Open Source, a public radio show that initiates conversations on the internet and carries them onto the airwaves, just aired a discussion about Second Life. Discussion revolved around identity, love and making money in this new kind of online environment.
Laura Gurak, director of the Internet Studies Center here at the U, is quoted in Duluth News Tribune article on the phenomenon of "cybersmearing." From the article:
Terence Banich had been outed as a bad tipper, and he didn't even know it.
He popped up on the cheapskate list at BitterWaitress.com, berated by a server at a Chicago restaurant for leaving a $3 tip on a $200 bill.
Informed of his tipping infamy, Banich said if he had left such a measly gratuity, it was a mistake, a misplaced decimal point, and he's sorry for it.
But Banich, a Chicago lawyer, also said he was none too pleased that a waitress had lifted information from his credit card -- his name -- and posted it on the Internet.
Banich had effectively been cybersmeared, and he's far from alone.
But now, after several years of revolutionary rhetoric in each venue about the wonders of the blogosphere, doubters have surfaced. Suddenly, they are questioning the accumulated wisdom of the boosters.
It's boom or doom. Like so much of what pings around in today's vast media echo chambers, odds are that neither of these visions will stand the test of time.
Grinnell's shop, Mischief, is in Second Life, a virtual world whose users are responsible for creating all content. Grinnell's digital clothing and "skins" allow users to change the appearance of their avatars -- their online representations -- beyond their wildest Barbie dress-up dreams.
Within a month, Grinnell was making more in Second Life than in her real-world job as a dispatcher. And after three months she realized she could quit her day job altogether.
Now Second Life is her primary source of income, and Grinnell, whose avatar answers to the name Janie Marlowe, claims she earns more than four times her previous salary.