Activism + Social Transmission
Second Life may or may not be overhyped, and may or may not be the future of the web, but I thought I'd share my experiences with it as I've worked on a documentary about political activism in SL. I've been surprised at how much I'm starting to appreciate its possibilities.
I've taken to heart Clay Shirky's critique that SL has been overly hyped by its creators, and I've been especially interested in Ethan Zuckerman's criticisms of a virtual Camp Darfur, which he argued is an inadequate tool for publicizing such a large scale tragedy; last May he wrote, "given that roughly 100,000 people log into Second Life in a given month - compared to roughly one billion using the Internet as a whole - I suspect people trying to call attention to global issues are better off making a website than a 3D space."
Nevertheless, many people are finding SL useful as a space for activists and organizers to model behavior and create idealized versions of things that are, in reality, broken.