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US politician holds briefing in Second Life

Democrat discusses goals to techies

Sometimes, virtual life still takes a back seat to real life - a briefing from US Representative George Miller in the virtual world Second Life was delayed on Thursday afternoon as Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as the first woman speaker of the House in real life.

Miller briefed a group of invitees on the top priorities of the new majority party in Congress. Shortly after Pelosi's real-life speech ended, Miller showed up at a new virtual House of Representatives chamber on Second Life.

Live video of Pelosi's first speech played on large screens inside the Second Life House chamber, just before Miller's avatar showed up.

Miller, whose avatar wore a grey suit and had white hair, talked about the House Democrats' goals, including raising the minimum wage, passing new ethics rules for members of Congress and inspecting more cargo as it comes into the US.

Miller's short question-and-answer session in Second Life didn't address many technology issues, but moderator Joanne Colan, host of the video blog Rocketboom, did ask whether the new Congress would pass net neutrality rules, prohibiting broadband providers from slowing or blocking content from competitors.

Miller said he expected fellow Democrats to push for net neutrality, but he called net neutrality concessions offered last week by AT&T a "major victory”. AT&T offered to give competitors' content equal priority over its network for two years in exchange for US Federal Communications Commission approval of its acquisition of smaller telecom carrier BellSouth.

Miller, chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, said he enjoyed the Second Life appearance, and he'll recommend that other members of Congress take advantage of the virtual House to interact with the 1 million Second Life subscribers. "It's a very different forum for a member of Congress," he said. "It's also very exciting, because it gives us an opportunity to interact with people ... that are interested in what's taking place in the United States and the Congress."


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