Virtual Worlds are Getting Real

Virtual Worlds New Realities Conference was held Feb 11th at Emory University. Co-sponsored by The Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning, Goizueta Business School, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. This was an impressive event. Everything was well organized starting with free parking and a shuttle bus from the parking lot at Emory’s Briarwood campus to the main campus at the Goizueta Business School where the conference was held. I knew I was on the right bus when I boarded and heard comments like “I’m used to teleporting” and “leave now you have 5 minutes until the region shuts down”.

It was a full day event starting at 8:30 ending at 4pm.

Topics covered were

(1) Virtual Worlds Evolving
(2) Emerging Virtual Institutions in Business and Politics
(3) Mirrored Influence of Virtual and Real-World Elements
(4) Possible Futures of Virtual Worlds and Society

by four outstanding panels throughout the day. The panel members were an impressive mix of both academic and business professionals. Most virtual world discussion centered on Second Life and the majority of attendees had experience in Second Life. A portion of the conference was broadcast live into multiple Second Life venues where it was viewed by groups of avatars including mine. It was fun and interesting being at the conference live while also watching as an avatar from inside Second Life.

Speakers included the new CFO for Linden labs, John Zdanowski and Chris Klaus, co-founder of the Atlanta based virtual world Kaneva. Intellagirl was in the audience along with other numerous high profile citizens from Second Life.

Some of the highlights for me included hearing a VP at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta talking about the recent Ginko banking scandal that occured in Second Life. The Federal Reserve is studying how new banking models emerge and evolve inside virtual worlds. IBM has 5000 employees working on virtual world technology to create a better way for IBM customers to work and collaborate inside the firewall. And I have to mention the lunch was fantastic with ceasar salad, stuffed turkey rolls, wonderful selection of grilled veggies, spagetti and meatballs, and amazing deserts.