Expanding on Karyne Levy’s “controversial” Business Insider article

Mrs. Levy provided a very concise narration and insight of what a beginner experiences in Second Life, and very useful conclusions can be drawn from that, as I pointed out previously. If we don’t like these facts, it’s not her problem.

I criticised Mrs. Levy’s research for this article, and this is for two reasons:

  • The title, which leads one to expect an analysis of why SL is a “post-apocalyptic virtual world” and why it is “weird” that many people still use it;
  • The factual errors contained in the article.

If the article had a different title that was connected to its contents, I’d have been far less critical of it and I’d have spoken more of its merits (i.e. the point-to-point narration of what went wrong with her “newbie” SL experience).

It is exactly here that I need to point out a few things that should be obvious, but, sadly, aren’t: It’s not the SL’s blogosphere’s responsibility to proactively reach out to the media and invite people to the “right” regions. This is a job for those who are paid by the Lab to do public and media relations. Furthermore, even if I and/or other amateur bloggers had some sort of… moral obligation to promote SL (which we don’t), it would be unrealistic to expect us to magically guess that someone, somewhere, sometime might be preparing an article on SL so that we’d put together a bundle of material on SL, along with landmarks and an invitation for them to join us on a guided tour of SL. No. When a journalist or columnist wants to write about something, it’s their job to seek out the appropriate sources and gather the necessary material – and exactly the same applies to writing a dissertation or a thesis: the students look for facts, data, literature and everything rather than expecting the material to magically come to  them. Finally, I don’t need to go out and contact a columnist in order to form an opinion and express it. I know how to read, and I can reach my own conclusions.

In a nutshell: Mrs. Levy’s article left a fair bit to be desired, but it can be very useful as an eye-opener w.r.t. the new user experience and – this is something everyone will have to finally understand – there was no intention on Mrs. Levy’s behalf whatsoever to denigrate SL, even though the title was poorly-chosen and misleading.


See also:


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7 thoughts on “Expanding on Karyne Levy’s “controversial” Business Insider article

  1. I totally agree. While her views were a little shallow, and there is no doubt that the newbie experience nowadays leaves a lot to be desired not like it was back in my day, my only objection to her article is the title. Post apocalyptic? What ‘apocalypse’ was that? Does she even know what an apocalyse is? That element was sensationalism of the worst type because it was meaningless and out of context, done only for effect. If nothing else though, it has got us talking, and perhaps we will be a little kinder to newbies in future……….. ;0


    1. Indeed, the first point that needs to be criticised is the title; it’s poorly chosen and creates expectations that the article can’t live up to. Mask it away, and it’s a non-judgemental article that contains a few errors and several points that should be taken into serious consideration.


  2. The title is misleading and further more, i’d say that for a “journalist” or at least someone pretending a bit of info or analysis about the topic she didnt made her job. She took informations before starting yes, but she only took one source, which (“by total chance”) was one of the ones anouncing the death of SL for years, obviously demonstrating their own frustration and not SL health.
    So yeah, it would be stupid to think her article is a conspiration, or any attempt to destroy SL (because she can’t do it lol) but nonetheless, it was a good demonstration of what can journalism be when its not done seriously and done in the only perspective of sensationalism.
    If we may say for sure she had not bad intentions toward SL, we can’t say either she had good ones. and this gives keys for a lecture of her experience as a noob. I challenge everyone who doesnt think SL is good to have a good first experience if they try. When you think smth is bad, before testing, it happens rarely that you have a good experience with it when you test it at first. Because your mind is full of bias.
    As i said, in your previous post about the same topic, from what she tells of her experience she didnt even opened the website page and didnt reached the destination guide.
    Of course, she met bad persons, but when you are full of negative ideas you focus only on the negative sides. I remember pretty well, my first days in sl, more than 5 years ago. If of course, it has not been easy to use and understand the viewer in the first weeks, i probably met an equal amount of jerks and adorable persons. I remember pretty well the second category, while i forgot totally about the first one. And during all those first weeks, i didnt stop to be surprised about how much ppl were offering their help. So or she has been incredibily unlucky, or i have been incredibily lucky, but one thing is sure, before starting SL i didnt had any negative or positive idea about it, i just had curiosity and willing to discover. The only info i got about SL was thru a TV show specialized about media which made an episode about SL. No more.


    1. If you read the article carefully, you’ll see there was no conclusion as to whether SL is good or bad. However, the title is at odds with the article’s contents, and this leads me to something I suspected, but opted not to write in the post: Maybe she didn’t even choose the title herself. In the Press, journalists and columnists often get asked (ordered, actually) to write about something; they write it, hand it in and then someone else (who may not have read the article thoroughly) chooses a title. I suspect this is what happened here.


  3. Well, the tittle is not a conclusion but a statement.
    Her article has nothing from a serious article but its a pale copy of the first part of the article she mention from Chris Stokel Walker in the Verge. She even use some same construction of sentences. But it looks like she barely read the following parts of Chris article. What a poor demonstation of journalism.
    Even the telling is bad. its a succession of statements without transition between each others.
    And well, honnestly i dont understand why there is so much noise about this pretended article, because it doesnt say anything but the author hasnt done her job and has bad bias about SL.
    Instead, here is a pretty interesting reading : http://www.academia.edu/5900113/When_Flanerie_Goes_Virtual_New_Reflexive_and_Exploratory_Forms_of_Agency_among_Cyberflaneurs_on_Second_Life
    Someone who came last year in SL for his master’s thesis. He knew all the difficulties a newbie can meet while starting SL; he even knew a bad welcoming from some SL forumers when he asked if ppl wanted to be interviewed for his thesis. And nevertheless, i find he s got the essential about why there are still so much residents in SL.
    This is a serious reading about SL, unlike Karyne’s paper and see, it made any noise…. People like to focus on negativity pretty more than on positivity. Go figure.


    1. When I started writing my first post about this article, I had a feeling about how this article was written. Here it goes:

      Editor: “Karyne, virtual reality is back in vogue, even Second Life is back in the news, and we need to have a feature.”

      Karyne Levy: “Uhhhh… OK. So, what do you want from me?”

      Editor: “I want you to write something, of course! Search the web, make an account or whatever, do whatever it takes, just do it. And I want the article yesterday!”

      And the rest is history… As for the title, I’ll point out again that journalists don’t always get to choose the title of their articles. This is often a job for the editor-in-chief. The fact that this title is so disconnected from what there is in the article leads me to think Mrs. Levy didn’t get to choose it.


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