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  Edelman and GSD&M Enter ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2006-11-13 by Tony Walsh
Metaverse developer The Electric Sheep Company has helped usher both GSD&M and Edelman into the virtual world of Second Life.

Austin-based branding agency GSD&M is already buzzing in Second Life with Idea City, a meeting-, exploration-, and leisure-space for the agency, its clients, and the residents of Second Life. Joel Greenberg, a Senior Planner for GSD&M, informs me that the agency will be taking a muted approach to establishing its Second Life presence in order to respect the resident community. While the island has already been built, it has soft-launched with corporate and recreational facilities. Greenberg says UT's CHAOS: New Agendas in Advertising Conference will be streamed via video into Idea City on November 17 and 18.

Global PR firm Edelman enters Second Life with Edelman island to co-produce two projects with The Electric Sheep Company. The first is the SL Business Plan Contest, which puts 6 months ownership of a private island and L$350,000 up for grabs. The second is the Grid Review machinima news site, which will compete in a growing Second Life media space (see Axel Springer's upcoming tabloid and my commentary about SL's media landscape). According to an official announcement, "The Grid Review will be a regular source for Second Life news. It will be in machinima format, with video new spots issued at least once a week, keeping you and your friends informed about the latest goings-on in-world. It is also designed as a venue for citizen journalists; we welcome 1-2 minute video news submissions from individual Second Life residents or teams, for which we will provide full credit." I'm not confident in the longevity of the Grid Review project, despite its funding--machinima isn't easy to make. More importantly, I'm wary of any "news" coming from an outlet sponsored by a global PR firm.
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Comment posted by Giff-Forseti
November 14, 2006 @ 1:28 am
Hi Tony -- I think The Grid Review will be an interesting challenge as you noted. I grant you that it is a bit of experiment to see how this plays out (like any media or non-media venture), but we're going to give it a 6 month run, working with great residents like Moo Money, and we'll try to make something both useful and involving for the community.

As for the influence of the sponsors, just as with ESC's sponsorship of 3pointD, we're going to keep our influence at a minimum. We're certainly not going to be editing resident-submitted pieces, although we will have an approval process. Anyway, the proof will be in the pudding and I hope you like the results.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
November 14, 2006 @ 1:59 am
I totally agree with your point about PR firms, Tony. It's very disturbing that the "media" function has been taken up in SL by advertising firms and metaverse design consulting firms. RRR takes over TV; now this ESC and Edelman's sponsored machinima; 3pointd being sponsored by ESC and New World Notes sponsored by MOU -- who isn't bought and paid for (Clickable Culture, of course, and thank God for it!).

It used to be that media framed the ad spots in a bracket, so you could tell the news and views from the pitches. Now, the pitchers are entirely shaping and delivering the "news" which is really infotainment or "branding".
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 14, 2006 @ 11:08 am
Good luck moving forward, Giff. I read on moo's blog that she's anchoring the newscast, so that's promising in itself.

Prok, I definitely think there's cause for concern, in the sense that audience members need to know whether or not a news source is sponsored. Mark Wallace does a good job of disclosing his corporate ties on his blog, in my opinion. I'm curious to see how The Grid Review is framed. I'm not sure the idea of a PR company sponsoring a newscast would fly in the real world. On the plus side, it's worth noting that the SL mediascape is always growing. Just this week I discovered a few more outlets I'd previously never heard of, and they seem to have an independent voice despite being commercial ventures. So far, I've had a policy here of not running any ads or taking any kind of sponsorship. Mostly because I don't want to distract my readers with commercial messaging.
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