Earlier this month, I wrote something about the
uncritical reception Linden Labs was getting for its Total Residents
figure. Turns out even I was not skeptical enough, and I put up a second
piece digging a bit deeper.
The term Residents is even more inflated than I first thought, as
something like 20% of the most recent million Residents have never been
counted logging in.
The press reaction to Second Life was also more
credulous than I knew. Linden is guilty of promoting a misleading figure,
but the reporters covering Second Life are guilty of converting that figure
into an outright falsehood:
Like a push-up bra, Linden's trick is as effective as it is because the
press really, really wants to believe...
"It has a population of a million." -- Richard Siklos, New York Times
"In the Internet-based virtual world known as Second Life, for
instance, more than 1 million citizens have created representations of
themselves known as avatars..." -- Michael Yessis, USA TODAY
"Since it started about three years ago, the population of Second Life
has grown to 1.2 million users." -- Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN
"So far, it's signed up 1.3 million members." -- David Kirkpatrick,
Professional journalists wrote those sentences. They work for newspapers and
magazines that employ (or used to employ) fact-checkers. Yet here they are,
supplementing Linden's meager PR budget by telling their readers that
Residents measures something it actually doesn't.
to Clay's coverage at Valleywag, and read also "Give Me Laser Guns" -- brilliant: Link
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