TBT: Senator Warner Flies Away In Second Life?

Hi folks, with Epolitics.com well into its ninth(!) year of publishing, we’ve seen more changes in digital politics and advocacy in these pages than I can even remember. So let’s start reliving The Way Things Were in the Old Days in true Throwback Thursday style, beginning with a couple of articles revolving an online property that was once highly hyped: Second Life.

Yes, PR firms made some bucks back in ’06-’07 by creating brand presences and holding events in Second Life’s virtual world, though the only real ROI came in the form of media coverage of their “pioneering” work. Alas, most of the articles linked in the two pieces below are dead, meaning that we’ll never learn more about the time “[Mark] Warner turned gray, and then transformed on stage into a nude, buxom woman and flew off.” Sounds like a party! But first, the charismatic megafauna:

Saving Seals in Second Life

Originally published on April 25, 2007

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.

Mark Warner Holds Event in Virtual World

Originally published on September 1, 2006

He seems to be the first candidate to hold an event in an online virtual community, in this case Second Life. A full-on town hall will follow in the Fall. Gimmicky? Yep. But I bet it’ll gin up some attention — already, a CNN team was covering it.

Update: Hotline On Call was there and has a nice write-up of an event that “might be mockable, but it’s path-breakingly mockable.” Money quote: “Then, suddenly, Warner turned gray, and then transformed on stage into a nude, buxom woman and flew off.” Now THAT’S political theatre, kids!

[Note the comment on the original article from someone at the event, who claimed the flying transformation never occurred…and who had a lot more confidence in Second Life as a political tool than I did. Alas….]


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Colin Delany
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