I am sad that The London Review of Books article, Jowls are Available by Jenny Diski, is dead wrong. I love the writing style of Diski, but I wish she would have explored SL to its fullest. Sadly, it appears that she, like so many critics, stood at the door to form her opinion.
The first great mistake is that Diski only sees SL as a game; "It’s called a game though there is no goal and no end point at which a clear winner emerges and takes the prize." I have accidentally called it a game, and I have stood corrected. It isn't a game; it is a MUVE, and there are incredible differences between the two. If this was her foundation, and she was looking for that final prize to win, then, certainly, she had the wrong perspective the whole time.
The second mistake is that Diski assumes that the majority of residents in SL are homebody creatures without the RL resources to have culture. She claims that "Second Life is organised and inhabited by beings from the real world who have by definition very little experience of being anywhere or any way else." Untrue, my dear. I challenge her to meet Charlie and Becca Nesson from Harvard. I challenge her to meet the residents - non-academic- speaking 4 and 5 languages. I challenge her to meet the many residents, as I have, that travel the world. I have met more persons with "breeding" than not...but perhaps it is because I was willing to step into the world and not just hang out in the newbie areas?
The third mistake is that Diski believes that 'there is no second life on Second Life, only more of the same old first and only one, but cartoon-shaped." Again, this is a short-sighted perception. Perhaps she didn't see the right places? Perhaps she didn't look? I question her methods and criteria, frankly. WHAT did she look at to form her opinion? Where did she go? There is a whole lot that is similar, but, again, only if you stand on the corner and peek through the window. If you get INTO the culture, you find much more depth.
She also claims that she couldn't find political activism - when RL organizations like the ACLU are present in SL and offer support to SL residents. Further, groups like Code Pink (Women against War) use SL as a place to spread their political messages. There are lot of RL groups spreading their messages by hosting talks, memorials, etc. But, again, I am not sure she would have seen that standing on the corner.
Her comments remind me very much of people who say they have been to France, but, in reality, have only ever been in the airport waiting for a transfer flight to somewhere else. You can't judge a culture by what they offer in the snack machine. You have to explore the land; you must find the nooks and crannies. This is true in real life, and it is true in Second Life.
It is very easy to see SL as just a copy of a FL with glitter. The better reporter is the one that figures out why sooooo many people choose to spend time and money building this alternate universe.