"We hope that through our virtual newsroom users will be able
to connect better with the day’s news stories, leading to a greater
understanding of the real world." — Sky News Head of News John Ryley
News is bad enough these days, what with wars, shootings,
psycho celebrity parents and Paris Hilton getting fitted for an L.A.
County Jail jumpsuit, it’s hard to believe anyone would want to recreate any of
it. Yet that’s exactly what Britain’s
Sky News says it plans to do as part of its June launch in Second Life.
Linda Zimmer of Business Communicators of Second Life pulls
out a key statement from the official Sky News announcement, noting that “Sky
News apparently plans to recreate news-worthy events, such as ‘court cases,
crime scenes and natural disasters’ to provide a ‘deeper understanding of the
Linda goes on:
“As 3D spaces become more accessible to content creators and
audiences, content will become animated, 360-degree, un-flat, multi-dimensional
and multimedia. This applies as richly to news as it does to other forms of
I agree – but there is another, perhaps larger question.
Does recreating news in a 3D space change our perceptions of the original,
“real” news event? Will we “see” things differently, better understand other
points of view, or react in different ways because we have experienced the news
“firsthand” rather than as a passive observer?
The answer, at least in part, depends on whether you believe
the 3D person inside Second Life is an extension of you or something “other”
than you. Without going too far down the rabbit hole of behavioral psychology,
the truth is we are our avatars and they are us. Our actions and experiences online can have a deep
and profound effect on our real lives – including how we understand news, or perhaps
even changing news itself.
For now, of course, no one knows whether Sky News’ virtual
experiment will affect real news. But if it does, the change will have less to
do with Second Life’s technology than with the authentic human emotions this
same technology inspires.
Put another way, technology is like the heart, a machine
pumping binary blood through digital veins. And like blood, technology by
itself is cold. So is news when left alone.
But emotions are the soul – they are what make us greater
than machines. And news with a soul is something today’s journalism is sorely
missing. Second Life may just help journalism get its soul back.