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  Tech Digest:  ‘Justin Bovington Was Not Misquoted’  
 
 
Posted 2006-12-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
At issue: Whether or not Justin Bovington of metaversal branding agency Rivers Run Red said "'We did a block party with Reebok, and it was the first time we saw black avatars coming into Second Life." The quote appeared in a Tech Digest article on Bovington's Second Life efforts. I re-published the quote in a post about Bovington's alleged statements.

Bovington says he was misquoted by Tech Digest, and "doubly misquoted" by Clickable Culture. The author of the Tech Digest article, Stuart Dredge, stands by the accuracy of the quote.

Someone is not being entirely truthful here, and I am stuck in the middle. My position has been to update the relevant posts to reflect each party's position. However, this has been a pain in the ass for me, and possibly for my readers as well. It's also brought a lot more attention to Bovington's disputed quote than he would probably like. This situation could have been handled better from a public relations standpoint, methinks.
 
     
 
   
 
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  11 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 13, 2006 @ 3:30 pm
     
 
What ever happened to people saying "If I said that I misspoke, and obviously that would be an absurd thing to say. What I meant to say was ..."

Chasing around the blogsphere calling good reporters inept or liars or worse and complaining that bloggers with strong track records for getting the facts right have somehow been irresponsible by virtue of quoting these reporters is a disasterous PR strategy.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
December 13, 2006 @ 3:38 pm
     
 
I'm just pissed I had to go back and update/edit those previous posts. It gets messy and confusing.

I wish there was just one other person who'd been at Bovington's presentation and could confirm the accuracy of the quote used in Dredge's piece.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Brace
December 13, 2006 @ 10:40 pm
     
 
yeh Uri

So as it stands we still have nothing from Bovington that actually states what it was he actually said?

Methinks he doth protest to much at anyrate
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
December 14, 2006 @ 1:18 am
     
 
You know, I think it's important to point out here that Fizik Baskerville/Justin Bovington, a long-time SL resident, isn't some racist insensitive schmuck. He's a normal, caring, sensitive guy who's hugely engaged in the SL community. He may have just been trying to express the coolness of being able to have black avatars come to an event he was presiding over. I don't know if this is related to the branding of Nike that conjures up images of lots of black athletes or empowerment of black girls or whatever their shtick is these days, but I don't think Fizik is suspect here.

Of course, RL black folks must get a good chuckle -- if not get pretty angry sometimes -- that white folks are still in that "ooh, shiny" stage of saying "wow, we're all different colours here and woot we're all getting along". But, things being what they are in America, that's where it's at. It's kind of a telling thing. In the UK, frankly, I think they probably have even less of a really public debate about race relations.

At the end of the day, he was trying to do good, not bad. He may not have been quoted incorrectly, so much as contexualized wrongly, who the hell knows.

It is unfortunate that Justin felt so PC'd to death and so vulnerable in this high-profile situation that he apparently had to do some double-talking about being misquoted and doubly misquoted.

I dunno, make Fizik sit in some kind of workshop on racial sensitivity and PR strategies for a week, take the points off his virtual world driving license, and let it go -- this time. We'll be watching!
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 14, 2006 @ 2:48 am
     
 
Bear in mind I'm not 'white'. My avatar has always been dark as well, though what people may call 'tanned' would probably be close to my natural color. I'm not of African descent, but I have enough of a mixture of other heritages to mark 'Other' on forms requiring 'race'.

Just let it go. If there is an issue of racial insensitivity, it will pop up again and this will be the skeleton in the closet; in your shoes I would simply update those posts one more time with a link to this and let it stand.

As far as racial diversity - there is something to the lack of racial diversity apparent in avatars, and it's nothing new. Frankly, I would be surprised if the *thought* didn't enter Bovington's mind. I'd have to say that if he didn't say it, he said something similar to it. He says misquote, fine. I think misinterpreted. No coming back from that. Oops.

That said, I doubt any people who aren't white are chuckling. There may be shaking of heads, a few smiles, but the truth is that it's just the way it is. It's been kicked around in SL in relation to diversity of SecondLife (July 2006, perhaps) where there were 2 people who were of darker complexions at the meeting of about 40-50 people. That rabbit hole runs deep, and I'm certain that this isn't the forum to get into that.

How many furry folk were there anyway? How many purple avatars? How many penguins? And does it really matter? Yes, it does. And no, it doesn't.

The people who it would matter to aren't around to discuss it. That's the issue for another forum. ;-)
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
December 14, 2006 @ 11:24 am
     
 
In response to the suggestions I let this go:

It's already gone.

I don't care so much whether or not Bovington is racially-insensitive. My original post simply boggled at how someone in the PR business hadn't ever seen a black avatar before. I let that go the second I finished posting.

Following my initial post, there were two separate, major pieces of information that came to light. The first was Bovington's claim that he was misquoted. At this point, we are beyond his awareness of black avatars. I don't care about that. What I care about is the very serious allegation that he was misquoted. That is something I wasn't prepared to let go, so I was obligated to revise my original post, bring attention to the allegation, and contact the source of the alleged misquote for further information.

The second piece of information was from the author of the article, who said there was no misquote. Again, another serious allegation. And something I can't let go. I am forced to address it to be fair to both parties. Thus the third and final post on this subject.

What I am ultimately concerned with is that I have two different, ostensibly-credible sources telling me opposite things. Someone is not being completely honest. Because of this, I have had to publish two more posts on this topic than I wanted to. And now I'm trying to explain how I've "let it go." So much time devoted to this issue. Very unfortunate. Hopefully I don't need to talk about it anymore.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 14, 2006 @ 11:37 am
     
 
I never took this to be an issue about racial insensitivity. I took it to be one about marketing hubris and the claim that an RRR event brought blacks into SL for the first time. Then, for reasons that boggle my mind, it became an issue about the accuracy of a reporter and the alleged carelessness of a blogger, and on top of the whole thing is the meta-disaster that Bovington created for himself by not doing the obvious thing and saying "gosh, I *hope* I didn't say that. What I meant of course was that this was a celebration of hiphop culture and we were hoping the event would help further expand the diversity of SL." But no, he had to hate on a reporter and an influential blogger, and we all know what an effective PR strategy that is. Now the absurd idea that Bovington is some form of racist is in play.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
December 14, 2006 @ 12:23 pm
     
 
Maybe what he really said was "'We did a block party with Reebok, and it was the first time we saw naked black avatars coming into Second Life."

Just a guess.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
December 14, 2006 @ 2:01 pm
     
 
I see, Uri, you've explained it very well. It *is* annoying to see anyone displace blame on others reporting something in good faith, eh?

Still, precisely because all these metaversal magnates are making all these hypervents, the default of the press and the bloggers is to pounce, and to look with a weather eye for fake firsts. After a certain time, that gets just as wearisome as all the fake hype.

I just felt it was dishonest to play a racism card on Bovington over this. It was a needless smear.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
December 14, 2006 @ 2:21 pm
     
 
You did the right thing and the obligatory thing as as journalist, Tony, in following up on an allegation of being misquoted, or of in fact quoting accurately, related to your story.

By the same token, your default now -- as for all of us -- is one of cynicism about hypervents and one of looking for trouble. I'm not saying we should look for trouble, I'm just saying the default cynicism is also part of the mix that made you pick out a fake first in the first place.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Brace
December 16, 2006 @ 10:49 am
     
 
Meh

just the way it is in 'merica...

some of us black folks are sickandtired of just the way it is, and like you do about issues in SL Prok, you fight back where you can.

So do I.

A lot of white folks have been in that so called ooh shiny stage since the internet began. Thats what mostly bugs me about this.

If you google correctly you'll see african american communities that have been on the web for yonks.

Even in the most assed out areas of South Central LA where I taught elementary school - we had a computer lab, and I took my kids there twice a week.

We were preparing them for a world that's filled with computers, and whether or not they had one at home, (a lot of them did) they'd at least need to know the basics for jobs and education opptys in their future.

I'd rather see some changes up in 'merica - this is getting old

I aint chuckling.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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