Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogher 07 conference: Journalism in SL

I attended two sessions (and a disco!) of the BlogHer 07 Second Life (SL) conference. This is a conference that focuses on women (the "her") and blogging, and the Real Life (RL) version was taking place in Chicago, USA. The first session was about journalism in SL and since I think there is relevance to information behaviour and information literacy I'll blog about it here. (I have blogged about the business and SL session (and the disco) on my SL blog: I was obviously attending as Sheila Yoshikawa (my avatar).

This was a panel session, including people from the UK, USA and Australia (or, rather, their avatars). One was a woman who was a freelance journalist in RL and SL (Cybergrrl Oh), one was the editor (57 Miles, in RL Nick Wilson) of Metaversed which reports on technology and business in SL, one was Starr Sonic a presenter on SLNTV (SLNTV recorded the whole session, so you can listen & look at

A few themes emerged.
a) SL Media are underdeveloped at the moment. If you have been in SL you will know you can search for things like shops and destinations as well as people, but there isn't to my knowledge a SL equivalent of yellow pages nor are there well-indexed business directories. Therefore (this is my view) resources like blogs are helping people to find out "what" and "where" information, as well as being essential to keep track of things like SL events and news.
b) There are a lot of different potential sources for news about SL (mostly things like blogs, but SL is increasingly being covered by traditional media), and it is difficult to keep track of what's going on. Wilson said that "you have to build a network of friends" to keep in touch with what is going on - so an emphasis on using people as information sources, and developing your own information community.
c) There was disagreement as to whether current news about SL would be interesting in the future. I think this might correspond to similar arguments about any current news - some seeing the value to social historians, others just seeing today's news as "tomorrow's fish wrapper" (Wilson).
d) SL media are developing reputation, as they would in RL, except (as ever nowadays) reputations are being developed more quickly than in the past. Nevertheless it is still a matter of people learning which sources can be trusted, which ones suit your specialist interests etc.
e) Whilst I don't think Rupert Murdoch (News Corporation) owns any major SL media (yet) there is still an "Editorial bias" issue, namely where media are seen to be influenced by the creators of SL, Linden Labs. Are some sources reluctant to publish criticism of Linden? I suppose, in fact, this is more like Government Censorship (since Linden ultimately own the SL world) than media ownership.
f) As in RL, if you want to get a story into the media, you need to provide an angle, some human interest, an "exclusive" etc.
g) There is a need to get information inworld (in SL itself) and also to get information about what is going on in SL to people outside (these may be people with avatars who like to keep in touch, or people who are interested but don't go inworld). The information content may be the same, but the form that channels take in SL itself is certainly at an early stage.

I continue to think that there is a big role, potentially for information professionals and information managers within SL - associated with "libraries" in some cases, but perhaps often not tied to libraries. I must say that I didn't contribute any questions or comments - this was my first biggish conference in SL so I was in learning mode.

There are a lot of blog posts about Blogher, as you might expect, as well as the recordings of the SL sessions on SLCN. Another good write-up of a session on blogs as media and this journalism one are on Jerry Everard’s Blog at

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