Draxtor Despres of Life4U News sent me a link to a great summary he did of the "Interdependence Day" mixed-reality event featuring Ben Barber and Gilberto Gil that I wrote about a couple of days ago. Draxtor pulls out a salient quote of Dr. Barber’s where he really slams Second Life as a medium for meaningful social and political engagement:
99% couldn’t care less about anything that is being talked about here, kids starving to death or having their organs harvested…. The idea that this is currently available as a civic tool, a political tool, is absurd, and is a kind of salesmanship by people who are in it primarily to make money.
I have to say, as much as I have appreciate some of Dr. Barber’s past work (particularly his excellent Jihad versus McWorld), he does sound like a completely uninformed blowhard here. Dr. Barber seems to base his assertion by randomly trying to engage avatars in discussions about immigration reform or climate change that he runs across. As another virtual participant at the event pointed out, this is like dropping into the middle of Times Square and trying to engage random passersby in a serious political discussion. Of course, they would rather go shopping, see a show or head to work.
Meanwhile, as you can see on my event picks for New World Notes, there are people everyday using Second Life as a serious civic and political tool, from voter registration drives to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to cancer survivor’s support groups to 9/11 memorials. To poo-poo all this activity and talk about virtual sex paraphenalia is just insulting to the hundreds of people doing good work using the medium.