Have you ever faked it?

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  pondering the feasibility of pretending to be in PR for mischievous or malicious purposes. 

This reminds me of  – “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

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. “

writes about another modern fake-maker, EssJay who hoodwinked Wikipedia and the .  In fact, Monck reports views that Wikipedia is rooted in an earlier fantasy world, that of , where those such as the Wikipedia founder, , took on fictional identities in the 1970s and 1980s.

Which brings me to – the ultimate Web 2.0 fake world.  I’ve struggled to quite get the point of living as a virtual alter-ego avatar.  As reports the European Union is planning an office there, I believe it is time to shout “” 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 style.  I know he never said it, but there does seem to be a sucker born ever minute.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

10 thoughts on “Have you ever faked it?”

  1. You have to have an awful lot of confidence if you are going to try and fool the journalists, they won’t thank you for it if they discover they have been duped.
    I have no idea about Second Life, people in the UK seem to have little or no understanding of it.

  2. You are right and I’m not advocating fooling journalists – although it can be fun to see the tables turned, especially as we know the media isn’t always that good at checking facts.

    I’ve been watching SecondLife for about 6 months – and feel confident that there’s nothing much of substance here. Some of the concepts involved are interesting – such as having virtual meetings or conferences, but overall, I feel this will prove to be an expensive promotional option for many organisations.

  3. You are right and I’m not advocating fooling journalists – although it can be fun to see the tables turned, especially as we know the media isn’t always that good at checking facts.

    I’ve been watching SecondLife for about 6 months – and feel confident that there’s nothing much of substance here. Some of the concepts involved are interesting – such as having virtual meetings or conferences, but overall, I feel this will prove to be an expensive promotional option for many organisations.

  4. The Sunday Toronto Star had a lengthy article on Second Life, beginning on the cover page of its Buzz section (full page on page C4).

    (Virtual) reality bites

    With the encroachment of big corporations, residents of Second Life say the online world is becoming second-rate, writes Murray Whyte

    http://www.thestar.com/article/190479

  5. Judy – thanks, that is a really interesting article. In some ways, you can see that it is inevitable that the innovators/early adopters may dislike their “home” becoming more popular and commercial and so move on. But for the big brands, if the early/late majority don’t move on, what is in it for them once the novelty wears off?

    I can see virtual worlds becoming useful in various ways for specific communities. It is likely that SecondLife will change – maybe it becomes more of a “shop window” for brands and people will be able to go there as in the real world – but I’m not sure how the engagement will be very valuable unless those companies are active in terms of wanting to have discussions with “visitors”.

    I’ll keep watching to see how it develops, I suppose.

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