Friday, March 30, 2007

The Online Art (and Power) of the Political Protest

Today's Washington Post ran a great article highlighting the new world of the politicial protest. The piece, "French Politics in 3D on Fantasy Website" told the story of a "slash and burn" protest at the headquarters of the extremist French presidential candidate, Jean Marie Le Pen. The slashing and burning, though, all took place in Second Life, the online virtual world where people from around the world live out their idealized lives.

For the uninitiated, Second Life has become increasingly like our plain, old regular life. Many "real world" major corporations have offices in this online environment -- and if you're a candidate for office? You can forget having any success if you don't have a Second Life avatar.

In the French political protest, the really angry fake people opposed to Le Pen took on Le Pen's really angry fake supporters using pig grenades -- yes, that's right, fake exploding pigs. Just wait until the fake Second Life ASPCA gets ahold of that one (seriously, why couldn't it be exploding baguettes?). The supporters fired back with with push guns and avatars where flying everywhere. In the end, though, the pig pushers won and Le Pen's headquarters were decimated.

Thousands of pixels died in this unprecedented attack.

Although this is an extreme example, the exploding pigs do make a point. A new front has opened in political campaigns, and candidates will ignore these virtual realities at their peril. I'm just waiting for the day when an Avatar-American in elected president.

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