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Hillary Clinton in Second Life

BY Ruby Sinreich | Wednesday, March 21 2007

A friend of mine has been keeping me up to date on the latest candidate presences in Second Life. We've started visiting them to check them out, and this is the first in a series of reviews I will do of each candidate's virtual headquarters.

It's important to keep in mind that all of these should be considered voter-generated (as opposed to official). In every case (as far as I know) as they have been created by volunteers who are simply enthusiastic about the candidate. The model has been "build first, ask for endorsement later." Most of these sites, including the one I review today, have not been embraced by their respective candidates.

That said, let's go see Hillary! My overarching impression of this space is that it falls easily into the most obvious stereotype of the campaign: Hillary Clinton as a strong (but cold) authority figure. I'm no aesthetic genius, but it's probably the least attractive of all the candidate spaces I've seen so far.

The central feature of the space is a stage decorated with repeating Hillary logos and surrounded by simplistic red, white, and blue, bleacher seating. The stage has a large photo of Clinton as a backdrop with lots of spotlights in front of her. I almost wondered if it was designed by the creators of the 1984 video.

Easily my favorite part of the site is the helipad behind the stage, accompanied by a motorcade of stretch limos and looked over by a police HUMV. Presumably Clinton's avatar is too important to get around like the rest of us schlumps in Second Life. But what mode of transportation could be better than flying and teleporting?

Across from the stage are some kiosks where visitors can get Hillary golf shirts and instructions on how to join the Clinton '08 group in Second Life. Next to the stage there is an office building and a strange water fountain. To be fair, in the context of SL this fountain isn't all that weird, but in the context of a presidential candidate headquarters, it's just kind of confusing at best.

Finally inside the building there are is a very typical boardroom-like setting, but very spare and unsophisticated in design. (The carpet really offended my design sensibilities, especially after seeing the carpet at Obama HQ and wanting to buy it in real life. But that's another review.) I did like the electoral map on the wall, although it served as a reminder that Clinton wants to be the Democrat who appeals to "red state" voters - which is exactly what makes "blue" base voters run screaming.

I actually ran into the owner of the land where Clinton HQ is being built - on the unfortunately named Isles of Intrgue2. I took her picture and asked a few questions about the space:

[8:05] pup Witherspoon: hi Ruby
[8:05] Ruby Glitter: Hi Pup.
[8:05] Ruby Glitter: Did you build this space?
[8:05] pup Witherspoon: smiles... was a joint effort of several folks
[8:05] pup Witherspoon: i had a hand in some of it
[8:05] Ruby Glitter: Is it official? Endorsed by the campaign?
[8:05] pup Witherspoon: we're waiting for that endorsement to come back... in the meantime.. we're getting things put together
[8:05] Ruby Glitter: Interesting.
[8:05] pup Witherspoon: that's why we've not done much advertising about the space.. and we're still working on interactive components

I have also visited Edwards' and Obama's spaces in Second Life, although I did not think to take pictures at the time (but I will). In fact, the groundbreaking John Edwards HQ has already been moved and overhauled, so it's due for another visit. Given that all of these sites are likely to continue to be works in progress, I may circle back periodically to see how they change and how they are being used by candidates and/or their supporters.

I've also heard rumblings about a Wesley Clark presence in SL, but he's not a candidate yet, and there's Disco Rudy which is clearly not the effort of supporters. If there are any other places I should be looking, please let me know!

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