News of puppets?

I'm a big fan of Second Life. But I wonder about a Reuters bureau for SL, which was launched, along with an SL news page where stories have the gushing quality of a press release, like this:Philip Rosedale and his team at Linden Lab have almost godlike powers in Second Life that Alan Greenspan (right) could only have dreamed of, but they have much the same job managing its fast-growing economy.

I'm a big fan of Second Life. But I wonder about a Reuters bureau for SL, which was launched, along with an SL news page where stories have the gushing quality of a press release, like this:

Philip Rosedale and his team at Linden Lab have almost godlike powers in Second Life that Alan Greenspan (right) could only have dreamed of, but they have much the same job managing its fast-growing economy.

With the Second Life economy growing by a red-hot 10 to 15 percent a month, roughly in line with its overall population, Linden Lab is keen to avoid the hyperinflation that has often tainted both real economies and virtual ones.

I understand writing about new products that connect Second Life to external events and covering business and virtual business, because money is really changing hands, but I doubt that requires this kind of production Reuters—or, rather, its reporter—is undertaking to seem relevant to the community he covers. After all, one can certainly report on events on Second Life without having a virtual bureau—seems like the best way to be flooded with cheesy PR pitches to me.

"Hi, have you seen my new shop where we animate the sparkling of chandeliers?" Forget about it.

And what of social coverage in SL? I find it hard to believe we'll want more celebrity news about how Kevin Federline's SL avatar was seen having virtual sex with, gasp, Jennifer Aniston's avatar (Oh, Lord, what about Brit and the kids!?!?). A murder in Second Life? That's a little like saying "Your puppet killed my puppet." And the puppets can just log back in.

I highly recommend last week's South Park, Make Love, Not Warcraft, for a send-up of the seriousness with which avatars are discussed as though they are living people.

Granted, Reuters wants to make its SL bureau a viewing facility for outworld content—have your avatar come watch the news at Reuters—but that doesn't make much sense in terms of virtuality. Why go to one place to see news in a building on a virtual island? Sociability? Okay, but wouldn't it be more in keeping with the Second Life ethos if Reuters exposed an API for displaying its news and video that builders could use to put the media to use anywhere in SL?

I'm just saying my avatar won't be hanging out at Reuters.

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