Monday, March 31, 2008

Congressional Hearing on Virtual Worlds

There will be a hearing on virtual worlds on Tuesday, April 1 at 9:30 a.m. (no, this isn’t a joke). The topic of the hearing is “Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium” and it will be chaired by U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.). There will be a webcast online (see here). The hearing is being held by the Telecommunications & the Internet Subcommittee (of which Markey is chairman), which is one of six subcommittees under the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee. This will be the first Congressional hearing on virtual worlds.

The hearing has been described to me as primarily an effort to exhibit the features and applications of virtual worlds, as well as to introduce the concepts behind virtual worlds to Members of Congress not yet familiar with them. The hearing will focus specifically on Second Life.

There are four witnesses scheduled:

  1. Philip Rosedale, Founder and CEO of Linden Lab, the company that owns and runs Second Life.
  2. Colin Parris, vice president for digital convergence at IBM Research (as well as a keynote speaker at Virtual Worlds 2007), will discuss IBM's efforts in and use of Second Life, such as here and here.
  3. Susan Tenby, Online Community Manager for TechSoup, will explore the potential of Second Life for nonprofits and charities.
  4. Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, will address educational opportunities in Second Life.