Conferencing in the Metaverse

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I must be one of the last people in the AV industry to have read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash (I bought it at some airport or other in the U.S. last year), in which much of the action takes place in the Metaverse, a virtual reality version of (or successor to) the internet. I'm rather pleased not to be living in a world that so readily integrates violence into both the real and virtual universes, but there's no denying that virtual reality is a lot more real than it used to be.

At this year's EICAR conference, my friend Eddy Willems demonstrated a virtual version of the conference taking place in Second Life. It seemed a little sparse compared to the real event, and showed considerably less drama than Neal Stephenson's vision, but was nevertheless an interesting experiment in future directions.

SC Magazine UK recently announced another step along that road: its Virtual Summit on Nov. 3 will offer "live webcasts, videos and exhibitors all in a virtual world..." On entering the virtual exhibition hall, visitors can view live videos, download white papers and network with other visitors and SC Magazine UK staff, while in the virtual auditorium they can hear live webcasts.

I haven't quite worked out how you blag free t-shirts, stress balls and USB thumb drives, and I haven't yet persuaded Brad Pitt to model for my avatar (though I do have an offer from Homer Simpson). However, the program promises enough of interest – including some cybercrime-related topics – for me (and quite a few other people) to have registered for several sessions already.

Now, if I can just locate the bar...

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