Monday, January 29, 2007

Virtual embassies

As I read the posts in my aggregator every morning certain words are guaranteed to jump out at me. Predictably, these are words that relate to aspects of my personal and/or cultural history. Perhaps I've finally identified a tendency of mine to which I can apply the word atavistic. By extension, I also prick up my eyes, so to speak, when encountering words that relate to my husband's personal and/or cultural history.

Hence my heightened interest when I encountered this post from Mark Oehlert with the word Sweden in the title. I have never ventured into the world of Second Life, but I have been interested to note how it is gaining traction with a most unlikely audience. I have heard of organisations creating SL info portals. Obviously recognising that SL provides access to a market with money to spend, not just a bunch of teenaged computer nerds (I apologise for the stereotype - but I don't think it's a million miles from most people's unconscious assumptions). It seems like a good PR exercise. After all, companies have been creating websites for years to reach the audience of people who venture out into the www.

I was fascinated when Mark attended an SL book signing, bought the book with SL money (sorry - I don't know the proper name for the official currency) and received a hard copy of it through the mail. I also read recently of the sorts of money some people were making selling SL characters, assets and accessories on eBay.

The lines are blurring. I can fully understand Sweden's thinking behing the SL embassy. Their physical embassies have a presence online via websites which serve as an information portal. Why not then a virtual embassy in SL? What I wonder is, can you apply for a visa via the SL embassy and then receive the hard copy via the post? And if so, would you pay for it with SL money or the currency of the country in which the embassy is based?

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