Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Saturday, January 20, 2007

The battle of the exploding pigs

Exploding pigs and volleys of gunfire as Le Pen opens HQ in virtual world

Violent clashes have erupted in an online world over the arrival of Le Pen's national front

Oliver Burkeman in Porcupine
Saturday January 20, 2007
The Guardian

The streets of Porcupine were tranquil yesterday; a handful of locals strolled through its shopping malls, the sun was shining, and a light breeze blew in from over the hills. There were few hints of the fact that, only days before, the neighbourhood had been the scene of violent clashes between rightwing extremists and anti-Nazi protesters - running battles involving gunfire and bombs that might easily have cost lives were it not for the fact that Porcupine does not, in most commonly accepted senses of the term, exist.

A lesson you quickly learn upon entering the online virtual world of Second Life, however, is that non-existence is less of an impediment than might be supposed.

It hasn't stopped the development of a fully-featured alternative universe in which Second Life's 2.4 million registered users build houses, set up businesses, form clubs and societies, hold parties and have sex. And it did not prevent protest from spilling over into aggression when the Front National, the far-right French group led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, became the first European political party to open a headquarters within Second Life.

"The first night I arrived at the protest ... it was ringed on all sides by protesters with signs to wave and statements to distribute," wrote James Au, whose website, New World Notes, reports on events in Second Life. "By the second night I came ... the conflict had become more literal, for many residents had armed themselves. Multi-coloured explosions and constant gunfire shredded the air of Porcupine." Some activists threw exploding pigs.

"This nationalist idea that Front National is advocating is something that has spread all over Europe like a virus," a protester, using the name Ichi Jaehun, told Mr Au. "It's [as if] the history of the 20th century has already been forgotten. It is time to say enough!"

A group calling itself Second Life Left Unity issued press releases explaining that it had purchased land next to the Front National office, and would be "manning a protest there until FN go or are ejected. Wherever fascists are, we will ensure they get no peace to corrupt and lie to decent people".

A few days later, the Front National building had vanished altogether, leaving only a few protest placards showing Mr Le Pen - who made it through to the final round of the last real-world French presidential election in 2002 - wearing a Hitler moustache.

It was probably inevitable that political confrontation would arrive in Second Life in the end. It is already home to one of the most potentially revolutionary developments on the internet in recent years - a vibrant economy in which residents use a virtual currency, Linden dollars, to buy and sell goods and services, including clothes for their online characters, works of art, buildings, and financial advice.

Because users retain legal ownership of the things they create, and because Linden dollars can be turned into US dollars via an exchange operated by Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, the virtual-world businesses have real-world value. Numerous real firms have opened outlets in Second Life, and a woman living in Germany has reportedly become its first dollar millionaire - from the property development business she runs inside Second Life.

posted by Steve @ 6:43:00 AM

6:43:00 AM

The News Blog home page


Editorial Staff

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans