Oh, the posers.
So, I've been in virtual worlds since about 2001. That's only half as long as some of the old school VRML veterans, experts like Bruce Damer, et al. But for the new age of virtual worlds, the 3-D rendered graphics, broadband-driven ones, I can claim a decent level of expertise. I have seen folks come and go over the years. This was especially true in the 2006 - 2007 heyday of Second Life, and there's a new batch of folks coming in now.
And lots of posers.
I won't name names. (I'll wait for the book deal for that, eh?) But those of us who've been around long enough know who they are. They run high-profile blogs with lots of hits mainly because they relink virtual world related stories a few times per day. They run conferences, and charge lots of money. They develop high profile projects for high profile contracts, and leave them as ghost towns. They run user groups, some even large ones, without any sort of technical knowledge of what virtual worlds are good for. They're getting money from big government and charity grants, and doing lame work with it. They are notable ivory-tower types, too, who have great rhetoric and management skills but fail to grasp the underlying power of social media and virtual worlds.
Meanwhile, there are lots and lots of great bloggers, developers, artists, writers, thinkers who are busy working. And not being heard as much as some of the posers are. Sure, they have blogs, and can only post once a week. Or once a month. There are those making great projects under NDA that can't speak about them. There are those who are brilliant but don't like to write. There are those with fantastic ideas and no funding because they didn't exploit the 2006-2007 years for their own gain. Is it their fault they aren't more well known? Sure. Does it means it's fair? No.
Problem: Lack of Fact-Checking
The problem is simple. No one seems to fact-check. People write blog posts about virtual worlds, and unless they're grossly inflammatory, people generally aren't questioning the writers. Same goes for big-media. I've read egregious mis-reporting from the likes of Wired and even the BBC. Retractions? Not so far. I've attended speaking events where speakers in Second Life will talk out their asses and not be challenged by the moderator. I remember one person claimed that Artificial Intelligence was already beating the Turing Test. Riiiight. *eyeroll*
I'm angry. I'm angry because the same lack of fact-checking, the same yessing of people talking bull led to the post 2007 hype cycle bust for virtual worlds. People in positions to question didn't, and consequently lots of money was spent on stupid things. I propose an end to this. I'm working with a talented colleague in virtual worlds in creating a new media forum to set a much higher standard. It will be a blog and discussion location for to get an in-depth look at things with virtual worlds, not just a surface-peek, a re-posting of a press release and a screenshot.
Oh, the posers.