Simon Wakeman got me thinking about how we generally take people at face value, particularly when someone tells you they are a journalist and wants to work with you on a story. His post followed Richard Millington pondering the feasibility of pretending to be in PR for mischievous or malicious purposes.
This reminds me of Joey Skaggs – “America’s most notorious socio-political satirist, media activist, culture jammer, hoaxer, and dedicated proponent of independent thinking and media literacy.” He has been creating amazing stunts/art work since the 1960s – one of my favourites being the Celebrity Sperm Bank.
Skaggs uses public relations and other tactics to make social commentary that often involves duping the media – he is not a con artist, but aims to make a statement about modern society. He is “a storyteller, myth-maker, skeptic, philosopher, writer, performer, and artist. “
Adrian Monck writes about another modern fake-maker, EssJay who hoodwinked Wikipedia and the New Yorker. In fact, Monck reports views that Wikipedia is rooted in an earlier fantasy world, that of Dungeons & Dragons, where those such as the Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, took on fictional identities in the 1970s and 1980s.
Which brings me to SecondLife – the ultimate Web 2.0 fake world. I’ve struggled to quite get the point of living as a virtual alter-ego avatar. As Neville Hobson reports the European Union is planning an office there, I believe it is time to shout “Emperor’s New Clothes” at all those organisations who mistakenly believe inhabiting SecondLife means they are ahead of the curve.
An analysis at The Register exposes the myth behind Second Life. Having received around $20 million in venture capital investment and acres of mainstream reporting, it is generally believed Second Life is the place to launch new products with a trendy audience of over 3 million “residents”.
However, only 15% ever return after 30 days (I am one of those), meaning a potential audience of 250,000 – with around 15,000 logged in at any one time. In respect of my earlier post about large numbers – The Register says this is the population of Ilkeston in Derbyshire. Of those, as few as 3,000 may be paying customers (premium account holders).
Will Second Life prove to be another “dot com bubble” – demonstrating the ability of the media and business to be huckstered in classic P.T.Barnum style. I know he never said it, but there does seem to be a sucker born ever minute.