate one competitor per week, as on most reality shows, until a winner is left standing — and holding $1 million to give away to a “worthy” cause.

For once, the tv show will only be a part of the action, since the budding politicos will compete throughout each week to build friends on MySpace using promotional videos and similar tools. The show’s planners have high hopes for its influence on the political system:
(more…)

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