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Inspirational Fortune editor changes sex in front of CEOs

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Comment As someone who has suffered from intense (and very public) gender confusion for many years, I was thrilled this week to see another hack come out in Fortune magazine as a member of the genitalia flip-flopper club.

Fortune's esteemed editor David Kirkpatrick revealed his longing to give up the frame of an aging man for that of a ripe co-ed - if only for a moment. In a column about the video game Second Life, Kirkpatrick confessed, "Just because you're a 50-year-old man, for instance, doesn't mean you can't have a 20-year-old female avatar (something I briefly tried)." [You can imagine what a striking, firm girl the editor would make.]

To disclose something so bold in front of a few friends would take enough courage. But to throw off your cock and grow a bouncing pair in front of Fortune's elite business person readership makes Kirkpatrick some kind of modern, computer playing, sex shifting, not at all creepy, CEO influencing hero.

Those wondering what fueled Kirkpatrick's courage need look only at Second Life and the two articles penned this week by the editor about the game.

Kirkpatrick nailed us on Tuesday with the multi-thousand word feature "Second Life: It's not a game."

In a nod to Fortune's cachet, IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano agreed to a rare interview - albeit via e-mail - for the piece, and Philip Rosedale, the CEO of Second Life's maker Linden Lab, granted an equally rare interview. [We're just as confident that Palmisano actually e-mailed Kirkpatrick as we are that the CEO controls his Sadville avatar, which is to say - very.]

Our sources indicate that Rosedale giving up time for an interview was a really big deal in Linden Lab's estimations. And Kirkpatrick returned the favor in kind. His story stands out as an "objective" mainstream puff piece in that it doesn't contain even a single paragraph that tries for just a brief moment to dull some of the Sadville hype. One media maven remarked to us on Friday that he "lost all respect for Kirkpatrick" following the story, so the puffery hasn't gone unnoticed.

Rosedale seems to have an intense influence on journalists. CNET's Daniel Terdiman, for example, once included Rosedale as a reference on his online resume until we pointed this out in a story. The journalist erased Rosedale's name for his web site, but didn't erase his mounds of stories about Sadville. He's written 56 stories about Second Life - for CNET alone - and even convinced his employer to buy land inside the game.

Now Kirkpatrick has threatened to compete with Daniel Sadville on a story-for-story scale.

"There were many Second Life subtopics that didn't fit into my magazine story. So don't be surprised if I write more about it in coming weeks," he wrote in the second Fortune story published this week.

Having read Kirkpatrick's pieces for a long time now, I never expected such a talented, bright chap to fall victim to a video game cult. I wasn't reading technology reporting when Pac-Man first hit the scene, and maybe the same thing happened then. Grown men wishing they could be Ms. Pac Man for a moment or writing 3,000 words about how arcade systems accept quarters.

But despite my disagreement with Kirkpatrick's video game fetish, I do feel closer now to him than ever. He knows what it's like to be a virtual man one instant and then a virtual babe the next. Perhaps we can buy some genitalia at the Ye Olde Stick and Fluffy shop in Sadville and enjoy a flip-flopping, gender bending romp on a pose stone.

Maybe Sam can watch. ®

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