Okay, the Four Corners program. I don’t understand why all the Current Affairs programs in the world don’t share the same footage on Second Life. In case you’re planning to make your own, here is the format to use:
Send in a journalist who has no experience in the environment
Get him or her to report on how they put their avatar together
Interview the same people in Second Life that everyone else interviews
Talk about Anshe Chung because she made a million dollars
Talk about money a lot, and tax
Show dancing (people like colour and movement)
Show the same real-life companies who’ve gone into Second Life that everyone else shows
Interview people who spend 12 hours a day online and present them as typical
Interview Ted Castranova about the economics of virtual worlds
Interview Philip Rosedale, the founder of the business
Interview Clay Shirky, because he’s a professional critic of Second Life
Mix in footage from World of Warcraft without explaining that it’s not Second Life
Cover every controversy you can in as little detail as possible
This is not to say the 4 Corners doco was poorly researched; it was fine. But the pressure to present diverse, fast-moving analysis means a confusing picture and no depth. Quality investigative reporting of the type 4 Corners has sometimes delivered in the past requires more.
Second Life gives us a platform we can use to examine, re-define and experiment with identity, relationships, cooperation, economics, community, governance, communication and institutions. It looks like we’ll have to wait until each media outlet has done several ‘what is Second Life’ stories until they deliver any serious examination of these opportunities.