Saturday, July 14, 2007

An Effective Second Life for Fred Thompson

If you have a minute, I would like to politics with you.

More specifically, I would like very much for you to join me in conversation on the already-heated race for the Presidential nominations.

Let’s wax poetic on the issues of immigration, the war in Iraq, and the current American health care system.

Let’s debate the positive and negative aspects of our favorite nominee hopefuls. Tell me why Senator Clinton’s universal health care proposal makes sense and I’ll describe why Conservatives consistently insist that the highest quality medical care exists only on a freely open market.

So let’s talk…

I’ll meet you on Second Life in an hour---

Hold up? What?

Second Life. I will stop short of calling it an internet revolution but it is an application that is making waves. It is also a program that, to me, shows what very well could be the advanced internet of the future. Indeed, Second Life could potentially become the chosen method of high quality, multi-faceted communication in the years to come.

I was introduced to the program probably six months ago. I tinkered around with it then and, ultimately, lost interest. About a week ago, I gave it another shot. While I have not become an addict yet, I have had just enough good experiences in my Second Life during this past week to see its valuable assets.

First of all, let me note that I have zero association with Linden Labs, the company that is responsible for directing Second Life. Nor do I have any financial incentive for encouraging your interest in the program. However, if you are reading this because of your attention to politics, you may see how Second Life could be a very valuable tool; very valuable indeed for a presidential hopeful like former Senator Fred Thompson.

Nor am I going to sit here and describe to you in detail what Second Life is. In general, it is an application that presents the user with a virtual world, ala the Sims, that allows users to create and develop characters, interact with others, buy and sell virtual land, and market items via the system’s cyber economy. If you want to know more, visit here. It’s a free download, although advanced features cost a subscription fee.

The point is this: currently, the Second Life server shows upwards of 40,000 online users. It also states that over 8 million individual accounts have been registered since the inception of the application. Maybe most notably, in the last 24 hours nearly two million real U.S. dollars were transacted via Second Life. While many of these numbers are inflated by inactive members and duplicate accounts, the monetary values are nothing to scoff at.

What’s particularly interesting to the political enthusiast is that several presidential hopefuls have vested “land” in the virtual world dedicated to their campaigns. Whether officially endorsed by the politicians or not, these campaign sites could be a future boon to the politicians’ presidential chances. After a quick search of the Second Life map, I have found advanced campaign areas for John Edwards, Ron Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Gravel. There is also a group dedicated to Republicans of which I am a member.

It was this G.O.P-oriented group that held a discussion last night that proved particularly interesting. Several of our Second Life characters met at the group headquarters and participated in a discussion that lasted over an hour and produced quality arguments that are becoming less commonly found in our First (Real) Lives. Each participant came across as educated and eloquent. Most sides were represented and yet the debate rarely fell victim to mudslinging traps. It was an outstanding discussion. Names like Adam Smith, George Washington, Ayn Rand, and David Ricardo were used as precedent for advanced arguments. There was no junior high conversation but serious intellectual stuff.

And, at its best, this is what Second Life offers. Interested individuals have an area to have such intelligent discourses. Candidates have a place were they can effectively advance their campaign through the program’s plethora of integrated media: video, scripted programs, audio, etc. I, for one, would absolutely love to see Fred Thompson officially endorse and develop a campaign site via this platform.

Senator Thompson has expressed repeatedly his desire to attack his campaign via many different methods, including “old school” grass-root operations and cutting-edge tactics. Second Life offers the latter. By utilizing this program, Thompson would be at the most advanced point of current technology. His charm and charisma would be given yet another podium to shine through and be recognized. This is a great opportunity for such a talented statesmen and I surely hope he seizes the chance to jump on such a valuable tool.

And when he does, my Second Life character, Morrison Huldschinsky, will be there traversing the cyber world, proselytizing his cause.