For almost three years, Wagner James Au has documented his thoughts and experiences in Second Life, an artificial world operated by Linden Labs. He did so as a contractor for Linden Labs, and has announced he's "going indy." In March 2006, he takes ownership of the e-zine "New World Notes" and focuses on developing "a book version of New World notes."
New World Notes: GOING INDY (Feb. 8, 2006).
Since April 22, 2003, Jim (a.k.a. Hamlet Linden) has written as an embedded journalist in the artificial world of Second Life, which at the time of this writing reports over 125,000 registered user accounts, of which over 5,000 are "in world" at one time during peak hours. Wagner (Hamlet) writes about the law, sociology, economics and human interest stories of Second Life and its residents, with snapshots from inside Second Life. Wagner is just one of the journalists and academic exploring artificial or synthetic worlds like Second Life for its insights into human social organization and behavior.
First Monday published an essay by Au for First Monday Special Issue #5: Virtual Architecture at State of Play III, in which he proposes tenative guidelines for journalistic ethics for reporting in synthetic worlds, developed from his years as an embedded journalist in Second Life, "with the object to preserve a separation between real life identity and virtual being, while sustaining the fantastic, otherworldly nature of online worlds."
Taking New World Notes (First Monday, October 2005 Special Issue on State of Play)
Among his recent stories was one about Lawrence Lessig's appearance at the Robert Burn's birthday celebration in the Second Life venue of ElvenGlen, in which kilted Scotsmen danced jigs while the traditional haggis was cut in honor of the Immortal Bobbie Burns. The event was a fund-raiser for the Creative Commons project. He was quoted as saying to the crowd: "So thanks to everyone who came and was kind enough to give something to Creative Commons. I've got to go take care of my kid, but I hope I can come back. There are few places in the worlds where people understand what we're about as well as here."
New World Notes: LORD OF THE LESSIG DANCE (Jan. 30, 2006).