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Aug 09, 2007



They only devoted four pages to that?

Sounds like it's time for a Special Edition to me.


I think the first comment I ever left here on Terra Nova was in response to a similar post from one of you guys pooh-poohing a similar article I'd written for the NYT. It baffles me that you don't see the value in these articles. While you may live in a world in which Second Life is old hat, there are at least 250 million people in the U.S. alone who have either never heard of the thing or have only the vaguest notion of what it is. You should be grateful that a newspaper with the broad reach of the Times is publishing this kind of article, which makes Second Life comprehensible and palatable for the uninitiated. This article actually does a very good job of *not* being all breathless and wide-eyed about what's going on in Second Life, but instead presents it very much as an extension of real life. The author, Seth Kugel (whom I don't know), takes the time to interview the typists behind the avatars about their attitudes toward their virtual existences, and does a great job of not winking at the reader over their responses, even when he gets to virtual bigamy on the last page. It's the job of you pointy-heads to push thinking forward and to stay a step ahead of what's happening in the field; it's the job of journalists to take a measured look at what's out there at the moment, which Seth has done an excellent job of with this story.


In the not-immortal-at-all, actually kind of fleeting words of the internet: "OMG, NO WAI!"

Seriously, it's nice to see the NYT do a VW-positive article, even if it's non-news to most of us (and already even discussed in other mainstream publications like Newsweek months ago).


Mark --

Yeah, I don't think Ted was doing anything more than venting a bit, but you're right that it's hard to get past this story at the present moment. I was talking with a journalist yesterday trying who wanted a new angle on the same virtual worlds story we've been reading for the last 10 years and it was hard to figure out what to suggest -- so many people are still in the dark about the basic facts of virtual communities that it is hard to get past this initial story. Seth Kugel did what I thought was worth doing by getting into the personal details about how virtual lives interrelated with real lives, which I think is a good place to look for new angles. I'd rather have a thousand news stories with new details about individual experiences than a thousand stories saying the same thing in a general way.


Omigod. Another sarcastic post from Mr. Castronova.

According to a four-line article in today's Terra Nova blog, there exists an entire population of people called 'The Unworthy' who have no place commenting publicly on Second Life. Such irresponsible reports, interviews and so-called "white papers" only ensure a torturous doom for the future of virtual worlds, all of which are represented by Second Life, according to Castronova. Meanwhile, the unworthy continue to struggle for an understanding of the true value of virtual worlds. Huh!


Five gets you ten that they never mentioned furries, age play or porn.

Which is 90% of Suckat Life.


Like, omg, wow! An actual fair article about the non-furry, non-porn fun that so many people are having in Second Life. 'Bout time.
Thanks for the laugh, Ted.


Chalk one up for "Take a deep breath and think on it before you hit the post button".


Are you trying to get people's attention by being negative?

It kind of worked, I had never heard of this site or you before....

Good job getting noticed. What else do you do again?


It amazes me how holier-than-thou Terra Nova can be sometimes. This article is just good, clean fun for the uninitiated. I'm glad to see the non-tabloid treatment given to SL for the first time in quite a while.


I think maybe Edward was speaking ironically, and it was Aaron who wasn't, which threw people off.

I'm glad to see a good article focusing on people enjoying living in their SL homes. I sell homes, and nesting is a major part of SL. Even escorts and furries want homes, ya know!

Coco's Cottages


Geesh! Relax folks. I think the point here is that the media acts as if they've just discovered something which has actually been around for 4+ years.


Everything is around, usually for years, before the "dumb media" discovers it.

This is called a technology adoption curve.

For most of the NYT's readers, they did just discover Second Life.

There's an old joke here in the Bay Area, which resonates very loudly with me given I'm a rural Midwest native. It goes: Assume 1 is "liberal" and 10 is "conservative", and that the US' median is 5. The Bay Area is "1", not a surprise really. The problem is that Bay Area people think the median is 2.

There are over 299,000,000 people in the US who very likely have never heard of Second Life and probably 298,000,000 who aren't sure why they should even care once they do.


Randolfe wrote:

The problem is that Bay Area people think the median is 2.

Unfair! We just think it -should- be two. ;)


"I think maybe Edward was speaking ironically, and it was Aaron who wasn't, which threw people off."

To be honest, it would be quite a mistake to ever claim a lack of irony on my part. Really more just taking the joke and running with it.

I agree that it is the mainstream media's job to pound things like this into the public consciousness until it sticks-- but for those of us who have been immersed in the conventions of virtual worlds for a while, it can sometimes be a borderline painful experience to see something so seemingly basic described in such grandiose and "Imagine a world" terms.

I would imagine that should I ever have kids, I'll get a lot better at that particular sort of listening (but then again, I'll also get a lot of the exact opposite when they decide they want to list every pokemon in the known universe to me).

Anyway, it's great to see more publicity for us and our kin, but always difficult to feel such a glaring disconnect from the status quo.


--He says his virtual "neighbors" come over for visits with their "avatar", just like in the real world.--

I can't wait until avatars visit me in the real world. Where does this guy live again?

Hmm having read the article--it doesn't say that at all! And it is actually a good read, ending on an ambiguous note;_"“You are a completely fictional person in Second Life.” (well, considering the earlier "It is striking how often a Second Life process mirrors real life.")

I have to hope this is irony though "For anyone with a modicum of taste, though, decorating a home is a breeze.")
Design taste? In Second Life?!



Still pouting over the 'virtual mayberry' comments eh? You really should put it behind you at some point.


It amazes me how holier-than-thou Terra Nova can be sometimes.

Flip, most of them are academics. Nuf said. :)

(I don't mean this unkindly torward anyone here but it's just the way many academics I've observed happen to be.)


Did this appear in print, or just online? I ask because the people who read online news vs print are different. And chances are the former group has heard of Second Life. Linden's PR machine is pretty darned good.

It wasn't a bad article, but it was sorta more of the same-y. SL is just one experience. There's a lot more going on out there in virtual spaces than this years old hodge-podge of cool tools and interest sociology.



You're right. From this point I'll follow these guidelines for expected etiquette here. I apologize, I also didn't realize that sarcasm and irony fall into the domain of reserved privilege -- even if "virtual Mayberry" is indeed an ironic choice for an analogy, if sadly not a sarcastic one.


Good lord, randolfe_. The essence of community, it seems to me, is trust, and part of that trust is put into practice on all our parts by moving on from past slights, perceived or otherwise (assuming they don't continually recur), and recognizing that everyone has off days. It happens to be my opinion that you overreacted to Ted's and others' criticism in the original thread about your whitepaper, but -- :shrug: -- so what? What does revisiting it contribute?

Besides, if we all start acting as if our worst moments should determine, once and for all, the best expectations we should have for our behavior, then it will very quickly become a race to the bottom. No thanks.



Sarcasm and irony certainly aren't reserved privilege but why use those tools when logic and analysis [much rarer commodities on the internet] are available? As an outside observer I would say that analysis is where you have comparative advantage. Let bygones be bygones...



According to Edward Castranova on the TerraNova blog, newspapers and old media are kind of behind the times a bit!


I'm sure there are some papers that need marking somewhere.


Fair enough. Perhaps I'm just venting an ongoing disappointment with this particular author. I certainly am humble enough to admit my own failings.


There was a similar reaction in library-land (my day industry) when the NYT posted a piece about young, hip librarians and their fashion interests. Some folks thought it was "old hat," and shouldn't need to be said. Some thought it was puffy and insulting to librarians.

Most missed the point that it was in the "fashion" section, and, therefore, was almost entirely about fashion. And how fashion related to this particular sub-set of our culture. And their views on... fashion.

This SL article is in the "Home and Garden" section of the NYT. So it's talking about, well... the homes and gardens of SL residents. Some of the particulars necessary to establish who's buying homes and building gardens, but mostly about the architecture, furniture, designs, etc. It even mentions the prim limit per sim as a consideration when designing and outfitting your residence. That's pretty specific, important info for someone who might want to do some SL building, designing or decorating.

I'm with Mark Wallace on this one. When you start getting "regular" articles in the NYT about what you can do with the platform, rather than just the, "This is so weird! And maybe scary!" stuff... that's a big win for the industry. It doesn't have anything new in it for most folks who are there already... but it will; a) make current residents feel nice that their activities warrant serious consideration as a hobby/lifestyle/entertainment, and b) make folks who have heard nothing (or just kiddie porn) and who might like to do those home-y and garden-y things in world give it a shot.

If SL wants to survive without gambling, it'll need lots more of these articles and the types of folks who might react well to it.


Nice analysis Andy. The section where the story appears is important to this discussion.

While most of the technology readers of the times/technolgoy section probably have heard of SL, I wonder what % of the times/style/home&garden have.


That's funny, I found it originally by following the Technology link on the left; it was the featured item. Makes sense that they'd list it in more than one category, of course.


I was just trying to prompt discussion.


Just trying to prompt discussion? More like a subconscious slip into a 'killer' player type! Griefer! Mwahaha.


OMFG. This is completely. Actually, there is nothing else decent one could do in LS .Duh.

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