On April 1, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet had a congressional hearing on virtual worlds.
The official title of the hearing was "Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars (link goes to official witness list).
Video of entire hearing (300+ MB)
1. Philip Rosedale, Founder/Chairman of the Board/Former CEO, Linden Labs
2. Susan Tenby, Senior Manager, Community Development, TechSoup
3. Colin J. Parris, PhD, Vice President, Digital Convergence, IBM Research/IBM Corporation
4. Larry Johnson, PhD, The New Media Consortium
This hearing was the first time I've seen any representatives from virtual worlds get a chance to actually explain themselves.
I think the witnesses did a great job of making what I'm going to start calling "The case for virtual worlds." (What I believe to be an open and shut case :)
Four "witnesses" presented to the Subcommittee that morning. Their names are in the table below, along with relevant stop/start times for their presentations.
If you saw the Daily Show clip on the Congressional Hearings, you may have been concerned about congress being confused about terrorists using virtual worlds. But actually, terrorism was only mentioned a couple times in freaked out passing.
The real story is that Virtual Worlds are about to be as big as Social Networking (a phenomenon that congress seems well aware of and impressed by).
|Colin J. Parris||
Of course, we know that Virtual Worlds are going to be even bigger than Social Networking, and really already have been for some time. Although virtual worlds are viewed as an outgrowth of Social Networking, in reality, virtual worlds have existed much longer, and have an extensive and rich history behind them going back more than 20 years.
I think hearings such as this one are a step in the right direction, and demonstrate that Congress is finally realizing the potential for community, art, science, and commerce in these worlds, and taking this potential quite seriously.
It's also great to see IBM stepping up to the plate to explain things in a way that even Congress can understand. (No offense congress peeps, but you guys aren't always the best at grokking technology. Series of tubes aside :)
But that's the exciting part! The success of virtual worlds has become so tangible that now even IBM can explain this success effectively in business-speak. That's damned exciting!
Now, hopefully, we can point to the very excellent examples of the incredible business, educational, and artistic applications going on in Second Life, and other virtual worlds right now, and use them to help explain these very tangible scenarios to the rest of the real life world.
I've provided very concise times for the entire hearing, so you can still find the parts you need quickly, after downloading the whole thing.
|Phillip Linden, Chair of Board/Former CEO/Founder, Linden Labs||29:11-33:19/presentation from 33:20-40:21/40:22-43:14/Q and A|
|Susan Tenby, Senior Manager, Community Development, TechSoup||43:39-49:19|
|Colin J. Parris, PhD, Vice President, Digital Convergence, IBM Research/IBM Corporation||49:21-54:55|
|Larry Johnson, PhD, The New Media Consortium||54:57-1:00|