Wednesday, November 03, 2004


"There were some heated arguments for and against each candidate all evening," Tiger Crossing tells me, "but the main purpose was to provide up-to-date election coverage in-world." And so he did, in the sim of Celadon, next to his Time Tunnel ride and his Deus Via gameboard. (Hence some prominent signage for Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Presidential candidate, and Crossing's own personal pick. "I thought that fact might give me a bit more unbiased credibility among SL's election events, of which it seems I turned out to be one of the only," he adds without evident bitterness.)

Crossing's site tracked the ebb and flow of popular and electoral votes, even the vote division according to gender. At the time, I was flying back from State of Play II over the night of the Election, which meant I mostly followed that tally from the viewing screen of the seat in front of me. But right before the East Coast began counting ballots, Tiger had ideas for bringing the race, once more, into Second Life.

"I only decided to run this event 10 minutes before the first polls closed," he tells me. "The 30 minute delay to list a new Event [on the Secondlife.com board] was all the time I had to build the whole setup and prepare for a crowd." And while Tiger is well known for the ambition behind his scripted builds, his method for updating the count was a bit more, um, rough hewn: "It was, unfortunately, not an automatic system," confesses Crossing. "It used the 'Tiger Engine(TM)' -- i.e., Me watching Web pages and manually updating info into Second Life as things changed. The map board was an image I would update and upload. That was why I built myself a glass chamber to hover in with 'OPERATOR' across the top. When things were in full swing early on, it was all the 'Tiger Engine(tm)' could do to keep up." Which is what he did, working like a furry Ted Koppel for a good seven hours, cutting and pasting a screenshot of the lastest electoral spread as it was announced.

Meanwhile, people came and went. "I encouraged them to decorate the side of stage with campaign signs and such. I wanted that same Election Day clutter you see around every polling place." When I arrive late today, there's a giant billboard for Bush, a lawn sign for Kerry, and a few 3D symbols of dissent, including a President Bush doll that speaks 25 of his classic malapropisms, when you click on him, and an electronic voting booth created, we're informed, by Halliburton.

As the people streamed around him, so did the arguments. "[S]ince Bush always looked to be ahead (with Kerry's only hope to come from behind)," Tiger tells me, "the main slant was to attack/defend Bush. Hot topic issues flew back and forth with such terms as 'WMD', 'abortion', 'terrorism', '9/11', 'Al Queda', '2000 elections', and many more. Both sides were firmly predicting a win for their candidate. And, of course, there were insults, but nothing major."

As for the host, he counts himself glad that his own favorite candidate came close to rivalling Nader's bid, but has some kind words for the two major party candidates. "I would have prefered Kerry to win," he says, "but both are competent and smart men, and compared to Badnarik, they are almost cut from the same cloth."

While we talk, Tiger Crossing makes a last adjustment to the board. Because in the center North quadrant of the map, an area is still flickering between red and blue.

"There," says Tiger, "Ohio's fixed." And above his furry head, the state turns crimson.

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The "Tiger Engine" was very cool, but it really points out the need for a function, like Applescripting, so that developers could automate real-time in/out between SL and the real W. (not to be confused with GW.)

Posted by: Yellow Poole at Nov 4, 2004 8:50:46 AM

Given enough time, I could have automated the whole thing... But 10 minutes wasn't enough time. ;)

XML-RPC would have done the trick, I think.

Posted by: Tiger Crossing at Nov 4, 2004 2:18:05 PM

Once again you show your political views...tsk

Posted by: Ian Schwartz at Nov 7, 2004 9:27:52 PM

Um, come again?

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