Jesus, it feels like every week the New York Times finds a new "trend" involving Second Life, the virtual world that lets people interact with avatars to blah blah blah ugh. In the 65th Times story about SL, it's virtual job interviews, which even the Times knows are nearly non-existent, admitting that Second Life owner Linden Labs "doesn't keep statistics" but "says the number has grown exponentially" in the world's five-year history. Which could mean, since we're given no parameters, that there are all of thirty-two employers using a technology half as useful as AIM and a webcam. Also, the Wall Street Journal did this story, but better, last June. Bad enough, but here's what makes the Times's coverage of Second Life such an epic failure.

  • Forbes is over it. Former corporate clients told the magazine last July that Second Life was empty except for undesirable horny cybersexers. A rep for Wells Fargo compared it to Iraq.
  • TIME is over it. The mag's August takedown story called Second Life's traffic "disappointing," trashed the world's poor usability, and said the government sees it as a criminal kiddie-porn gambling tax evasion wonderland.
  • The Times itself is over it. Except when the Times tech blog deconstructed Second Life, all the corroborating links came from competing newspapers.
  • Actually everyone's over it. The spike in media mentions, rising from under 200 to over 1000 mentions per month over the last two years, is finally receding, with under 800 mentions in January.
  • The headlines are still cheesy. When did blogging become mainstream? When papers stopped using "virtual" and "diary" in every headline about a weblog. Second Life hasn't made that jump. Times headlines include: "It's My (Virtual World);" "A Virtual World But Real Money;" "Obama Is First In Their Second Life;" and "The Reporter Is Real, but the World He Covers Isn't."
  • Every story opens like this: "Joe Blow woke up this morning and flew above his house while playing the ukulele. He then did some other impossible things, quite matter-of-factly." [paragraph break] "He was in the virtual world Second Life." [gasps, applause, cheers]
  • To wit: "Mr. Gould showed up in a Superman costume. Next, he invited me to sit down next to him in a chaise longue that overlooked the crashing surf. As we talked about my strengths and weaknesses, crabs skittered along the sand at our feet. At another point, in the middle of responding to a question about overcoming professional challenges, I stood up and performed a hula dance."