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Mike Gravel in Second Life

BY Ruby Sinreich | Thursday, June 7 2007

For this installment of my series of visits to each candidate's Second Life efforts, I was joined by PDF Associate Editor Josh Levy, also known as Spencer Mukherji. We had the good fortune of running into Astrophysicist McCallister who is the official (but unpaid) Second Life Coordinator for Mike Gravel's presidential campaign.

This is the first campaign we have seen with an officially recognized and at least nominally supported presence in Second Life. Other efforts are entirely volunteer-generated with little or no contact with their respective campaigns. Overall, I was impressed with Gravel's site. It has a professional feeling (not overly showy nor amateurish) and is quite functional as well.

The main building at Gravel's HQ has displays on the first floor which link to his web site and other sites (such as fairtax.org) for more information. Upstairs is a conference table and a press briefing room with information packets at each seat. On a hill behind the building, a scenic hike takes you past signs with information about Gravel's platform. At the top of the hill sits a large meeting area and very presidential monument (as phallic as any in DC).

Selected photos are below, and more (including Mr. McCallister's plush director's office) are on Flickr.

Gravel HQ (left), and information display with bonus graffiti (right)

Me and Josh interviewing Gravel's SL Coordinator:

Press briefing area (left), and conference table with obligatory American flag

Mt. Gravel

Here are some selected bits from our talk with Gravel's Second Life Coordinator:

[8:57] Astrophysicist McCallister: I am the Second Life Coordinator, not the online director for the campaign. Something Sen. Gravel has been amazing at coordinating is an organized online support team, and Second Life is one cog in that virtual machine.
[8:57] Spencer Mukherji: what are the other elements to the online campaign?
[8:59] Astrophysicist McCallister: Alright, thus far, Sen. Gravel has a very popular website, a myspace coordinator, a youtube coordinator, a blogger, a podcast team, a virb team, a facebook team, and a DFA site.
[9:01] Spencer Mukherji: so how do all of these online aspects fit it to Sen. Gravel's campaign philosophy?
[9:02] Astrophysicist McCallister: We're running a very virtual campaign. Because the web, including Second Life, myspace, youtube, has such a broad range of users, Sen. Gravel is utilizing that outreach potential to its greatest.
[9:02] Astrophysicist McCallister: We can accurately and easily communicate our message to thousands.

[9:03] Ruby Glitter: Is this sanctioned by the campaign, or actively supported or...?
[9:03] Astrophysicist McCallister: Yes, I am a campaign official, we are endorsed by Sen. Gravel himself. I've been given a Gravel e-mail, and a letter of endorsement is being drafted as we speak.
[9:03] Spencer Mukherji: are you paid?
[9:04] Ruby Glitter: What do you mean by "campaign official?"
[9:05] Astrophysicist McCallister: I am not paid, and maybe campaign official was the wrong choice of words. I am merely the Second Life Coordinator for Sen. Gravel's presidential campaign in world, but I am recognized by Sen. Gravel's Staff in functioning and serving this purpose.

[9:08] Ruby Glitter: I'm interested in your choice of location. What is "Digital Zion?"
[9:08] Astrophysicist McCallister: We chose to operate our HQ here in Digital Zion as it represents the crossroads of the future, both in the figurative and literal sense.
[9:09] Spencer Mukherji: Zion as a biblical idea, and digital as the future of that idea?
[9:09] Astrophysicist McCallister: No, not in that sense. Zion more so as a crossroads, not a religious staple.
[9:09] Spencer Mukherji: I see
[9:10] Ruby Glitter: I'm not sure if I grok that.

[9:13] Ruby Glitter: How long has this build been here?
[9:13] Astrophysicist McCallister: Our Grand Opening was on May 18th
[9:13] Spencer Mukherji: is Sen. Gravel going to check it out?
[9:13] Astrophysicist McCallister: He's been inworld a few times in exploration, and his Online Coordinator visits daily.

[9:13] Ruby Glitter: So have you had a chance to use the space? I like the meeting area there to your right.
[9:14] Astrophysicist McCallister: We used the small press area during the Grand Opening, and the large meeting area on the top of the mountain later on.
[9:15] Ruby Glitter: So this is for press here?
[9:15] Astrophysicist McCallister: Yes, Press Kits area available in front of each seat.
[9:15] Ruby Glitter: I see. Clever.

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