The world of virtual conferencing is changing and I have seen the future! Just as email radically changed how businesses and people communicate, virtual conferencing is going to revolutionize the conferencing industry. You can see the embryonic stages of this if you go to Second Life on the Internet and log on.
Second Life is a virtual world created by Linden Research where people create digital entities, also known as avatars, that interact in real time by voice, if you have a microphone, or via keyboarding if you don't. Since it went online in 2003, more than a million users have joined and the number is growing dramatically each year.
It is a place where you can own property, create a business, start your own radio station, earn real money, and…… hold meetings and seminars. In fact there are hundreds of groups from 12-steppers to government agencies to businesses like Toyota and IBM that are opening up shop and holding meetings and information sessions there now.
Although manipulating an avatar takes still takes some getting used to, so it is not something that will be in the conferencing mainstream for some time yet. Because you can move freely though the virtual world as you talk with the other people in your conversation, this exciting new technology promises to fill the gap between the static videoconferencing environment and the face-to-face meeting or site visit.