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August 31, 2006

Going virtual for the geek vote

Posted by David Postman at 11:49 AM

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner showed his overly enthusiastic embrace of the power of the Internet by sponsoring a lavish reception at June's YearlyKos Convention, the annual gathering of liberal bloggers and fans of the popular DailyKos blog.

This afternoon Warner, a Democrat considering a race for president in 2008, takes another deep step into the online world: He will appear in virtual reality to be interviewed in a computer game, Second Life, and to announce a "virtural-world town hall meeting" to be held later in the year.

Second Life, according to the site, is "an online society within a 3D world, where users can explore, build, socialize, and participate in their own economy." People also appear there as avatars, to live out another life in the digital world.

At 12:30 Wagner James Au will interview Warner's animated, digital replica. Au is listed as an "embedded reporter" in Second Life. He says on his blog:

But it's still a bit vertiginous to be in-world standing there in front of the avatar of a man that leading Democratic Party financier Chris Korge ... pronounced as, "[T]he one to watch as an outsider in this race. He seems presidential."

Mark Warner's avatar seems presidential, too — tall, stern, and statesman-like.

The event was the idea of Warner's political action committee, Forward Together, which says in a release about today's event:

Imagine a world where politicians tell the truth, focus on the future, and work together with their fellow citizens to solve problems. Forward Together PAC is working everyday to make that a reality. And it isn't stopping at the boundaries of physical space. Tomorrow Governor Warner will become the first American political leader to engage in the online virtual world, Second Life.

Warner, clearly playing to the uber-geek vote, says in a statement:

In Second Life, distances and time differences vanish. It will allow us to reach people through a whole new medium.

UPDATE: You can read a transcript of the interview and see screenshots of the virtual Warner here.

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