Netroots and YearlyKOS Convention in Second Life

Roosevelt on TrainNetroots, as defined by Wikipedia, “is a recent term coined to describe political activism organized through blogs and other online media, including wikis and social network services. The word is a portmanteau of Internet and grassroots, reflecting the technological innovations that supposedly set netroots techniques apart from other forms of political participation. In the United States, the term is used mainly in left-wing circles.”

One of these blogs, The Yearly Kos, announced today that it will be running a concurrent convention in Second Life to compliment their annual convention in Chicago. 

Registration opens for YearlyKOS in Second Life
Spooky Second Life video announcement, complete with lip synched avatar with detached hair.

Registration is $25 for this virtual event, no airfare required.  To quote the announcement:

“We’ll have breakout rooms that host panels. Some of these panels will also feature video streams from live events, with the capacity for virtual participants to ask questions of the panelists. We’ll also have panels that are purely virtual, featuring people who are at the convention in Chicago and folks who couldn’t make it there. And, of course, we’ll be hosting the Presidential panel. There will be hospitality suites, meetup rooms and an exhibit hall, just as there will be in Chicago.”

With the primary season for the coming Presidential election starting so early this time around, and with so much media and money already being showered on the announced (and those who have announced that they are thinking about announcing) candidates, how much of the coming debate will be taken online?  How much attention will these new political online activities draw to the virtual world platforms like Second Life?  Will this be the election where online campaigning becomes a necessity, and not just a flashy diversion for the candidates?

We’ve already seen a few first attempts at taking politics online like the Congress event back in January.  So far it has been the Democrats exploiting these new platforms to get their messages out to the voters.  How long will it be before the Republicans catch on? 

Participatory political events in virtual worlds can bring a whole new meaning to “stumping”.  If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, would he be riding a virtual train across these virtual worlds to stump for the netizens of this country?  This sort of political process has the potential to go beyond just the borders of the United States, and to allow those outside our country to view our political debates first hand. 

In this highly competitive, and expensive, political climate it might just be a candidate’s ability to embrace Internet technologies and virtual world platforms that sets them apart from the others, especially with the younger and more tech savvy demographics of voters. 

All I want to know is when will the first virtual Presidential debate take place? 


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