My buddy Hamlet Au at New World Notes made a very last minute announcement yesterday night that he will be interviewing possible presidential candidate Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia, live in Second Life today at 12:30 PST. It looks like I will be able to score a press pass to attend, given my middling presence in the tiny SL blog community.
I don't know much about Mark Warner's qualifications as a candidate or his positions on most of the issues I care about. From first glance, I have to say how impressed I am with how his PAC "Forward Together" has seized on various Web2.0 technologies to get the word out on their man. From the Mark Warner blog, vlog, podcast, You Tube videos, and flickr tags, clearly his strategists are betting on a Howard Dean-type tech-enabled national campaign. (But without the rebel yell.) So moving from the web to the virtual world was really not such a big leap for Governor Warner.
I already like Governor Warner's support for Net Neutrality, which I hope he will comment on today. We need national leaders willing to step up and say that an unhindered, open internet is at its a root a question of civil liberties and freedom of speech, not a question of business regulation. Clearly Warner knows that is more than a "series of tubes."
As Mark Wallace at 3pointD writes, this isn't much more than a publicity stunt. But it's one that could go many ways. It could show how Governor Warner is a new generation of politician ready to seize technology to better engage citizens and improve our way of life. Or he could seen as ridiculous -- a virtual politician appearing in a "video game." Already the stupid comments are appearing in Hamlet's blog.
Frankly, Second Life has much more to gain than Mr. Warner does by this. By bringing major media in-world to catch Hamlet's interview, and the resulting press coverage, I predict the registration rates for SL are going to accelerate over the next weeks.
Hell, every candidate that wants to do a stump speech in Second Life should be welcomed with open arms. Let's have the first in-world presidential debate, the first national virtual campaign headquarters, the first virtual party caucus. It's high time we seized the virtual world for the democratic potential it has long promised. I can't wait.
Here's what the hall where the interview will take place looks like. And here's a direct SLURL link that will take you there if you already registered with Second Life.